The first reason is that they want to thwart any positive progress in your life. These are the “friends” that have repeatedly convinced you to stay up late and party the night before an important job interview or a critical test. These friends are fun to be around but historically have not benefited you in any positive way except for the fact that they let you be stupid and make bad decisions around them without judgement. And, this is precisely because you let them behave badly and make poor decisions without judgement, too. This is one of those Lose/Lose relationships.
The other reason folks will do this is more earnest and perhaps more insidious. They pull out the 25-year old Scotch that you didn’t even know they had, just for you, because they are afraid of losing you. Even your mother may be accustomed to the wild and crazy YOU and is somehow under the impression that if you drop these vices, then you won’t be you anymore and that you will turn into some kind of character from an old documentary on the Puritans branding scarlet letters on the foreheads of everyone in your life. This kind of thinking comes from ignorance about the Church, it’s teachings, and our non-affiliation with the Puritans. I find this particular motivation by our loved ones weird because it hints at saying that what made you YOU was your coffee-drinking and pot-smoking self. Are they really afraid that the new you won’t be better? How can it not be better? Seriously, how can the more refined YOU not be better?
Another odd reaction is from people who are genuinely supportive about your refusal of alcohol until they find out why. It is crazy, but if you refuse alcohol because you have an alcohol problem then folks are behind you wholeheartedly. But if you say it’s because you are joining a religious denomination committed to doing good and furthering Christ’s message of love and forgiveness, then they freak out and want to push liquor down your throat as soon as possible.
Now, to be sure, lifelong members of the church are also targets of less than charitable people eager to divert Mormons off their celestial path. No one wants to be alone in their sin or tomfoolery, if you will. And it seems that the youth of the church are especially easy targets for those purveyors wanting to A: create a new customer; or B: prove the church is wrong simply by getting someone to stray. The Salt Lake corridor is full of folks willing to give that good Mormon kid a free taste of the real world. And the results are painfully apparent. You can walk around Salt Lake and see strung out teens hanging out by the 7-11 waiting for dealers or trying to turn tricks. I recently was accosted for money in SLC by a clean-cut young man wearing his Mr. Mac missionary coat but in a terrible state of “jonesing” for something. He was extremely polite in that ‘Missionary” manner, until I informed him that I had no cash (Pro Tip: don’t carry cash in SLC). Then I got a glimpse of what he had become as he cursed me like he was in a Quentin Tarantino movie. See, illicit drugs change people for the worse – always. This young man had fallen very far, perhaps too far, because at some point the physiology of addiction vanquishes the sanctity of the soul. His doom is dictated by the seemingly inexorable laws of neuroscience.
So to those new members of the church who are afraid that their most fun moments are behind them – because up until now all of your fun happened with a bottle in your hand – fear not. Your most beautiful and enjoyable experiences are yet to come! Refuse that Scotch, give your mom a kiss, grab a Sprite and put that lampshade on your head anyway so she knows you are still you. I testify there is no Chardonnay, Fuzzy Nipple, or Guinness Stout that is as satisfying as living the Gospel and having a clear head, clear heart, and clean soul open to feeling the gentle reassurances and promptings of the Spirit. And best of all, admission to Club Mormon is also free! Cheers!