Why Mormons Are Different

I have been a Mormon my whole life. My father converted as a young man, and my grandparents on my mother’s side welcomed the missionaries into their home to try and “prove them wrong,” only to find that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ was what they had been missing. For 22 years I have benefitted from the dedicated examples of my parents, enjoyed the atmosphere and culture of the church, and I have loved the teachings of Jesus Christ. As I have grown, I have noticed that Mormons can sometimes be considered social anomalies. Certain commonalities amongst members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not quite “normal.” Here are of some of my experiences with these so called “abnormalities.”

Abnormality #1: Serving Full-time Missions

The young men and women of the LDS Church are invited and encouraged to serve full-time missions. This means dedicating 1 ½ -2 years completely to inviting others to come unto Christ. Most young men leave right after high school at the age of 18, and the young women can leave at age 19. Some missionaries stay in the United States, while others travel across the world and learn an entirely new language and culture. For all missionaries, communication with family and friends back home is limited to weekly emails and calls only on Christmas and Mother’s Day, in an effort to maintain focus and dedication to the Lord’s work. (Mark 16:15, D&C 20:59) There are also strict expectations of obedience and responsibility.

I suppose what is so “strange” about this is that in today’s society, the young adult years of age 18-24 are the prime years for self-discovery and gratification as well as fun. College is considered a time of complete freedom and sanctioned selfishness before familial responsibilities ensue. When I put my studies on hold to serve as a missionary in Mexico, I was bombarded questions such as, “What about your degree?” and “Won’t you miss Aggie Football?” and mostly, “Why?”

Abnormality #2: Getting Married Young and Having Large Families

The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children and is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). “Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). For Mormons, the family is eternal. It is the greatest opportunity for us to achieve happiness on this earth and is a vital part of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us in the eternal scheme of things. So, why wait?

I married the love of my eternities at the ripe age of 21. We had both recently returned from different missions and had started school again. We both had at least two years until graduation and only had a 4 month engagement. Neither of us had a very solid plan for the future, and we were definitely not financially secure. When my classmates saw my engagement ring they usually complimented it first and then asked, “Why?”

Abnormality #3: Sharing and Inviting

As we know, we are all children of God (Galations 3:26) and we serve Him. In order to do so fully, we must also serve our brothers and sisters (Mosiah 2:17). As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we put a lot of focus into serving others, whether that be physical service or service of a more spiritual nature. 

I personally talk about the church and my testimony of Christ and His teachings all the time. It comes up quite a bit in the university setting and is surprisingly easy to chat about.  I have invited many friends to come to church, listen to the missionaries, and read the Book of Mormon. Though some of my invitations have been declined, those that have been accepted have been rewarding for both parties. Rarely do my invitees ask me why I invited them, they simply say, “thank you.”

As I mentioned before, I grew up in the church. These things all seem completely normal to me. But as the question “Why?” has become more prevalent, I have realized that these customs don’t constitute the norm in our society. I have pondered it and come up with what I believe to be a suitable answer: love.

These three deviations from social norms, as well as many others, exist because of love.
We serve Him because we love Him. 1 ½-2 years is a small token of love compared to His perfect life and Atoning sacrifice.

Love is what enables young marriages and large families to function and be successful. We want the best for those we love. We want them to be happy and have peace. So, we invite them to look for it.

We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We love because we try to understand the perfectly loving nature of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. As we come to feel their love in our lives and in our hearts, we can’t help but share and show it. For Mormons, love makes being slightly “abnormal” totally worth it.

Koby Lopez is 22 years old and happily married. She and her husband are both studying at Texas A&M University and are enjoying their newlywed/student life, but are also excited to graduate and start a family. Koby loves surprises and tries to focus on the little things in life. Her personal motto is "preparation brings blessings."

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