The first paragraph in a recent press release from the Church:
- For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and many others, the biblical apostle James’ definition of pure religion is more than a platitude. It is an extremely practical way to approach personal, family and community challenges. James’ understanding of this principle is expressed in this way: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
- Latter-day Saints take this interpretation of pure religion very seriously. Being a person of faith is something you do within the context of a world full of suffering, not just what you say or believe. Genuine and frequent charitable acts, though, are not enough on their own. They need to be enacted by individuals who are trying to live morally upright lives, or are striving to keep themselves “unspotted from the world.”
- Many Latter-day Saints feel this desire to reach out to the downtrodden — James’ widows and fatherless — and find that the two elements of his pure religion exist in a symbiotic relationship. Learning Christ’s teachings and reading about the way He conducted Himself motivates individuals to look for ways to engage with others the way He did. And serving those in need functions as a refining process — humbling the server, bringing her or him closer to Christ and His example.
Something like that.