Christian boy + Mormon girl, part 2

Last Monday, Ask Mormon Girl answered its first inquiry from L.M., a 15 year-old Christian boy with a crush on a 16 year-old Mormon girl. It wasn’t long before a second query from L.M. arrived in our askmormongirl@gmail.com inbox:

Hello Mrs. Brooks,

Thank you for your advice, I found it very helpful. I don’t know who she hangs out with, but I would like to get to know them…. If it turns out that she’s not interested, at least I will have made a few friends in the process. I’ll let you know what comes of it. By the way, what are some of the differences between Mormon and Christian beliefs that I should know about? The last thing that I want is to offend someone, especially such a nice girl as her.

Thanks again,

L.M.


Dear L.M.:

What are the differences between Mormons and Christians? That is quite a question. For if you stop right now and listen closely, you will hear a furious click-click-clicking echoing across the reaches of the universe. That’s the sound of thousands of Mormons and non-Mormon Christians who are right at this very moment sitting brows furrowed, shoulders hunched, fingers flying, hammering away at our theological differences. These discussions are sometimes quite neutral, and sometimes polite but pointy-headed, but often they boil down to Mormons insisting “We love Jesus! Very much! Which makes us very Christian!” while evangelical Christians fold their arms and turn up their noses, saying, “No, you are not! And stay the hell away from my Bible College picnic!” When I was your age, L.M., back in the 1980s, many evangelical Christians were quite fired up over this whole Mormons-vs.-Christians thing. My evangelical Christian friend Jeannette always seemed to take special pleasure in reminding me that I believed in the wrong Jesus and that I belonged to a cult. As did the anti-Mormon picketers who showed up at our church on Sundays with placards bearing the same message.

If I had to describe the differences, I would say that non-Mormon Christians love Jesus, while Mormons love Jesus Plus. As in, yes, we read the Bible, plus the Book of Mormon. And, yes, we believe that Jesus’s atonement saves us, and we believe that eternal commitments we make to our families also play a big role in bringing us closer to God. And, yes, we hold basic Christian values like charity, honesty, and morality, plus we also follow some rules of conduct specific to Mormon tradition. And yes, we are baptized after the example of Jesus Christ, plus we also express our commitment to God through a whole other set of ordinances that take place within Mormon temples. From what I’ve seen, it’s the plus part of Mormonism that seems to upset the evangelical Christians like my friend Jeannette and my non-friends the anti-Mormon picketers.

But I can tell that’s not the kind of Christian you are, L.M. You’re a lover, not a fighter. In fact, when I look again at your letter, I sense that what you’re really asking is not a question of theology but of ethics: how not to “offend” the really “nice” Mormon girl of your dreams. You want to know how to conduct yourself so as to respect your Mormon girl’s feelings. Which is actually a very, very discerning way to approach the whole subject, L.M., for the truly wise among us know that religion is far less accurately understood as a set of abstract theological propositions than as an incredibly powerful set of feelings, and that those feelings really matter. (An idea that, sadly, never seemed to occur to my friend Jeannette.)

So, L.M., here is my advice:

Know that most Mormon kids hold to strict rules of conduct, and they feel most comfortable around kids who do the same. You can read all about the standards Mormon youth keep in depth here. But it pretty much boils down to this: no sex (nor anything like unto it), no alcohol, no smoking, no drugs, no coffee (and for some Mormons, no caffeinated sodas), no R-rated movies, no swearing, no porn, no going out with friends on Sunday (except to church events). Mormons also tend to be clean-cut and pretty conservative in their appearance. Be aware that if you have a piercing or wild haircut, that may make your Mormon Girl and her parents a bit nervous, but don’t let that discourage you—especially if you’re willing to stick to rootbeer and make sure everyone on your group date gets home before curfew.

Know too that Mormon girl probably has very strong feelings about being Mormon, feelings she may not be confident she can fully explain. For being Mormon is more than a religion to her—it is a whole way of life: a culture, a family history, perhaps the most fundamental dimension of her being. She may be both eager to share her beliefs with you, and incredibly tender and protective, even defensive, about them, because non-Mormons have sometimes ridiculed Mormon people and our ways. I am confident that you, however, will be able to win her trust. Just listen when she talks. Make it easy for her to live her beliefs and keep her standards. And maybe if you two hit it off, you can bring her to this webpage, and show her that you once wrote a letter to a complete stranger just to find out how to treat a Mormon girl right. And that, L.M., is enough to warm any Mormon girl’s heart.

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10 Comments

Filed under Love, Mormon Youth, Mormons and Christians, theology

10 responses to “Christian boy + Mormon girl, part 2

  1. Aaron S

    I think it’s terribly unfair and perhaps even deceptive to describe Mormonism as merely an addition to traditional Christianity. If I became a Mormon, a lot of things would be taken away from my belief system, starting with my belief in the Trinity, justification by faith alone, the sufficiency of the priesthood of Jesus Christ (having rendered the Aaronic priesthood obsolete, etc), and my high view of true prophets (which says they have been infallible when publicly speaking on matters of doctrine in appeal to the authority of their prophetic office; i.e teaching Adam-God would render one a false prophet). A Christian would also have to give up the belief that God absolutely never sinned (particularly in conjunction with the belief that such a thing actually matters more than the correct mode of baptism, etc).

  2. marmot

    I think you’re doing this kid a real disservice by not telling him that there is a high probability that the Mormon Girl will not date outside of her faith.

  3. modernhaus

    I appreciate that the writer has given HER perspective, based on HER experiences, which is the best any of us can offer until that time when issues like the Christianization of the pagan Trinity doctrine and confusion over interfaith relationships can be permanently resolved by the highest authority.

  4. Thank you. Very interesting posting.

  5. What a great blog! It’s a pity that i can’t find your rrs address. If you can offer rrs subscription service, i can track your blog easier!

  6. marmot:

    we can agree to disagree :) Hopefully.

    I personally feel that a lot of the “differences” in the theology of the trinity, for instance, are so vague and indefinable as to be completely the fabrications of people trying to fiercely defend “camps”. We see what we want to see… if we want to see difference instead of similarity, that is what we will see.

  7. Anon

    To say that Mormonism is Christian or a new “gospel” to Christianity is false and misleading.

    Christianity and the Judaism from which it springs are both MONOtheistic religions. ONE God only. No more, no less.

    While Christians believe that God comes in three FORMS (the Trinity of God, Son and Holy Spirit), there is always and forever only ONE God.

    Mormons have beliefs regarding Jesus Christ. That does not make them Christians. MORMONS BELIEVE IN MORE THAN ONE GOD. Mormons believe that they all have the potential to be “gods” and rule over their own kingdom in heaven.

    There are a million other smaller differences, but that is the most glaring and obvious. Mormons believe in gods. Yes, one “heavenly father” for us here, but other gods out there as well!

    Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. all only believe in ONE God (with a capital “G”). To have any more than ONE is a huuuuuuuge difference!!

  8. Hi Joanna,
    I’m a Mormon; have been all my life. I just finished your book and made my way to your blog. I thought it would be fun to see how the blog started. I think your advice to this sweet boy was awesome. I hope he got the girl and they learned how to be better people together. :) You have had quite the emotional spiritual journey. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Susan Renteria

    I am soon to be the age of 13 and I was wondering because I have been confused, Is it allowed in both religions that christians and mormons are allowed to date? Or would one have to convert to the other religion? cause those questions have been following me ever since I found out my boyfriend is Christian.

  10. Hanna

    We ARE Christians. We believe in one God. Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. We don’t. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… No idols? Done. We only believe in one God like you non-Mormon Christians.

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