Transcultural Nursing

by Sean N. Bennett

Latter-Day Saint Culture

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Culture

The Latter-Day Saint (LDS) faith is the fourth largest religious body in the United States with 15 million members worldwide, 8.3 million residing outside of the United States (40.). With a large population of it's members living outside of the United States of America, culture in the LDS religion is extremely varied and diverse. There are currently 189 published languages in 153 countries (25.). Although culture among members may be different, teachings and beliefs taught by the church are consistent from country to country. Thomas S. Monson is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is also the current Prophet.

Because of their firm belief and faith in Jesus Christ members of the LDS church strive to follow after the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. He is the center of their lives. They have a distinct way of life, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members. This gospel culture comes from the plan of salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of the living prophets. It guides them in the way they raise their families and live their individual lives (3.).

They are generally a friendly people with the desire to get to know their neighbors and be an active part of their communities. It is not surprising to find members of the LDS (Mormon) church serving on a committee, PTO, Local and State government, or at a local clean-up effort. Because of their belief in Jesus Christ they believe life is eternal – that it has no end- that it continues beyond death. They believe that while they are here on earth their decisions determine their happiness throughout eternity. They believe that Jesus Christ “atoned” or “paid” for their mistakes and this gives them great hope that when they repent and change their behavior, they will be forgiven.

Members of the LDS faith have strong family bonds. They believe in marriage between a man and a woman and they typically have more children than the average family. They have a lower divorce rate than the average couple. They believe that the greatest happiness here on earth comes from their family relationships and they place great value on the time spent together as a family. They believe family relationships continue beyond death.

Values and Norms

Members of the LDS faith strongly value family and believe families are essential to God's plan. They believe the effort put into strengthening families is the hardest but most significant and important work that will be accomplished in this life. Families are seen as a unit, each member with a role to fulfill and responsibilities. In 1995, the First Presidency issued "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". This proclamation emphasizes the importance of the family unit while discussing the various roles within the family. The proclamation states that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children." It goes on to say that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose". Men and women are considered to have different roles and responsibilities but each have equal importance.

Salt Lake Temple

Many members of the LDS faith strive to get married in the temple. Individuals must follow God's commandments and live a worthy lifestyle in order to enter the temple. When a couple enters the temple to be married they make promises with God and vow to stay together forever, in this life and in the life thereafter. If these promises are upheld it is believed that their marriage will be eternal and that their future children will also become part of this heavenly covenant and be sealed to their parents forever.

Members of the LDS faith value service and believe members have several opportunities to serve those around them. Service can be simple like doing small acts of kindness for neighbors, taking part in community service, or fulfilling responsibilities within our local congregations or contribute to the Church's large-scale humanitarian efforts. Every effort, big or small, is valued and seen as a way to better connect with those around them and assist God in answering others prayers. The church teaches that" because everything we have comes from God, we should be willing to share it all-from our possessions and money to our time and talents- in order to help others who are in need (and it's important to remember that we're all needy in one way or another)" (40). Former prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs" (41.). It is believed that god has the power to work alone, but he often allows us to help because of the peace and happiness service can bring.

Members of the LDS faith also value good citizenship. They believe in obeying the laws of the land and being conscientious citizens of our country, state, and/or community. It is believed that by being good citizens the world can become a more beautiful, peaceful, safe, fair, and just place for individuals and families to live in. In relation to war and serving your country the church believes in supporting government leaders and participating in civic affairs to strive and make the world a better place to live. The Church's 12th article of Faith states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law (11.).

The church also values the Earth and believe people should be good citizens of the Earth as well. They believe gratitude should be shown toward the beautiful world God created and that we as human beings have a responsibility to respect it. Humans are entrusted to take care of the Earth because it is a gift from God and something we depend on to live and thrive (40.).

The church remains neutral in political matters and believes all members should be free to make an informed personal decision of their choice. Church leaders do not make suggestions or dictate which candidate their members should vote for. Members are encouraged to choose whatever political party they best identify with and vote for the individual that best represents their interests.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints values missionary work. There are 84,000 missionaries currently serving and 405 established missions throughout the world. Right now, tens of thousands of missionaries are walking, driving or riding their bikes around the world, handing out copies of the Book of Mormon and sharing the gospel with the people they meet. Why do these people, most of them under the age of 25, volunteer to leave their homes at their own expense and dedicate a period of their lives to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ? The Lord said, “proclaim my gospel from land to land, and from city to city… bear testimony in every place, unto every people". Doctrine and Covenants Section 66:5,7 (4.). We take that commandment to heart and look for opportunities to share the blessings we've received from living the gospel with everyone we can. They believe that all people are sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them. They believe the more of us that are able to learn and keep His commandments and enjoy eternal life, the happier we’ll all be (5.).

Mormon’s value Family History. This goes along with the value they place on family life. A life not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. And yet, knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills us with values that give direction and meaning to our lives. They cherish their ancestors and desire to extend the blessings of the gospel to them as well. What about our ancestors who die without the opportunity to receive ordinances like baptism, or the blessings of being an eternal family? Does it make sense that God would simply say, "Too bad, tough luck?" Of course it doesn’t. When Christ organized His Church anciently, it included vicarious work for the dead and the practice of performing ordinances for deceased relatives "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" 1 Corinthians 15:29 (6.). The restoration of Christ’s church on the earth today includes these ordinances and members of the LDS church perform these in holy temples (7.).

LDS Church members value the freedom to choose. They believe all men are free to choose for themselves what they will do during their life. They also believe that all men are accountable for their choices. They believe there are consequences – good and bad – for the choices made. "Men... have become free forever, knowing good from evil: to act for themselves... they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" 2 Nephi 2:26-27 (8.) (9.).

Members of the church are encouraged to take a stand for what they believe. It may not be easy, popular, or fun. Sometimes taking a stand means subjecting yourself to ridicule, slander or even physical abuse. In this kind of situation, a person can rely on the Lord to help them maintain their beliefs. He expects us to do what we believe is right in any situation, and He will help us have the moral courage to do it. It isn't enough to look away or to keep quiet. Looking away can sometimes be a sin in itself. We are acting as Jesus acted when we stand up for what we believe and take action (9.).

The LDS church values humanitarian efforts, and they take a lead when it comes to lending assistance all over the world. The church encourages its members to give of their time and resources wherever they can and promise as they do so they will be filled with joy. People like to talk about how they need to "find" themselves. This usually means they’re unhappy, lack direction and are primarily focused on themselves. Interestingly, Christ said the way to find ourselves was by losing ourselves: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" Mark 8:35 (6.). Wherever there is need – worldwide – you can find donations from members of the church through time and resources. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than $1 billion in cash and material assistance to 167 different countries in need of humanitarian aid since it started keeping track in 1985. It sent an airlift of tents, tarps, diapers and other supplies to the areas of Chile hit by the February 2010 earthquake, and two planes with over 80,000 pounds each of food and emergency resources to Haiti in January 2010 due to their catastrophic earthquake. The local, national and international organization of the church allows it to coordinate relief efforts quickly so that food, supplies and workers can arrive when they are needed most (10.).

Traditions, Beliefs and Attitudes

Members of the LDS faith believe in following God's commandments. God's commandments are seen as divine guidance meant to protect humans from harm and guide individuals to live the most fulfilling life possible rather than restrictive rules. The two most important commandments can be found in scripture. In the book of Matthew in the New Testament it states, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" Matthew 22:36-40 (6.). These two commandments in and of themselves encompass the ten original commandments. Basically, if one loves the Lord with all one's heart, they will in essence keep the first four commandments and if one loves his neighbor as himself he would also in essence keep commandments five through ten.

Prayer is another commandment and belief that is highly valued in the LDS faith. It is believed that individuals can build closer relationships with God and receive spiritual guidance and comfort through the use of prayer. Members are commanded to pray often because the more they speak with God; the more open they will be to His guidance through the challenges they face.

Members also believe it is important to read and study the scriptures regularly. The church recognizes the following books as scripture: The Holy Bible (King James Version is believed to be the most correct), The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. They believe gaining a better understanding of the scriptures allows individuals to better understand God as they teach people how to live righteously, fullfill God's plan of happiness, and become more like him. Although the scriptures were written thousands of years ago, they believe God's wisdom to be timeless, and that scriptures can be read and lessons from them can be applied to modern day situations.

In addition, members of the LDS faith also believe in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. They believe Sunday to be a Holy day on which individuals should focus on God, their families, and their friends. Individuals and families are encouraged to worship God on this day, attend church meetings, spend time with family and friends, visit the sick or the lonely, spend and rest from their typical day to day obligations and tasks. Church meetings generally occur in a three hour block where singing, praying.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in what is called "The Plan of Salvation". This plan helps us answer three questions:

    1. Where did we come from?

Our spirits were created by Heavenly Father and we lived with him prior to birth. It was a joyous time. We don't remember our time with Him but we can continue our relationship with Him through prayer. He knew and loved each one of us individually. And we knew and loved Him. He knew that we needed to continue our progression and the only way for us to do this was for us to leave our Heavenly home, receive a body, and be given opportunities to make choices. He also knew as we learned on earth we would make mistakes that could keep us from returning to His presence. So as part of His Plan of Salvation He needed a Savior - one who would Atone for any mistakes we made. This Savior is our Brother, Jesus Christ (19.).

    2. Why are we here on earth?

Why are we here on earth: We came to earth to receive a physical body and to learn to make correct choices. We are not alone here on earth. We are born into a family that helps us learn and grow. We can also pray to receive guidance from our loving Heavenly Father. It is here on earth that the Atonement was done by Jesus Christ and it is our opportunity to partake of the Atonement through repentance of the wrong choices we make (19.).

    3. Where will we go after death? It is also called "The Plan of Happiness".

Where will we go after death: At death, our spirit and our body are separated. Our spirit will leave the body and go to the spirit world - a waiting place with other spirits until the resurrection. Another part of the Atonement is the Resurrection - which is the reuniting of our spirit and our body. We all will be resurrected one day. And after our resurrection we will stand before God to be judged for the choices we made on earth. After being judge we will be given a state of glory according to our works and desires on earth (19.).

Religion

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a christian church which considers itself to be a restoration of the religion founded by Jesus Christ. In the last 3 years of his ministry on earth, Jesus Christ established his church and appointed 12 apostles to speak in his name and run the church. After Christ's death the 12 apostles soon died after. As direct authority to speak in Christ's name disappeared with their deaths Christianity began to quickly drift from the church Christ had once established and men began to alter the original beliefs to incorporate their own.

It is believed by the LDS faith that in 1820, God, The Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, a young man searching for religion. In this vision, Smith was given instruction concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to properly restore it upon the earth.

The LDS religion is based upon the belief that "Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God" (40.).

The basic beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were written in a letter to a newspaper editor, John Wentworth, when he had asked Joseph Smith for information about the church. These became known as the “Thirteen Articles of Faith”.

13 Articles of Faith

    1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
    3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
    6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
    7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
    8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
    10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
    11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
    12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
    13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (11.).

Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830, its membership has grown to over 15,634,199 million members (2016). It is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of their belief that it is Christ’s Church “restored” in the “latter-days”. It has been nicknamed the “Mormon” Church because of its belief in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon contains the history and God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD. The prophets in the Book of Mormon recorded God's dealings with His people, which were compiled by a prophet named Mormon onto gold plates (1.). The Book of Mormon testifies that Jesus Christ did indeed live on the earth and still lives today as our divine Savior. It’s a second witness affirming the existence of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible (2.).

Members of the LDS faith believe in the teachings of the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. The LDS church describes the Book of Mormon as "the word of God, like the Bible. It is Holy Scripture, with form and content similar to that of the Bible. Both books contain God's guidance as revealed to prophets as well as religious histories of different civilizations. While the Bible is written by and about the people in the land of Israel and surrounding areas, and takes place from the creation of the world until shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon contains the history and God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD. The prophets in the Book of Mormon recorded God's dealings with His people, which were compiled by a prophet named Mormon onto gold plates" (40.).

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Sense of Self and Space

Members of the LDS faith value modesty and sexual morality. The human body is considered a sacred gift from God that and, therefore, should be valued and respected. Because of this belief, members are encouraged to dress modestly. They believe the way you dress sends a message about who you are and can influence the way you and those around you think and act. It is believed that when you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you can more easily invite the spirit into your life while also being a good influence on those around you. Revealing or sexually suggestive clothing is thought to stimulate desires and actions and may violate the law of chastity. Furthermore, they also strive to avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle and do not believe in tattooing or excessive body piercings (39.).

The power of procreation is believed to be a sacred part of God’s eternal plan. Sexual relations are viewed as expressions of love and allowing husband and wife to create life. Members believe God has commanded that this power and privilege of a sexual relationship only exist between a man and woman who are legally married. "This commandment is called the law of chastity. It requires abstinence from sex before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to our spouses after marriage. God expects us to keep our thoughts clean and be modest in our dress, speech, and actions (Matthew 5:27–28). We must also avoid viewing pornography and engaging in homosexual relations" (40.).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has consistently opposed the practice of abortion. Members believe that life is precious. It is a gift form Heavenly Father (23.). They obey the commandment, "thou shalt not kill" which encompasses the life of an unborn child - regardless of it's age. Elder James E. Faust stated, "One of the most evil myths of our day is that a woman who has joined hands with God in creation can destroy that creation because she claims the right to control her own body. Since the life within her is not her own, how can she justify its termination and deflect that life from an earth which it may never inherit?" The great medical profession, for which I have such great respect, that for centuries has been committed to the preservation of life under the cardinal principles of treatment—“do no harm” and “protect life”—now finds itself destroying almost a million unborn children a year in the United States alone. Each of these, because of tiny chromosomal differences, would have been different from any other person born in the world. How many with special gifts like unto Moses, Leonardo da Vinci, and Abraham Lincoln might have been among them?" (24.).

A question that has plagued men for all time is "Who am I?" Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe they have an eternal nature and destiny - that they are literal Children of a loving Heavenly Father. They existed with Him in their pre-mortal life and they have the opportunity to exist with him in the post-mortal life as well. They believe He knows and loves them individually. This belief helps them endure many of life's trials without losing hope. They believe that as they live the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and love and serve others their sense of joy and self- worth grows.

They believe in the Sacred nature of certain spaces. One of these is the Temple. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in building Temples. They have Temples throughout the world. Current temple statistics: 150 operating (4 under renovation), 14 under construction, 13 announced (20.). Members regard the Temples as the most sacred place on earth where they can feel closest to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (21.). Another place they regard as sacred is their chapels - housed within their church buildings. These chapels are where the members congregate each Sunday to worship and partake of the Sacrament - the formal blessing and administering of bread and water representing the body and blood of Christ to Church members. It is the equivalent of communion in many other Christian churches (22.).

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Salt Lake Temple

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