- The church is overprotective.
- Their experience of Christianity is shallow.
- Churches seem antagonistic to science.
- The church's approach to sexuality is judgmental and simplistic.
- They wrestle with the exclusivity of Christianity.
- The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Mormons are very protective. Mormons hang around mostly with other Mormons. They tend to send their kids to Mormon universities. They appear to put family first before interest, relationships, friendships, career and business. In some ways, they seem positively smothering when it comes to things Mormon.
Mormons have high expectations. From tithe to missionary service to worship attendance to evangelism, Mormons place high demands upon their members. They take care of their own in ways that even those folks most unfriendly to their religion grudgingly admire. Shallow they are not -- at least when it comes to commitment.
Mormons do not seem to care how out of step their beliefs are. It is not just with respect to science but even when it comes to historic, creedal Christianity, Mormons do not seem at all uncomfortable with their beliefs. We Christians might complain about the strangeness of Mormon beliefs and practices (from abstaining from caffeine to wearing a certain underwear) but it does not seem to bother them or inhibit their growth.
Mormons are distinctly old fashioned about sex and marriage. Mormons have a high morality when it comes to sex and marriage. They unhesitatingly affirm abstinence before marriage, an exclusively heterosexual marriage, disdain for divorce, and lots and lots of kids. Now these positions go against the grain of our culture but they seem not to hinder their growth.
Mormons have a high confidence in their beliefs. Now I would hardly call Mormons orthodox Christians, some Mormons claim to be and others not, but they do not dilute or discount their doctrine. They seem, as a group, to be more homogenous than Christians when it comes to what they believe and how they practice that faith. They seem not to be bothered with self-doubt and angst the way Christians are over a Jesus who insists He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and there is no other way to the Father.
Mormons do not tolerate diversity when it comes to belief. On the one hand, they tend to evangelize more by social relationship and truth teaching but on the other they do not have the wide range of beliefs the way Christians seem to be all over the place about what the Bible teaches and what constitutes Christian doctrine and truth. They are very friendly but eventually that friendship gives way to an orthodoxy (in Mormon parlance) which is neither flexible nor changing.
Before we begin to look to the Mormons for ways to grow Christianity, which is certainly not the point of this post or anything but a desperate move, we need to take stock of how they violate all the supposed rules and still grow. Could it be that those who are making these rules about growing the church got good grades in theory and sociology but were not paying attention in Sunday school or catechism class? The last thing Christianity needs is to be less protection of our faith and especially our children, to ease up on the expectations of what is Christian belief and piety, embrace science more for ultimate truth, be more open to sexual experimentation and changing values about marriage and family, water down Jesus' own claims of exclusive hope inclusive for all sinners everywhere, or suggest that doubts are good and claims of truth are suspect. It seems to me that those who do this have done enough damage to Christianity, the Church, and individual Christians. Perhaps we need to spend less time with sociological theory and more time in Scripture, the Confessions, and the Catechism. Period.