gracie238

Worship in non-religiously free countries?

Recommended Posts

As a life-long Mormon (so far), I've always known that one of the requirements to get into the celestial kingdom is to be a faithful member of the church (LDS, obviously). I have also often heard the question come up (and wondered it myself) whether if someone that's never heard of the church or its teachings would be penalized (not allowed into the highest kingdom) simply because they weren't members, and if that would even be fair. My teachers have always answered that question saying that everyone will have the chance to discover the church throughout their lifetime and whether they decide to explore it would be their choice, therefore making it fair for everyone. However, there are many countries on the Earth that do not give citizens the freedom of religion.

For example, the majority of people in China are unaffiliated with a religion and general Christianity only accounts for about 5% of the population. China only has 5 registered religious organizations, which are the Buddhist Association of ChinaChinese Taoist AssociationIslamic Association of ChinaThree-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Any religious groups outside of this can be subject to anything from harassment, forced conversion, imprisonment, and torture. These horrible consequences have happened many times before. 

Now, for my question. In the scriptures, it has stated several times that it is very important to follow the laws of your country. So, say someone from China or anywhere with similar laws had discovered the church and had maybe even gotten to the point where they were praying and reading the Book of Mormon, etc. If they were to continue practicing Mormonism, would that be considered a sin if it is illegal in their country? And if so, how would they be able to enter the celestial kingdom without having to leave the country? 

Please, only leave relevant answers! I have been wondering this for a while and I would like to see what other people think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, gracie238 said:

As a life-long Mormon (so far), I've always known that one of the requirements to get into the celestial kingdom is to be a faithful member of the church (LDS, obviously). I have also often heard the question come up (and wondered it myself) whether if someone that's never heard of the church or its teachings would be penalized (not allowed into the highest kingdom) simply because they weren't members, and if that would even be fair.

It is not about being a member of the LDS church.  Rather, it is about accepting Christ and His Gospel (a part of which is membership in His Church).  

12 hours ago, gracie238 said:

My teachers have always answered that question saying that everyone will have the chance to discover the church throughout their lifetime and whether they decide to explore it would be their choice, therefore making it fair for everyone.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel in this life.  Rather, every will a chance to accept the Gospel whether in this life AND/OR in the spirit world after their mortal death.   Someone living in a country where they won't hear the Gospel and/or their ability to accept it is limited, then they will have that opportunity in the spirit world.

 

Note: this topic is one where the fullness of the Gospel is very informative/comforting.  Versus most other Christian groups don't have much to say about the likelihood of these people accepting Christ and being with Him in the hereafter.

Edited by Jane_Doe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joseph Smith had an older brother that he loved greatly, but that died before the church was restored.  He was not baptized into the church.  Joseph Smith had a vision in which he saw his brother Alvin, and the fate of those who never had the chance to hear the gospel is revealed.

From Doctrine and Covenants 137: 5-10

Quote

5 I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;

6 And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.

7 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

8 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

10 And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.

I have visited quite often in nations where the LDS church is not formally recognized.  The church is still the same, but the formal way it is done is different.  Typically, we are not allowed to proselyte, and we are not normally supposed to talk about our religion with others.  We can only talk about it, generally, if someone else initiates the conversation.  This can happen when they see how we act and how we represent the church as active Latterday Saints. 

One MUST be cognizant of the laws of the nation they are in.  As such, the LDS church supports that we do not go out and proselyte to those in these nations.  However, the LDS church also believes that we are NOT to abandon our religion simply because we are in these nations, and as such, we are still able to worship our LORD in our homes and in private.  This normally does not cause difficulties with the governments of these nations.  As long as we keep our lives private in this fashion and do not try to convert people against their laws, they let us be, even if they do not recognize us as endorsed religion of the state or in their nation. 

I do not know all of what will happen to those in these nations, but in many ways they have been exposed to the LDS church these days.  Normally it is through the internet rather than meeting a Mormon.  In fact, I'd say a majority of those in these nations at this point have had some brush with the LDS ideas via the internet, even in places that are more restrictive such as China.  Mormons are very few and far between in these nations, and thus those exposed to Mormons is minimal.  However, because of the internet and media, many have had some exposure in one way or another.  In many ways, because of the internet, we could say that the prophecies of the gospel going out to all the world has in some ways already been accomplished.  That does not mean they all have the opportunity to have an intimate detailed experience where they learn enough to know whether it is true, much less the chance to join the LDs Church.  I do think that if they had the opportunity and would have received the gospel with all their hearts it will be as if they had received it here on this earth.  This not only applies to them, but to our own ancestors in our own nations as well.  This is one reason that genealogy and temple work is SO important.  They may accept, but we need to do the ordinances for them on this earth as they have passed on.

The LDS church is VERY respectful of the laws of other nations, even those that do not recognize the LDS church formally.  We try to build good relations in these countries and present a good example so that in the future they may consider allowing the LDS church to be freely open and operating there.  However, even if they do not (and some of the nations I go to, it seems like it may be a very long time) we recognize the right of their rulers to make that decision and that choice.  The LDS church tries to follow the rules of the land, and to honor those who govern it.   Members should still remember who they are and their religion, but we do not try to go and broadcast our religion to others or things to that matter, and we do not try to break their laws of Sabbath observance, or non-observance or any other type of thing in those nations where the LDS church is not recognized.  We teach members to respect their government and the laws of their nation, if there are members in those nations.

Edited by JohnsonJones

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, gracie238 said:

As a life-long Mormon (so far), I've always known that one of the requirements to get into the celestial kingdom is to be a faithful member of the church (LDS, obviously). I have also often heard the question come up (and wondered it myself) whether if someone that's never heard of the church or its teachings would be penalized (not allowed into the highest kingdom) simply because they weren't members, and if that would even be fair. My teachers have always answered that question saying that everyone will have the chance to discover the church throughout their lifetime and whether they decide to explore it would be their choice, therefore making it fair for everyone. However, there are many countries on the Earth that do not give citizens the freedom of religion.

For example, the majority of people in China are unaffiliated with a religion and general Christianity only accounts for about 5% of the population. China only has 5 registered religious organizations, which are the Buddhist Association of ChinaChinese Taoist AssociationIslamic Association of ChinaThree-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Any religious groups outside of this can be subject to anything from harassment, forced conversion, imprisonment, and torture. These horrible consequences have happened many times before. 

Now, for my question. In the scriptures, it has stated several times that it is very important to follow the laws of your country. So, say someone from China or anywhere with similar laws had discovered the church and had maybe even gotten to the point where they were praying and reading the Book of Mormon, etc. If they were to continue practicing Mormonism, would that be considered a sin if it is illegal in their country? And if so, how would they be able to enter the celestial kingdom without having to leave the country? 

Please, only leave relevant answers! I have been wondering this for a while and I would like to see what other people think.

It depends on the particulars on what is actually illegal, but having been in the position of knowing the Church is true but forbidden to join, see the missionaries or attend Church, i still prayed, studied, believed and practiced the religion privately (as much as it is possible without receiving the ordinances) until I was able to join. In my case, it was a matter of reaching the legal age of majority. If the possession of the Bible and LDS materials are illegal, then the Lord can guide a person as to what to do according to the higher laws of conscience and moral agency, according to the light he has.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 8:48 PM, Jane_Doe said:

Note: this topic is one where the fullness of the Gospel is very informative/comforting.  Versus most other Christian groups don't have much to say about the likelihood of these people accepting Christ and being with Him in the hereafter.

It is true that the LDS teaching about opportunities to hear/embrace the gospel, after mortality, is one that comforts many. This belief also may contribute to the greater tolerance LDS have towards these hostile governments. At least within my evangelical tradition, we would extol the Christian history of martyrdom, and encourage believers to DISOBEY unrighteous regulations against Christian fellowship and evangelism. To my non-LDS reading, the one kind of civil disobedience that clearly gets Heavenly Father's approval is preaching the resurrection of Jesus, even when authorities prohibit doing so.  BTW, it is widely believed that the undocumented/unregistered Christian movement in China is in access of 100 million strong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

It is true that the LDS teaching about opportunities to hear/embrace the gospel, after mortality, is one that comforts many. This belief also may contribute to the greater tolerance LDS have towards these hostile governments. At least within my evangelical tradition, we would extol the Christian history of martyrdom, and encourage believers to DISOBEY unrighteous regulations against Christian fellowship and evangelism. To my non-LDS reading, the one kind of civil disobedience that clearly gets Heavenly Father's approval is preaching the resurrection of Jesus, even when authorities prohibit doing so.  BTW, it is widely believed that the undocumented/unregistered Christian movement in China is in access of 100 million strong.

Yes, but even with thorough civil disobedience, there's going to be a large number of people who don't here about Christ.  It...seems a bad situation for non-LDS Christianity.  

(My apologies if this post came out rough wording.  I'm trying to think of better and failing).

Edited by Jane_Doe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Yes, but even with thorough civil disobedience, there's going to be a large number of people who don't here about Christ.  It...seems a bad situation for non-LDS Christianity.  

(My apologies if this post came out rough wording.  I'm trying to think of better and failing).

I'm guessing that you mean that non-LDS Christianity does not have a strong answer for the question, "What happens to those who never heard, or have had little witness, of Jesus?"  If so, then it is true that the traditional Christian answer will seem less reassuring. Our safest, and most accurate imho, answer is that God is just. He will do right by all human souls.  Further, I contend that wording in Romans 1 (suggesting that nature itself cries out that God exists) leads me to believe that general revelation (sans a specific Christian witness) may be enough to convert a soul that responds to the God perceived in nature. My view is controversial, and I state it as an opinion, not a doctrine. However, where we may offer less certainty, our faith in God's good character covers that big question mark. I support missions, in part, because I am uncertain about the fate of those who do not hear. On the other hand, I lose no sleep, because I know that God is good and just and that no one will question his judgments and determinations. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

It is true that the LDS teaching about opportunities to hear/embrace the gospel, after mortality, is one that comforts many. This belief also may contribute to the greater tolerance LDS have towards these hostile governments. At least within my evangelical tradition, we would extol the Christian history of martyrdom, and encourage believers to DISOBEY unrighteous regulations against Christian fellowship and evangelism. To my non-LDS reading, the one kind of civil disobedience that clearly gets Heavenly Father's approval is preaching the resurrection of Jesus, even when authorities prohibit doing so.  BTW, it is widely believed that the undocumented/unregistered Christian movement in China is in access of 100 million strong.

One story that's commonly told is about how the LDS faith managed to get a temple - not just a chapel, but a temple - behind the Iron Curtain. 

When the decision was made that the members behind the Iron Curtain needed a temple of their own, the church selected a spot in East Germany. The local and regional leadership of the church went in through the front door, made it clear to the local Communist authorities what was going on, worked with them closely during the construction process, and continued to work with them through the open house phase and into the completion phase. 

Because the church was up front about everything and did everything within the guidelines, the local authorities were more than eager to rubber-stamp anything the church requested of them, especially after realizing how respectful and dignified even non-Mormons were during the open house... such that the authorities refused to believe that such a large number of people had gone through; it wasn't until they saw the ledger where people had signed in that they'd realized how many people had been there, as the authorities didn't think it possible to have such a huge gathering of persons without conflict. 

This story is frequently brought up as a tale of what can happen when the church successfully works within the law to go about its mission. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now