This article was originally written by Zachery Brasier. Below is an excerpt from his blog. Is Mormon culture the same as Mormon doctrine? It is hard to tell the difference, especially in heavily Mormon populated areas. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints professes to have the complete gospel truth that was restored in our times. When we look at the doctrine of the Church, we can see beauty and truth in it. Unfortunately, the people in the Church can sometimes cause a problem. Although the doctrine is perfect, the people are not. Church membership does not only mean that a person accepts the doctrine, it also means that they become part of a culture built around attempts to live the doctrine. Sometimes this is helpful, but sometimes it can be harmful when mainstream members assume that parts of the Mormon culture are actually doctrine. They may become militant in their beliefs, and people leave the Church. The great tragedy is that members who leave often do so because of the culture of the Church and not the doctrines. Truth is sacrificed, because members make it so difficult to live within Church society. Against this, I would like to suggest four things that we can do to make Mormon culture more accepting off all people. I am not criticizing the Church doctrine, but rather how people have chosen to live it.
1. More support for introverts in meetings.
Nobody is completely introverted or extroverted, but everybody has tendencies towards one of those personality types. Introverts tend to be more thoughtful and quiet, avoiding large social settings and feeling awkward around large groups of people. Extroverts thrive on social connections and are outgoing. Church services and activities are geared towards extraversion. We see this a lot in social activities or group meetings, where people assume that a member not actively participating is somehow unhappy or in spiritual danger. We are constantly told to reach out to those people, which is good, but we reach out to introverts by forcing them to extroverted. This is why we have some youth who dread Mutual or why we have members who do not like Church meetings. It may not be because they do not want to be around other members, they just feel uncomfortable being forced to be extroverted, because introverted Church members are seen as lonely, withdrawn and struggling. It would be helpful if in Church meetings we gave time for people to sit and think instead of constantly bombarding them with questions and call for involvement. I have been in Sunday Schools where I have spent the time to think and ponder, only to be dragged out of my thoughts by a teacher who somehow thought I was not involved enough to be “feeling the Spirit.” Would it not be nice to have meetings where we were given time to ponder and think without interruption? We also need to recognize that not everyone feels comfortable in social settings, and that is ok. Not every member of a ward needs to enjoy ward activities to feel like they belong. Instead of insisting that everybody be friends with everybody else, we need to realize that some people feel comfortable with only a few close friends in a ward. Being quiet and awkward at Church does not mean that a person is struggling. That being said, we still need to be friendly at Church meetings. When we see new people at sacrament meeting, we do need to be friendly and make them feel welcome. It is important though that we help them on their terms, not ours. To continue reading visit www.zacherybrasier.com