While Jeannette and I have been reading up on the Book of Mormon, we caught parts of a show on PBS which was all about Mormons! While I don't believe in the divinity of the Book of Mormon, or that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I'm not going to be a convert anytime soon, I did walk away with a better understanding of Mormons. Jeannette and I have always felt kind of bad for Mormons because we're sure people don't treat them well when they are out on their missions. Now, I can understand why they do what they do. Why would anyone want to walk around and bother people on the street? Because God wants you to. So, you don't like to bother people on the street? Get over it, God has a mission for you. It's hard to imagine the pressures on a young Mormon to step in line and follow the church's dogma. It's difficult to challenge authority in any religion, and in Mormonism, that is the case. If you doubt the legitimacy of the Book of Mormon, or challenge the core beliefs of Mormonism, you can be excommunicated. And that is serious to Mormons. Not only does it distance you from your family, which is most important on Earth, you are damned to hell, and are unable to reunite with your family in heaven. Relationships on earth, to the Mormons, are eternal. Marriage is eternal, families are eternal. This gives a lot of comfort to families, especially when a child is close to death, or dies suddenly. The family members have comfort that they will see their child again. So, how much pressure is on a young man or woman to continue the lineage, the belief in Mormonism? Lots of pressure. This can cause problems for women who don't marry, or who are unable to have children, or for people who are gay and won't have children. The Mormon position on homosexuality is, pray and cure yourself of your sin, or be celibate.
While I won't be a Mormon any time soon, I have a new respect for them. I can understand the pressures to continue to follow beliefs which may seem oppressive, sexist, racist, ridiculous, but to do so because this is what God commands of you, and your family is depending on you, forever.