We’ve had such a huge response to the post on the list of Mormon Rules that we felt it deserved a follow up. The comments and e-mails generated from this post have ranged from statements of “WTH?” to some obvious current Mormons and defenders of the faith who wanted to tell us that surely the Devil is controlling us and that we’ve got it all wrong. We wanted to clarify that we never intended to suggest that Mormons will be forced to do these things. The list of rules, as we stated in the original post, are the things expected of faithful Mormons in order to be considered a worthy member or a member in good standing within the church. But here’s the thing folks; if you are a Mormon and you do not follow these rules there are definitely consequences. Let’s take a further look at this:
1. Pay 10% aka Tithing.
No one comes to your home and holds a gun to your head while you write out a check. However, each and every member is to attend a meeting at the end of the year with their Bishop known as a Tithing Settlement. During this meeting, the Bishop will present you with a receipt of all the money you’ve given the church that year (for your taxes) and ask you whether or not you are a full tithe payer. Those who respond that they are not are strongly encouraged to get caught up with their payments (aka the “settlement”) at that time. Any “excuses” such as not being able to afford it are met with stern objections about how that is not an excuse, you are cheating the Lord, you’ll receive blessings from paying your tithing, etc. etc. Of course, you can still walk out of that meeting having not paid all or even any of your tithing, but you’ll be chastised for doing so.
2. Do not question Mormon authority.
There are more examples than I can count of those who have questioned the leaders and been disciplined for it, including those who have been excommunicated.
3. Fully believe in and frequently reiterate that you know the Mormon church is true.
4. Pass a worthiness interview yearly so you can attend the temple.
Here’s where it gets interesting. There are Mormons who have never been to the temple and never will go to the temple. But these are the “less worthy” members. They are thought of less than an “active” member of the church. It is significantly frowned upon to not be a temple Mormon, as that is the ultimate goal of Mormons since they believe the only way you will receive the “highest degree of glory” (their version of heaven) is by attending the temple along with marrying, having children and living all the rules of Mormonism.
5. Once you attend the temple for the first time you will begin wearing the special underwear (called garments).
You will be asked in your Temple Recommend interview renewal each year if you are wearing the “authorized garments” day and night. In addition, it is a cultural thing within the Mormon church to check for the tell-tale lines made by garments to see whether or not someone is a worthy, temple going Mormon. Again, those who are not are looked down on.
6. No smoking, alcohol, coffee, or tea.
This is expected of every member. Those who break this rule are expected to confess to the Bishop, repent, and not continue.
7. Get married early. (No sex before marriage.)
Naturally, no one is forcing anyone to marry. But the church does all it can to facilitate early marriage through various singles events and numerous talks on the importance of marrying young.
8. Have children early and have many.
Like getting married, no one is forcing anyone, but they are certainly strongly encouraged (again, through various talks from the Mormon authorities) to begin their families early.
9. Preach to your non-Mormon friends, family and co-workers and try to get them to become Mormon.
10. Do not associate with other non-Mormons (except when engaged in #9 above.)
11. Young Men (age 19) are to serve a two year mission.
This may be “voluntary” but just try to explain to anyone at church that you’ve chosen not to serve a mission but to go to college instead (or whatever your choice may be). You’ll be given such a hard time about how important it is to serve a mission and be thought of and treated as less valiant than those who have served a mission.
12. Women are expected to marry only a man who has served a mission (referred to as a “Returned Missionary”.)
13. Attend all church meetings. 3 hours on Sunday, plus additional meetings for many other things.
Not showing up at church on Sunday is like being a kid in elementary school when the Principal’s office calls your home to see why you were absent. You will get a call from someone at church asking why you weren’t there. In fact, I was once told that the budget was determined by attendance and that when I didn’t show up they lost money.
14. Follow a Dress code for church. Women cannot wear pants. Men should be wearing suits or at the very least a white dress shirt and tie.
The least that will occur are very stern looks from the members and at worst you could be told you are dressed inappropriately and must go home to change.
15. Accept and perform whatever church job (aka "calling") they give you. This takes much additional time.
Turning down a calling is almost unheard of. Of course this is not to say that it has not been done; my wife and I both have turned down callings. We were met with very shocked expressions as to how we could do such a thing. A Mormon member is definitely looked down upon for declining any calling offered to them.
16. Every member is asked to visit other members and teach a lesson out of a manual once per month. This is known as Home Teaching for the men, and Visiting Teaching for the women.
17. Fast once per month [which to Mormons is no food or water for 24 hours.]
18. Sundays are for church only, no “worldly” activities are permitted [this includes shopping, dining out, recreational activities, kid's sporting events, etc.]
So, forget Mother’s Day Brunch, dinner out with the family, or even attending a sporting event (including one your child is supposed to be playing in!) these are all unapproved activities for Sunday. Not that you’d have time anyway with a 3+ hour meeting schedule. Again, you can sneak out and do these things if you choose, no one is going to stop you, however, if you’re caught or you feel guilty and confess, you are definitely looked down upon as a “less active” member who is not following the rules.
19. Wear only very modest clothing: this means no shorts above the knee, no low cut tops for women, nothing sleeveless, etc.
For the worthy member, wearing the special underwear (#5 above) will take care of this automatically. However, it’s not uncommon for a “rebellious” Mormon, fed up with the rules, to either remove their garments altogether or do what’s known as the old “tuck and pin” trick to allow more modern fashions to be worn without one’s underclothes hanging out. Doing either of these things is also looked down upon and something that would get you considered unworthy in terms of being a Mormon in good standing as well as end up in denial of admittance to the temple.