I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not interested in being peculiar. Not for it’s own sake. I’m interested in doing what is true and doing all I can to be more like Christ, but I don’t really care to go out of my way to display my removal from the ‘world.’ I have no desire to identify myself as starkly different from my non-Mormon neighbors and friends beyond the application of rock-solid gospel truths applied in my life.
Truth be told, I generally like ‘the world.’ I find that most of my friends and neighbors are good people and have the same desires I do. I agree with Elder Ballard:
For the most part, our neighbors not of our faith are good, honorable people—every bit as good and honorable as we strive to be. They care about their families, just like we do. They want to make the world a better place, just like we do. They are kind and loving and generous and faithful, just like we seek to be.
I don’t see ‘the world’ beyond the confines of the church community as inherently harmful to my salvation. As a result, I prefer to reject behaviors and social markers which create a barrier between my neighbors and me without directly defying my faith in and allegiance to Christ.
Kevin Barney wrote a post explaining how we got the phrase ‘peculiar people’ from scripture, through the KJV, and that the original meaning was closer to ‘a people owned by God.’ I am very happy to belong to that group, to be peculiar in that sense. But the idea that we as church members would seek ways of intentionally distancing ourselves from others leaves me cold.
I’m not suggesting we tailor the commandments or the covenants we make to fit general cultural-bound moral standards; but at the same time, we ought not invent new commandments, or reshape the existing ones, to create a false sense of identity. Christ already laid out the rationale by which the sheep and goats would be separated: let’s not invent any others.