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Ask A Mormon: Why try to convert other Christians?

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Do you have a question about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Submit it online or fill out the form below.

Q. If Mormonism is a Christian faith, why is my son, who is a Christian, being asked to convert to Christianity in order to date a certain girl? He is already Christian!

A. There is absolutely no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requirement that anyone convert in order to date a member of the Church. It should go without saying that converting to any religion in order to please a prospective date is a bad idea on many, many levels.

I do not know the details of your son’s specific situation, of course, but perhaps I can provide a bit of context. There is a great deal of encouragement for members of the Church to marry in the temple, because we believe that the sealing ordinance available in the temple unites families eternally. Admittance to the temple is limited to members of the Church who qualify for a temple “recommend” by living according to certain guidelines.

Some individual Mormons have made the personal decision that they will only date those who are members of the Church, because they figure that you marry who you date, and it will increase the likelihood that they will eventually marry in the temple. This is not, however, an official stance of the Church, and not every Mormon has made that decision. My Mormon older brother is currently engaged to a wonderful Catholic woman, whom we all adore. Before meeting my husband, I dated Latter-day Saints as well as those of other faiths and had both great and lousy experiences in each category.

The Church’s published guideline for youth, a pamphlet called “For the Strength of Youth,” simply states, “Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards.” Pretty good advice for people of any belief system!

Another aspect to consider is that Mormonism is a missionary, proselytizing faith. It is not at all uncommon for members of the Church to invite friends, coworkers, neighbors, and, yes, people they are either dating or interested in dating to meet with the missionaries and learn more about the Church. The gospel is a source of joy for us and we want to share it! The missionaries’ goal is to teach people the gospel, bringing them to Christ, and invite them to be baptized into the Church. If your son is meeting with missionaries, even on a casual basis, they will likely extend that invitation. That is what missionaries do.

When my parents met, my mother was a lifelong member of the Church, and my father had been raised in another Christian faith. They dated for a couple of years, during which my father showed no interest in the Church, and were engaged before my father started really investigating the Church. When he decided to be baptized, it wasn’t because he felt he “had to” in order to marry my mom. It was because he had studied and prayed about the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he believed it was what God wanted him to do.

Sounds to me like your son and this young woman need to have a chat about their expectations for a dating relationship.

Do you have a question about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Submit it online or fill out the form below.

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Emily Geddes

About Emily Geddes

Emily H. Geddes was born to two physicists and grew up as a Navy brat. Born-and-raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she holds a bachelor's degree in theatre from Brigham Young University, and earned an MBA from Eastern Washington University.

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