Sometimes, when people see how many rules Mormons seem to have, they wonder if those people ever get to have any fun. Mormons themselves find that question sort of entertaining, because they find their lives quite a lot of fun, even if the fun might not be quite the same as the world’s view of fun. However, they sometimes like to challenge their friends to tag along and find out how much fun you can really have without breaking a single rule.
First, let’s outline what is and isn’t allowed when Mormons have fun. It is not true that Mormons can’t dance, laugh, or watch movies. In fact, when the Mormons traveled to Utah as pioneers, Brigham Young sent along a band and everyone danced in the evenings, despite having walked all day. Mormon teens attend regular free dances held at their churches that are somewhat like school dances, except that everyone is dressed modestly, the music is clean, and the dancing is, too. It goes without saying there is no alcohol or tobacco at the party. In spite of this—and in fact because of this—everyone has a great time and no one has to worry about going home and wondering what they did at the party or be embarrassed by their behavior the next day. They can just relax and enjoy the dancing and the chance to meet new people.
Mormons watch television, read, and go to movies. However, they are taught to choose movies, programs, and books that don’t contain immoral behavior. This might limit their choices, but it means that what they put into their brains will enrich them, not harm them. They are also taught not to spend too much time on these activities if they are only for entertainment.
Mormon parties won’t have alcohol, but it will almost certainly have chocolate. Most Mormons are very fond of chocolate and it is not against the health code, which is known as the Word of Wisdom. In fact, since so many Mormon men and women are great cooks, the food is sure to be outstanding. You won’t miss the other stuff.
Mormons tend to enjoy many of the same things other people do. They play games, go hiking, play sports. They eat out with friends, have picnics, and head for the beach or the ski slopes or the park. Then they often like the things we sometimes think of as corny—sing-alongs, hay rides, board games, family dances or parties (church parties that include the entire family, not just adults) and pioneer re-enactments.
Even odder—Mormons often include doing service projects in their list of ways to have fun. Mormons will get together as a church group, a family, or a group of friends to weed a historic cemetery, work at a food bank, or help congregation members move to a new home.
Most Mormons have a range of hobbies, from reading to painting, to sewing, to writing. Some of those turn into careers and others are done just for fun. Many Mormons enjoy genealogy, which is a religious expectation but is also simply good clean fun. Another religious expectation is that of preparing for emergencies, such as unemployment, by having a small store of food. Some Mormons turn that into fun too by going berry hunting or by gardening.
Some Mormons who were recently asked to describe some fun activities they’d had lately offered:
Ice blocking (an odd Mormon hobby often carried out by youth groups)
Shopping cart races
Homemade ice-cream sundaes eaten without utensils
Fruit fights in the yard
A dress up dinner for children using the best china—with hamburgers
When people ask Mormons if they are allowed to have fun, they are often suggesting they don’t think it is possible to have G-rated fun. Show up for a Mormon party and you’ll find a building full of people having fun without alcohol or immorality. Join them and you may be surprised to find out you’re having fun, too.