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Hi I'm Ethan

I'm a law school student, a writer, and a husband. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm currently in law school at Duke University in North Carolina, but I'm originally from Wyoming. I joined the Mormon Church about eight years ago, and I served a two year mission in New Mexico. After my mission, I went to school at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I majored in political science with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. In July 2007, I married a wonderful girl in the Portland, Oregon temple. I graduated in April 2009 and started law school in June 2010. I enjoy writing fiction and poetry, reading a lot, playing chess, hiking, and spending time with my wife.

Why I am a Mormon

I grew up in a wonderful home that taught me good principles, but I didn't grow up with any religion. I didn't really have a strong sense of identity and purpose and struggled with what I wanted to do with life. In college, I was introduced to the Mormon Church by a girlfriend. The message that the missionaries taught me was a little unsettling because it conflicted with many of my own beliefs about the world at that time, but it also appealed to me. It explained who I was as a child of God, what my purpose in life was, and answered many of the questions that had bothered me for much of my life. It also felt right to me, and as I studied the Book of Mormon and prayed about it, I felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that I'd found the truth. Since that time, I've found that the gospel has totally transformed my life in wonderful ways. I'm a happier and better person. Joining the Church and remaining faithful have required some significant sacrifices and hard choices, but as I've chosen to follow the Spirit and keep the commandments, God has always blessed me and helped me gain so much more out of life.

How I live my faith

Although we've moved recently, in my last Church congregation in Seattle, Washington, I served as a leader for the young men in our church branch. It was a wonderful experience to share my testimony with them and help them develop their faith in God. The Mormon Church is great for youth, who live in an increasingly confusing and immoral society. The LDS Church provides a solid foundation for them to develop into successful and happy adults. I try to serve in the community as well. In Seattle, I volunteered at the Chinese Information and Service Center, where I taught a class to help immigrants prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam. I also volunteered for a local organization devoted to serving the homeless. I hope to find opportunities where I live currently to serve the community. I also contribute at least 10% of all my income to my Church, which has been a great blessing in my life. I strive to study scripture daily, pray to God regularly, attend Church meetings, make my family the highest priority, and help out whenever I see someone in need.

What do Mormons believe about the Bible? Do they regard it as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

Ethan
The Holy Bible is an essential part of the LDS religion. M. Russell Ballard, one of our Church leaders and a modern-day apostle, said: “we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and the author of our salvation and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible. We do have additional sacred scripture, including the Book of Mormon, but it supports the Bible, never substituting for it.” The Holy Bible has changed my life. It has strengthened my faith, brought me comfort and peace, and provided guidelines for my life. As I’ve studied and tried to apply the teachings of the Bible, I have become a much better and happier person. Mormons believe that God continues to communicate with us as he did in the times of the Bible. Scripture, for Mormons, simply means God’s word communicated through the writings and teachings of God’s prophets. We believe that there are many more records than those contained in the Bible. The Book of Mormon is an example of God’s word communicated through prophets on the American continent during much of the same period that the records in the Bible were written. All the scriptures that we accept as the authentic word of God support and strengthen the teachings in the Bible. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord said, “because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished… wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.” (2 Nephi 29:9-10) I know that the Bible is the word of God. I also know that God has spoken to other nations who have recorded his words and that he speaks today through a living prophet and twelve apostles. It has been such a blessing to have access to these sacred scriptures and the words of prophets in the modern times. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Ethan
We believe that through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, mankind can gain eternal life by qualifying for the saving grace He has provided for us by suffering for our sins. Eternal life means to return to live in the presence of God in a state of unimaginable happiness forever. It is a gift of God made possible by the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Grace refers to Christ’s power to cleanse us from our sins and to empower us to face life’s trials successfully. We qualify for that grace as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent of our sins. When we commit sin, we distance ourselves from God. Sins are acts that violate the laws of God that he established for the happiness and welfare of his children. When we disobey these laws, we commit sin. Since heaven is a place that is free of sin and its inhabitants live by God’s laws, we can only return to live with him by being cleansed from past sin and becoming sinless through our faith in Jesus Christ. We can't completely make amends for our own sins, since it's not possible for us to rewind and erase all the consequences for our actions. Richard G. Scott, an Apostle in the LDS Church, explained: “When we obey a law, we receive a blessing. When we break a law, there is nothing left over from prior obedience to satisfy the demands of justice for that broken law.” For this reason, we need Jesus Christ, who cleanses us from sin and gives us power to become the kind of people who can live in the presence of God. By taking upon himself our sins, He suffered our punishment for the broken law. This is the saving role of Jesus Christ in God’s plan of happiness. Although this grace is a gift from God, we must qualify for that gift through our faith and repentance. A Book of Mormon prophet wrote: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God; for we know that is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) This means that we must exercise faith in Him, put forth our best efforts to repent of our sins, and keep God’s commandments. As we do so, Jesus Christ has promised that He will mercifully forgive our sins and help us to gain “peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

Ethan
No, the Mormon Church does not endorse any political party. “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man.” Our beliefs encourage civil involvement, obedience and respect for law, and promote the public interest and the accountability of government. However, the Church does not support a particular political party. The Church does take stances on some moral issues, such as abortion (we believe that abortion is a sin and should not be performed except in very limited cases such as when the health of the mother at risk) and same-sex marriage (we believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and support only this traditional and God-given conception of marriage.) Nevertheless, particular stances on select issues does not mean the Church endorses a particular party. Show more Show less

Can a husband and wife be together forever? Do Mormons believe that families will live together in heaven?

Ethan
The eternal nature of the family is a key belief in the LDS Church. We believe that through sacred ordinances and covenants in holy temples around the world husbands and wives can be married to each other for time and all eternity, and families can be with each other forever. We can live in God's presence with those we love forever, as long as we keep God's commandments faithfully throughout our lives and exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that's true. Recently, my wife and I lost our precious baby girl, who passed away when she was fifteen months old. It has been heart-wrenching, but our testimonies that we will be together forever have carried us through. I'm so grateful to know the path that I must walk in order to be with my family forever. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Ethan
Faith means to rely on things that we can’t see or know with total certainty. Faith needs a subject and an object. A person always exercises faith in something. Usually, we think of faith in terms of faith in God. But everyday we exercise faith in many ways in the sense that we often rely on things that we can’t see or know. When a person goes to work every day, he does so in reliance on his employer to deliver a paycheck to him at the end of each pay period. We exercise faith in our friends, our family members, our cars, and all sorts of things on a daily basis, and sometimes we’re let down. There are few things that we can rely on with total confidence. The great news is that Jesus Christ is someone we can exercise unreserved faith in, because he will never let us down. A Book of Mormon prophet told his sons: “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation… which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Helaman 5:12 When we build our daily lives upon the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ, we are exercising faith in him. We are relying on the future promised blessings that come from obedience to God. And he always delivers on his promises. Some people feel a lot of hesitation about faith in God. But it’s important to remember that faith is something that we exercise almost automatically on a regular basis. The issue is really about what to exercise faith in. How do we decide where to put our trust when our understanding is so limited and needs are so great? Fortunately, there is a very well-marked path to discovering that answer. A prophet in the Book of Mormon named Alma compared faith to a seed. He said that we come to know if a seed is good i.e. if what we’re placing our trust in is good by planting it in our hearts, so to speak. That means that we keep an open mind and heart, and we’re open to learning. When a seed is planted, we must nourish it. Nourishing the seed of faith means to experiment upon what we learn. For example, in the Mormon Church, we give 10% of our income to the Church’s tithing fund. We are promised important blessings in return. When I learned about tithing, I exercised faith by paying my tithing. I nourished the seed. As the seed is nourished, it grows into a plant. The plant represents the blessings we receive in return for exercising faith in God. As I paid my tithing, I did receive wonderful blessings from God. I started to learn that God fulfills his promises. Faith is a reciprocal process. When the promised results come as we’ve relied on him, our faith in him is strengthened. As we continue to trust, learn, and obey, the plant continues to grow until it becomes a tree. The full-grown tree represents eternal life in heaven. Since eternal life comes after our life’s journey is over, we must continue to nourish the tree our whole lives, which means that faith is a life-long process. But as we exercise faith, our faith is confirmed by greater and greater understanding and blessings. The only way to know if God’s promises to you are real, you must begin by exercising faith. Then the blessings will come. As I’ve exercised faith in Jesus Christ, I have been blessed beyond measure. It’s not easy all the time, but faith gives me the strength to move through the hard times with trust that there will come a brighter day. And the brighter day always comes. I know that Jesus Christ is real, and that when you exercise faith in him, he will confirm to you that he’s real by blessing you with greater happiness and helping you to make the right choices. Show more Show less

Why do you have 12 Apostles? They were just meant to be around for the time of Jesus Christ, not to be replaced with new apostles.

Ethan
Joseph Smith, the first leader and prophet for the Mormon Church, said, "we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." We believe that the LDS Church is the same Church that Jesus Christ himself established restored in our time. Our Church has a President and his two counselors, who constitute the First Presidency, a Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and a variety of other church officers. The governing body of the Church is primarily concentrated in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These men, like God's chosen messengers in the past, all receive revelation from God for the Church and for all of God's children. God didn't call twelve apostles only for the short period during and following the life of Jesus. We today are just as much in need of God's guidance as the people of Christ's time. We need divine guidance that address the unique challenges of our day. God provides guidance to each of us as we pray to him and seek to know his will. However, the world still stands in need of divinely guided leadership to teach true doctrine, lead his church organization, and testify of Jesus Christ. The Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency are God's mouthpieces on the earth. The Apostle Paul said in the New Testament: "And [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists' and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry... till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God... that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and for, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." (Ephesians 4:11-14) We are not yet perfect, the work of the ministry isn't finished, many more people still have yet to come to know Jesus Christ, and God's children still need leaders who can protect us from deception and evil influences. That is why we still need Apostles and prophets in our time. They can teach us how to grapple with the unique circumstances of our time. I'm so thankful to have the guidance and inspired teachings of living prophets and Apostles. I read their words regularly, and I strive to follow their inspired teachings. I'm a better, happier person because I know where to look to find answers to the complex problems that we all face. Show more Show less

Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?

Ethan
The Lord and the leaders of the Mormon Church want everyone to enjoy the blessings of the temple, not just a select few people. The Book of Psalms says, in referring to the temple, "who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. . ." Psalms 243–4 Everyone can go to the temple, but everyone is required to live a life that is clean and worthy before they can go. The standard is the same for everyone. To go to the temple, we must be baptized by someone who has the priesthood, we must receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, repent of our sins, and live the moral standards set out by God in the scriptures. Anyone who takes these steps can enter the Holy Temple. Like Heaven, the Temple is a sacred place. If people who had not properly prepared themselves or did not live pure lives were able to go into the temple, it would no longer be a holy place. Rather than secret things, sacred things go on in the temple. We learn things there about God, about who we are, and about what God's plan for us is. Only those who have prepared themselves spiritually can learn from the things the Temple teaches. It's like spiritual higher learning, and we must go through a number of steps before we're prepared. In the temple, we learn about the Plan of Salvation and perform ordinances of salvation. Baptism is an example of an ordinance, a symbolic ceremony performed with priesthood authority that represents a covenant we make with God. In the Temple, other kinds of ordinances are performed, such as eternal marriage, where wife and husband are married for eternity if they live up to the covenant they make with God in the Temple. I love the Temple! I try to visit as often as I can. I find so much spiritual strength and comfort from attending the Temple often.  Show more Show less