The morality of Mormonism is sometimes considered old-fashioned. It is, of course-it was taught to Adam and Eve from the beginning of time. In the second chapter of Genesis, Adam was instructed to cleave unto his wife. From this time on, God began to teach His children the eternal rules of morality. These are critical aspects of our mortal life, and each generation has been called on to keep these moral commandments, regardless of the changing fashions of the world. Never does the Bible say God retracted these eternally significant rules or suggest it is okay to ignore them should morality go out of style, and so, Mormons continue to live a Christ-centered, “old-fashioned” morality.
Morality affects every aspect of a person’s life-honesty, integrity, treatment of others, and moral purity. Training in strict moral standards begins in childhood, when Mormon children are taught by their parents to treat siblings well, to tell the truth, and to dress modestly. In church, children receive lessons in the very basic principles, beginning at age eighteen months. Some of their lessons include:
I Can Say I’m Sorry.
I Can Be Honest
I Can Be Pure and Righteous
From these simple beginnings, children begin to learn to have respect for themselves, their bodies, and other people. They are taught, even when they’re young, to dress in a modest way, so the standards are ingrained before they are teenagers.
Teenagers are given a booklet called For The Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God. The principles of this booklet, and the wallet card with the highlights, are reinforced in their classes and at home.
Here they learn the essentials of modest dress. Specifics are seldom given, so that teenagers learn how to evaluate for themselves when new temptations and fashions arise. They are given a few specific rules, and then taught basic principles that can be applied to any new fashion style.
Both boys and girls are given these guidelines. They aren’t a way of controlling women, since both genders adhere to the rules, but a way of showing respect for themselves and their honored role as God’s child. They are taught their bodies are a temple built to house the spirit, and must be a worthy dwelling place. Because their bodies were created by God and are a gift from Him, they must be treated with respect and dignity.
Dress standards include wearing shorts, dresses, and skirts that are not too short. They cover their legs to the knee. Their shoulders are covered and their tops are not low cut or revealing. They cover their backs. Youth-and all church members-are counseled to avoid extremes and to dress neatly and appropriately. They learn how to be fashionable without being immodest. The final point of decision is to ask themselves, as they do a final appearance check or purchase clothing, “Would I feel comfortable in the Lord’s presence like this?”
God has never lifted the standards of moral purity, and church members are taught to guard their purity and uphold the standards God set for them. Prior to marriage, this includes complete abstinence from any sort of sexual intimacy. This holds true even if a person never marries. It also requires them to avoid behavior, activities, conversations, and places that might cause them or tempt them to violate their moral standards.
Mormons take their marriage vows very seriously. They take great care never to place themselves into a situation that might compromise their marriage, or even offer the appearance of evil. Their families come first and they live worthy of their spouse’s trust.
In 1995, the Mormons announced a proclamation detailing their doctrines about family. In it, they declare, “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mormons are especially motivated to work hard on their families because they teach that a family can last into the eternities, continuing even after death if the members work hard to live the standards of the gospel and to make their families strong. Because eternity is a very long time, they want to become the kinds of people their families will want to be with forever, and they want to help their spouses and children make it as well. With this in mind, their morality often focuses on their love for their family, as they strive to do nothing that would endanger their family’s eternal well-being.