Last week my co-worker friends at the flower shop started teasing me that Mormons only hang out with other Mormons. My first thought was to tell them they were wrong–but then I started thinking about it and realized that a lot of my friends really are Mormon, and I’ve been wondering–why is that, and is it okay?
First off, no, Mormons aren’t only friends with other Mormons. There’s no “rule” that we can only hang out with each other. We absolutely have all kinds of friends. Actually, I think we would like to be friends with even more kinds of people, but I think that “lots of people” just think we’re weird…
However, it is true that Mormons tend to clump together–we’re in general an extremely tight-knit group. I’d like to try to explain (and hopefully figure it out while explaining) why this is.
Not just a “Sunday” church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the actual but much longer name of our church) is not just a “holiday” church. (It’s not even just a “Sunday” church, for that matter.) It’s actually a pretty intensive church–we have a lot of interactions with each other, and each interaction strengthens our bonds and friendships. We serve each other and serve with each other.
In our congregations (we call them “wards”) no one gets paid. The ward functions completely on a volunteer basis by each member. Each man over 18 receives a responsibility to watch over and teach with monthly visits a couple families (called a Home Teaching assignment). Each woman over 18 receives a similar responsibility to watch over and teach specifically other women (called a Visiting Teaching assignment). In addition, many ward members receive other responsibilities to serve in various capacities (Sunday School teacher, activities committee, Scout leader, youth group teacher/leader, etc.). Because our ward members spend so much time working with and serving each other, we come to really understand each others’ needs, weaknesses and strengths–and there really is something about working side-by-side for a common goal that bonds people together.
Another huge thing is just our lifestyle–we don’t drink coffee or tea; we don’t do drugs; we try to keep our media consumption wholesome; and we don’t engage in premarital sex. And I think one of the biggest things that set us apart from mainstream culture is that we don’t drink alcohol. You’re not going to find a lot of Mormons at bars because, considering our lifestyle, bars don’t offer us much (other than karaoke, but that might be an entirely different blog post…). People in general gravitate toward other people who like to do similar activities, and who they feel comfortable with–that’s just human nature. Choosing the lifestyle we as Mormons do can be hard, but it’s a lot easier to live these morals when you’re around people who are trying to do the same thing.
The point of this blog post? If you’ve just been dying to be friends with a Mormon, invite one of us over for a karaoke party. The fact that we’ll actually sing without a drop of alcohol in our system is enough reason to have us there, but when you see us get warmed up and start singing till it gets to the point that you really can’t tell whether we’re drunk or not (and we’re not) you’ll be inviting us back every week. Better yet, invite us to serve on your weekly karaoke party committee…