Social pressure / superficiality

(also see “Modesty” and “Tolerance”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Although many believing Mormons will admit that doing the right thing for the wrong reason (social pressures) is probably not the best thing, sometimes the end can justify the means. If there are social pressures to keep the commandments, and keeping the commandments has an eternal reward, then in the end we should be grateful for anything that keeps us on the straight and narrow path.
— N/A —
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Social pressures in the church are real. Young men experience great social pressure to participate in priesthood ordinances and to go on a mission. Young woman experience social pressures to dress modestly. Young adults experience social pressure to get married.

Many believers suffer great social shame and discord when they fall short of these expectations or other church standards.
 
It is possible that church doctrine contributes to social
pressures and superficiality within Mormonism.
The Bible and modern prophets have counseled us to “avoid the appearance of evil”. Theologically, it is understandable that the Lord’s chosen people should be an example of the nonbelievers, be a light on the hill, and influence others to come unto Christ when they see our example. However, this can have the negative effect of constantly worrying how others perceive us. This can lead to superficiality, with excessive worry about shallow things such as the clothes we wear and whether or not we look bad in one way or another. The believer, however, needs to remember that avoiding the appearance of evil is not for the purpose of pride and building an ego, but to bring others to God and to give the glory to him.
 
An interesting side effect of the focus on outward appearances is that those who present themselves well and appear to be successful are promoted in the church. In many cases, this means that financial success leads to important callings.
Social pressures in the church are real. Young men experience great social pressure to participate in priesthood ordinances and to go on a mission. Young woman experience social pressures to dress modestly. Young adults experience social pressure to get married.

Some nonbelievers find it ironic that a church which teaches love on the one hand can promote an environment filled with toxic social shaming and coercion. Many nonbelievers who leave the church do not miss this aspect of the church.
 
It is very likely that church doctrine contributes to social pressures and superficiality within Mormonism. The Bible and modern prophets have counseled us to “avoid the appearance of evil”. Theologically, it is understandable that the Lord’s chosen people should be an example of the nonbelievers, be a light on the hill, and influence others to come unto Christ when they see our example. However, this can have the negative effect of constantly worrying how others perceive us. This can lead to superficiality, with excessive worry about shallow things such as the clothes we wear and whether or not we look bad in one way or another.
 
Many nonbelievers struggle exceptionally with social pressures in the church. While some struggle with their faith because it’s something they don’t want to let go of, others struggle for their friends and family because they don’t want to let somebody down, to be perceived as weak or a sinner, and so on. Transitioning from one belief to another belief is difficult, but it is made more difficult and more painful due to social pressures. This can lead to many nonbelievers living an inauthentic life, putting on appearances to satisfy expectations of family and friends.
 
An interesting side effect of the focus on outward appearances is that those who present themselves well and appear to be successful are promoted in the church. In many cases, this means that financial success leads to important callings.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

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