How important is a name? President Nelson called it “a matter of great importance” (Nov. 2018) and this week’s lesson in D&C 115:4–6 the Lord is very specific in designating the name of His church. 

If the name of the Church matters, what about the names and labels we call ourselves? They are used as a tool to develop belonging, with incredible power in identifying with a group. The Danish narrative psychotherapist, Iben Sandahl, explains:

Labeling can have profound effects on adults but even more so on children. Many children [and adults] grow into these labels, not because they are them, but simply because they have come to believe them by hearing them repeated over and over again. …it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. … Our choice of language is crucial because it forms the frame through which we, consciously or subconsciously, see the world and perceive ourselves.”

Iben Sandahl

One form of identity (sometimes talked about with controversy) was studied and researchers found that “60% of men and 68% of women who were attracted to the same gender have never engaged in homosexual behavior. This number differs from those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, leading researchers to conclude that  identity (i.e., how people label and conceive of themselves) was a stronger indicator of behavior than orientation (i.e., the feelings or inclinations which people have).”
(Laumann, Edward O. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. University of Chicago, 2002, 299).

Also, Elder Soares reminds us “not only can a name connect each of us to our own identity and individuality, but it can also carry power, responsibility, and blessings.”

What’s in a name? A “matter of great importance” and careful consideration for ourselves and our loved ones.

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