Like all churches, the Mormon church has several rules. Now there is a big difference between rules and guidelines. While the church does have several rules, a lot of perceived rules are really just guidelines. So what is the difference? The easiest test is to simply see what it takes to be allowed in to a Mormon temple. Obviously church leaders will not let just anyone inside, so each member is interviewed before being permitted to enter. The interview is to ensure members are living the commandments, or keeping the rules basically. With that in mind, here are the hard and fast rules a Mormon must live by.
1. Mormons must sustain their leaders and not be involved with any groups whose teaching directly contradict those of the Church. Sustaining church leaders means simply to follow their direction and not criticize them or undermine them. Mormons cannot belong to any group that is trying to defy the church, destroy the church, or attack the church in any way. Political parties are ok.
2. Mormons must be keeping all the covenants they have made throughout their lives. Mormons make a covenant at baptism to always remember Jesus Christ, to take his name upon them and keep his commandments. Mormons make covenants during the temple ordinances as well. Mormons are required to live by these covenants throughout their lives.
3. Mormons must keep the Law of Chastity. Adultery and fornication are serious sins in the church. Mormons must live pure and virtuous lives.
4. Mormons must keep a commandment referred to as the Word of Wisdom. This commandment deals with taking care of the body. Mormons are not allowed to drink alcohol, coffee or tea and must abstain from drugs and tobacco.
5. Mormons must abide by the Ten Commandments, and must not kill, steal or lie, among other things.
6. Mormons must pay a full and honest tithe, which is 10% of their increase.
As far as hard and fast rules of conduct, that’s about it. There are other rules in the church, but they deal with church affairs and not how you live your personal life. There is a separate rule book for Mormon missionaries, but it is just for while they are serving a mission. They are to always stay with their assigned missionary companion, follow a specific schedule and always wear their name tags, among other things.
As far as guidelines are concerned, there are a whole bunch. For The Strength of Youth is a pamphlet that is full of them. In it, youth are told not to date until they are 16 years old. They are told to listen to good music and refrain from watching bad shows or movies. If a 15 year old is dating someone and wants to be baptized, will they not allow it? Of course not, they can get baptized. This means it is not a hard and fast rule, but more of a guideline that is there to help.
The only real rule in the church is to keep the commandments. But even that cannot be completely enforced. Can a church leader determine if you are truly honoring your father and mother? Probably not. So the real rule is more like don’t break the commandments. In other words, it is hard to verify if someone is doing what they should be doing. But it is easy to verify if someone is doing something they should not be doing. So the real rule of the church is do the do’s and don’t do the don’ts.