Sunday, September 22, 2013

Moral Foundations of Mormonism

In this posting, I will identify the characteristics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) that fit the six moral foundations from "The Righteous Mind"
  1. Care/Harm - Be nice to others and don't hurt them
  2. Fairness/Cheating - Be fair in how you treat others and don't cheat
  3. Liberty/oppression - Respect others rights and don't be a bully
  4. Loyalty/betrayal - Be loyal to your "group" (family, friends, etc.)
  5. Authority/subversion - Respect your leaders. Don't put up with bullies or dictators.
  6. Sanctity/degradation - Be clean, avoid filth.
For more info about Moral Foundations, go to moralfoundations.org

Care

The Family - One of the core teachings of Mormonism is the importance of the family as a safe environment to provide nurturing for children.  This includes parents that love, honor and respect each other.

The Relief Society - This organization was founded in 1842 as an auxiliary to the church and is "one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world".   It provides help for those in need, compassionate welfare and service.  One of it's roles is to visit the membership in the home and look for opportunities to serve through the visiting teaching program.

Home Teaching - Home teaching is similar to visiting teaching except that it is done by the men.  The idea is that one is more aware of someones needs by visiting their home than by just seeing them at church or an activity.

Fast Offering -  Members fast (go without food) the first Sunday of each month.  The guidance is that the money they save by not eating should be donated as "Fast Offerings".  These sacred funds are used by the local leaders to provide help locally.  This help can be in the form of paying a electric, gas, phone, water or car repair bill; paying for rent or mortgage.

Bishop's Storehouse - The local leader can also write an order that a needy person can use to get food and other necessities.  The Bishop's Storehouse is like a grocery store without cash registers.

Humanitarian Services - The organization’s stated mission is to relieve suffering, to foster self-reliance for people of all nationalities and religions, and to provide opportunities for service

Fair

Mormon's share "fairness" doctrine with other Christian faiths.  A loving God that is not a respecter of persons.  The idea of the Atonement, where we can be forgiven for wrongs that we do thanks to the mercy of Christ, our Savior.

Another concept with fairness is of proportional fairness.  Instead of many people on earth being destined for an eternity of burning in hell, Mormon's believe in just rewards.  There are degrees in heaven and a majority of people will be find themselves in favorable conditions in the hereafter.

Liberty

An important foundation to Mormon doctrine is the idea of "Free Agency".  It's a freedom that everyone on earth fought for before being born.  Mormon's are proponents of Freedom of Religion and Mormon's believe that God had a hand in bringing liberty to America.

Loyalty

Mormon's believe in loyalty to their families.  Ordinance are provided to "seal" families together forever - husband, wife and children.  Through the genealogy program, Mormon's are loyal to their ancestors by remembering them.  Mormon's are also loyal to their church.  The church is run by the members as volunteers, and many hours are given in service to the church.  The local church is organized in smaller groups that work together: quorums, classes, wards, stakes.  The opposite of loyalty is betrayal.  Betrayal can result in dis-fellowship or excommunication.

Authority

The Mormon church has a clear hierarchy of authority.  Christ is at the head of the church, followed by a prophet, 12 apostles, on down to local leaders.  The priesthood is required to act in authority and each priesthood holder has a direct line to Christ.  Parents have authority over their families.  This hierarchical system has checks against authoritarianism.  The parents have ultimate authority over their families.  Mormon scriptures warn against "unrighteous dominion" and provide examples of leaders who "serve".  Positions of authority are not obtained through personal ambition: instead they are filled by "callings" where a person can be asked to fill any role in the church.  Positions of authority are also not permanent, prerequisite or promoting.  A person can be bishop and then nursery leader.

Sanctity

Mormon doctrine considers the body to be the temple of God.  We should care for it accordingly.  This includes the "Word of Wisdom" that warns against using harmful substances (alcoholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, harmful drugs) and encourages eating food in season.  "The Law of Chastity" is the belief in the sanctity of marriage and that intimate relations should only occur between a married man and woman.  This includes the concept of modesty in thought, dress and actions.  The Temple is a sacred place.  Personal purity is expected of those that attend the Temple.







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