About a week ago I went to the wedding of one of my nieces. As I sat waiting for the wedding to begin and watching people arrive, I suddenly had a glimpse of how we look to many who either are not attending church with us or are completely outside our community. In short, we look weird.
Someone standing at the front of the hall where the wedding was performed could easily have picked out the LDS from everyone else: we in suits or sports coats and mostly white shirts; everyone else in much more casual clothing, such as shorts, levis, sandals, and Hawaiian shirts. The only one such a person would have been wrong about was the Presbyterian minister who performed the marriage. He looked LDS because he was dressed to conduct the wedding.
If you combine our patterns of dress with other cultural practices and then throw in doctrine, it isn’t difficult to see why people find us strange, even incomprehensible. Sometimes we congratulate ourselves on our weirdness, as if it were a mark of virtue. Other times we condemn ourselves for it, as if we could blend in. I suspect that our weirdness is inescapable, but it often isn’t a virtue.
I don’t know how to deal with that weirdness, but I imagine it is a significant factor in explaining why many people don’t understand us, won’t listen to our message, feel uncomfortable around us, . . . .