My Children’s Children’s Children

There was a moment when I thought I might be gay. I think most people ask themselves at some time or another. Quietly, of course. In a closet, maybe. Most ask it in attempts to understand or define their sexuality but I was already certain I liked men, a lot, which makes it seem illogical and even a bit stupid for a Mormon girl to ask, but I did.

I am 29 and I’ve never-been married. I was raised by temple-married parents and my extended family has been Mormon a long, long time, which is to say that my DNA is coded M-O-R-M-O-N with an occasional c, g, a, or a u for good measure. I can count the number of Mormon men I’ve dated on two hands (which is at least more than one hand). I’ve been friends with loads of Mormon men, I have 5 brothers, all Mormon, and being in singles’ wards for 10 years means that I’ve known a number of Mormon men that don’t fall into those previous categories. And it turns out I’m just not really attracted to them. Thats quite a blessing in the case of my brothers, but in terms of my desires, life goals and a theology that mandates it, not being able to fall in love with Mormon men has proven a little complicated and a lot heartbreaking. And, please, no finger pointing. I’m not picky. Mormon men don’t really fall for me either. We’re agreed. And in case you are wondering, I’m not just a sweet spirit either.

I moved to Boston from BYU in hopes of finding more people–of course that means men–that had more in common with me, and I did. Interesting, intelligent, ambitious men, but still no zing, no pitter-pat. That’s when I thought, oh, maybe I’m gay? I thought again and realized that no, I’m not. (Please see personal journals dating 1987 to present day) I looked at the odds in church, 5 girls to every guy, and my inability at falling in love and realized, for the first time in my life, I might not get married. I was a little taken aback by the prospect but then thought I have the faith to do this. I believe in temple marriage, I believe in marrying in the Church and I’m willing to make that sacrifice. And maybe become a very liberal Sheri Dew.

But now I’m not so sure. And let me tell you why. In any other situation were I trying to match things up, I would not continually try the same combination over and over again, expecting something different to happen. I would try, say, a different match. Call it muscle memory or electro-shock therapy or just a good idea. I’ve begun to think about dating outside of the Church and even marrying outside of the Church and in my rational mind it seems to make a lot of sense. The non-Mormon guys that I would choose to date have a lot in common with me. I like them and I’m going to risk it and say I might be able to fall in love with them. I have heretofore avoided dating them because of that old adage you marry who you date, and of course the prophets words.

And here’s what I would be giving up: a life-long goal and commitment to get married in the temple. Being united in religion with my spouse, which could affect our coupleness and our children. Some loneliness. A temple sealing. The nagging feeling that I’m not quite what men are looking for. An eternal marriage. Some disconnect with men. A chance to find a fine specimen in the millennium. A date for temple night. Potentially not blessing my children’s children’s children.

So, the question is, do you know any fine, non-Mormon men? Or, do I risk life now and eternally if I marry outside of the Church? Have I lost my faith?

The more I pray, the more reasonable I feel about this decision. There is a very large demographic of women in the Church like me. And it may very well be reasonable for them too. Or maybe not.

Comments

  1. Nice post, Amri. This is one area where the Lord’s will for you is supreme. I know waaaay to many part member families that are amazing and have worked out “eternally” before the end. I reallize that some will say that the gamble is too high; but, as I said, God will direct you. Nobody else can.

    With the inactivity crisis among young single adults (13% activity in the US), I also think the Church is realizing that the status quo isn’t particularly effective for a certain demographic.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    So Amri, what should the average married church member do to react? I hate the idea of giving you advice; I have nothing that applies. I hate the idea of condescending quasi-doctrine to help you feel better (see Stapley). And polygamy ain’t coming back, so there’s no Big Love solution, neither.

    I want to help. But what can I do? Wanna come over to play uno some time with us? See? I’m at a loss.

  3. cj douglass says:

    I might be a simpleton for saying this but the question comes to mind, “what does God think you should do?”. I know, I know. That being said, I grew up in a ward with a number of families where one of the parents was a non-member. Remarkably, many of the non-member spouses were active in the church and supported their children in temple marraige and on missions. In atleast one case, the spouse eventually was baptised(after 40+ years of marriage). I guess what I’m saying is that if I had a choice to love and marry a non-member(who ofcourse respected my beliefs) or not marry at all, I would definitely marry the non-member.

  4. Julie M. Smith says:

    I have a rather hardlined stance on this issue: the general rule is that one does not marry outside of the temple.

    The general rule, however, is always trumped by personal inspiration. In your situation, I’d do whatever it takes to find out what God wants you to do and then, whatever it is and whether or not you particularly feel like doing it, proceed. If you learn that God wants you to date nonmembers, do it and ignore any grief you get from anyone. If God doesn’t want you to, then don’t.

  5. 13%?

    Where, J. Stapley, do you get that number? I’m not being critical at all of the statistic, but I am a bit taken aback by the number.

  6. Amri, I was sort of in your situation, and I ended up marrying a non-member, and although I love my husband 100% and can’t imagine life without him, the truth is, it’s hard because of all the things you mentioned above. Getting endowments on my own – not fun. Taking care of my kids in church as a “single mom” – not fun. Some spiritual loniliness – not fun. However, I prayed and prayed and prayed before I made my decision, and the answer was consistently, always the same. The answer was wasn’t “Go for it! He’s a keeper!” or anything so forceful, but it was the single word being impressed again and again into my mind through the spirit of the Holy Ghost. That one word was the word “Hope.” It gave me peace and let me know my decision was okay and that I would be in for some hardships, but I could always rely on that important tenant of the gospel for strength- hope. And it gave me hope that I’ll be in an eternal relationship at some point, but I don’t know when. In the meantime, yes, it isn’t easy (spiritually). So, my longwinded advice for you is, barring some serious soul-searching and personal revelation (as Julie said), do everything you can to marry in the temple. Absolutely Everything.

  7. I hate that I’m writing this, but I can’t stop myself. Amri, I hope for your sake and for posterity’s that you don’t have any U’s in your DNA. U goes in RNA only. M’s, O’s, R’s, M’s, O’s, and N’s are OK though, I guess.

    One of my sisters that married outside the church married a very nice man. One of her two children has joined the church. Another sister married four non-Mormon men and they didn’t fare so well, but I think that was probably due to substance abuse and other factors besides religion per se. So far in my immediate family (just siblings) inter-faith marriages are batting 2 for 7 for a .286 average. Intra-faith are batting 9 for 11 for a .818 average. So there you have it: broadly applicable statistics. Numbers don’t lie.

  8. Where, J. Stapley, do you get that number?

    Church Head-Quarters. They are running a pilot program in the Seattle area to try and ameliorate the situation. The stat is from the Area-70 that primed us for the program (power point).

  9. I don’t know if this would matter to you, but you would also have to fend off nosy and well-meaning-but-rude ward members. Everyone would always be asking “So when is he going to get baptised?” There would be plenty of people tsk-tsking at how unfortunate you are that he isn’t a member (hopefully not to your face). And then there may be the even more unsavory assumptions about how you as a member got to be married to a non-member (Was it a shotgun wedding? Did he leave the church because of {insert horrible sin here}?) These things shouldn’t happen but they probably would, and it would be wise to prepare yourself and your potential non-member husband for the possibility.

  10. Anonymous for This Post says:

    In some ways I’m in the opposite situation of yours, Amri. I deeply value my temple marriage, but it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t come with any guarantees. I married my husband in the temple, and for most of our marriage, he’s been in and out of activity. The Church and spiritual life more generally have simply become less and less important to him. Sometimes it’s been very hard and very lonely. It’s hard to go to church without him and try to explain his absence to others. It’s hard to navigate being recruited by well-meaning members who want me to help them reactivate him. I don’t think they realize how compromised I feel when they try to draw me into schemes. (The worst is when member criticize my own husband to me.) It’s hard to hear people comfort me by telling me that someday I’ll be sealed to a righteous priesthood holder. I don’t want an abstract righteous priesthood holder. I want my husband, whom I love. And at times it’s very lonely because I would feel disloyal confiding in anyone. It’s been hard, but also strengthening, always having to be the one who brings up spiritual considerations in our marriage. Although I’ve always been pretty independent, I’ve really had to stand on my own feet spiritually.

    But my husband is a very good, kind man, a great balance for me, and I’ve never regretted marrying him. During the most difficult times, I’ve always gone back to the experience I had that marrying him was the right thing to do.

  11. Starfoxy (no.9) — what’s worse: tsk-tsking and people asking, “So when is he going to get baptised?”

    or tsk-tsking, and people asking, “So when are you going to get married?”

    Oh, and having people tell you all the time how happy you’ll be when you find a worthy husband sometime once you’re dead. Seriously, sometimes I get the feeling we need to come up with some kind of meaningful life to offer single people in this Church.

  12. Steve,

    Mormon Nuns?

  13. DannyBoy says:

    Amri – I am a single guy in my 30’s in a Family Ward, after being kicked out from the YSA Ward. And like you, it looks like I will have to look outside Church if I am to find a life-partner. There just arent any single Mormon women in our area that arent that are either not divorcees that are 25 years older than me, or are welfare cases ( drug addicts who joined the Church only for the welafare benefits and who are still imbibing or shooting up, or still are more or less hookers)
    Of course, I am being pressured by well meaning Ward members to get married to any woman who issingle, even if they are much older or are substance abusers. “At least they are members”, said one person!!!!!

  14. I didn’t get married until I was twenty-nine either. Have to admit I was starting to just give up on the idea and resign myself to celibacy.

    Wish I had answers for you. I don’t, just best wishes.

  15. annon for this post (2) says:

    That being said, I grew up in a ward with a number of families where one of the parents was a non-member. Remarkably, many of the non-member spouses were active in the church … I guess what I’m saying is that if I had a choice to love and marry a non-member(who ofcourse respected my beliefs) or not marry at all, I would definitely marry the non-member.

    I am that person. I have the most active non-member husband you could ask for. One of the conditions of marriage was this: It wasn’t ok for him to be “supportive” in words only…I was fine if he never got baptized, but was not ok with dragging future children by myself to church alone. My husband has given me no reason to believe, despite the inability for us to have children, that he would ever put us in that position.

    For me, the decision came from years of attempting to date Mormon men and finding very little in common with them (in fact, I was intimidating to most). I have parents who have very little in common, but do have a temple marriage; its the ONLY thing that holds them together and I’m not sure it is healthy. I fell in love with a man outside the faith and after 4 or 5 break ups over 18 month period of time (during which I would throw myself into the LDS dating scene), decided I was at peace with building an eternal relationship without the temple marriage upfront and trust/hope it would work out in the end. I still feel it was the right decision for me.

    Hardest part about it? Questions, particularly when we move to a new ward once they realize that he is not a member, asking over and over “when is he getting baptized” and a few implications that if I just tried harder or had a little more faith, he would get baptized rank up there as the most annoying aspects of the arrangement. The temple can be a bit bothersome without a spouse, but I have other issues with the temple that are far more serious in my mind than whether or not my spouse is there with me. We probably attend fewer church functions than I would otherwise; we both look for friends and couples outside the church to hang out with. I have a hard time justifying “family time” away from him for ward temple night or choir practice. The hardest part for me, however, is relying on yourself to push yourself spiritually. If I don’t feel like praying or reading my scriptures, my husband isn’t going to push it. So, you have to be confident in your own belief system and his respect for it going in because some days it feels all on you.

  16. Why not marry for love? If you meet someone that you totally click with, and couldn’t stand to live without him then why wouldn’t you get married? Regardless of membership status or not, this is your heart, and your life.

    I can see of course how this would be a hard decision to make. So I understand where you are coming from. Thank you for writing about something so important and personal.

    I married my wife in the temple, and recently I have had a hard time feeling connected to Church and it’s members, so I just don’t want to go anymore. I also happen to be gay, and my wife regrets marrying me (even though she wouldn’t say that outloud). There are no guarantees. The gospel isn’t a formula for happiness, of course it helps, but it’s just not simple.

    Go with your heart.

  17. annon for this post (2) says:

    Oh, and we have both mutually decided that our marriage will not withstand constant Mormon culture, therefore excluding Utah (incidently where we met), however beautiful it is, as a place to live.

  18. Friendly Neighborhood Anon. says:

    Amri – Great to see you posting at BCC.

    I can’t advise you or people in general what to do on this. It’s too personal and seems to me to be one of those situations where knowing whether the exceptions to the rule come in to play is something that only the individual in question can know.

    I can share my experiences for some perspective. I’m sure others have similar experiences and and some quite different experiences.

    My Mom joined the Church when I was a young child and my Dad, to date, still has not (after almost 30 years). They’re still together, to their credit, and I think they’re pretty happy together. My Dad has for many years been supportive and respectful of my Mom’s Church activity. He has participated a fair bit himself–attending Church and Church-related activities, even speaking in Sacrament meeting at my mission farewell.

    But I have seen what a loss it has been for them not to share the same religious beliefs. My Mom loves the Church and the Gospel and has an amazing spiritual life–she is close to the Spirit and has many spiritual experiences. She derives great joy from these experiences. But this is something she has never been able to share with my Dad. I don’t think she does this often, but even when she tries to express what these experiences mean, he doesn’t comprehend. It’s not that he’s disrespectful, but it just doesn’t mean anything to him.

    I’ve seen what a loss it has been in her life not to be able to share that with him. I know she has literally yearned every day that someday some spark would light in him and he would begin to feel something like what she feels. There is a whole world–centered around the things that are most important to her–that he just doesn’t/can’t appreciate. She loves–absolutely loves!–to attend the temple, but she has to do so alone. One of her favorite treats is when her out of town kids come home and she can attend the temple with her children. It means so much to her to be with family in the temple.

    At times it was frustrating/hard as children growing up with him not being a member. There wre not many, but there were a few times when he said things that were negative about the Church or about my faith. Sometimes they were deseerved, I admint, but more often they were not. But in reality, my Mom’s testimony was so strong and she was so good at communicating this to us and teachins us, that we got by just fine.

    Based on my family’s experience, I think it is absolutely possible to have a happy family life with (reasonably) well-adjusted children who are strong and active in the Church when only one parent is a member of the Church. (Although I would insert the strong caveat that this assumes the non-member spouse is willing to be respectful and supportive of Church activity–this is easiest when the non-member spouse’s religious preference is “nothing”, which was our situation).

    Still, so much is missing from this wife-husband relationship and family experiences. It seems to me that if you can’t find a member who’s a good fit for you, then you can certainly find a way to make a good family situation work with a non-member. I don’t know how long we should search in the Church–it’s impossible to say. But I’ve known some close friends in the Church who have found each other in their thirties and have established wonderful relationships and families.

    Everyone walks a different path and only the person doing the walking can know which steps to take. Based on my family’s experience I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of marrying a non-member, but the costs are high enough that I’d want to make sure I had a very strong answer from the Lord that it was the right thing for me to do. If I have that, I can go forward, whatever the path.

  19. You know,

    It’s not like being single doesn’t have some significant bright spots.

    Just remember that the married folks have legitimate reason to envy the single folks too. It’s not just a one-way street.

  20. Amri Brown says:

    Y’all are very kind. I was not looking for advice necessarily though I always appreciate it. I am interested in the idea of faith in terms of marriage. Is it more faithful to be single because I can’t find a Mormon man to marry? Or is it more faithful to find life support in a spouse that has many things in common with me just not religion?

    Singleness has also born theological problems that I never ever thought I would think about. We must be married to make it to the highest heaven, no? If you are not married but still righteous, you must administer to equally righteous but married folk. That’s a little weird right? And then I have thought about why you must be married to be in heaven. I’m not sure what I think about it all now but I can imagine a heaven with singles and marrieds living constructive happy eternal lives worshipping God. It feels nice to believe that but that’s partially because I’m single and I know I may not ever believe that if I had for whatever reason been able to get married.

    I don’t pity myself, fyi. Single life has been very good to me. But every once in a while I question why I’m not good enough to get married to a Mormon. Irrational, and I wish it weren’t a part of my psyche but it is. Because I am Mormon.

  21. Amri,

    I think that the reason most of the responses you have received have been in the form of advice is that advice is all any of us have. You ask a difficult question–which life is a better life of faith for me? There are successful mixed-faith marriages and failed same-faith marriages. Sharing the faith alone does not guarantee success. And for every Sherri Dew or Wendy Watson, there are probably several others who chose to remain single who have not been able to “keep the faith” in a very marriage- and family-oriented church.

    The answer of what is right for you is that: whatever is right for you. In my case, I got married late (28) to a beautiful girl who has continued to struggle with her faith. We have met some very supportive people in the church who have encouraged her, and some very judgmental people who have driven her back into inactivity. Luckily, we are in a very supportive ward right now, but she is still looking over her shoulder because of a very recent experience (In many ways, I think Pres Hinckley’s talk in the latest Priesthood session about treating others was addressed to the city we just moved from).

    I see you address three options: marry in the church, marry outside the church, or remain single. If you take either of the “non-traditional” options, be prepared for criticism. Like my experience, and that of several other commenters, you will find people in the church who will love and support you regardless of your marital status, and you will also find judgmental people who will make you feel uncomfortable at best and unwelcome at worst. We all have trials of our faith; marital status is one of the most visible ones. If you feel led by the Spirit in your choice, then rely on that as the trials come.

  22. Friendly Neighborhood Anon. says:

    Amri, you ask “Is it more faithful to be single because I can’t find a Mormon man to marry? Or is it more faithful to find life support in a spouse that has many things in common with me just not religion?”

    I’m not sure if these are the right questions. Isn’t the question, “What does the Lord want me to do?” Whatever that is, we do it.

    The tough part happens when the Lord doesn’t have (or for some reason doesn’t want to express) a preference. In that scenario, I guess “what’s more faithful” is actually good question. I would interpret it to mean, “What decision can I make that is most true to the fundamental principles of the Gospel.” Seems to me the only way to answer that is to try and identify the most important Gospel principles and then see how the different life options play out with regard to those principles. At the end of the day, you’re balancing what you gain and lose in each scenario and have to make your choice based on the overall result of each option.

    Too analytical? Maybe, it does sound a lot like a Gospel Economist view of the world. (shudder). That’s the only way I can think of trying to deal with the complexities other than saying “Well, I’ll just roam the land and if I fall in love and feel good about it, I’ll marry”. That just seems to loosy-goosy for me.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was young, it never would have occurred to me to marry outside of the church (and temple). That was definitely my plan, and I married while at BYU, where getting married is as easy as falling off a log.

    In my old age, however (I’m 47), I’ve mellowed on this (and many other subjects). If I were put in the position of being single again, my first choice would definitely be to marry within the church. And, realistically, given the demographics I almost certainly would be able to do that without difficulty. But I would be much more open to marrying a non-LDS woman I was in love with than I would have been as a young man.

    I agree with no. 3, that if the choice were one between living a life alone and marrying a good non-LDS woman, I would definitely choose the latter.

    If you want to try to convert someone, I think that kind of activity should only go on pre-marriage. After the marriage, I think you need to back off and let him be.

    I think you would want someone who is willing to support you in your activity, and even participate himself on occasion (an ideal might be to come to sacrament with you, which wouldn’t be too painful a compromise).

    As for dealing with well-meaning but nosy church members, I think you need to publicly make it very clear that you do not want members to try to convert him. A woman did that in our ward, and it worked; people backed off. I suspect that when people try to convert your husband they think they’re doing you a favor; when you draw a clear line indicating that is not what you want, most (bot of course not all unfortunately) will respect that.

    Jana Riess wrote a great article in Sunstone about these kinds of experiences with her (Methodist) husband, which I highly recommend:

    http://www.sunstoneonline.com/magazine/issues/126/66-67_c_riess_marriage.pdf

  24. Anonymous for This Post #1 says:

    Anon #2 said,

    The hardest part for me, however, is relying on yourself to push yourself spiritually. If I don’t feel like praying or reading my scriptures, my husband isn’t going to push it. So, you have to be confident in your own belief system and his respect for it going in because some days it feels all on you.

    Exactly!

    If there’s going to be any spiritual activity in my home, it’s going to be at my instigation. My husband will usually go along, but he’s never going to initiate. Which puts me in an extremely paradoxical position vis-a-vis patriarchy: essentially, in some sense I’m the spiritual leader of my home and marriage. I’d love to see someone explore this issue in terms of the male role of presiding, which is more or less the role I inhabit, by default.
    Don’t get me wrong–it’s not at all that I run the house or make all the decisions. I think my husband and I do a pretty good job of making decisions together and respecting each others’ wishes. It’s just that the definition of preside that’s evolved in the last decade or so, the role of seeing that spiritual things happen, has basically fallen to me.

    I don’t have any idea what to make of that.

  25. I’m single and a 33 female member of the church and have known Amri for about 1 year. This is a constant topic of discussion amongst our friendship. I currently am dating a non-member who really is the nicest man I’ve ever dated. He is a good Christian, just not LDS. I’m keeping a comfortable distance in the relationship because of the non-mormon difference. But when do I say ‘he is great and will treat me the best i’ve ever been treated’ or keep being lonely waiting for that LDS guy who will semi fit my personality? My family of course says ‘wait’, but they were all married by 24, it’s completely different than me and my situation.

  26. Amri – There is a fellow in my ward who is a devout Catyholic but attends our meetings as well with his family. His children are all grown and gone (3 boys and a girl) and he has supported each of them on their missions. He has spoken in Sacrament meeting (in the old days when parents spoke at the missionary “farewell”) and he has given lessons in Priesthood Meeting. He is a wonderful part of our gospel doctine classes and he probably knows more about the Mormon standard works than most of us.

    He is also very active in the Cathoilic Church as well (I think he attends Saturday night services) and he is very much involved in charitable causes. He and his wife organize the “angel tree” program in our ward and each year we contribute to an orphanage in West Virginia, primarily through his efforts and his wifes efforts. He is one of the best “Christians” that I know and my life is better simply because I know him.

    It would be a shame if you had the chance to spend your life with someone like him and passed on the opportunity to do so because he was not a member of our church. Of course we all hope and pray for the day when he will make the change and come over to our side. But right now I’m not counting on that happening. But my heart tells me we will all be so lucky to find ourselves standing next to him in the next life.

  27. Amri,

    I can’t really offer adivce but as others have done, I can relay my experience.

    I married outside of the church (Catholic)in my late 20’s after realizing as you have, that I wasn’t falling in love with my male mormon peers. My husband and I attend both mass and sacrament weekly (doable becuase there are 3 different saturday evening times we can choose from and 5 different sunday mass times to choose from as well). Neither of us are asking or want conversion from the other. If I were pressuring him to take discussions or if he believed I needed to be catholic in order for us to be exhalted, I think the tension could possibly overwhelm the love. I prayed about marrying him, and had been praying the three plus years we dated. It always, always, just felt so right. And my life has been blessed because of him. And many many church members tell me their lives have been influenced by his example. I think they key is that if you choose to date non-members, make sure they understand your beliefs, share similar values, and that they support you however you both feel comfortable.

  28. Eric Russell says:

    Those interested in this topic can treat themselves to 389 comments on it over there. For now, I’ll just rehash the comment I made there, which I think is justified given the sea of comments.

    I think that most of us would agree that, faced with the certain prospect of lifelong singlehood, one ought to seek out a non-temple marriage (NTM). I also think that most of us would agree that faced with the reasonable possibility of finding a healthy, happy marriage in the church, one ought to wait for such a marriage. The big question is, where’s the line?

    When people talk about this subject, it’s often in terms of absolutes or near absolutes, where people certainly would never had married if it had not been for a NTM. But it’s rarely that simple. How can one ever say with objectivity that there’s no chance of marring in the church? In any case, how certain must one be to justify a NTM? I think most would agree that if you were only 30% certain that you could never find a marriable partner in the church, it would not be justified, but that it likely would be justified with a 90% certainty. Where’s the line? Or, in other words, how desperate do you have to be before a NTM becomes an acceptable option?

    Compounded on the problem of knowing where that line is, is the problem of knowing where you stand in the first place. I think it’s a natural tendency for all of us to underestimate the possibility of our marriage in the church – especially as we get older.

  29. Elisabeth says:

    Great post, Amri! And excellent discussion. One question I have relates to the title of the post, “My children’s children’s children”. Say you do decide to marry outside the LDS church – what then do you teach your children? Obviously, this is something you should decide with your spouse before having children in the first place, but I’m sure it can be very complicated in practice – since Mormonism requires its members to adhere to a very rigorous, structured lifestyle.

    Also, it has been interesting to discuss this dilemma with my agnostic friends. Many of my friends have rejected organized religion for themselves, but feel compelled to bring their children up in an organized religion. Not having children myself, I’m somewhat puzzled by this. Why would you teach your children something you don’t believe in yourself? (let’s dispense with the Santa Claus and Easter Bunny examples)

  30. Another middle-aged POV. I temple married (2nd marriage, 1st in the temple) a wonderful, faithful, believing LDS (his 1st marriage) when we were in our late 30s. And now, I’ve lost my faith.

    I love my husband with all my heart. Things are not as we expected, but we both still have hope that things will work out.

    Marry someone you love. Pray about it. Have hope. It will all work out.

  31. Amri Brown says:

    The Spirit doesn’t really work for me the way y’all suggest. My past history has shown that when it comes to personal decisions like dating or other emotionally important decisions, either the Spirit doesn’t speak or I can’t hear it. My desires, issues, skewed or unskewed world view, hormones all get in the way.

    The Spirit speaks to me when it’s in terms of other people. Say this, do this. Be interested in this world issue, get involved in that.

    Maybe that means that God doesn’t mind what I do.
    I’m also not polarized on this issue. Up til now, I haven’t dated non-Mormons to speak of. I’ve just decided to open myself up to it. I would never say no to a Mormon guy that asked me out, even if I thought he was a dunce. I’m sort of nice that way.

    I also do not believe that spirituality is based solely on membership in the Church. Some people like it, some don’t. Regardless of their church affliation, if I were to marry a spiritually-inclined person I think we would have that connection. If spirituality was not interesting to them, I wouldn’t have that connection with them.

  32. Amri Brown says:

    Oh yeah and #7 Tom–maybe that stray RNA U is the reason I’m not married. Crap!

  33. annon for this post (2) says:

    Post #23 and #24 I agree with whole heartedly.

    #29 and others bring up an excellent point regarding how to deal with raising the children if you marry outside the faith. In my case, we have been unable to have children thus far and hence I can only tell you the plan. Husband was raised Catholic but was agnostic when we met. He doesn’t identify himself as Catholic in faith as much as Catholic in tradition. When we are with his family, we attend mass, particularly for the holidays (and now it makes me uncomfortable to be at an LDS meetinghouse on Palm Sunday and have the lesson be on visiting teaching!) We even went through a phase where he had been asked to be a confirmation sponser which requires your local priest’s signature. So, we went to Mass on Saturday at 4pm and LDS church on Sunday at 9am over the period of about 6 months. I am at home in a Catholic mass as he is in an LDS sacrament meeting. We agree that because I am more certain of my home of faith, that children will be raised LDS; however it will be with a big dose of other religious (Catholic and others) exposures mixed in. We both strongly feel that religion is very personal and that most organized religions have a lot to give (even if Husband isn’t convinced any of them are right on the money). Thus, we will teach our children the religous traditions we were brought up in and let them decide for themselves as adults.

    As far as Eric Russells’ comment #28, I suppose it is true that I could have hung on and waited. I certainly wasn’t dating outside the church in desperation. But there are a lot of what ifs in life. I married a nonmember after college but in my early 20’s. My biological clock was not ticking, however the maturity of settling into adult life and learning to live with someone you love was. The deciding factor for me was that our values outside the nity gritty details of organized religion matched up so well, he was soo good to me, and I felt complete with him. I’ve had various LDS friends say “I can’t imagine you with anyone else… you both seem to perfect each other.” Could that have happened with someone else? Perhaps. Did I choose the easy way out by calling it when I did? Maybe. But, I felt then as I do now 5 years later that this person is so special that they make it easier for me to live my faith, values, and standards than if I were not married (and given my experience with LDS men, being with 95% of them). That is the tipping point. And it won’t be the same for everyone.

  34. annon for this post (2) says:

    Amri #31 – I am like you. The spirit speaks to me through experiences and people rather than as direct answers to prayers (although I’ve gotten some definent NOs on a few specifics in my life). I tend to believe that God is fairly indifferent to most of the particulars I do as long as they are uplifting, good-report, praiseworthy, etc.

    I also believe that some, like my Husband, who would not describe themselves as “spiritual” are in fact almost so. A lot of times these types have had bad experiences with organized religion and thus have written off the concept of “Western spirituality”. Many, however, believe firmly in the dignity of the human spirit ( a “humanism” of sorts) and it drives their value system in a parrellel way. You may find their take on things leads to the same set of values and allows you to converse and be comfortable in each other’s company. A relationship with these types does require hashing out a language of understanding of what various labels on spiritual elements, etc mean.

  35. nonamethistime says:

    IMO, prophetic rhetoric from the 1970s and 1980s did a LOT of damage to youth and young adults. I don’t doubt that teachings from those times contributed to the 13% inactivity among singles and confusion about marriage doctrines.

    President Kimball said many disturbing and frightening things about choosing not to marry in the temple:

    Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless. A girl may say, “Oh, I do not intend to marry this person. It is just a ‘fun’ date.” But one cannot afford to take a chance on falling in love with someone who may never accept the gospel.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.300)

    “Civil marriages are definitely ended when death comes. That is absolute. The Lord has so declared it. I have heard women say, ‘But my husband was a good man. I know we’ll be husband and wife in eternity.’ Even though sincere, they are wrong! They through his servants. Now if they have never heard the gospel, nor had an opportunity to accept it, that is something different. They may hear it in the spirit world and the work may be done vicariously for them on earth, and they may be united. But for us who have heard the word of the Lord, who have the scriptures with us, who have had many witnesses and many testimonies, who have been informed—tomorrow is too late. We may be angels, if we are righteous enough. Even unmarried, we may reach the celestial kingdom, but we will be ministering angels only.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Importance of Celestial Marriage,” Tambuli, July 1980, 1).

    There’s also a quote I remember from high school when he said “normal people will marry”–as though those who do not marry or who marry later in life are somehow abnormal.

  36. As your brother, I have to say I’m glad that I was never in contention. I’ve tried to think what JSJ would have said about this. It’s a hard question to answer, I think. On the one hand, he developed the temple theology and felt strongly that his followers needed to be temple married in order to achieve “exaltation.” On the other hands he developed a sacerdotal genealogy that over-rode natural or traditional associations. He also married his followers’ wives and integrated his legal wife into a polygamous predicament she didn’t consistently assent to. In my research and death and kinship in early Mormonism, I’m often more impressed by his vision of everyone integrated _somehow_ into a vast and sometimes complex network of family. In a few of his preachings about death and postmortal reunions, he spends far more energy talking about seeing his parents and siblings and friends again than he does on seeing Emma or his other wives, though there are admittedly non-doctrinal reasons he might have failed to mention them. Religiously mixed families were not so uncommon in Nauvoo, and when the spouse was friendly, JSJ welcomed them into the fold, independent of their membership (though he clearly hoped they would eventually join).

    I think there is precedent for a more expansive vision of celestial family (ie one that would include singles), though, as sympathetic as I am to this idea, there are contradictory threads even very early in Mormonism that establish precedent for the current view that smacks so much of neo-Victorian Evangelical Protestantism.

    So in regards to your initial question of what is more faithful, pious celibacy or loving “miscegenation,” I think the roots of Mormonism contain both answers. Leaving you with the not unproblematic answer of several posters above: following the spirit is the most faithful decision.

    Now many of us know people who have made horrific marital decisions on the basis of a spirit that external observers would characterize as a warped reincarnation of companionability salving the wound of incapacitating loneliness. So it’s not that easy to follow the spirit in this regard.

  37. anonbyandby says:

    I maintained that I could never love a Mormon woman despite several attempts to do so and had essentially resigned myself to nostalgiac longing for a Jewish girl whom I thought I could have married in college when I met my wife. I was soon hopelessly in love with a Mormon woman.

    She hates that I tell the story because it seems so smug and self-serving, while I see it as a statement about my cultural affinity. Despite my love of the Gospel and being Mormon, I feel culturally about as Mormon as Terry Tempest Williams. Often when I hear people say that they can’t find a Mormon (wo)man to love, I think that what they’re trying to say is that they feel culturally marginal, in large part as reflected by their antipathy for scripted sexual roles and culturally stereotyped prospective mates.

    So if you’re a spiritual Mormon but a cultural Gentile, whom do you marry? I have no good answer. I got lucky.

  38. smb, I think your analysis (at least what you present here) of Joseph’s exaltation theology isn’t all that tenable. I would be interested in a fuller analysis if you have written anywhere. In the last years of his life, Joseph clearly taught and believed that not only was being sealed to someone as spouse required for exaltation, but also being adopted to someone who was also destined for exaltation required.

  39. J.: Can you flesh out the 13% number a bit for me. 87% activity rates strikes me as far above the Church average. Am I wrong about this? Is the 13% a statistic for something other than inactivity, e.g. 13% more likely to become inactive, etc. etc.

  40. That is 87% inactivity in the US for YSA. The actual figure was 8%-15% activity rates with an average of 13%.

  41. nonamethistime says:

    Actually, maybe the statistic is the other way around? In one of my singes wards, the activity rate was TEN PERCENT. Most people had reactivation callings–we went door-to-door to find the 200+ inactives on the rolls.

  42. Amri Brown says:

    Does the GA who is doing the study in Seattle think that there would be more active YSA if marriage didn’t have the same weight? Or if they were encouraged to simultaneously seek the Church and dating outside of the church? Would that make people more active?

  43. I’m not sure what the Church thinks beyond what the program illuminates. It seems like the major hope/solution is to get people married.

  44. J.: Thanks! I misunderstood you earlier. Obviously something is working right…

  45. …not working right. (oops)

  46. 13%. (8-15%)

    I’m not the least bit surprised. I attend a Singles ward that is probably on the 8% end of that. of course, for all I know, we could be reporting 15%.

    If my experience in my last Singles ward and on my mission are any indication:

    the 13%, like almost all church statistics is probably
    1) embellished (i.e. erring on the side of ‘faith-promoting’) and 2) misleading (based on either an overly broad definition of ‘active’ or inclusive of visitors/investigators & people who attend more than one sac mtg in the attendance numerator)

    foremerly, there were two ways to measure attendance/activity:
    1. sacrament meeting headcounts
    and
    2. formal/informal rollcalling + the one-meeting-per-month = active definition

    i’m not sure which one was used for the 13% number, but both inflate activity numbers. anyone know how the Church tablulates activity these days?

  47. as for explanation of the low activity numbers…

    we could all make a list–but i don’t think the desire to be active or have a testimony is ever the first thing to go. on any such list, the prophetic rhetoric on marriage/single-ness and sexuality/morality that this generation (born 1970s through 1980s) of YSA grew up on is right near the top.

    as a TIC aside: if we really want singles to start coming back to Church, we should start by replacing BKPs with J Golden Kimballs–or better yet, start calling young and even single people to Church leadership positions.

  48. third thought:

    (like i said, we could all make a list: doctrinal problems, social pressure (e.g. the CBS poll), WoW, LoC, work conflicts, history/doctrine issues, personal conflicts, depression/discouragement, etc., etc. but here’s one issue that doesn’t make the list:)

    the Church and my parents have always said that if your friends have testimonies, marry in the temple, etc. you are much more like to do so.

    by the time you’re 27 and single, even if you ONLY ever had Mormon friends in High School and College, the majority of your friends will no longer be ‘in the Church’ with a much higher percentage of the remaining Single friends (acc’g to the 13% number) falling outside Church.

    High School is too long ago for me to keep tabs on. But thinking of college–where I hung out EXCLUSIVELY with the Institute crowd–I only have two or three reasonably close friends who are still active in Church. but my best 5-6 friends who were all absolutely on-fire spiritually at the time are all inactive or no longer members at all.

    but guess what? of those 3 active good friends, one is married, one i’m out of touch with and just assume he’s active; the other is stressed out, depressed, weird, and *ahem* often mistaken for being gay.

    meanwhile, most of those (the majority) who are no longer Mormon, are happier than I’ve ever seen them. (I know, I know, “do they have TRUE happiness?!” Well, frankly, yes, I’m forced to admit. And none are cokeheads or hedonists.)

    looking at my new group of on-fire spiritually friends in this singles ward, where do I think they’ll be in 5 years? if I had to guess:

    10-20% married in the temple
    10-20% active/semi-active single: of these each will be depressed, lonely, desperately clinging to faith, and maybe gay
    the majority: inactive or non-Mormon, and most happily so.

    of course, practically every one us wants to be in the “married in the temple” group now. do we not want it enough? do we not have enough faith?

  49. Amri,

    Like many of the commenters in this thread, it breaks my heart to think of the many single LDS women who would have liked to have been married by now, and don’t see it on the horizon. Lots of my friends are women like you, and so this whole thing is on my mind a lot.

    Unlike most of these commenters, I am a single Mormon guy about your age. (Worse, I live in the same metropolitan area!) So I can’t help but feel not just sad, but guilty. Partly this is because of the way this generally gets framed– especially in stake conferences at BYU. (Singleness is a crime. Women are the victims. Men are the perps.)

    This past general conference preached quite a different message. Unmarried people of both sexes got the same instruction: be happy, keep the faith, move forward. That was a nice change.

    So I try not to feel too guilty about this. I still get bummed out, though. And I think singles wards contribute to that feeling of malaise, by kicking everyone out who meets with success. We talk and think about marriage all the time, but we have no role models, because they’re all in the family wards.

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that almost all the single people I have known in my decade in singles wards are now married. And almost all of the people I know in LP2 will find someone and get married, too. It doesn’t seem that way sometimes, but I do think that’s true.

    Anyway, I don’t have anything useful to say. I have no advice to offer. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders, and as Carrie McIntyre told me back before she married Frank, I am perhaps the least perceptive man on earth. So I wouldn’t presume to offer counsel.

    I guess I just wanted to commiserate. Or something.

    JOHN

  50. Amri Brown says:

    John,
    I am not mad about my singlehood. There’s no bitterness or blame for men or the surplus number of women. It is true in the world that not everyone gets married. It is truer in our church that there are far more women than men. That’s just the way it is, it’s not the universe conspiring against me. So don’t feel guilty. At least not about me. I recognize that my singlehood spoils me and I get to do things that married people dream of. Probably. My blog is about me owning up to the fact that I want to get married and if the pattern holds up it probably won’t be to a Mormon man. I’m okay with that and my question is if it is a rationalization because my life doesn’t seem to follow the Mormon plan. I see a lot of lonely Mormon women and I wonder if they would be happier “widening their horizons” Some might. Others, however, I am certain would not be.
    Norm,
    I think singles’ wards warp people. Especially the longer they spend in them. I think people would feel less aware of their marital status if they were just working in a regular ward with regular issues. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know how to believe in the Church but when serving in a good religious community I don’t seem to care.
    I also believe that since marriage is culturally and religiously the focus of Mormonism you’re more likely to stay even if you don’t believe because you work into the social structure. When you don’t have that structure you suddenly ask questions about religion that you may have never asked before–like are married people really the only ones in heaven? And then some people leave in response to those questions.

  51. Amri,

    Thank you. :) To clarify, I don’t really feel guilty about you, specifically. (I’m too Republican for you, anyway.) Your post just reminded me of the many, many single LDS women who are unmarried, but who would prefer to be married. Thinking about all these women makes me feel sad, and also guilty for not asking more of them out and marrying one of them.

    I guess I was just thinking out loud. Or, rather, thinking actually silently but typing metaphorically “out loud” in the comments section of a blog post.

  52. Why are so many of our sisters looking for mates outside the church? One word: pornography. Pornography is a plague that is destroying the men of the church.

    I go to both a singles ward and an addiction recovery group. More than a quarter of the elders in my ward have come to the group at least once to talk about their struggles with pornography and masturbation. I am pretty sure that at least half the eligible men in the ward are not eligible to get married in the temple– even if they have a recommend.

    Don’t know about the other stakes of zion, but I think it’s pretty bad all over. If not, they wouldn’t talk about it so much in conference.

    John Fowles was right: “It seems to me that far more dangerous to the lives and well-being of Latter-day Saint women, and women generally, than patriarchy or priesthood, is the plague of pornography.”

  53. Bill,

    If our single sisters are looking outside the church for that particular reason, um, they’re going to be pretty disappointed.

    Besides, my sense of it is that most women who want to marry in the church would likely go for an active member with no recommend before they’d go for a nonmember. But there are just more female Mormons than male Mormons.

    If your comment was a joke and it went over my head, well then I’m pretty embarrased…

  54. Steve Evans says:

    Serenity, listen to Bill’s wisdom. Amri can’t find a husband because they are all too busy jacking to pr0n.

  55. Steve,

    At least they’re not doing anything with prawns.

  56. Jared E. says:

    My mother in law just got remarried to a nonmember. She is fifty and lives in Connecticut, which is sparsely populated with eligible mormon bachelors in their fifties. All of her friends and the people in her ward gave her an extremely hard time for doing so. One of the bishops councilors in her ward told her that if she did this, she would be giving up her chance to ever be sealed to anyone (she is a convert who was baptized after she had married the first time, her first husband was not favorably disposed to the church but that isn’t why they split up). She basically felt just like #3 stated: she was sick of being alone, and being happily married to a nonmember is preferable to being unhappily not married to no one. I don’t blame her at all for choosing to remarry out of the church.

  57. Jared E.,

    Makes sense to me. So someone does their temple work for them in 75 years. Is that really any different than your mom’s hypothetical postmortal sealing to someone she’d meet in the hereafter?

  58. Anonymous Coward says:

    #52/Bill

    I don’t buy the “LDS men are porn addicts ergo LDS women marry non-LDS men” Porn is omnipresent in the non-LDS world as well. The women that marry outside the church are just as likely to find porn addicts. There seems to be a different attitude about it. I’ve been surprised in my interactions with non-LDS folks about how open they are about it. I don’t condone it, I don’t challenge that it is a major problem in the LDS world, but I heavily doubt that it pushes LDS women to hunt elsewhere.

  59. well said, Serenity. you can virtually guarantee that a potential mate outside of the Church has the same masturbation ‘problem’ that someone inside does. as for the depth and breadth of someone’s experience with porn, i won’t hazard a guess at what the average experience inside the Church is. But I will say, that from attending two non-church affiliated institutions of higher learning that you simply won’t find many non-LDS men who aren’t into porn (although not everyone ‘uses porn’ to masturbate)

    i think pornography/masturbation is simply just another area where the Church has been institutionally dishonest for a long time. the internet has not necessarily made the the masturbation problem phenomenon worse as much as it has made it more transparent. the Church has to admit there is a huge problem there–and it’s easier to pretend it’s a brand new problem, preach fire and brimstone, and hope it will go away, than to recognize it’s been there all along–just more neatly out of sight.

    95-99% of men masturbate habitually. this has always been the case. has there ever been a time where most men in the Church didn’t also? When, pray tell, was this Golden Age? It may be true that only 70% or 50% or 40% of members masturbate. But, let’s be honest, that number will never be zero. It’s unseemly to talk candidly about sexuality in the Church. But honestly: if no porn and no masturbating were a requirement for baptism–then we should have exactly 0 men baptized each year: of course, we still would have a few–because the only thing as constant as masturbation in a given male population is the fact that some men will lie about it.

  60. “There was a moment when I thought I might be gay. I think most people ask themselves at some time or another.”

    This would make an AWESOME blog poll….

    How many times have you asked yourself whether or not you are gay?

    1. Once
    2. Twice
    3. Three times a lady.
    4. Every waking moment of the day, girlfriend!
    5. Honey, I don’t even have to ask!

    Aaron B

  61. re: JSJ’s view of the afterlife, I’m presenting a paper on it at Am Academy of Religion this fall. even the practice of adoption suggests this possibility of a complex family that would strain our current ideas abt temple associations and marriage. my point is not that he didn’t feel strongly abt temple marriage but that he also had other visions of the shape of families. there are various threads in the tapestry.

    re masturbation-am sick of the pretense that those of us who don’t masturbate are liars. sure it’s common, but don’t pretend we all do it. it’s ok to be open abt it, i’m not arguing we shd lie, just don’t project more than is warranted.

  62. smb, I recognize that current popular conceptions of Temply and exaltation theology are quite different from Joseph’s. That said, I’m not sure that I see what you are elluding to. I would be very interested in reviewing your paper.

  63. smb, I’d love a copy of your paper as well.

    I wish I had answers, but I have to speak out on behalf of some of us who get along just fine with intelligent LDS women who are accomplished and competent ;)

  64. Amry, I can’t give you any specific advice other than to do what is right for you. What I can say is that I wasn’t a member when I married one, and I’m glad she was willing to look at my values rather than the church I belonged to at the time. We once attended a ward where are three members of the bishopric had been nonmembers when they married members. But it isn’t an easy path either, and wasn’t always easy for us.

    All that said, I don’t envy you. My daughter will be of marrying age in a few years (she’s in college now), and I sometimes wonder how she’s going to find someone. To be blunt about it, most of the guys I know are of the type I wouldn’t want marrying my daughter. There are some good men around, but they’re hard to come by.

  65. Serenity and others: No joke, unfortunately. You’re right that non-LDS men likely have this same problem, and in greater numbers. But norm is right– it doesn’t affect them the same way, meaning that it doesn’t keep most of them out of the dating pool. They don’t think they are addicted. They don’t go to support groups and cry about it. They don’t think this will prevent them from getting married. They don’t think this makes them unworthy to date.

    I don’t know what it was like in my father’s day, or my grandfather’s day. I think it was less a problem, then, although that may be just rose-colored glasses. But young people are entering puberty earlier and marrying later. If your window of unmarried sexual maturity is three or four years, that’s one thing. But a 29 year old Mormon man in a singles ward has had to fight his God-given hormones for 16 years or more. I’m surprised that any of us make it. And every year my estimate of the percentage of those of us who do falls a little lower.

  66. aar is in Nov, so the paper will be done by then. it’s all part of a book project on kinship and death that i’d like to have done in the next 12 mos tho life has a way of getting busy.

  67. Amri Brown says:

    I have never looked for a man who doesn’t/hasn’t ever masturbated but I’m anti-hardcore addictions, so I’ve broken up with people over porn before. It would be the same for alcoholics, drug addicts, blog addicts…
    SMB’s ideas are good. Trust him.

  68. Amri,

    I guess you won’t be looking for a bloggernacle boyfriend, eh? ;)

  69. Heavens, yes I know a lot of fine non Mormon men, and a lot of jerky Mormon men. And vice versa. Religion doesn’t have much to do with character, although I realize it should.

  70. What is with this “pitter patter” thing? Since when was that a requirement for marriage? I don’t think that young people starting out in marriage have a clue what love is. You’ll think you love your spouse but when you have been happily married a few years you’ll agree that you didn’t know what love was.

    Find a man of character from a good family who is interesting to talk to and companionable and even tempered.

    He’ll do fine. You’ll be in love before you know it…but after you’re married.

  71. RE: Bill and etc.

    Wow. Maybe I need to spend more time over here at BCC. The threadjacks at T&S are usually not this… interesting.

  72. I’m curious about the 13% statistic– how is Young Single Adult defined? Everyone over the age of 18 and under 30 or so who’s not married? 13% seems awfully low to me, if it’s the whole US, including Utah.

  73. It seems that pornography is the new scapegoat in the Church these days. I’m not saying that it’s not a problem (I recognize that it is a substantial problem in the Church, and I’m glad the Brethren have begun to address it more directly). But ever since President Hinckley’s Priesthood Session talk a couple years ago, I’ve heard pornography blamed for about every conceivable problem.

    I guess it’s kind of convenient though. Can’t get to the root of a problem? Blame pornography!

    Pornography isn’t a problem that’s unique to members of the Church. In fact, I’d wager that LDS men are less afflicted, on the whole, than the general population.

  74. pjj, the definition is 18-30 years old and not married. The statistic includes Utah, where the pilot program was first administered. It does seem shocking, but as norm points out (#46), it may even be inflated.

  75. Thanks J., I suppose I’m threadjacking here, but I’m surprised by that statistic, if it’s for the whole church. I live in southern California, and have two boys, 20 and 14, who want nothing to do with the church. I think that only 2 boys, out of about 6, my older son’s age did not go on missions, from my ward. Of course they’re still young, so they might all leave later. However, to my poor mother up in Utah, I think it feels as though she’s the only one in the world with no grandkids on missions. (She only has two grandkids, which is odd enough in Utah.)

    What’s the church program for this? For my kids there were several problems, most notably stuff like BofM inconsistencies and DNA stuff (older kid googled about stuff he was learning in BofM year in seminary), as well as the right wing politics slipping into church meetings (we moved here just as the California anti-gay marriage law fight began). As well as creepy behavior of some of the kids at church. Boring repeptitive three hour meetings held over lunchtime didn’t help either. I don’t think that any pilot program would do much to solve those problems.

  76. I thought I should also add something to the discussion of Amri’s question above. Someone else already said that marrying within the church is no guarantee– and I want to second that. I have a friend dying of AIDS right now (because of side effects of the medication) She got AIDS from her husband, who was a bishop at the time. Marrying outside the church can be hard, but might be just fine, depending on the husband. (Marrying within the church can be hard, but might be just fine, depending on the husband.) Chieko Okazaki’s husband was not a member of the church when she married him, and that turned out beautifully. I forget which of her books has a little discussion of that. Just find a good man, in or out of the church, if that’s what’s going to make you happy. It would be really sad to miss out on marriage and family just because you couldn’t find a man in the church.

  77. nonamethistime says:

    A story in this April’s Ensign tells of a sister who was counseled to marry in the temple or not marry at all. This sister lives in South America, where the pickin’s are very, very slim. It seems this story is meant to encourage others in her situation to do the same, as it stresses the importance of being obedient to the counsel of the Church leaders in this regard.

    I wish they would also stress that for every sister in her situation, there are hundreds of others that either marry outside the Church (and are happy) or who never marry at all and are lonely and miserable (or are happy). It shouldn’t ever be so black and white, and for a Church publication to herald this as a coup is wrong IMO.

  78. nonamethistime says:

    OH, and I have a question, Amri: why on earth would you wonder if you were gay? Because you weren’t married before a certain age? That’s a little odd…

  79. nonamethistime says:

    BTW–not trying to be rude; just trying to understand. It seems that people in the Church sometimes wonder if OTHERS are gay if they don’t marry by a certain age (they especially wonder about the men) but I’d never heard of anyone wondering just because they weren’t married yet.

  80. Amri,
    I want to address your comment that had you wondering what was wrong with you because you hadn’t found a Mormon mate–both because you don’t seem interested in them, and they don’t seem interested in you.
    Imagine a girl in high school. She manages to graduate without ever having a boyfriend, is there necessarily anything wrong with her? No. I’ve just described both my sisters and my mother. (I had a little more success, but not much more).
    I actually need to start collecting the right things to say when my daughter (now 8) goes through the same thing. She’ll be six feet tall. She’ll be smart. She’s energetic and outspoken. She is a hard, fast worker with lots of initiative. She doesn’t have the charisma to make friends easily. She will be beautiful and multi talented, I’m sure. She, like her relations, might just be unique enough that there aren’t many obvious and easy matches.
    I am sure you wouldn’t say that if my daughter doesn’t date in high school, there is something wrong with her.
    Maybe she won’t date much in college either? Maybe she’ll sepnd all her twenties wondering why she can’t hook up with someone who she thinks is great, and he thinks she’s amazing.
    I wouldn’t ever tell my kids to never date non-Mormons. I would tell them to marry in the temple, though. I dated non-Mormons. I even fell in love with one knowing full well I wouldn’t ever marry him.
    I think that right now you are considering dating non-members. If you feel that is a good decision, then go for it. I would be hoping if your true love is currenlty a nonmember, that introduction to the gospel would change things.
    There is nothing wrong with you. I don’t know if you are really tall or really smart or have a really unique sense of humor, but take it from me, some of the rest of us (while single)could stand in a room of 300 guys and not find a good boyfriend match either.
    I am still surprised that my husband found me. I really kind of kept expecting him to dump me those first couple weeks because I wasn’t a short blonde cheerleader type…..and he certainly wasn’t my type but I figured I didn’t mind him all that much….Who could of known he actually would fall in love with me? No one else had before.

  81. J. Stapley (#1 and #8): If you see this, do you have any benchmark numbers for general activity rates (i.e. non-singles). I somehow had the impression they were around 30% or less chuch-wide, although perhaps a bit higher in the U.S. where most singles wards are. But 18% vs. 25% or 18% vs. 50% or so is a big difference in my mind….

  82. Amri Brown says:

    So, my irrationality: Weird things happen when you’re single a long time in the church. 1) I have always believed I would marry a Mormon. When that didn’t seem to be happening I didn’t make the logical jump to ‘oh, maybe I have more in common with non-Mormons’ I made the illogical jump to ‘oh, maybe I’m gay’. It didn’t last very long but I thought it. I was clearly wrong when I thought most people asked themselves that at least once.
    And I know that I’m good-looking and smart and funny and blah blah but when you can’t make any sort of lasting match for over a decade most women are going to think it’s something defective about them. I am not unusual in that regard. It’s an epidemic out here and in Provo (my two frames of reference for aging single women.
    Mainly the question comes to experience. It is vital in the Church. We continue to attend the temple and read scripts etc because our experiences change these things–making them living. But does experience (like aging single in the Church) merit making choices outside of recommendations or doctrine?
    I think, from our comments, none of us really know.

  83. Sorry, Robert C., I don’t know of any stats for general activity rates in the US.

  84. So, Danny, meet Amri. I mean, could it hurt you should meet for coffee? Figuratively speaking.

    I’m so put off by Mormon men who take themselves too seriously (these are men in my ward) that I think it’s a good thing if you’re not attracted to them. A lot of them are creeps who use religion to put themselves above others. I don’t see that many who are true believers. Present company excepted, of course.

  85. We are long past the time when we need to remove from our conversations the phrase “you marry who you date” That phrase has been the cause of far too much heartache and pain. It is a stupid unloving thing to say to someone. That advice was first given to me in high school. So instead of getting a chance to date and get to know someone and then thinking about marrying them, I had to think about marriage on the first date. Stupid.

    You aren’t an animal looking for a stud with a good pedigree. Mormon check, mission check, priesthood check. You should try to be happy and quit trying to live your life according to someone else’s plan. Some of the greatest examples of righteous men in the scriptures married outside the covenant. I think the biggest lesson we should learn from the scriptures is to do what God tells us to do. Just because Nephi built a ship it doesn’t mean that you have to as well.

    Find a life that makes you happy, put God first in your life and learn to follow him. We spend too much time in church trying to find out what the experts think is righteous and forget to ask God and find out for ourselves. I am not saying to ignore the prophets. I am saying that we too often forget that we also have access to the source.

  86. Can’t leave this one alone.

    This is just one more reason why Mormons get prideful and think they are the only saved and true Christians. We only date Mormons. We tend to only have Mormon friends. And we tend to think that Mormons are the only righteous or good people on the planet. A very elitist, uncharitable, unloving, un-Christlike position. And, did I mention that it is wrong? The world is full of good people who love God.

  87. I think we pretty much all said that, Aaron. But then, I would date all the Mormon men who’ve posted here, were I of an age to think dating was fun and not happily married. It’s not about the religion. I know an atheist who is the greatest guy.

    I would even date you. Yes, I would.

  88. “I would never say no to a Mormon guy that asked me out, even if I thought he was a dunce. I’m sort of nice that way.”
    I certainly know that statement to be true.

    Amri, I fully believe that Jesus wants you (all of us really) to be happy.

    OK, so the spirit doesn’t tell you who to date- it will probably either warn of danger or help you learn and grow from crap you weren’t warned about.

    Which choice is more faithful? Well which one helps you be more Christ-like? Which one better helps you be full of love and service? For some people waiting for a temple marriage is the more faithful choice. For others marrying outside of the Church is the more faithful choice. And I think that is perfectly OK.
    (Then again, I may not be the right person to define what is perfectly OK. At least 3 beliefs I find completely reasonable and not in conflict with the gospel make Bruce R’s list of top 7 heresies.)

  89. Well, as one of my friends, you know all of this already, but it might not hurt to reiterate…
    I had a choice to marry the love of my life who was not LDS, or a member. I chose the member, and we were only married about 3 years. This has always been one of my regrets. The main conflict was that even though we were both members, our levels of spirituality were vastly different. Since then I have dated men that are more “spiritual” even though by the church’s terms they would not be considered such.
    I think that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy, and he knows everything that is happening to us, our relationships, inside ourselves, our innermost thoughts. He knows the difficulties that we face, and although marrying someone with the same spiritual standards would be ideal, chances are that isn’t going to happen. And he knows this.I say choose love over rules and it will work out the way it is supposed to work out.

  90. Carol F. says:

    I was told of a happiness continuum while I was in the singles wards. It rang pretty true to me at the same and still does:

    The happiest people are those who are happily married.

    The next happiest people are those who are happily single.
    The next people are those who are unhappily single.

    The most unhappy people are those who are unhappily married.

    You have said that you are happily single (I was as a single person, as well). Going by this happiness continuum, you can only improve your life by being happily married. And where marriage can be a bit of a gamble, either outside the Church or in, you need to improve your chances. Keep in mind that the stakes are high and that you could find yourself in the “most unhappy” category just by getting married.

    Based on your upbringing and your comments, you seem to believe that a temple marriage would be the best possible scenario. It does seem too soon to opt out of hope for the best possible scenario and where you are NOT in love with a non-LDS guy, why even worry about that scenario and tempt fate?

    My story: I was 28, faithful, happy but worried. I seriously thought there was no good guy left for me unless he had been hiddden, taking care of his sick grandmother for five years. In one prayer I resigned myself to be the happiest single woman possible if it was the Lord’s will. Within the month I had met my future husband. He had dropped like manna from heaven. He was exercising a lot of faith at the time, too. We were married in the temple.

    My unasked-for advice: Stop going out with the dunces. What a waste of time. It could be coloring your experiences with Mormons. We’ve all got filters for a reason. Go on a Best and Brightest tour around the United States. Don’t just date in your area.

    Sorry so late, I just really felt strongly about this one.

  91. For what it is worth, Naiah’s ex is available. The divorce was her fault, not his, and she gives him strong recommendations.

    ;)

    Seriously, I wish I had advice for you, but I don’t, other than my best wishes.

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