Most people know there are many personal ‘matchmaker’ sites devoted to LDS singles. Why such sites would develop is obvious: there are a multitude of reasons why marrying within the faith is preferable, even from just a ‘getting along together’ standpoint, let alone adding in the prospect of eternal marriage. Such websites serve a valuable purpose by allowing members in different areas of the country (or world) a chance to meet and chat with each other.
What about professional ‘matchmaker’ sites, though?
Take, for example, LDSAgents.com–a site designed to match up prospective house buyers with LDS real estate agents. Similarly, the site LDSPro.com, run by Meridian Magazine, has directories of LDS people in several dozen different professions. In my mind, the ‘valuable purpose’ behind these sites is not so clear…
In theory, there are professions where it would probably be helpful to be assisted by fellow Church members–marriage counselors or psychiatrists, for example, where shared knowledge and respect for religious beliefs might be more conducive to understanding and solving personal issues.
Is there an advantage to finding an LDS real estate agent, though? Or an LDS dentist? Or an LDS architect? The LDSAgents.com website says it wants to help you find an agent who “shares your interests”. Is it just for people who want to be able to chat with their lawyer or dentist afterwards about home teaching or Elder Holland’s latest conference talk without confusion? Or is the implication that, no matter what the job, having a Latter-Day Saint do it is simply…you know, better?
Church doctrine encourages Mormons to be honest and trustworthy in everything they do, of course, but it’s fairly naive to think that just because someone is LDS then they automatically have strong integrity and ethics. Some do, some do not (coincidently, this is the same as non-member professionals). Furthermore, even if you do find an LDS professional who’s honest and has high morals, that still doesn’t imply they’re actually better at what they do (in terms of skill and effectiveness) than someone else you could have used.
The problem here is that without a specific professional benefit to having a Church member perform a service, this simply leads to a form of ‘social isolationism’–where Church members think to themselves: “I’ve already made sure all my friends are members, and now I’ll be able to find LDS professionals for everything I need. Then I’ll never have to associate with non-members at all! (Except for missionary work, of course)”
What other purpose would there be to providing listings of LDS professionals, if not to allow church members to isolate themselves further in a closed circle of other Church members? No one has said, of course, that Church members should only go to other Church members for any needed service, but obviously sites like the ones listed above wouldn’t exist unless they knew that there were a large number of Church members out there who wanted to use it for this purpose.
I, for one, after all the progress the Church has made integrating the membership into ‘normal’ society, would hate to see a backwards trend where Church members now have the means and desire to stop associating themselves with non-members in every situation they possibly can, either with the attitude of “I’m going to hire a Church member instead of you, because they’re obviously BETTER”–or, alternately–“I’m going to PUNISH you for not being a Church member by not giving you my business…”) Can a better justification be made for sites like these? Discuss…