MAILBAG - Catholics dating Mormons
I received this e-mail from C:
I'm just a regular 16 year old Catholic girl. I dated a 17 year old Mormon boy, whom I loved very much. We were great together, but sometimes I couldn't figure out why he loved me back. After all, I wasn't Mormon, and he told me that he "would love to convert me, but wouldn't force me." He even got me a Book of Mormon for Valentine's Day (romantic, I know). One time, he talked about marriage and how he would want to be married to me forever (which scared the crap out of me. Who at my age thinks about marriage? I guess Mormons do). Besides that, things were great until his parents forced us to break up after 3 months of going out. Apparently, the prophet said that continuing a relationship after 3 months was dangerous. This was the absolute first time that my Mormon guy had heard this, and resisted his parents. I won't go into all the things his parents did to make us break up, but once they hacked into his email account and threatened to blackmail me, I couldn't go through all that pain anymore. We were both very depressed, angry, and confused (his parents labeled me as a "dangerous" girl, which I am totally not at all). So I began to look things up on the internet about Mormonism. I read both "pro" and "anti" Mormon matieral. I read ex Mormon stories. And I cried when I concluded that my ex boyfriend whole heartedly believed all the lies in the Church with his "solid testimony".
This whole experience has made me closer to and more appreciative of my Catholicism. I guess I'm one of those crade Catholics who've "reverted", right? Anyway, I think I said some things that offended my ex boyfriend after our break up. He didn't seem very pleased when I asked him, "Is it true that you guys have special underwear?!" or when I told him, "I'm never dating a Mormon again." He has definitley become colder towards me. The whole point of this email is, what might be going through his mind about me because of these comments? Why is marriage so important? Why were his parents so controlling after reading what the prophet said? Why did he want to convert me (I mean, I was fine with him being Mormon until I found out all those lies...)? And...how can I help him find the Catholic Church?
Unfortunately, I can't really tell you what goes on in a 17-year old's brain, nor can anyone I don't think except for maybe another 17-year old boy. But you did bring up a good question - why is marriage so important to Mormons?
When I was growing up, from the time I was old enough to know about boys (about 12), I was in a program called Young Women's Association. In these classes, taught every Sunday for one hour, I was in an all-girls class and taught about things that "girls" should know. I was taught that virtue was the most honorable trait a girl could have, and that a woman should allow herself to be killed before losing her virtue (actual quote from Spencer W. Kimball). I was taught that motherhood and being a wife were the greatest and most honorable callings a woman could have. I was taught to only date Mormon boys, as only they would have the same virtues as me. I was also taught to save myself for my husband, and to prepare myself to be a good wife and mother.
Now, the part about virtue was, and is, a very good teaching. I know that chastity and virtue are taught in the Catholic church, and one of the most pious things a woman can do in the Catholic church is to commit herself to perpetual virginity as a bride of Christ. It's the marriage part that makes things tricky when it comes to the Mormon church.
From the time teenagers are old enough to start paying attention to people of the opposite sex, they are taught to be virtuous and to only date Mormons and to remember the blessings of marriage even while dating in high school. This culture of marriage is brought about because of the Mormon teaching of Eternal Marriage.
Eternal marriage is the concept of being married in the Mormon temple for "time and all eternity" as opposed to Death Do Us Part. It is a covenant, similar in that aspect to a sacramental wedding in a Catholic church. The "catch" about this teaching is that it is taught that all must be "eternally" married to go to Heaven. This progression is part of what is called the "Plan of Salvation". Our road on this earth has been mapped out for us (here's another chart that I actually have in my home that was given to me as a child), and the only way we can be with our Father in Heaven, according to Mormon teachings, is to be married in the temple for time and all eternity.
The goal from this progression, being in the Celestial Kingdom, is to become Gods of our own worlds as God is the creator of ours. We will, with our eternal companion (and all of his other wives) be given the blessing of creating our own worlds with our own children, and progressing throughout eternity as God has continually progressed. A couplet that was said by Lorenzo Snow goes "As man is, God once was, as God is, man may someday become."
And yes, this concept is VERY MUCH opposite of the concept of the traditional Trinitarian God that the Catholics (and most Protestants) worship. Catholic Answers has an interesting page called Mormon Stumpers that has more information about Mormon teachings from a Catholic perspective.
I hope I have answered at least some of your question. Mormons put emphasis on an Eternal Marriage in the temple because for Mormons, the only way to complete salvation and living in the presence of God throughout eternity is through Eternal Marriage. Without marriage, a Mormon cannot be in the presence of God's full glory after his death.