When you grow up in a certain culture – any culture – that shapes who you are. So when you compare Mormonism to traditional Christianity, it’s not just about differences in doctrine. Latter-day Saints are whole persons who have been embedded in an entire culture and who thus have a unique identity shaped by that culture.
How LDS Identity is Shaped.
The unique Mormon identity is shaped in many ways. It begins with the stories we are told growing up, the customs we observed, and the events we attended with our families. Every LDS child goes through formative rites of passage, starting with a baby blessing at 2 weeks old, then baptism at age 8, followed by priesthood ordination for boys at 12. All of these and many more factors create a sense of who we are.
[Related: Mormonism as a Cultural Identity]
A Lasting Identity Goes Beyond Life Circumstances.
But now, after leaving Mormonism, we face the questions, “Who am I? Who am I going to be? Who do I want to be?” From a Christian perspective, our identity can be so much deeper than the circumstances of our lives. People often get bogged down identifying themselves by what they used to be: “I’m an ex-Mormon.” But that is a limiting way to see ourselves. You may happen to be an ex-Mormon, but you also may happen to be Danish or English, perhaps you were raised in a certain state. We are a complex of many circumstantial factors. But those aren’t your primary identity. As a Christian, your identity is not based on your socioeconomic status, your race, your nationality, where you live, or your job.
[Related: Gaining a New Identity After Mormonism]
A Christian Identity is Rooted in Jesus.
In the Christian worldview, your identity is shaped by your relationship with Jesus. The goal is to get to the place where you identify simply as a Christ-follower – who happens to have been a Mormon at one time. Being a Christ-follower is not a label or title; it’s who you are.
2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life had begun.
if you are a Christian, you have been created anew by God. You become a new person. You are not who you were before. You are now a member of God’s family and part of his flock. That’s the identity that gives meaning and purpose to our lives.
[Related: Being a Child of God After Mormonism]
To make progress, we all need a vision of what we can be. So we have to navigate the identity question to reach this vibrant, healthy life that God has in store for us.