Stop Making Assumptions About Me

There seems to be a growing undercurrent in church culture of treating single women with careers with a certain amount of suspicion.  I’ve noticed the following, or been part of the following conversations in the last six months or so.  1) Someone in the Bloggernacle linked to a letter to the editor to the Daily Universe by a male student’s mother.  She lamented the number of women who seemed uninterested in having families, and instead were pursuing their careers.  She suggested that the women spend more time pursuing an MRS. degree at BYU.  2)  I was having a conversation with a  favorite cousin of mine in Utah.  He wants to get  married and was looking for girls to date.  I asked him what he was looking for and he said "Well, you know, not the Hillary Clinton type."  Intrigued and amused, I pressed him.  "You know, women who don’t care about their families."  3)  The very helpful talk by the local bishop at the annual Duck Beach phenomenon for singles in North Carolina.  Basically, "I know your single life is so fun, but you really should want to get married."  4) The apparently controversial cover article in the Ensign this month mentioned this same observation.  Overall I liked the article, but bristled a little at the suggestion that staying single and having a career was "glamorous. "  Perhaps assuming that the glamour was outweighing the desire to get married and have children,  women were choosing to turn their backs on having families.

Let me respond with a little anecdotal evidence of my own.  I’m pretty plugged into the culture of career- oriented single women in the church.  I live in DC, a major metropolitan magnet for LDS singles.  I’ve also lived in Boston.  I’ve known a lot of successful, career-oriented single women.  My closest friends are engineers, nurses, psychologists, teachers, lawyers, talent agents, musicians, lobbyists, and government workers.  Many of us own our own homes.  All of us have college degrees, and many have advanced degrees.   In fact, it seems to me that I personify the fears that people seem to have about single women.  I have a law degree from a good school and I’m going back to school in the fall to focus that law degree in international public policy.  I’m starting a new promotion-oriented job in the next week or two.  I have debt from law school, and own my own home.  I travel a lot, and spend a good amount of my free time socializing with my many friends in the area.  Further, I’m really a happy person–I love my life, and recognize that I’ve been greatly blessed.  Apparently, I’m the glamour girl that everyone seems to be afraid of.   (And trust me, I’m chuckling an ironic chuckle at the thought of me being anything remotely related to glamorous…thanks for the compliment, but….)

Let me tell you something else about me and my career-oriented, successful single friends.  We all love the gospel.  We’re active in the church, and hold (at times) multiple callings.  Most of us are returned missionaries, and we’re all endowed.  We have strong testimonies, and we rely on those testimonies to get us through hard times.  We also rely on each other, and confide in each other, and let me let you in on a little secret.  Without exception, every one of my friends, me included,  want with all our hearts to get married and have children.  Here’s a little more of a shocker, as far as I know, every single one of us wants to stay home and raise those children if it will be financially feasible in our families.   We talk about it a lot.  (Just last week, I had a long discussion with my two closest friends (those graduate degree holding successful women) about what kind of community we want to raise our children in.)  Further, and here’s something many may not have considered, each of us embarked on our careers with the thought of being mothers on our minds.  We all chose success-oriented positions because we knew that if it ever became necessary (for the good of our families) to work while we were mothers, a professional career would allow us much more freedom to go part time, cyber-commute, or simply arrange flexible schedules. 

Here’s another reason we chose our careers.  We want to be happy.  There is no way that I’m sitting around, biding my time in a dead end job that I hate, waiting for someone else to come in and "fix" my life.  If I want to be a happy person, I’m responsible for making that happen.  I’m responsible for developing my own testimony.  I’m responsible for making my career happen, and finding satisfaction in that career.  I’m responsible for making scary financial decisions on my own–buying a house on my own, refinancing on my own, buying a car on my own, figuring out what to do when the water main breaks and front yard floods–on my own.  Would I rather share that responsibility with someone?  Would I rather share the joy of my life with someone?  Would I rather embark on parenthood with someone?  Would I rather travel with someone?  Would I rather engage in mundane daily living knowing that someone else loved me and had my back?  You bet.  Am I going to wait around for someone else before I start living my life?  Absolutely not.  Men (and women) are that they might have joy, and I choose joy. 

So here’s the thing, in the name of both Christianity and feminism, please stop judging other peoples’ lives when you don’t understand their situations.  This cuts both ways.  Women who work, or choose careers, need to stop snarking at women who choose to stay home with their children.  The entire women’s rights movement was built on the principle that we trust women enough to let them make decisions about their lives.  The same arguments that gave women the vote should be applied in allowing women to stay home and raise their babies.  Judge not that ye be not judged…you don’t know the thoughts and intents of another’s heart.  So stop judging women who have lives that you don’t lead.   Let women (and if they are fortunate enough to have husbands, let wives and husbands) make decisions for their  own  families, and choose the best path for their own lives.  If we love the gospel, and strive to make it the centerpiece of our lives, we’ll stay close to the spirit, and rely on the guidance of the One who has the capacity and right to judge. 

Comments

  1. “She suggested that the women spend more time pursuing an MRS. degree at BYU.”

    “…not the Hillary Clinton type.’… ‘You know, women who don’t care about their families.’”

    I’m an investigator so I don’t know many LDS, but oh my garsh, are there really people who think this way in this day and age?

  2. danithew says:

    Wonderful post Karen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  3. As a 26 Year Old Single Male, I want to thank you for this post.

  4. Kristine says:

    Amen, hallelujah, Karen!

    Tony, alas, there are still people who think this way, in and out of the Mormon church. Fortunately, there is nothing in Mormon doctrine or scripture that requires or encourages these folk beliefs.

  5. Bob Caswell says:

    Wow, Karen, what’s so powerful about your post is that it can be applied to almost anyone in many circumstances. My wife and I have been married nearly three years, and your “Stop Making Assumptions About Me” line is very applicable to certain family members and/or members of the Church. Yes, surprise, surprise, we want to have kids. And yes, there’s a way to do it without the honeymoon baby (though, for those who choose that way, great, it’s just not for us).

    I think it boils down to the fact that – for whatever reason – for some, it seems to feel easier to worry about someone else’s life instead of their own. Great post, Karen, thanks for sharing.

  6. Bob Caswell says:

    Yay! Kristine IS alive.

  7. Tony, yes there are still some people who think this way, but honestly, I don’t think there are that many. However, I really have noticed an increasing trend in comments of this sort. (It’s been years since I’ve run across this, so the recent deluge was noticeable.)

    I honestly think that in some ways we define ourselves in opposition to others. As LDS people, we do focus on the blessings of family. As a result, we seem to be stronger when we are fighting against others who do not value families. As I tried to point out, I think this has led to the unfortunate habit of creating straw men (or in this case straw women) that are easy to attack, albeit not an accurate reflection of reality. It’s easy to uphold motherhood against women who care more about glamour than children…it’s not as easy to address real issues: financial difficulties, post-partum depression, cheating spouses, lack of time, and baby poop. (Just go visit FMH for excellent humor and discussion.) However, when we create and attack stereotypes, we’re necessarily pulling in people who don’t deserve an attack. As always, pleas for faithfulness should be done with loving kindness and extreme thoughtfulness for audience. We can expect no less of ourselves as Christians.

    Incidentally, I’d like at some point to have a discussion regarding non-LDS women professionals who have the same concerns about child rearing as we do. We’re not alone in our struggle for strong families, and I think that recognizing strength outside the church, rather than labeling perceived selfishness, would be wise.

  8. danithew says:

    Random idea … but it seems that this demographic of LDS single professional women ought to have a blog or a magazine. I’m certainly not the person to do it … but I’ll bet it would take off if it was done right. Feminist Mormon Housewives has been a big hit in and outside the ‘Nacle … it would be interesting to have another womens blog from a slightly different angle/perspective.

  9. danithew says:

    “I’m certainly not the person to do it …”

    DUH. I’m not sure why I wrote that.

  10. Very well said, Karen. Thanks for the wonderful post. I especially appreciated your comments on how women should grow up and take responsibility for supporting themselves, buying homes, establishing careers, and generally learning to take care of themselves instead of waiting around for men to save them.

    You should be proud of all your accomplishments. I think the root of most of the suspicion toward singles in the Church is pure jealousy. The grass is always greener on the other side, and marriage can be incredibly hard sometimes.

  11. Josephine Dynamite says:

    Karen,

    Thanks for this. I’ve encountered the same kinds of reactions from people puzzled as to why I’d be getting a doctorate and what I plan to do with it, and whose silent implication seems to be that I must not be interested in married home life and raising children. I have to assume that I’m going to be supporting myself financially (and the older I get, the better an assumption that seems to be) and I’d most like to do it as a scholar and a professor. I am very happy most of the time doing what I’m doing and enjoying my other activities, friends and service in the church. The people who think I’m having too much fun to get married don’t see me occasionally indulging myself in a little weeping to acknowledge the deep, quiet anguish of being companionless.

  12. Are you willing to marry outside the faith to be able to marry and have children? What if that was the only way you’d be able to marry and have children?

  13. Josephine -

    It’s hard being single, but think of all the husbands and wives who weep for (or because of) their spouses (or their children). Not to sound too cynical or cheesey, but single people trade in their single problems for married problems when singles get married. And we as a society (and definitely Mormon culture), recognize the problems associated with being married as more worthy or legitimate than the problems of being single. And of course, misery loves company. :)

  14. I’m always amazed whenever I hear people mentioning that others are being judgemental about their choices. Why would anyone think it’s their business what you choose to do with your life?

    I’ve never really been a typical Mormon, but I can’t remember anyone ever mentioning anything to me about it. At different times during my marriage I’ve worked fulltime while my husband’s been Mr Mom (he’s better at it than I am), I’ve stayed home fulltime while he worked, and currently, we both work fulltime. I’ve lived in wards while working fulltime that mostly had stay-home moms, and at ward socials I was more comfortable talking to the men than the women, and my husband would go to activities committee meetings and talk Martha Stewart with all the housewives. It was never a problem for anyone (except that people always assumed I was the one in charge of things like organizing our kids activities, and I’d have to tell them to talk to my husband). I’ve lived in wards with a lot of professional women–lawyer, midwife, teacher, etc. I trust people to have made the decisions they made for themselves with conscientious deliberation and I expect people to afford me that same trust. I get really puzzled when I hear that people don’t always do that.

  15. While I can agree a lot with what Josephine said as I am a single person and marvel at people who have children to take care of and worry about. Single people may not have children of their own to worry about but certainly can have stressors in their life. Also, they may often be the ones who are called on to care for an aged parent or grandparent. I know for myself the challenges of taking care of a grandfather with dementia were at times overwhelming. A lot of people probably did not know that I had this role nor the level of stress it caused me. But then, I have a lot of problems making me a very anxious person anyways. I wanted children when I was in my twenties but must admitt that there are often times that I am grateful for my freedom. Children are cute and I love to entertain them. Worrying about them is more than I can bare. Well, I am sure there are a lot of mixed messages in my statements. Those are my experiences that are representative of me.

    I do remember when I was near a nervous breakdown and people were trying to encourage me to get married or rush me to get my degree(it took me a lot of years to get my degree :-\.) One person acted like I was living the Life of Riley just going to school part-time and working part-time. In reality, going anywhere was an extreme struggle for me due to my condition. He was not even oblivious to my condition as he often witness me talking out of my head. Of course, not everybody has the “issues” that I have. Sweesh, why do I always have to let people know that I am mentally ill and scare them away. :( I guess maybe my PR class drilled it into my head to educate the public. Of course, you can never reach all of your target audience. Also, people who are strongly opinionated are not likely to have a comlete turn around. At least, you can cause them to shift a little. Psychology has studied the phenomona that people are more likely to attribute other’s short comings to internal factors of that person while often attributing our own problems to more internal sources. Well, I guess we only have our own heads so we have to give ourselves a break. I must say that my trials have opened my eyes wide to the plight of others and also to my short comings when I felt that I was solidly on the “straight and narrow path.” Going near crazy made me see where I was blind. Now, I have the best of both worlds I am less delusional and have the ability of hindsight. Even knowing what I know, I can find myself being judgmental of others. I even feel like shaking some people on t.v. sometimes who have ocd manifest in a different way than mine.

    I am so glad that I did not take the opportunities that I had to marry people that I did not feel were right for me. I would have hated to subject a spouse or children to the last ten years plus.

    Well, hopefully I have said everything on the subject that I can possibly want to say.

    I think President Hincley said it best when adressing singles of different age groups that he does not like to put people in categories. We are all Children of God

  16. typo I meant President Gordon B. Hinckley

  17. You don’t know how many people like yourself I encountered when I was out of school, single and not enjoying it. (And no, I didn’t appreciate the immense pressure at Church over it, but hey, I was LONELY.) Single LDS women feel they have the right to be choosy, and put career first, while single men are told they are incomplete without a mate. (I even had an elders’ quorum president once tell me when I was 29 that finding a wife was more important than finding a job.)

    Not that we should marry the first person we meet – I also met too many divorced women who had married at 19 or so. (The Brethren haven’t quite grasped the notion that marriage should require some maturity.) Nor should anyone be wasting Church resources, taking up valuable space at a Church school for an MRS degree. But you wouldn’t believe how many “career women” wouldn’t give me the time of day because I either 1) made less than they did, or 2) didn’t live in an “exciting” place like New York or Washington.

  18. Ann: Yeah, I think a year ago I would have given you a different answer, but I’ve had kind of a rough dating year with some bad experiences, so I think I would be open to a non-Mormon who was respectful of my beliefs. Of course, I have no idea how to find someone like that! :o) So, practically speaking, I don’t know what that answer means…

    John: I’m not unhappy. My point was that I’m happy, but I do have more goals in life–my present happiness shouldn’t be interpreted as scorning family life. And I think it’s probably a generalization to say that “Single LDS women feel they have the right to be choosy, and put career first, while single men are told they are incomplete without a mate.” I don’t think you understand how often we’re lectured for being too choosy when no one seems to be choosing us! I’m sorry you had some bad dating experiences, but dating sucks…pure and simple. It sucks for everyone. It sounds like single is past tense for you? If so, congratulations.

  19. I especially want to agree with the last paragraph. I am surpirsed at how much judgement and snarkiness there is towards each other, especially given the gospels teaching against these very things. There is no way to know what is in another person’s heart, and even if there was, it’s still not our place to hold judgement.

    Excellent post.

  20. Great post, Karen. I was talking to someone who’s a bishop a few months back, and he told me (based on his experience in his ward) that he’s amazed by the faithfulness of single women in the Mormon church. When I asked why, he said, “Because they can pretty much count on being insulted at church on a regular basis. But they hang on.” I think your post speaks to this point.

  21. Tom Manney says:

    DKL, that is a great observation. My entirely anecdotal experience with single childless female converts to the church (I can think of about five) is that none of them last long in Relief Society and none are active at all now. They have testimonies, but the thought of going to church makes them feel sad and frustrated for exactly the reason that bishop cited.

  22. Something similar happens to single LDS males too, especially if you are over 30, and have been kicked out of a YSA Ward!!!! People look at you like you are some kind of a freak in a Ward, where everyone is married. Assumptions are made about whether you are either gay/lesbian, or if you are some kind of “damaged goods”, unable to find a righteous mate!!! That is my current situation – and looks like I will have to look outside the LDS community if I am to ever find a life partner. And of course, saying that is considered to be some kind of heresy.
    I sometimes wonder how single women with a background like Karen’s would be treated around here!!!!

  23. Great post, and great comments.

    So, anyone else interested in starting a single LDS women group blog? Anyone? Anyone?

  24. Hey Laura – sign me up!

    Great post. From a single, 33-yr-old, RM lawyer who is going back to school for a degree in education, I couldn’t agree more! Yes, in my heart of hearts, I admit I would gladly trade the “glamor” for someone to share daily life with.

    And I agree that single men get dissed on this point even harder than single women. Poor darlings. I love them all, even when I’m whining that they’re so choosy none of them will choose me!

  25. By the time I met my husband (on the internet) I had completely abandoned the single adult scene. It was persistently unpleasant. Six men and sixty women would meet for dinner and dancing. The men were mostly not suitable marriage material, and the two that were had their pick…so they always picked the younger, thinner, never marrieds. Why on earth bother? It was like a lopsidedly attended high school dance.

    To be fair, every once in a while they would do something interesting, but it was still mostly women attending. Since the objective (I thought) was to provide an opportunity for LDS men and women to meet each other, the program was mostly a failure.

    The male/female ratio was much better at the Big Methodist Church Single Again ministry; the activities were interesting and very useful for personal growth. I didn’t meet any guys there, either, but at least I felt I was being treated like an adult.

    I don’t know how, with the dearth of suitable men, single Mormon women keep up their hopes for marriage. I know that I had given up on marrying again.

  26. OOps! I was supposed to say that psychology studies show that people attribute other’s short comings to internal factors and their own short comings to external factors. At least, I think I recall that little blurb from Psych 101 over a decade ago.

    I think that we live in a blessed age, however, the amount of opportunities gives people so much to master and causes so many choices. In earlier societies, the role of women was well-defined. Women are encouraged by Church leaders to pursue an education. I think that is a good thing as one never knows if they will need to fall back on a degree. Also, the type of thinking that one can gain from school or the enhancing of skills or talents can make a person more confident and well-rounded. It is hard though with so much to do to also become proficient in the domestic skills. I do know that many educated women do take time out of the work force to raise families. I have a cousin of a different faith who had his wife stop working shortly after she graduated and passed her CPA because he wanted to start a family and felt it was important for her to stay at home. They now have three children.

    As far as women being choosy in comparison to men, I would disagree. I believe that men are the ones with the advantage of being choosier by and large. When I was having my exit interview with my Mission President, he did tell me that it would be better to be single than to marry the wrong man. I guess that I really took his advice to heart.

  27. Karen, the problem you face is not unique to single LDS women, it is faced by everyone. The underlying problem is fault-finding, picking at motes in other’s eyes. Everyone faces it, nobody is exempt. Single LDS men, LDS divorcees, LDS couples without children, LDS couples with children who arent perfect, Church leadership with wayward children, LDS couples who have no kids, part-member familes, seemingly perfect families who are too plastic to be real and therefore must be faking it, etc. Nobody is exempt from being criticized, stereotypes exist for everyone and everything.

    The fundamental problem is fault-finding. People would rather find fault with others than with themselves. The target is irrelevant to the mote picker. If they cannot find something wrong with you, they will make something up. Recognize people who are attacking you are acting out of their own sense of shame and inadequacy. It has nothing to do with you, its all about them. This is why Jesus tells us to stop doing it, because when we fault others, its just an exercise in self-flaggelation. But, we still do it anyway. Sadly.

  28. lyle stamps says:

    “Fortunately, there is nothing in Mormon doctrine or scripture that requires or encourages these folk beliefs.”

    Well, as long as one ignores the consistent statement by the Prophets re: raising a family, getting as much education as you can, supporting yourself; but making sure that #1 dominates over and isn’t delayed by the last two? Nope…nothing to those ‘folk’ beliefs…

  29. Bob Caswell says:

    Lyle,

    What about #2 and #3 being delayed by (or never being realized because of) #1? One could consider that a problem just as big as the one you state.

    Luckily, the three items you state aren’t mutually exclusive and don’t necessarily have a set order for every breathing soul, regardless of what the Prophets say.

  30. Julia A. says:

    The reason this problem is more pronounced for singles is that righteousness is often tied to yhe marriage state. Most people who received their PB’s in the 1980s were promised that if they “remained faithful” theyh would be “sealed to a worthy companion in the temple.” When those blessings don’t happen, others tend to judge and wonder if the singles are sinning, or are gay, or are just “bad people.”

  31. Amen Karen. I have to admit that I am a repentant “all my struggles will disapear as soon as I am married and living the LDS dream” type. I have since learned to appreciate the joy and fullfillment that comes from personal progression, which in turn makes me more capable to serve others, more prepared for motherhood, hopefully a better catch, but most importantly a happier person who has in this progressive process achieved a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father. Having recently assumed the role of the token single child of my family has forced me ot reevalute my state and I am okay because I know I am moving in the right direction.

    The mission was invaluable and the education is coming along, I love my job, and I am happy. My singles ward has a huge RS and the bulk of it is made up of RM’s and professional women who are truly inspirational. A sister who has an excellent career,personality and is quite the beauty, stated in her testimony on Sunday that she is a little aprehensive turning 29 this month, which may seem young to some “but I’ve never been 29 and single before, so it’s new to me!”

    I think the single LDS women blog a tremendous idea.

  32. As long as there is Sheri Dew and no male equivalent (a single man as EITHER a general officer of the Church, or heading a Church company, never mind both) there will be a double standard. I was once told point blank by someone about eight years my junior (she was waiting for a mission call) that a single man who is 25 or older hasn’t done his duty. I asked about Sheri Dew – her response was that “Sister” Dew hasn’t found the right person yet.

  33. I’ve probably been guilty of making assumptions about single professional LDS women, but I think the assumptions I make are pretty complimentary. I tend to be very impressed that rather than sit around and mope that “I just want to be a mom” you are actually doing something with your lives. I can think of a lot of single LDS women I know that were so flummoxed at the reality of having reached the age of 21 with no marital prospects that they became almost disfunctional and floundered in dead-end low-paying jobs, wondering why noone wanted to give them a second look. Compared to this group, a woman who is moving forward in her education, has served a mission, has achieved professional success, etc., is so much more commendable (not to mention more in line with the Lord’s vision of what you should be doing with your lives). I am incredibly impressed with many of you. You go girls!

  34. I think everyone in the church would do well to read/listen to Elder Oaks’ CES fireside talk from May. I believe Elder Oaks said exactly opposite of the mother who wrote into the BYU paper said. I totally admire and find more appealing those girls in my YSA ward who are pursuing a degree, have a career, and know what they want in life, instead of waiting around, to paraphrase Elder Oaks, “for someone to make them happy”. Yes, there are some girls who it is obvious have given up on marriage and only want a career. But you can’t make that assumption of all of them. I believe most are making the most of their single lives (as we brethern should as well), being the best people they can be. When the time comes and opportunity presents itself for them to be married and then to start a family, I believe most would willingly give up the career for that. But, I believe the situation should be and is different for every person and every couple, as Susan M pointed out. Oh, how we shouldn’t judge! (I, too, know about that…I’m 28 and not married.)

  35. Ronin, I hope that you will not give up on finding a good LDS woman. Sometimes people can have a challenge finding the right person. My older brother is not LDS but he had trouble finding the right one. Well, he went to an all boys high school so was at a bit of a social disadvantage as he did not date in high school. Well, to make a long story short, he was married last September for the first time at the age of 37 and is expecting his first child at the end of this month. I hope that you find that special LDS woman so that you and she can enjoy the blessings of a life together living the Gospel. If only I were not so dysfunctional, I would recommend myself. (not that you would be interested :) )

  36. Christina says:

    Karen,
    Excellent post. As women we are subject to so much judgement in the church regarding our marital and motherhood status, it is a real shame that we turn that judgement on each other as well. There are so many ways to fulfill our potential in life that we should commend any person who is trying to make a good and Christlike life for herself, whatever it is she chooses to do.

  37. alamojag says:

    Karen,

    Thanks for the post. I am glad to see you have the strength DKL jokes about. It is difficult to be judged for not living the “dream” of being married with many children, especially when it is beyond your control. Sometimes I wish polygamy could be reinstituted just so capable women like you could avoid the “stigma” of singleness. Only then, the status would change to “You are only the third wife? Couldn’t find somebody to have you as a First?” Some people will judge you no matter what.

    My wife’s dream was always to be a mother. That dream went away with her hysterectomy last year. She stopped attending church shortly after that, because of the way she was treated when she cried during “motherhood” discussions in Relief Society. Not one soul offered a kleenex or a hug, but instead did the awkward shift in seats away from her. The following week she was surrounded by empty seats.

  38. Steve (FSF) says:

    “Well, you know, not the Hillary Clinton type.” Intrigued and amused, I pressed him. “You know, women who don’t care about their families.”

    Get serious, he was being polite. Hillary’s just a little more than a tad dyky and he didn’t want to say that. Moreover, she’s hardly a modern female role model, having acquired power the ancient way, through a powerful man.

    That said, I do think there is a genetic component to intelligence, fitness, ability, etc, and I think it’s a shame the fittest, smartest most able people (male and female) reproduce the least. Is the gene pool being altered? I don’t know. But, let’s face it, if an educated woman takes time off for the reproduction thing, in most fields after only a few years she’s worst off than a new entry level grad when she wants to resume work. If it’s a decade, she’s toast.

    My five kids are spread out ages 23-4, so unless we went the Nanny route, a career for my wife wasn’t in the cards. But with wages leveling out globally, the one paycheck family is no longer a feasible economic model for most.

    There are no easy answers here.

  39. Wow – let’s trot out the most tired of all stereotypes of powerful women – the lesbian emasculator. I’m sure many more people would find Senator Clinton more attractive had she stayed home and “baked cookies and had teas”.

  40. Steve (FSF) says:

    That reminds me, what does Bill tell Hillary after intercourse?

  41. I give up, Steve. What does Bill tell Hillary after intercourse?

  42. Tess: let’s trot out the most tired of all stereotypes of powerful women – the lesbian emasculator. I’m sure many more people would find Senator Clinton more attractive had she stayed home and “baked cookies and had teas.”

    Get serious. A stereotype? Name one powerful “lesbian emasculator” that strikes fear into men. That’s the ultimate feminist fantasy: A powerful woman that doesn’t need men. The only thing I can think of that remotely resembles that stereotype is Meryl Streep as Woody Allen’s ex-wife in the movie Manhattan. But you’ll have to do more than that to scare the pants off of us guys.

    The funny thing is that feminists seem to despise women who gain real power. When I think of really powerful women–women who have changed the course of human events on a global scale–all that comes to mind are women that feminists despise; for example, Jean Kirkpatrick (about whom feminists have said that she has no uterus–an odd claim indeed to make of a woman who had 4 children) or Margaret Thatcher. Please don’t trot out the old line that men hate Hillary Clinton because she’s “powerful.” Clinton’s a lightweight. Thatcher and Kirkpatrick would chew her up and spit her out.

  43. diet coke says:

    I don’t know about Hillary being more attractive if she had stayed home and baked cookies, but if she had left her cheating husband I sure would have more respect for her.

    I can never think about Hillary Clinton without the refrain from that old Tammy Wynette song “Stand By Your Man” breezing through my mind (“Sometime’s it’s hard to be a woman…”).

  44. Steve (FSF) says:

    What does Bill tell Hillary after intercourse?

    – I’ll be home in an hour.

  45. Ms Spongebobsqpants says:

    Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    DKL
    Did I scare the pants off of you?

  46. Guys, grow up and get back on topic. Steve, take your sexually inappropriate comments elsewhere. (FSF)

  47. diet coke says:

    Karen,

    This is a great post. I think that it is a wonderfully courageous road you travel. I am not single, but had the experience of taking my children to church without my husband for a couple of years and it was amazing how difficult it was. It is a wonderful church, but being there without a companion is tremendously challenging on several levels.

  48. Aaron Brown says:

    Wonderful post, Karen. I am struck by the fact that, had I tried to write a post like this (not that I’m single… or a woman), I probably would have descended into sarcasm and taunts directed at the other judgmental and self-righteous Church members (myself excepted), rendering my post much less persuasive than yours is.

    Aaron B

  49. Aaron, taunts and sarcasm are your gift to the world. Don’t put your light under a bushel.

  50. the thing that makes me the most sad about all of these comments is the judgements being made.

    how did we get so caught up in what is “culturally acceptable” in the church that we forgot about what is doctrinaly acceptable?

  51. Steve (FSF) says:

    Karen,

    Your post is excellent and to be fair my comment #38 does raise some serious issues (for which I don’t have answers), whereas other commenters focused on my Clinton taunt (The Clintons are free entertainment that I find hard to resist). Sorry my follow-up comments piled on and went too far. You’re fortunate that most guys in the church are the antithesis of me and I realize I’m fortunate to have found my soul mate in the church, which isn’t what I would have predicted when I was single and not living the gospel. I’m sure things will work out for you.

  52. Karen — Thank you for this great post.

  53. Aimee, your comment intrigues me. What specifically do you think is “culturally acceptable” and not “doctrinally acceptable”? That’s kind of a fascinating concept, which meshes nicely with Aaron’s post, you might consider posting over there as well…

    To all, I have to say, thank you for enjoying the post…I am a little uncomfortable with the praise, however. I don’t think it’s so courageous to do good things with your life, I think it’s practical. :o)

    Finally, Steve (FSF) I didn’t really respond to your comment re: what my cousin actually meant, because I know what he meant. Our discussion went beyond what I reported here. I’m a little uncomfortable citing to him, because I really really like him, and think he’s a great kid. He just sort of hit on the zeitgeist at that moment, and it stuck in my head.

  54. Steve FSF said: “My five kids are spread out ages 23-4, so unless we went the Nanny route, a career for my wife wasn’t in the cards. But with wages leveling out globally, the one paycheck family is no longer a feasible economic model for most.”

    I’m curious – since the church discourages women with children from working, do you think it is morally unacceptable for a man in the church to pursue a low paying career? (For example, social services/non-profit/elementary school teacher?) Should the church discourage men from taking these types of positions? Do we not need mormons in these types of careers? If the husbands does choose a lower paying career, does the family then have a moral imperative to remain in poverty, by refusing to let the wife work and contribute to the family income, since they made the decision knowingly?

    I know it’s a threadjack, sorry.

  55. Sue,
    In response to your comment, I have wondered the very same thing. It unfortunately took me quite a while to realize that (duh) my grandfather raised a family of 6 children, with my grandmother at home, teaching at the high school level and heading up the beginning of the seminary program in their area.

    He was also a bishop, stake president, and mission president at a very young age with young children, and things were tight. He taught at the local university on ocassion as well (obtained his phd in the romance languages during all this, speaks 7 of them), but preferred high school classes (all of which his children attended).

    At the risk of sounding cliche-ish, the Lord provided. They are actually quite comfortable in their old age thanks to some pretty inspired investments long ago. I believe it’s a risky road to take, but doable.

    Impressive thread jack. It definitely got me.

  56. disillusioned says:

    I chose my name because I learned last year what disillusioned really means–it means seeing the truth–with no illusion. I love this blog–it’s actually the first I’ve responded to. Here is the honest truth in my life about being a single, Mormon woman (in Utah of all dreaded places). I am not single by CHOICE!!!!! I am single because no on has volunteered to make me not single. I was raised in a world where men followed the spirit, asked out women, women listened to the spirit, and then it all worked out somehow and they ended up at the temple. This has never happened for me–not because I haven’t wanted it to–but because no one I’ve met of the opposite sex seem to want to pursue this route with me. I was so grateful for Elder Oak’s talk. I’ve been praying and begging for it for years! It’s about time those who are sitting on their dating potential got told off (both male and female), and those waiting for someone to make their life perfect moved on. As well as it’s about time the girls feeding all these young men for “free” knocked it off! The saddest reality for me is that I will have to move out of Utah in the forthcoming years because of the career I chose–I’m happy to leave the blasted constant reality of the “culture”–but sad to leave my family–all I have. True real friends are so hard to come by when you’re single–and I honestly don’t have the time to emotionally deal with immature adults. I work with teenagers all day–I don’t need to deal with them outside of my day job. So, thank you for this blog–thank you for the honestly–and I only hope that people realize that Satan is winning when it comes to singles–he’s doing everything in his power to stop families from even being created–and in all honesty–where I live in Utah–he’s winning. What a sad truth to see–and I’ve seen it for years!!!!!

  57. disillusioned says:

    Sorry–2 more comments I have to make:

    First to Karen who started this blog: One assumption I’m just as fatigued by is one that you made connotation too in your first blog. And that is “most of the single women I know are returned missionaries”. You know, in my life the only thing worse than the assumptions made by others about my life as a single Mormon woman, was the assumptions made by almost EVERYONE when I was 21, single, and chose not to serve a mission. I am incredibly grateful that my answer from above was “No”!!! I wouldn’t have it anyother way, even as I’ve heard young men say that “they would never marry a young woman who hasn’t served a mission or is endowed.” Funny how in 1997 in General Conference, Pres. Hinckley said that missionary work is NOT A WOMAN’s DUTY!!!!! So people should be just as careful about assumptions of women who did or did not serve missions. A mission does not make you any more worthy of marriage, or anything else in life. It doesn’t prepare you any more than living through the unmerciful judgments of people when you chose not to go. I actually truly believe that it is harder to stay than go–at least if you’re a righteous missionary.

    And finally–to the single young men who have responded: actually, if you research it out almost every Prophet of the Church since Joseph Smith Jr. has mentioned that marriage is the duty of a young man. It is not the duty of the young woman to court (date), and initiate this–but the opposite. And the reason why a single man who has never been married (as explained to me many times by my father who has researched this out) has not been called as a General Authority is because a single young, healthy man who is single is not living the everlasting covenant. Without doing so, they will be limited in some of their opportunities–including service in the church. And as the General Authorities have said–(if you look it up) this is true for the young men–not for the women. I distinctly remember a CES fireside given by (I believe) Pres. Hinckley where such statements were made. I’m not quoting them directly–but as far as I’ve had it explained to me by other Priesthood holders, this is the reason why.

  58. So are you going to get on the bandwagon and say that if a man is single at 25 he might as well be excommunicated? (I got that _way_ too often.)

    Are you saying it’s better marry at 18 and get divorced at 24, then not be married at 25? (I got that one too.)

    Did you ever join your brothers in the elders’ quroum to brand someone single in his late twenties as gay? (I got that one more than once – but just once from the whole quorum.)

    As long as the single women can look to Sheri Dew as an example to put career first, it’s all the harder for the single men. It is still a double standard no matter how you slice it.

  59. zeezrom says:

    A beautiful and moving post. We all agree not to make assumptions about single Mormon women who really do want to get married. So here’s the question: besides not making assumptions, is there anything we can DO to change the circumstances which leave Karen, her friends, disillusioned and others in a condition to have to deal with these misassumptions? We should note that this topic sturred quite an exchange on a couple of threads over at M*

    http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/05/17/p731#more731

    http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/05/17/p733#more733

  60. Steve (FSF) says:

    Maybe the answer is for both sexes to chill out and broaden horizons. As posted elsewhere, I wasn’t living the gospel after my mission but through grace did get married before age 25 (Temple marriage at 25). My wife was active LDS when our romance started but attracted to bad boys. In any event, she never judged me as damaged goods or our love never could have blossomed into what it is today.

    On women initiating dates, there was an attractive sister missionary from my mission that asked me out after the mission. It turned out to be a very awkward date because I had already lapsed into sexually activity by that point in my post mission decline and thus had trouble developing real relationships with women anyway. And with her being a former missionary too, I just couldn’t relax and open up to her about things. I ended up just muddling through what should have been a great date. It’s really a miracle I ended up getting married in the church. Your miracles will come too.

  61. #59 So here’s the question: besides not making assumptions, is there anything we can DO to change the circumstances which leave Karen, her friends, disillusioned and others in a condition to have to deal with these misassumptions?

    First, I would recommend a return to plural marriage. OK, maybe not.

    How about we all print out Karen’s post and give it to our bishops this weekend? Also, we should mail copies to our stake presidents and their counselors. I think Steve E. should also fax this post (minus the comments – the post is really superb and stands on its own merits) to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.

    Another option is, when these sorts of misassumptions come up in lessons or discussions, correct them. Yes, in public. If somebody is going to make inaccurate statements in public, they should be called on it at the time.

  62. Zeezrom, thanks for the link…I just skimmed through the M* posts. Now I’m afraid that my star wars geekiness may be considered just feigned…like I’m trying to nab me a computer dude. It’s not true, it’s not true…I am a certifiable star wars geek…stop making assumptions about me! :o) (Maybe the fact that I’m a nerdy spaz is the baggage holding me back from eternal love?)

    You know what’s kind of funny reading this post and the posts at M*, those of us who have been single for a while can get pretty feisty, especially while blogging about it. I met Davis at a blggersnacker at Steve’s house and thought he was just a lovely person…so I would just like to say that, recent posts by both of us notwithstanding, I have no wish to feud with Davis…:o) And graciously extend the “don’t make assumptions about me” mantra to SMM everywhere.

  63. Back when I was single (a year ago)I actually discussed this a little bit with a counselor in the stake presidency here, who had been my bishop. I think he spoke for everyone else who has made/does make comments like this to single members, that they’re not trying to condemn anyone. Rather, they’re trying to invite single members to share in the bounties that come with marriage, etc.

    Unfortunately, it can come off as condemnation – and usually does. (It’s not like marriage is something anyone doesn’t want, after all.) If there’s one thing I learned from my ten years in the wilderness, it’s what giving a single person a hard time about being single can feel like. So I’m not about to do that, no matter how tempting it is. (Especially to someone who’s unemployed!)

  64. Great post Karen–maybe the best you have written, but I still can’t help but make assumptions about you. You may not always like the results of Sunday sports, but you can’t argue with their entertainment value.

  65. karen,

    what i mean is this…

    there are people who make choices, or have lifestyles that don’t fit the “church mold”, and are looked down upon for it. for example families who don’t have kids and choose not to adopt, or those who only have one, or those who remain unmarried because they couldn’t find someone they loved and wanted to be with forever, or the men who marry older in life… all of these things are basically taboo as far as the culture of the church, however none of them are taboo in what the gospel teaches. there are so many examples of choices that don’t fit into the precieved ideal, and because of they don’t fit the mold, harsh judgements are often made towards those people.

    anyway, that is what i meant. nowhere in our gospel does it say at what age we marry, or what we can or can’t choose for work, or anything specific. those are choices that are left for us to make with inspiration… that is the doctrine. the imposed expectations of those around us are the culture.

    i hope that makes sense.

  66. Phyllis says:

    Will anyone here get to the REAL issue? When I read posts like the one directly above I have to shake my head and wonder how choosing to have one fewer kid is in any way analagous to not marrying because of the DOCTRINE of temple marriage or the DOCTRINE of not marrying outside of the Church, to one’s peril.

    Many still-single LDS women in their 30s grew up to President Benson’s words (below):

    “Our Heavenly Father wants you [young women] to date young men who are faithful members of the Church, who will be worthy to take you to the temple and be married the Lord’s way. There will be a new spirit in Zion when the young women will say to their boyfriends, “If you cannot get a temple recommend, then I am not about to tie my life to you, even for mortality!” And the young returned missionary will say to his girlfriend, “I am sorry, but as much as I love you, I will not marry out of the holy temple.” (“To the Young Women of the Church,” Ensign 16 [November 1986]: 84.)’

    All this kind of DOCTRINE (not just “imposed [cultural] expectations”) does for anyone is to make them more lonely, repressed, depressed and resentful. It’s no wonder that singles become inactive the longer they remain companionless in the Church.

    On the one hand they hear how loving Heavenly Father is and on the other He restricts them from having normal sexual relationships with anyone including themselves. Oh, the joy!

    So, you can see why few singles have pity on those who have the “trial” of trying for as many children as possible and only having two or three (not discounting it as a trial; just putting it in persective).

  67. Phyllis says:

    And so you have a lot of LDS women who are single and end up academics by default. They don’t want to fall into the “sitting at home living with the ‘rents and waiting for Prince Charming” category, so they go to school and grad school and professional school, all te while hoping there’s some guy they’ll meet there who’ll marry ‘em.

    Fifteen years later, with ***loads of debt and wound tighter than the ball of yarn they use to knit with on a lonely Friday night, they don’t want to admit that it’s the Church that’s turned them into the frigid, overeducated, overweight biddies that they are.

    Don’t worry–I was one of them. I’m not casting “unrighteous” aspersions or making snap judgements. Just calling the shots as I see ‘em.

  68. phyllis, it does go hand in hand because i was talking about how we make unneeded and unwarrented judgements on one another based soley on what our lives look like on the outside.

    i also don’t see where the counsel to marry in the temple is adding to the pains of the single members. i would assume that if you believe in what the temple means to a marriage, that it would be something you would want for yourself. he never said that you had to do it by the time you are 25 or else. he just said to make it a priority.

  69. phyllis, I think your response is a bit rich. Considering that the entire post is a plea not to make assumptions about people, it’s ironic that your response identifies the “real” issue as being that we’re just making the wrong assumptions. Mormon women really do care about families (in contrast to the above mentioned assumptions), it’s just that the correct assumption is that they are overeducated, overweight and frigid. Overeducated, I embrace. Overweight I accept, because I have a healthy respect for the truth. But frigid is just plain insulting. Thanks. I think I’ll stay home this weekend and cry in my tightly wound ball of yarn. Any of the other single women following the post want to join me…perhaps we can make brownies, and crank call “boys” in the ward and yell at them for being too picky. Then feel bad and take them some of the brownies and beg them to snog with us on the couch, because we’re simply too wound up to have any self-respect.

  70. Phyllis says:

    “Frigid” was not meant as an insult. It means “sexually unresponsive.” To be sexually responsive as a single LDS –and enthusiastically so–might be problematic vis a vis the Law of Chastity–no? The Church does, indeed, promote and foster frigidity among its singles. No doubt about it.

  71. disillusioned says:

    Yes–I am one of those on the bandwagon who say that young men who are older than 25 have some work to do–not be excommunicated. I only say that because the PROPHETS have said it as well. Not because I am lead blindly (as obviously all the “used to be Mormon’s” replying think we are), but because I know what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong to have sex before marriage, but it is no less wrong for a young man to put off marriage because they can’t find “miss perfect”–and visa versa for a woman. Sheri Dew was not put in her position because she chose a career–what you need to understand is that I (and her–if you have ever read her bio) have a “career” because we have to–not because we “want” to–or chose it. I never chose to be single for as long as I have–but have never been given another option. The real fact of the matter as the DOCTRINE touter sort of made is that DOCTRINE is not being followed. There’s a whole heck of a lot of whining, complaining, and passing the buck (well, I’m not the guy who looks down on that girl cause she’s still single (or visa versa)–but I’m not going to ask her out cause….fill in your own excuse). As Thomas Monson put it–it’s either take advantage of your opportunities, or be left behind. I am the type of person who tries to take advantage of every opportunity I can–but I can’t force a guy to volunteer. The real truth–if you want to know–is that too many excuses are allowed. I’m not saying a single man should be “punished”–but if you honestly expect and want the blessings of the Priesthood and Temple marriage–then get married. I’m not saying to get married just to get married–but a man cannot expect all the same blessings if he’s not married. And if you honestly think that Sheri Dew enjoys being single–and enjoys this worshiping crap some single women have for her (which I think is crap) and the guilt trip some single young men try to lay on her–you’re crazy. She was put in the position she was because the Lord called her to that position. Not to be an example of “singleness”–but to be a leader in the Relief Society. But let me remind you of this–Heavenly Father is not single–may I repeat–not single. No prophet, or high church leader who has ever been male has ever been single (unless they were widowed). There is a reason for that–and if you don’t like it–as Dallin Oaks put it in his last CES fireside: take it up with He who is in charge!!!!

  72. Steve (FSF) says:

    What about gay guys over 25? Surely we don’t want to pressure them into a marriage that would be doomed from the get go.

  73. Phyllis says:

    Aimee, in short it’s painful to hear that the only “real, God-recommended and -ratified marriage” is temple marriage because after a certain point that becomes largely unavailable to singles. Many/most end up just not dating at all instead of dating outside the Church, especially where dating=sex, etc. Sticking to those kinds of cultural/doctrinal teaches (i.e. marryamembermarryamembermarryamembermarryamember) can make one socially stagnant, unavailable to otherwise fantastic partners, limited in choices, etc.

  74. Shouldn’t people be encouraged to look outside the church after a certain age? I’d rather find someone to love and share my life with than wait for my blessings and be a “ministering angel” in the hereafter.

  75. The reason men have the responsibility to get married is because the Church is a patriarchy. The men are in charge, and that includes being responsible for the lack of a relationship. The rest of Western society is gradually challenging patriarchy, but it isn’t going away in the Mormon church anytime soon. *shrug*

    To ‘disillusioned’ and ‘Phyllis’ – I feel your pain. Hang in there. I’ve managed to come to terms with it, and while I’m still confused, I’m not as angry or hurt as I used to be.

    Regarding sexual frigidity – yep, the Church teaches the same moral standards for the 16-yr-olds nevermarrieds as it does for the 36-yr-old nevermarrieds. Maybe that’s not the best policy, but the Church will never officially change that. Any changes would come on a personal level. I think there are ways to explore the sexuality inherent in being an adult without violating the law of chastity.

  76. Phyllis says:

    The problem with being “encouraged to look outside the Church after a certain age” is that it shoots down the doctrine that marriage in the temple is the gateway to the CKTop Level. Unless some GA (or the prophet himself) in General Conference advises the sisters and brethren to do so, it won’t officially happen. And it can’t officially happen because then they’d be admitting that the temple marriage bandwagon is little more than a carrot for teens and young single adults to help them follow the straight and narrow all the way to the temple.

    But I agree that singles in the Church should have LOTS of dating practice. if they’re not getting it inside the Church, they should get some outside the Church. Regular dating and socialization–even if “mistakes”‘ are made–is GREAT for the self-esteem and could go along way to ensuring “marriageability”.

  77. Steve (FSF) says:

    Tess,
    Along that line, It’s unlikely we’ll ever receive such specific counsel from the church. In other words, I don’t think we were meant to hang on every word from scripture, GA’s whatever but to apply it within our own context. For example, Pres Benson’s counsel in one of the comments above was/is in the context of the ideal time for women to bear children is in their 20′s. If one waits till 30 one is taking a chance, and at forty, it’s generally too late. If a women is approaching 25 and there no prospect of marriage to the “ideal” LDS guy, it’s certainly time to broaden one’s horizons. Hey, my wife did and it’s worked out very well.

  78. Phyllis says:

    Until Sister Dew (whom many seem to idolize of the epitome of older-single womanhood) marries or openly dates outside the Church, not many active LDS single women will go that route, especially when their PBs promise temple marriage “contingent upon your faithfulness.” I know many single LDS women who are literally **afraid** to date outside the Church because:

    1. it will “prove” they don’t have enough faith to “wait for” a priesthood holder

    2. They’ve been incorrectly indoctrinated to fear “non-member” men, who according to them are “only after one thing” and

    3. According to their understanding of D and C 132, rejecting temple marriage (by choosing to marry outside of the Church) is rejecting the CK top level/exaltation.

    Sigh…

  79. Well, how can the Church fault you for marrying a great guy and raising good kids – isn’t this a worthy goal? After a point, temple marriage is more like an obstacle than a pathway to a happy life.

    I think we should be looking more at the individual people and the qualities they would bring to a good marriage instead of the labels “Mormon” and “non-Mormon”. I know lots of part-member families who are happy and well-adjusted. I’m sure they would take their family any day over being single their whole lives.

  80. Phyllis says:

    Oh, I agree with you, Tess (kinda). But the point is, too many singles feel like FAILURES for looking outside the Church especially if/since they are promised ***ETERNAL*** families due to their faithfulness. At least divorced singles (who married in the temple) and widows don’t have the added challenge of NEEDING to have the blessing of temple marriage BY CHOICE. If they married in the temple at least once, they have those nebulous “blessings” if they are righteous and can choose to remarry in or out of the Church, or not at all!

    Singles who haven’t ever married before don’t have that luxury. In order to qualify for temple blessings they have to choose to marry in the temple and actually ***go through the ordinance*****.

  81. After reading her post, the thing that I admire about Karen is her willingness to play the hand she was dealt. She freely admits she would like to go in a different direction if the opportunity presents itself, but makes the most of what she has.

    She sounds too good to be true; a modern Elizabeth Bennet, whose pluck and good disposition see her through good times and bad. She is not above skewering a detractor with her sharp wit, but freely forgives others their folly. Where is Karen’s Mr. Darcy and will Karen feed him brownies when he appears?

  82. Last time I checked, other people can do your temple work for you. So, get married to a nice person in this life, have a family, enjoy your relationship (hopefully), and then ask your niece or someone to do your temple work for you when you die. That would work!

    Don’t feel like a failure. At least try out all the other possibilities before you feel like a failure.

  83. Phyllis says:

    Great idea. I think it’s one we should teach from the Primary ages on. That way we could all obviate the endemic of academics-by-default and frustrated-older-singles because ppl would simply marry who they wanted and leave their temple work requests in their wills.

    I like it!

  84. I know, you’re being sarcastic. Getting married in the temple in this life is probably the best, but it just isn’t possible for some people. I like being married and I think people should have every opportunity to find someone to love and share their lives with. There are many members of my family who aren’t members of the Church (or they haven’t been to church in years). They have happy marriages, and enjoy their families.

  85. Phyllis says:

    I’m only being partially sarcastic. Since we believe in vicarious sealings, why is the whole “getmarriedinthetmpleliveforitprayforit” mantra even emphasized? Why don’t they teach rhat Priesthood holders aren’t necessaily any better than good men of other faiths and just allow teens and young/older adults to just date whomever they want?

    Here’s the answer: it would undermine the authority of the prophets and GAs, deplete the stock of temple-going families in the Church, and make LDS women less dependent on the Church and its leaders. The Church can’t afford that, so they MAKE singles feel bad by insisting that they “live for and pray for” the “ideal”–which judging by temple cancellations of sealings and divorces– doesn’t exist and ain’t so ideal after all.

  86. Phyllis, that’s a bit cynical. I do think the Brethren think temple marriage is vitally important for spiritual blessings, not just to keep the Church’s power structure intact.

    Besides, a mixed-faith marriage brings its own bag of serious challenges. While you can probably point to some very happy mixed-faith marriages, if you look around, you can also find some miserable marriages that have religion as a bone of contention.

  87. Phyllis says:

    I don’t see how temple marriage is, in itself, any more a vital force than a good marriage between people of any combination of fiaths who respect, love, and commit to each other. I know more marriages in trouble and more divorces that come out of “temple marriages” than not.

    But if the Church starts telling or reminding people that they can be sealed posthumously instead of making themselves worthy by not drinking coffee or paying at least 10 percent of what they earn, they lose a significant source of revenue (both physical and psychological revenue).

    If the church were to start openly encouraging people to marry whomever they were compatible with and brainstorming ways to help alleviate mixed-faith problems (and most marriages these days are mixed faith anyway and yet–surprise!!!–they aren’t all bad), then that would solve a lOT of problems singles currently face.

    But the Church doesn’t want to deal with this, because if opens up the can of worms of “spiritual blessings” and “sealing powers” and other things that can be yanked with some procedural paperwork when a temple-married couple divorces.

  88. Steve FSF says:

    Wow! And I thought I was a rebel.

  89. Steve (FSF) says:

    Question: What are the implications vis-à-vis the church for a professional 30 sometime sister w/o any prospects of marriage going to a sperm bank to hedge her bets and hiring a Nanny to help raise the resulting offspring?

  90. Phyllis says:

    Again, it all comes down to the temple/eternity doctrine; otherwise, our church is just a Protestant one. A purposefuly single woman w/child can’t have her child sealed to anyone as a unit.

    Take away the Temple aspects, and anyone can marry whomever they want, adopt, have a sperm bank baby, and it’s all good…

  91. “I’m not saying a single man should be ‘punished’”

    No, that’s exactly what you’re saying. And there is nothing wrong with me for having married at 31 – certainly not enough to justify the way I was treated for so long in the Church. Same goes for my current bishop who married at 29.

    Are you saying my wife (who was 27 when we married) was obligated to marry one of her three previous fiances? (If she had, I might still be looking.) Or that my ex-girlfriend should have said “yes” to the guy at BYU who automatically proposed on the third date?

  92. steve, i can answer that because my aunt did go to the sperm bank, had a child, and she wasn’t married. she was disfellowshiped, and lost her job because she worked for the church.

    now, things haven’t been easy, and i wish it worked this way for everyone, but she is coming back to church because of her child wanting to be involved in primary. it is because of good member friends and family that didn’t judge or look down on her choice that this is happening at all. it could so easily have gone the other way.

    that is why i think it is so important that we keep in mind that we are not supposed to judge other people.

  93. Wow, Aimee- that’s harsh! Is disfellowshipping really the church policy on that? What if the single mother wants to adopt a baby or older child who needs a home? That policy doesn’t sound very family friendly at all. Sometimes I just don’t understand how this stuff gets decided. Frustrating.

  94. I think the policy of not possible disfellowshipping(maybe it could be ex-communication at times as I am not sure) for a woman who has a baby by artificial insemmination sounds consistent with Church teachings. We are taught that a child deserves ideally to have both a Father and a Mother. That is God’s plan. That is one of the reasons for the law of chastity as a family as defined as a man and a woman is the basic unit for which a child is intended.

    I think children have a strong desire for both parents. We are learning more and more how father’s play a role in defining gender for both their sons and daughters. Boys learn to be more masculine from the fathers while girls learn to be more feminine.

    I remember when my cousin’s son insisted on calling his grandpa dad after his mom and dad divorced and he had no contact with his dad(whether he remembered his dad at that point on any real level is something that I am not sure as they divorced when he was very little). They kept correcting him but he would not heed. A few years later, when he and his mother were swimming and he saw all of the other children at a swimming pool with father he expressed a desire to have a father too. One time when I was with a friend and her son as well as him when the other little boy talked of his daddy my second cousin started rambling something about his daddy. He was not at a very coherent stage but he was talking as if he had a daddy and this was when his dad was long out of the picture.

    Yes, people divorce or are widowed but there is a difference between that and willfully handicapping a child from the start by having no home.

    Now, having hard to place older children who would likely be raised in Foster Homes or Institutions would be an entirely different situation than taking procreative measures. What the policy is exactly I am not sure though I knew of two single ladies who seemed to be members in good standing on my mission who lived together and a adopted(if memorny serves) a child who had autistic like behavior though he was according to the doctor not autistic but severely neglected by his birth parent. There may have been some time of official policy since then that I am not aware of.

    I would have to disagree with practically everything that Phyllis has said.

    The law of chastity is not just about what we do. It is also about our thoughts.

    My Gospel Essentials teacher when I first joined the Church was working at a Mental Hospital while going to Dental School. He would remark how every problem of the patient’s there could somehow be traced to the breaking of the law of chastity.

    The law of chastity is not some arbitray rule for teenagers. It is a code of conduct for all ages and the violation of it has consequences regardless of the level. Some people are ignorant to the law, but there are still consequences because it is an eternal and true law.

    Also, marrying in the temple should be the goal of every member. There are many reasons and one of the most important is the family being sealed for time and all eternity. To make a willful choice to marry outside of the temple with a rationale that someone can do the work for the spouse later does not seem right to me. There are no guarantees that the spouse would except the work. We have never been counseled that if it looks like a temple marriage is not likely to go looking for one of the best nonmembers we can find. There may be cases where a person may be prompted as such as far as I know. Also, there can be very good nonmember/ member marriages so I am not judging them.

    President Kimball did counsel that Mormons should marry Mormons. Catholics should marry Catholics Baptists should marry Baptists. I am not sure of the actual denomonations he said but you get the point that people should be equally yoked in faith. If you do not think it is confusing for a child to be in a two-faith home, you are mistaken. Some spouses are more amicable than others in doing this.

    I say all of this knowing just how hard it can be sometimes. But I also know how much easier it is when one is more spiritual. Clean hearts and a clean mind are what make one fit for the Kingdom.

  95. Sorry, I tend to proof read after the fact. It should read: The policy of disfellowship for a single woman who has a baby by artificial means seems consistent with Church teachers.

  96. William Jennings says:

    Wow. So people who hav sex before marriage have mental problems and may end up in a mental institution? I’d say that’s false doctrine, slander and just plain idiocy. Most normal adults outside of the Church (and many in the Church) have sexual eperiences before marriage. In fact, if you include m—-rbation, probably 95% of people “break the law of chastity” on a fairly regular basis. That’s a lot of mental patients running around…

  97. William Jennings, fair enough. I should not have repeated such a loaded statement. I did not say that all people who break the law of chastity have mental problems. Also, I want to make it clear that all mental problems are not related to breaking of the law of chastity. Yes, I know the dangers of anecdotal evidence and am sorry to be so irresponsible.

    I do stand by the other statements that I said.

  98. Steve (FSF) says:

    Wow. Different church units sure are arbitrary. If I understand this right a 30 something professional sister, w/ no marriage prospects, who is desperate to pass on her genetic legacy and is running out of time to do so, does something about her situation, she gets disfellowshiped. But when I as an early twenty something, temple endowed, RM, serial fornicator goes back to church and requests marriage by a bishop to an active lds co-fornicating sister, I’m welcomed back with openness and love with leaders actively working with us towards temple marriage after the marriage. What’s wrong with this picture?

  99. Phyllis says:

    Maybe because you’re a “family”? The Church wants to pretend that other-than-the-ideals don’t exist, except by dire circumstance and cruel twists of fate (death, divorce, etc.). So if a single person wilfully **chooses** children outside of a relationship they’re picked apart and made an “example” of. But as long as a couple gets married (and especially if they epress a wish to go to the temple) they’re welcomed with open arms. Not so hard to see…

  100. Steve (FSF) says:

    Another question from a comment above: M—-rbation? We’ve dropped that nonsense haven’t we? My kids say the bishops don’t ask them about it.

  101. Steve FSF, it’s not dropped, by a long shot. I think however that leaders are being smarter about it, trying to stem pr0n use and repetitive behaviors rather than the occasional tinker.

  102. William Jennings says:

    Re comment 100~Whether or not bishops ask about it, isn’t it still against the Law of Chastity? Or do only the things the bishops _ask_ about count?

  103. Steve(FSF) cases such as your are studied on a case by case example.

    I do not think she would have any prospects of marrying the sperm donor.

    You understand disfellowship or any discipline is because the person is in the long run for the good of the person being disciplined and they can some day return to full fellowhsip. Even when someone is disfellowshipped or ex-communicated, they should always be treated with respect and reached out to during this time. They have needs that need ministered to.

    The fact that you were not punished nor the young woman does not mean that such cases are not often punished.

    Wanting to pass on one’s genetics is not a justification to use means outside of marriage to accomplish this.

    Believe me, I’ve thought of doing it myself and thought about inquiring what the policy is. I have also thought about being a surrogate parent so my body could at least bring a child into the world. I am not sure the policy on that but I could take a guess.

  104. Phyllis,

    Take it easy. I dated and got engaged to a non-member and no one said a peep about it. My fiance was baptized before we were married, but we didn’t get married in the temple. Still nothing but friendly support–in fact our biship flew across the country to marry us. Three years later we still aren’t sealed in the temple and no one seems to mind. We both work as professionals and I’m now in my 30s with nary a kid in sight. Despite it all I’m part of the elder’s quorum presidency and my wife teaches in the primary. She’s the anchor speaker in church this coming Sunday. We aren’t like many of the people in our ward, yet we genuinely feel welcomed and loved there. As we did in the four wards we attended prior to this one.

    I have no doubt you are over-educated (you have mastered, after all, the rhetoric of being put upon) and you posts leave no doubt you are wound tighter than a ball of yarn. Take a deep breathe, enjoy the sunshine and let go of the idea that “the church” wants to deny the existence of those who are anything other than ideal.

  105. Phyllis says:

    LOL Mathew. I’m sure your wife is a lovely person, but I can just imagine all the single women in your ward or stake running after you a la the scene in “The Bachelor” because you were a priesthood holder who opted to date and marry someone outside the Church.

    A paragraph-long blog entry is a great testimonial. Maybe you should expand your story and write this up for the New Era and Ensign, or even Sunday School manuals. Until stories like yours are told unabashedly, there will always exist singles in the church who believe that in order to be devout, respected and even considered active, one has to marry in the temple or, sadly, not at all, to merit all the blessings of the Kingdom.

    It will take a long time for the words of President Kimball to leave the heads of anxious singles who long for temple marriage, but situations like yours bear telling and could definitely help. Thanks!

    (Here’s the SWK statement):

    “So you are taking a desperate chance if you say, “Well, maybe he will join after we are married. We will go ahead and try it and see.” It is a pretty serious thing to take a chance on.

    Frequently young people think, “Oh, that doesn’t matter. We’ll get along all right. We’ll adjust ourselves. My spouse will permit me to do as I please or I will make adjustments. We’ll both live and worship according to our own pattern.” This is not broad-mindedness, but even if it were, to be broad-minded with the Lord’s eternal program is somewhat like being generous with other people’s money.

    “Over the years many times women have come to me in tears. How they would love to train their children in the Church, in the gospel of Jesus Christ! But they were unable to do so. How they would like to accept positions of responsibility in the Church! How they would like to pay their tithing! How they would love to go to the temple and do the work for the dead, to do work for themselves, to be sealed for eternity, and to have their own flesh and blood, their children, sealed to them for eternity!

    But the doors are locked! They themselves have locked them, and the doors have often rusted on their hinges. Someone did not teach these individuals sufficiently, or they did not study the scriptures and they did not understand, or they ignored the warnings which came to them. They married out of the Church. Perhaps he was a good man. Maybe he was handsome. He may have been cultured and well trained; but he did not have the qualification that he needed most and which they overlooked. He did not have membership in the kingdom; he did not have the priesthood, the ordinances, and the righteousness that would carry them to exaltation.”

  106. alamojag says:

    I think Matthew makes the point that Karen has been trying to get across–people who really live the Gospel will not be making judgments about those of us who don’t fit the Approved Pattern of marrying young and having tons of kids. He is lucky to be in a ward where the Gospel is important, and not the Rules. The scriptures repeat time after time that Charity is the Greatest of all, but too often seems to be the crazy aunt we keep locked up in the attic.

  107. Steve (FSF) says:

    On the arbitrariness in discipline between church units, in the case of the 30 something sperm bank sister, I could easily envision the participants in a different church court saying, look most of us our married men who have had the opportunity to reproduce and we’re just not going to pass judgment on this poor sister who has taken a drastic step when time was running out for her to do so.

    Barb,
    To clarify, my church court didn’t consider me unpunished. When I was ready for marriage and first returned to church, I expected to be excommunicated and have to get married by a judge because I was temple endowed, had served a mission, was a serial fornicator, my wife to be was active LDS (unendowed)and we had been sleeping together for about a year. But the church leaders said no, that was not to be the plan for my recovery; I was told that by my actions I had already suffered excommunication long ago and there was no need for the church to formally repeat the process. They added my confession and request for a church marriage showed sincere repentance. An immediate marriage by the Bishop would get us out the sinful situation and activity as husband and wife in the church would prepare us for temple marriage down the road.

  108. Steve(FSF) thank you for clarifying. I am glad that everything seems to have worked out great for you.

    I do want to say that I do hope that I do not come across as judging people who fall short of the ideal. Eventually, they may be sealed in the Gospel and have all of the blessings. Also, those who marry in the temple and do not live up to their covenants will not have the blessings.

    Well, I doubt that I am the career woman that this thread was about. I take reservations. I fail to recall how many years ago since I had a date.

    I hope this is not a common denomonator of those of you on the thread.

  109. Steve FSF – what if you hadn’t been planning to marry your wife? Would you have been ex’d officially then? I guess I’m not seeing how getting married suddenly redeems all past serial fornications.

  110. I am sorry for my comment about not being able to marry the sperm donor. I said that to be funny. However, this is a real person who it sounds like had a wonderful child who wants to participate in primary. I am sorry that sometimes I try to be clever and lose sight of the people involved.

  111. Steve (FSF) says:

    Tess,
    Good point that somewhat relates to the arbitrariness between different church units when it comes to discipline judgments. That said, had I come back to church as a single male, not engaged, temple endowed, RM fornicator, probably virtually any church unit would have ex’d me in a heartbeat. Is that fair? I dunno. The way it was explained to me is church courts are just doing paperwork and the endowed fornicator has excommunicated himself already. I do know I couldn’t have repented outside of marriage and I think the church leaders recognized that. Grace to the repentant sinner is a private metaphysical phenomenon separate from church courts. For me it came shortly after marriage.

    It’s also an academic question, because I wasn’t going to come back to church before marriage. During my hiatus from the church, I used to openly tell home teachers I had nothing against the church, would be coming back when I was ready, but I was sexually active and until I met the right gal to settle down with there was no reason for them to see me.

  112. Interesting. You don’t hear many stories like yours on these blogs, but I imagine there are many people in your position who feel that they can’t ever come back to church because of their choice to have sex before marriage. Interesting that you decided to come back nevertheless. I also don’t really like the general practice of never mentioning past sins to others. None of us is perfect, and it’s nice to know that you’re not the only person struggling with difficult issues.

  113. R. Jensen says:

    It would be neat if all bishops were so understanding. Singles could just explore and have fun without the fear of churhc discipline and then when they got married they could just come back to Church, kind of like the Amish Rumspringa. I think that’s a great idea. Maybe the Church is moving more in that direction. I think people do that anyway–kind of like a “don’t ask, don’t tell,” they go inactive and then when they get married they don’t have to go through church discpline because they’ve stopped sinning.

    Maybe this is what all singles over a certain age should do!

  114. Might I suggest reading Miracle of Forgiveness by President Kimball. It has been over a decade but I seem to recall a young man who had fallen into sexual transgression who was not willing to repent at that point and President Kimball remarking that he better be very careful in driving and everywhere he goes becaue it would be very bad to depart life in that wicked state.

    I have gone years without making it to Church and have yet to make it this year. I hate it when people imply that I may have done something of which you speak of in breaking the law of chastity.

    Something that I think Steve and others in his situation are not stating as clearly is the huge regret they have for their transgressions. I mean I knew people that were converts who did things before entering the waters of baptism who have a deep regret after learning the truth. I think that is all the more intensified by someone who has the light of the Gospel and does not live accordingly.

    Steve is one of the fortunate ones. Not everyone makes it back to activity.

    I remember when I was at a district meeting on my mission and we were practicing teaching about the Law of Chastity. I remember there was a missionary couple and the older gentleman spoke about the Law of Chastitiy with such sacred reverance as I have never heard befoe. These are not things to take lightly.

  115. Is anybody helping me out here?

    I always hated asking someone to live the Law of Chastity on my mission because of the sensitivity of the subject matter. This was especially heightened if a someone was living with someone of the opposite sex and not married. Once I extended it to a young lady who had a lot of children by different fathers in stair step procession. One of them was a baby with failure to thrive. It was a really sad place to visit although she was very sweet. I was so scared to invite her. I was surprised to learn when I extended it that her counselor had told her that she needed to refrain from sexual relations as men had been abusing her and taking advantage of her. Shortly after that, I think she let an abusive man come back into her life, and we did not seem to be able to see her again.

    But really, I embarass easily. Somebody? Anybody?

    H E L P M E

  116. R. Jensen says:

    Well, of course not ALL inactive singles have sex (although with such forgiving bishops, why not). So if that doesn’t apply to you, don’t worry about it. But at least some bishops seem to be realistic, understanding and Christlike. It’s all about having charity, after all, and it’s definitely uncharitable to expect singles to waste away in abstinence while they’re waiting for the perfect Priesthood holder to show up on his white horse!

  117. I am curious as to whether this site has any moderators? I was just made a Poetry Moderator on an LDS forum today so maybe if I send in my references, I can get a job here as moderator.

    Of course, maybe I am only discerning in the area of poetry and lack judgment in all other areas.

    Maybe I am naiive to be wasting away here. Well, I have an aversion to people touching me anyway as I have ocd and always think I am contaminated so I guess your permission to live it up does me little good.

  118. Jenifer says:

    Perhaps one reason people shouldn’t look for spouses outside the Church and should live happily single is that they’re not assured of eternal blessings, such as the poster in commont 105 said.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith once said in answer to a question about what happened to part member families after death,

    Question:

    I have tried to be a good church member and have a strong testimony of the gospel, and the older I get the stronger is my faith. I am married to a non-member. We have three children…..My husband does not show the slightest interest in the church; in fact, he shows some resentment against it….I can live my life out this way, but what will happen to me and my children, who are faithful members in the resurrection?

    Answer:

    This is one of the saddest conditions that we are confronted with in the church. The Lord has revealed that the marriage covenant should be eternal….. In answer to this sister’s question we can say to her, and to the many others in like circumstances: If you remain faithful and true, the Lord will take your faith and devotion into account and reward you according to your works….It is a deplorable matter when a husband and wife are married for time only which according to the covenant they have taken must end at death, and then to have the wife wish and long for the blessings of husband and children in the eternity. When the wife if faithful and desires to obey the divine law and the husband is rebellious, or unwilling to obey the will of the Lord, if she maintains her integrity to the best of her ability, she will be given to another husband in eternity and will receive all the blessings of the celestial kingdom.

  119. Jenifer says:

    Jenifer, great comments! I think some people were having a little fun earlier with their cavalier attitudes toward LOC.

    You can’t have one foot in the mud and one foot in the kingdom and think that there is anything good about that. Repentance is there but who is to say your heart will be soft enough or that you will not fall away altogher. Also, when you take sacred covenants, you need to honor them.

    I am sure there good member today who hav transgressed and repented with their whole heart. When their sins are forgiven, they are white as snow.

    Well, this is my last post on this blog.

  120. Jenifer says:

    Note! I didn’t write comment 119! That must be another Jenifer with one “n”! :)

  121. 118 was me. I am so spacey, I must have been thinking that I wanted to address Jenifer when I wrote that. I did not mean I am leaving the BCC, like I keep my word anyways. I meant that I am not going to comment on this thread further. Well, I wanted to clarify that I accidently signed Jenifer. Sorry for the confusion.

  122. Oh, I think I was 119! What ever the real Jenifer said was not her, that was me. I must get more protein so that I can think. :)

  123. I recall on my mission teaching a single mother about the law of chastity with a brand new greenie. While trying my darnedest to be sensitive to the issue, my comapanion plops down the flip chart right in front of the investigator, just as I began. It was turned to the page that has in big bold letters “No Cometereis Adultero” or “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”. She looks at it and looks at my companion with a smirk on her face and says ” It’s a little late for that hija” and laughed. As far as i know, she’s obeyed the law since that day.

    I realized that we all have somewhat of an innate knowledge of right and wrong through the spirit, and those ready to recieve or come back to the gospel essentially know and accept what needs to be changed. Not implying that we shouldnt be tackful and compassionate, but that dealing with these issues lovingly and frankly is more productive than beating around the bush and pretending it’s a-okay.

  124. Steve, how long was it until you were able to go to the temple after you got married?

  125. If HIlary Clinton is “a little dyky”, then what is Sheri Dew? I find it kind of unsettling that she feels the need to constantly mention in her talks that she’s not married because no one ever asked. It seems to me that “the lady doth protest too much”. She doesn’t seem like much of a shrinking violet to me– if she really wanted to get married, I bet she could find somone.

    I think it’s pathetic that she’s always held up as the patron saint of the unmarried sister in the church. “Wow, look, we’ve let ONE single sister actually have a voice in the church.”

  126. Steve (FSF) says:

    To further clarify a few things some have raised:
    My post mission fall into serial fornication is complicated and has been covered on other blog threads. Suffice it to say, I was spiritually broken from some events on my mission. A post mission decline continued. One thing led to another and when a BYU freshman I was dating repeatedly asked for sex, I threw in the towel to find relief through physical pleasure. I had also been an early adolescent fornicator and found myself trapped in a recurring sin pattern with no simple way out. To explain, there are both positive and negative aspects to fornication. Pleasure, physical robustness, relaxation and clarity of mind are some of the positives. A major negative that may surprise some is I actually remained marriage minded during that time and sex early in a relationship hinders the kind of deep discovery period in a relationship that a marriage minded person is looking for. In effect, when it came to romance, I was a young adult stuck with an adolescent skill/mind set

    You’re all likely correct that my walk back into grace could have played out very differently. My flippancy to home teachers aside, I doubt I would have come back to church had I not met my active LDS wife. I hadn’t dated an LDS gal since BYU and, frankly, I missed them (I know people get upset when I say this, but my experience is, in general, Mormon women are pretty good at it. Some non LDS say this too.). My gf at the time introduced her to me, as the lapsed Mormon bf. Call me a pig, but let’s just say I traded up in short order. About a year later when I decided that our relationship was just too good not to make permanent, my wife to be cried, saying that she knew at first sight I was to be her husband and very patiently kept it to herself so I could independently come to the same conclusion regarding her. She then requested that I return and we both get ourselves right with the church. I explained to her that there would probably be no church discipline against her, but I would likely be excommunicated. That said, I wasn’t afraid to go back if that’s what she wanted.

    My wife brought me to church the following Sunday. While confession starts with the Bishop, being an Elder, my church court was w/ the Stake. No court was convened against my wife. My wife and I temple married about a year after our church marriage. I remember she was somewhat pregnant with our first when we went. Miracles still happen, mine did.

  127. Steve (FSF) says:

    LLL,
    I dunno. FYI, I got kicked off other blog for speculating if some male GAs’ obsession w/ women’s fashion was perhaps indicative of repressed homosexuality.

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