On Solo HTing a Single Woman

A post by Speckles over at FMH contained this paragraph that got me to reminiscing a bit:

Since there were all females in my family, we did not have access to the priesthood in our home. We did eventually get an amazing home teacher who we could call on when needed, but this came later than it should have (when the bishop of our ward finally realized that we needed some extra support), and we often felt guilty for inconveniencing him and his family. We were not allowed to have the missionaries in our home, since there were no other males present. It always seemed strange to me that a family like ours, who already did not have any priesthood access, and could have benefited greatly from having a priesthood presence from time to time, was denied this experience simply because my mother bore no sons.

Even though technically I’m an Elder, I’m in the HP HTing system, so of my three assignments two are single women. Since my assigned companion is not really on board with the HTing thing, I feel as though my hands are tied. I minister to these women as I can at the church building (I recently gave one a blessing there at her request), but I’ve never been to either of their homes.

But there was a time when I essentially home taught a single woman repeatedly in her home mostly on my own. My actions were I suppose against church policy, but I didn’t care at the time and I don’t regret them today.

This young family had moved into our ward, a husband, wife and three children. The husband was mostly inactive, but he really liked my SS class and requested that I be assigned as his HTer, which I was. We became friends, and we even took a German class together at our local community college. My main interaction with the family was through the husband and father. At that time my son was my companion, but he worked after school and was rarely available, so I would often just go over by myself to do the visit. They only lived a couple of blocks away.

Then one day he unexpectedly died of a heart attack. He was only like 30 years old. All of a sudden I found myself with some serious responsibility for a brand new widow and her three children.

This was very difficult at first. This woman was from another country and not a U.S. citizen. She was scared, in almost a feral way. I still remember her at the hospital embracing her husband’s dead body, repeatedly wailing “What will become of us?” It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness. Things were also complicated because my relationship with the family had really been mostly with him; I didn’t have much of a relationship with the wife at that time.

But she needed help, so I was there a lot over the ensuing months. As was her VTer and, more occasionally, the bishop. (One time the bishop came over–by himself as well–and I was there, assembling a set of bunk beds for the kids. If he thought there was anything wrong with my being there without a companion, he never said anything to me about it.

Trust me, there were no Ensign lessons involved in these visits. We were trying to ensure the survival of this little family, and in my judgment this was no time to stand upon Church policy. (This woman was [and is] extraordinarily beautiful, but we were never truly alone, as her children were always with us.) Among many, many other tasks, I probated the husband’s estate pro bono, saving her thousands of dollars that she just didn’t have.

Eventually she regained her bearings. His parents came out and helped this little family move to Provo (my son and I drove them out in their Expedition). That was a long time ago. She is now happily remarried, with a couple of more children with her new husband (a great guy). I still visit the family whenever I get to Provo.

I know in theory I could have tried to get other guys to go with me. But the needs were too great and too insistent for me to have to dig up people who were willing, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. So while this will never be held up as a model of proper priesthood behavior in Church, I’m comfortable with it, and if put in the same situation I’d do it all over again. To be honest, that was the only time in my Church life that being a home teacher really felt meaningful to me, when my actions and commitment to that little family were necessary to their survival.

Comments

  1. This was nice. To me this speaks to the universal value of home teaching. It is in doing the monthly mundane that we legitimize our ability to do the extraordinary.

  2. pangwitch says:

    yeah, i mean most the policies about men and women are dumb. you can’t home teach alone, but a bishop can ask an eleven year old alone about masturbation?

  3. Great story, Kevin. Kudos to you for helping the family out when they needed it. I’m particularly struck by your last line:

    To be honest, that was the only time in my Church life that being a home teacher really felt meaningful to me, when my actions and commitment to that little family were necessary to their survival.

    This is secondhand, but from what I hear about research on job satisfaction, people are satisfied with their jobs not (only) when they make money at them, but when they can see that what they’re doing has meaning and importance. Now I know home teaching isn’t a job, but it’s similar in some ways, so I don’t think it’s at all surprising that home teaching felt meaningful to you when you could see the good effects of your actions.

  4. It should be the model of proper priesthood behavior.

  5. Wonderful post Kevin. I hope more can adopt this attitude.

  6. I thought the church discontinued the Home Teaching program. I’m a single woman, and haven’t been home taught since I left BYU 19 years ago. I kid, of course, but it frustrates me when, like last month, my HT calls (once a year, mind you) and says, “I don’t really have a companion right now so I can’t come visit you” and doesn’t talk to me at church or even call regularly. I didn’t even know what he looked like until six months ago when I asked someone in the ward who Bro. So and So was.

    Luckily, my dad lives nearby, so when I need a blessing I can still call him, but I worry about what I’ll do when my dad dies.

    #1: That was quite eloquent. Love it.

  7. I am married to a non-member, and my HP home teacher most often comes alone to visit me, and I always schedule our visits on an evening that my husband is gone. Honestly, if he were to ever act uncomfortable or awkward about being there without my husband (my children are all home, but usually already in bed), I would never have home teachers over again. Luckily, he has never seemed to care.

  8. Thank you for disobeying the rules, Kev. As a single mother with three little kids, it’s horrible when the Elders or members of my bishopric insist on talking to me on my porch. I am incredibly grateful for a HT who comes by frequently, loves my children, and takes care of us- regardless of who is or is not present. He’s blessed our lives for years now, and he does so almost always alone. I thank God for him.

  9. Amen. I was HTing a family where a divorce happened and threw the family into complete chaos. If I had not been stopping by regularly with or without my companion it would have been even more of a disaster. Those who can’t set aside the rules when needed are not serving the Lord.

  10. .

    I think it’s pretty easy to guess what Jesus’s opinion on Kevin’s stoy is.

  11. I don’t know if I’m taking this too personally as a single woman with no obvious needs and I really really do not want to minimize the good you did for that widow – but I wish this post had been different. I wish the paragraph beginning ‘even though technically…’ were not there and that you had a concluding paragraph with something like the following:

    “The two single sisters I am assigned to home teach now do not have the obvious and urgent needs that sister and her family but I learned from that experience not to allow the ‘rules’ to tie my hands. I talk with them to find out their comfort level in having me in their homes alone with them and find ways to make sure that I can visit them there…”

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 11 Becky, good point. I freely admit to being conflicted in the present case, where the needs aren’t as pressing or obvious. I think part of my hesitancy to visit them alone is that I worry that they might be offended if I did so. The message about not doing this sort of thing alone seems to have become more insistent in the Church over time.

    (When I was a missionary, if we tracted into a housewife who would let us in, we went in to teach her without restriction (the theory being I suppose that there were two of us and so we were always chaperoned). That has changed, and now the missionaries can’t go in and have to try to make other arrangements.)

  13. Maybe the needs aren’t pressing or obvious because you don’t know the women enough for them to confide in you. If you can’t even _ask_ them what they’d like in terms of home teaching visits, how could they possibly let you know what they need?

    The rules are stupid and appallingly, infuriatingly sexist. (To say nothing of being explicitly, blatantly contrary to both precept and example of Jesus’ teachings–there’s no record of a chaperone in the conversation with the promiscuous woman at the well, or with Mary in the garden, or with the prostitutes to whom he ministered). That intelligent men even consider following them when doing so means leaving women without pastoral care and making them even more marginal in our community is evidence of how far we have to go in the church before we actually regard women as human beings.

  14. I think the rules are there to help people be safe, but sometimes we just need to get to work, relying on the spirit. Nice work.

  15. Meldrum the Less says:

    Here is one example of the other side of the problem.

    A friend of mine was in the military. During a 1 year duty tour in Korea without his wife, he got lonely and couldn’t keep his hands (more than his hands) off the cute little Korean girls. His wife almost divorced him then and eventually forgave him. But she didn’t forget. How could she? A few years later they moved into my ward and he was assigned to home teach a newly married couple recently moved into the ward.

    After a few months he visited her solo when her husband was on a 2 week training tour. I have never lived in a ward where more than 5% of the home teaching visits included two men as companions. I don’t think we really knew or could know exactly what happened. I believe the woman was mentally unbalanced and falsely accused him. Later I found that she was bipolar and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and previously required hospitalization for these conditions. Also, I thought, why would he go after her when there were so many other more willing and less risky opportunities? It never made sense to me. The story grew over the next few weeks into a police investigation for attempted rape but was never prosecuted. Our Bishop believed that my friend must have said or done something horribly inappropriate to set her off. It didn’t matter so much what we thought.

    What his wife thought mattered most. She thought he had done something seriously wrong to disgrace her. She forgave him once, but she wouldn’t again. The Bishop took her side. He was willing to “confess” to any lie in order to save his marriage. But that proved to be a moving target and backfired. This turmoil was like throwing gasoline onto the other smoldering problems in the marriage and swiftly resulted in a divorce.Four little girls grew up without their daddy in the home.

    In these times when the seriousness of the charge trumps the evidence, a man is risking his marriage to visit any woman alone. That many do and the women appreciate what they do is a miracle to me. But men, before you do these good deeds, consider what your wife will do if she gets a call from another woman who tells her any conceivable lie.

    I am a hypocrite. I spent 10 days without my wife camping, swimming, and canoeing with a young, fit, attractive, divorced, southern, non-LDS woman. And 8 boy scouts including our sons at one of the BSA high adventure reserves. Because of her odd first name she was assumed to be a male adult leader and they only checked out enough tents to us such that we two adult leaders were supposed to share one tent. I anticipated this possibility and smuggled in my own small unapproved tent. On paper, if my wife bothered to check, the BSA has documented that I slept in the same tent with her for 10 nights.

  16. “One time the bishop came over–by himself as well–and I was there, assembling a set of bunk beds for the kids. If he thought there was anything wrong with my being there without a companion, he never said anything to me about it.”

    It’s amazing how often we forget we’re not on missions anymore. You can be in that woman’s house helping her if you damn well feel like it. It wasn’t his place to say anything, and he knew it. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Meldrum, the issues there are so removed from solo HTing being the problem; we all know the cautionary tale and the boilerplate about it being for everyone’s safety. It’s still crap.

    What that policy says is that the needs of the sisters are less important than the remote chance someone, somewhere, might have an issue with fidelity. As Kristine said, this policy leaves an incredibly disproportionate amount of women marginalized and without pastoral care. The fact that we find this an acceptable cost is appalling.

  18. Right. We don’t all have bipolar disorder. People are capable of figuring out when extra caution needs to be taken. Treating all women as unbalanced sexual predators because .000000001% of them are and somebody’s cousin’s best friend’s missionary companion heard of a guy in the next mission over whose uncle’s mother’s boyfriend’s cousin’s sister once made a false accusation is absurd and insulting to women and infantilizing of everyone involved.

  19. It would make a lot more sense, in fact, to speak of these situations in terms of the WOMAN’s safety, both actual and perceived, which is not necessarily enhanced by the presence of two men. That we never, ever talk this way, despite the overwhelming statistical likelihood of a woman being the victim in such situations, and that all the urban legends are about men being falsely accused makes the policies even more offensive.

  20. Indeed. If we’re being objective, statistically, a solitary woman is far, far more likely to be harmed by two men alone with her than any scenario that can be spun where a solitary man is harmed by her. This is not to suggest we should approach it that way, but it’s revealing, contradictory and abysmal that the woman is stereotypically framed as the aggressor in the urban legends we let dictate policy.

  21. Nice post; brings to mind the quote from Joseph Smith: “that which is wrong in one circumstance can be, and often is, right in another.” Bill was home teacher to a single woman for many years. He’d be assigned companions sporadically, often young men. Sometimes they’d make it and sometimes not. As time went on, she fell for him. He never returned her feelings and I wasn’t threatened in the least when she would tell me how much she was attracted to him. Now, truth be told, I didn’t think she was serious; I thought she was commenting on how attractive he was. When we were separated for six months several years ago, the depth of her feelings was revealed and it’s been awkward between us ever since.

    So, while your situation worked out well and in a truly Christian manner, it was risky. When I was a young single mother, with long silky tendrils and a perfect shape, I never once felt attracted to the men who came to my home. It would have felt incestuous. I knew I needed their priesthood. But looking back, remembering a few comments, I realize the possibilities. And I’m glad I was clueless.

  22. Of course it’s risky. That’s how God made the world. And yet, He took extraordinary risks for the sake of love, and commanded that we do the same.

  23. Kristine, your last comment about focusing on the woman’s safety had just never occurred to me before. I am a little ashamed of that; but that is very important for me.

  24. #12 – I appreciate your sense of conflict. I think it comes back to just talking to them and finding out what they need and want. I tend to be a strict rule-keeper. But I’m also a deliberate rule-breaker when I feel a rule keeps me from doing what is important. While I appreciate the gymnastics my home teachers have gone through over the years to make sure they weren’t breaking any rules (bringing young children as their companions etc) if they had asked me, in almost every case I would have told them I was comfortable with them coming alone. Those gymnastics sometimes serve mostly to highlight that sense of alienation all too familiar to single life in the church. The lack of those gymnastics in the home teacher context is one of the few clear advantages I gained by switching to my current mid-singles ward.

    And as for visiting someone in her home – I think it’s important. I know everyone is not like me but I’m pretty sure that spending an observant 20 minutes in my home would give someone more information about who I am and what I care about than a year’s worth of conversations elsewhere. It’s a major extension of who I am and is important to me. I’m not likely to ever completely open to someone until they’ve made an effort to visit me in my home. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Kristine and Becky, this is a new assignment for me and I freely admit that I’m struggling a bit trying to figure out how to negotiate it. I agree with your perspectives; I’m just not sure at the moment how I should but them into practice. But your comments have encouraged me to try harder. I’ll figure something out (I hope).

  26. Isn’t the real issue here legal liability? It seems requiring a companion is reducing expected litigation and settlement costs–a good thing, I think, yet (strangely?) missing from the above discussion.

  27. Yeah, because besides being insane sexual predators, a huge number of LDS women are dishonest and litigious.
    Seriously???

  28. “Of course it’s risky. That’s how God made the world. And yet, He took extraordinary risks for the sake of love, and commanded that we do the same.”

    !!!Amen!!!

  29. I thought the rules were to protect the single woman as much or more than the ht’er. Some women might not accept ht’ers if they thought a guy would come alone, because they would feel silly saying it made them uncomfortable.

    Great post Kevin, and I love to hear about awesome ht’ers. I’m trying to be one.

  30. Kevin, if your partner doesn’t want to go home teaching with you, why not ask your wife to accompany you? Even if she’s not your “assigned” HT partner, she could still come with you, right? And then you could actually visit those sisters who need to be visited.

  31. I’ve taken my wife instead of a youthful companion many times to visit single sisters. Some sisters need to talk about things they couldn’t in front of a youth, and having my wife has been perfect.

  32. “Some women might not accept ht’ers if they thought a guy would come alone, because they would feel silly saying it made them uncomfortable.”

    That is an extraordinarily convoluted justification. Instead of asking women whether they feel uncomfortable, let’s make a blanket rule that makes all single women feel even more like pariahs in their wards, because they might not have to guts to speak up for themselves if they happen to prefer the more traditional ht arrangement??

    Sounds like a great argument for having sisters’ voices in the leading councils of the church.

  33. I don’t consider it a foregone conclusion that the ‘rule’ would change should ‘sisters’ have a greater voice. They seem to vary in their opinions. But it would be good to find out. Besides, I’m not really defending the rule, just questioning some anti-woman assumptions about it’s origin. Personally, I feel I have connected pretty well with the single sisters I ht, and I rarely have needed to break the rule. But I do treat it more as a recommendation.

  34. Meldrum the Less says:

    Tracy & Kristine:

    I completely agree with you. I celebrate that my comments elicited the strong responses from you. Notice I was willing to set aside these silly rules to an extreme degree to see that my son had a good scouting experience. The needs of many women are greater than boys needing to go camping. I applaud the examples above. My story was given for balance and contrast, to highlight the risky goodness that was done by others.

    I think the risk is a numbers game, 0.000000001% being outrageously low. We don’t have much hard data and it might be higher for some people than others. Mental illness is common, (more common among Mormons in my experience) and not easily diagnosed during churchy interactions. It is like not wearing your seat belt. Collisions are rare events and somewhat dependent upon speed, level of intoxication and the skill of the driver.

    In the accounts cited above it was worth it except in the case of my friend. He should never have gone over there alone with his history and shaky marriage. He is a lot like more men than you might wish to believe. I think 80% of men report on anonymous surveys to cheating on their wives and don’t think we Mormons are free from this disgrace.

    I won’t bore the reader with other similar examples; they were common in the military wards. Another closely-related problem is when home teachers witness criminal activity and find themselves being questioned at the police station. The claim of doing church work is one of the oldest and most worn-out excuses given by criminals to police as excuses for trying to cover illegal activities. When two clueless Mormons tell the exact same whacky story in their police statements complete with Ensign message while separated lends credibility to their story and lowers the suspicion of the police. I speak from person experience.

    I also think the church dodges liability by officially requiring companions and yet counting the task completed even if they are not used. Then if a problem happens they can put it all back on you. I think it would be more administratively consistent if the visit didn’t count unless both companions went. Then the already low percents would fall more and force a needed reformation sooner. The sincere shepards would not be deterred, I would hope.

    I am not ignorant of the risks to women, although I welcome your perspectives. In one instance in my ward two visiting teachers were raped while visiting a new member in a government housing facility.

    With the ratio of women to men active in the church reported to be 60% to 40% and the portion of singles closing in upon 50% it seems this problem is growing. I would be in favor of not dividing the sheparding responsibilities up so rigidly on gender. Not exactly canceling home teaching, but maybe a major reconfiguring with integration into Relief Society visit teaching and greater reliance upon married couples going together instead of companions except for those in the middle of child rearing responsibilities. Maybe something like the organization of all members into small prayer/study groups with monthly cottage meetings mixing singles with married across age groups. I would also be in favor of empowering women to have more personal access to many aspects of the Priesthood such as giving blessings which they did historically.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    There’s no way my wife would go HTing with me. She hates HTing. I have our HTer come over on Sunday afternoons while she’s visiting her parents; if I schedule a visit while she’s home, I’m in big trouble.. She’s done with the program.

  36. “They seem to vary in their opinions.”

    Hence the need to resist rule by policy.

  37. Clark Goble says:

    I’ve never HT a single woman since getting married. (When I was single in singles wards it wasn’t that uncommon) A few thoughts – primarily by addressing comments. It can be really challenging doing HT without a companion you can count on. (Been there a lot – and it sucks because if you get in a situation where you’re extremely busy there’s no one to help)

    Jules (6), it’s ridiculous you’ve gone that long without a HT visit. If I were you I’d call up the EQ and tell your situation. That way they can rearrange companionships to ensure you get taught. Often in cases like this the EQ president may not know there’s a problem.

    Kevin (12), I didn’t know they’d changed the mission policy. That sucks as many of my converts were single mothers. And had we had to find splits for every appointment as a practical matter we couldn’t have managed it. (The reality of many wards)

    Kristine (13), I’m not sure the rules are sexist. I think you could argue it’s sexist men don’t get VTers but I’d imagine had they VTers the rules would be the same there.

    Kristine (18) I think false accusations happen more than you think. In any case I also think the policy is to ensure creepy sexual predators among men don’t take advantage of the Church. (Which is frankly far more likely) Same reason men aren’t supposed to teach primary or young SS alone. And even if something is a 1 in 10,000 odds, in a Church of millions over decades it’s bound to happen a fair number of times.

    Kristine (19) Hah. I’d written the above and then you said something nearly the same. I’d add that I think the issue is less being falsely accused by someone suffering mental illness than being a temptation for both parties (which is the far more common cautionary tale than false accusations). That said I wish the cautionary tale was to simply bring up the sexual registry and note how many people were in your area and then note most are attending church. (At least in the high Mormon areas)

    Kristine (22) I think you negate the risk too much. The point is that if the EQ Presidency and members are doing there job there’s no need for the risk.

    Tom (26) I think liability has a lot to do with this, although I think the policy predates that. But even one rape by a sexual predator who took advantage of Church practice would justify the policy.

    Zefram (30) I think that’s a great idea to bring your wife (or a child). I’ve seen that quite a few times in the past even when someone was teaching my family.

    Meldrum (34) 80% is way, way, way too high for adultery. I don’t remember the normal rates but I think it’s closer to 10%.

  38. This may be the old rule, but I thought that the HT of a single mother was supposed to come from the HP group, not the Elder’s quorum. My HT, during my first stint as a single mother, was from the HP group and that’s what he explained. He always came by himself which I suppose was okay since our friendship extended back to when I was a kid and he was the dad of a friend.

    Personally, I preferred the usual visits to be solo but could have used someone else to call upon when I needed a hand with things around the house. Sometimes my needs conflicted with the needs of his family and I understood that I couldn’t always get his help, even if my needs were few and far between. I can do a lot on my own but I’m not able to do it all.

    My son is older now and able to do an awful lot to help out around the house, with yardwork and such but I would still love to have an HT take him under his wing. I can show my son the work that a man traditionally does and I can teach him a lot of things (changing the oil in the car, minor plumbing, etc) but I’m not a man and neither is he, yet.

  39. I have an experience similar to Kevin’s as a priesthood leader. After the untimely death of one of the brothers in our quorum, I went with the senior companion to HT the recent widow. We help her with several items around the house and visited with her and her young adult daughter. After the visit the HT told me that he had a crush on this sister back when they were in school together. After pondering this situation, I decided that the key part of this sentence was “when they were in school together”. What better home teacher than one who has known the recent widow for 30+ years. I told him to just visit with his wife if another companion (including me) was not available. Even better for those involved, this sister was remarried before I was released, so no one else needed to worry about it.
    There are wards and branches that would suffer greatly if 2 MP holders were required to HT all single sisters. I have gone with my daughters or alone if needed on various occasions. At other times, I would not go without my wife or an elder. It just depends upon the situation.

  40. It’s hard to express how wretched it feels to imagine being the subject of conversations about whether I’m “safe” enough to be visited by a home teacher without a companion. Going to church every week and hearing about how no success can compensate for failure in the home, that the root cause of divorce is selfishness, that children of divorced parents are practically doomed to a life of delinquency and despair, etc. is pretty bad. To know that the men who I might hope would be friends to me and my children feel the need to make calculations about whether I’m likely to seduce or sue them is devastating. How would you know, I wonder? What are the criteria I would need to meet to prove I’m worthy of a visit and can be trusted not to attack the HP Group Leader in front of my children? Would it help if I were uglier? Prettier? Older? Smaller and less intimidating (ha–who would not cower before a sturdy and menacing personage of my 5’4″ stature?!)? More obviously righteous? More/less outwardly needy?

    Can you guys even imagine what it feels like to just have to sit quietly and wonder what people are saying/thinking? What it feels like to have no say in the matter? To have people talk _about_ you instead of _to_ you about the problems they think you might be having, whether they are “pressing and obvious” or not? To have men multiply horror stories they’ve heard of about women who seduce or accuse men and break up marriages? The only thing I have in common with the women in those stories is that I’m female and unmarried. But apparently that’s all it takes to make me potentially dangerous, a threat to be adjudicated before any human interaction can take place.

    It’s really not very surprising that most divorced people leave church activity.

    (NB: I happen to have the world’s best home teacher–I’m responding to this thread and many similar conversations I’ve heard, not to my particular experience in my current ward)

  41. StillConfused says:

    This was my biggest pet peeve. When I was married and there was already priesthood in the home, the HTers would come by. When I was divorced and my teenage son had no priesthood example in the home, they would not come over. I got tired of asking and finally clearly declared that the sin was on their heads. I also find it patently offensive that the men/man could not come over because I was not married… somehow my change in marital status either made me a standards-less whore or made me uncontrollably sexy to unsuspecting married men. Either choice is dumb.

  42. Kristine, StillConfused, & Others,
    Unfortunately, the only divorcee with kids I home taught (as an adult) was one of those bad stereotypes that worries ward leaders constantly. I saw her & her kids in public frequently, but very rarely at her home. The last time my wife and I were at her house was a disaster. We still worry about those kids even though we do not see them anymore.

  43. Last Lemming says:

    There’s no way my wife would go HTing with me. She hates HTing.

    Then don’t call it home teaching–call it ministering to the needs of a pair of single sisters. Would she be more receptive to that? And when it comes time to report the visits, tell your priesthood leader, “I did not home teach these sisters. Instead, I visited them with my wife.” He can translate that however he wishes.

    Or you could just ask for a new companion.

  44. Clark Goble says:

    Kristine, I really sympathize with those feelings. But why do you assume that’s all that is going on? It seems to me that these sorts of calculations are constantly going on. I think part of the problem is that so many Mormons live in areas where there really aren’t that many women in the workplace. (Don’t get me started on that) Because so many women are stay at home moms (or if they do work they aren’t typically in the areas most men work in) there’s a weird dynamic. A lot of women get jealous when there husband is working one on one when it happens – primarily due to the inexperience of the community with that sort of action. The dynamics are weird and weird expectations happen.

    It’s completely ridiculous of course and is probably the #1 thing I’d change about Utah. But I think the dynamic ends up being a bit more complex than you suggest. Can people work together without sexual dynamics enter in? Of course – the vast majority of workplaces demonstrate that. The issue is how to get there from here and deal with the other dynamic that you brought up: the problem of trusting members and predators making use of that trust.

  45. Clark–of course there’s more going on than that (even though I don’t live in Utah, and I can’t think of any men in my ward who don’t have female colleagues and managers). The point here, really, is that women bear the brunt of these machinations, and men get to make all the decisions.

  46. Perfect example of spirit rather than letter of the law. I always hated on my mission when rules kept us from teaching some wonderful men who were obviously interested, even though their wives wanted nothing to do with it. My mission had to throw out the other member of the same gender with you in a car thing, otherwise we never would have been able to take taxis, which we relied on at least twice a week, usually more, to get us places.

  47. Clark Goble says:

    Well yeah, I agree there. That’s why I made my comment earlier that the real dissymmetry is in that men teach both men and women in HT but women only teach women in VT. That’s the real issue. The other points are just manifestations of that underlying structure.

    Actually I’ve never been totally clear on why VTers only visit women. It would seem that from even the 20th century “ideal” of Relief Society they should be serving both men and women.

    I fully agree that perhaps if wives were more involved (which from my understanding of HT they should be) a lot of these issues would disappear.

    However I think we really should separate out the symmetries (or lack thereof) between VT and HT from the other issue of sexual tensions and danger from predators.

  48. I always take a companion when I home teach that there may be a second witness to my preaching and calls to repentance.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    Interesting discussion. And people say BCC is full of sexists!

  50. The church spends a lot of energy setting up barriers like this between people. I think it’s wrong. Of course the rules are there to keep people “safe”, but oh my word am I tired of blanket solutions to individual problems. (Thomas Parkin, #36: Exactly.) Especially when those blanket solutions are discriminatory and sexist. We have two potential problems here, one of which is unlikely and one of which is guaranteed (the guaranteed being that many single women will be alienated and ignored when they need help–not to mention that this is just another policy that treats men as normative and women as “other”. Worse, a problem to be dealt with via convoluted and awkward methods). Our priorities are screwed up.

  51. Church members are so knee-jerk about this that they don’t even stop to reason.One church employee told me that a male church employee could not, under any circumstances, give me a ride home. And my home teachers will not set foot in my apartment solo — the first to arrive sits in his car until the other comes, no matter what the temperature.

    Funny (?) thing is, both of my home teachers are single (one widowed, age 86; one considerably younger, and I think divorced). And the church employee who was forbidden to give me a ride is single (never married).

    Not that I’m interested in dating any one of them, or any one of them interested in dating me, but these rules imposed by — whom? who is it, exactly, who made the rules? — would seem to trump even the possibility of dating, in the minds of those who are fixated on the evil temptress single woman. Good thing alla-you-all married folk got married before paranoia overtook the Church in this regard.

  52. Miri–the cynical reading of that cost-benefit analysis is that the church can easily dispense with single women, but losing priesthood holders is costly to the organization, so the rules are made to protect the most valuable members.

  53. (I doubt that anyone would consciously assent to that idea, and I’m sure no one had such cynical intentions. But sometimes the Handbook speaks more clearly than we know.)

  54. “But sometimes the Handbook speaks more clearly than we know.”

    And yet, ironically, this rule is not found in said Handbook.

  55. Amen, Kristine. Sometimes the cynical reading is necessary.

  56. Clark Goble says:

    That’s interesting Tim. I’ve noticed that often there are a lot of assumptions about practices originating in the handbook when they aren’t there at all. Individuals may engage in this practice but I think it often reflects more complex cultural mores, as I mentioned to Kristine.

    I’d also disagree that women bear the brunt of these machinations. I’d agree that the whole priesthood issue is a big issue for women to bear. There is that fundamental dissymmetry behind a lot. But there are plenty of other policies men suffer from disproportionately. Especially if they are over 30 and single. (Speaking as someone who married at 35) Consider no callings in the temple. No leadership in primary. And it’s pretty rare for even for talented male musicians to be chorister in primary. There’s much more care for male teachers than female teachers. Further as I mentioned I think much of this policy of discussion relates more to male predators than female seductresses. In fact there is a very broad cultural assumption that males are predators well beyond what the statistics bear out. (Sadly many assume females aren’t rapists – partially due to a double standard about sexual behavior such as we see with teachers having sex with kids)

    Don’t get me wrong. Males are obviously much more likely to engage in predatory behavior. So some of that structural distrust over women makes sense. But we automatically judge males as suspect when we don’t women in a fashion that’s often unfair to men – especially single men. (Especially in strong Mormon areas there’s an assumption that if a half decent looking guy isn’t married by 30 he’s probably a player and not to be trusted – I actually had my wife’s bishop tell her that in an interview and try to break us up)

  57. “That’s why I made my comment earlier that the real dissymmetry is in that men teach both men and women in HT but women only teach women in VT. That’s the real issue.”

    How is that the real issue? Home teachers carry the priesthood. Most of the comments suggest that the need for home teachers, especially for single sisters and mothers, is a need for a priesthood holder. What need isn’t being met by denying men visiting teachers?

  58. Clark Goble says:

    Jamie, I think that was also a point I made. Service isn’t being offered because of the underlying dissymmetries. Now I happen to think that there are plenty of practical ways to get around that issue. Many were noted in the comments. But I certainly don’t disagree that people who need priesthood service aren’t getting it and the reason is due to underlying symmetries. Ideally an EQ president should make sure single women are privileged over families already with a priesthood holder in the home. It’s ridiculous that isn’t happening which is why I suggested people contact the EQ way back in (37). A lot of times people aren’t aware of problems and a little prodding helps tremendously.

  59. it's a series of tubes says:

    And yet, ironically, this rule is not found in said Handbook.

    Tim, there you go again, dragging down the conversation with those pesky facts! Boo! I checked Book 1 and Book 2 and you are indeed correct!

  60. Meldrum the Less says:

    Kristine:

    I wish to clarify something in relation to your comment in #40.

    The problem is not you. The problem is that certain men see you, FIRST as a sex object. Are you someone with a vagina between 10 and 90 years old? There you go. (Mommy, can I use the V. word around here and not get smacked?) Seeing you as a real person with feelings and needs and talents is a far distant second. Because these men have difficulty seeing you as anything more than a sex toy, they are perpetually tempted to consider acting on these narrow perspectives. The only ways they can come up with to deal with their filthy inclinations is to avoid you and continually chaperone themselves and the rest of us.

    I would suggest that you consider yourself lucky not to have more personal attention from them. Let whatever gossip that passes behind closed doors fly away from you. Be grateful for the few men around who see you as a person first, last and always. I gather from your remarks that you will never be lonely very long, because you are an interesting and thougtful person.

    I also disagree with your cost benefit analysis, that single women are expendable. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. More and more of our children are being raised by single mothers. I would venture a wild guess that it is approaching 50%. It is over 80% in the black community in Georgia. A church could last for centuries without men and their Priesthood. It won’t last one generation without women. As far as women without children, I notice a strange phenomenom, strange from a male perspective. Women actually interact deeply with one another and help each other. Either directly or indirectly, in ways you may never understand, you are raising the next generation and in profound ways that most men have to expend considerable effort to barely mimic.

  61. Clark Goble, does it matter whether it’s women or men who “bear the brunt”? Something being sexist doesn’t necessarily mean it’s only women who are affected by it; this is a sexist practice and you’re right, it hurts both men and women. We’ve talked about the issue of Primary teachers on this blog before and I said the same thing. We’re getting to the point where more people are being hurt by it than aren’t, and that seems pretty self-defeating. All the more reason that gender discrimination is just a crappy policy.

  62. Clark Goble says:

    I think it’s the nature of the hurt that matters. And in that I fully agree with Kristine even if I don’t necessarily agree with some of the other comments. Everyone who needs a blessing or the like should be able to get it. Ensuring that is part of the duty of the EQ President, HP Group Leader, Bishop and Relief Society President. Sadly we don’t always live up to that and I think a lot of people use these structural issues as an excuse. (I don’t mean the analysis of the structure, but if people are using “she’s a single woman” to avoid making sure her needs are met then that’s just plain wrong)

    As for women vs. men I think that’s a bit silly. Honestly while I was a bit sensitive when getting the boot at 30 for all the normal reasons I think its overblown to worry about. That was partly why I brought up those places where men aren’t the benefactors.

    Personally I think when we analyze things in terms of what group gets the most or has the most power we’re missing something fundamental and inverting the order of the gospel. Ideally we shouldn’t look at Church as something where we get things and feel wronged when we don’t get enough. Rather we should look at Church as a place where we provide service. And our focus should be on whether the people in need are getting that service. When they aren’t we should look for solutions. And for this particular problem I think there are tons of solutions we can achieve within the existing structures. That we often don’t is upon our heads.

  63. Mark Brown says:

    Re: Handbook, it is worth pointing out that this restriction *is* in the Missionary handbook, and it shouldn’t surprise us to see that many RMs continue to see the restriction as normative and desirable, even decades after they return home. It isn’t like people are just making this up.

  64. Clark Goble says:

    Sorry – got interrupted while writing that second paragraph and as written it doesn’t make much sense. Let’s try this:

    As for the women vs. men in terms of who is the victim I fully agree it’s silly. Honestly while I was a bit sensitive when I got the boot at 30 from my singles ward I came to realize it’s overblown to worry about such matters too much. That’s partially why I brought up those places where men aren’t the benefactors. Precisely because in the big picture of things it distracts our focus. That said clearly there are women and men who worry about not getting the treatment they feel they deserve. (Whether justly or unjustly) And merely telling them not to worry typically isn’t effective. (It certainly wasn’t for me at 30)

  65. 60 BCC owes me 3 bucks. That’s the price of the bleach I used to scrub my eyeballs. I take paypal.

  66. Meldrum the Less says:

    Bro. Goble #37.

    You leave me no choice but to defend my claim that 80% of men cheat. So, I draw the flaming sword of truth: Google!

    Yes, I googled “men cheat wife percent.” Here are the result from the first of a gazillion pages:

    CNN : 2.7 to 1 cheaters (73%).
    Infinity statistics (woman savers): 50 to 70% men have or will cheat.
    Life science: 24% of men and 18% of women cheat.
    Daily beast: 50% cheat.
    US news: 15 to 18% cheat.
    Infinity statistics (menstuff): 22%

    Seems that it is hard to get an accurate answer due to the inherent secrecy involved. Even the same source (infinity statistics) gives widely different answers depending upon their audience. We could both be right, depending on who you ask and how you ask: 10% or 80%. Neither portion is low enough to be ignored since it is next-to-impossible to tell in most cases who is cheating and who is not.

    The other question is whether Mormons have more, less or about the same risk for infidelity. I believe that depends upon whether we include only temple married or all of those raised in the faith. Temple marriages are decreasing in proportion to the rapidly growing church membership. Presumably their rate of infidelity is lower, even while discounting the lying that some feel compelled to do to get married there.

    I believe non-temple married Mormons have a higher risk for divorce than the general population and a higher risk for extra-marital affairs. Cheating does not characterize every divorce but it certainly plays a big role in most. Divorce divided by some small factor and then multiplied by some larger factor derived from the tolerance or ignorance of some wives is a more visible marker of infidelity rates. This chain of thought leads me to suspect that we are not far behind the rest of the world in this wickedness. My experience during several years in the military in the 1980′s tended to confirm the 80% mark among active members. I wasn’t ever the Bishop who might have known of even more cases. More disturbing, Utah rates are increasing and will meet the national average at some point soon.

    Finally, rates of STD’s are another marker for infidelity, although these diseases are also rampant among the unwed. What I can tell from the CDC website, Utah with its 60% LDS population might be lower than nearby western states (not including Nevada) by as much as a factor of one half. We can’t assume the non-LDS in Utah are all considerably less cautious in contracting STD’s. If 100 non-LDS people get “the clap,” at least 50 LDS people do too.

  67. Meldrum the Less says:

    The last sentence in the second to last paragraph should be at the end of the lat paragraph.sorry.

  68. Clark Goble says:

    I don’t think STDs are a good marker for infidelity given that many are acquired by singles.

    Regarding the statistics for infidelity it’d be useful if you could put links to what you’re referring to. The figures over 50% appear to come from (to me) dubious sources when I try and track down the original studies. The figures around 20 – 25% seem to come from what I’d consider more careful studies from a superficial glance. Still higher than I thought though.

  69. 65–It’s ok, cwc. I was due for my weekly dose of condescending appreciation from someone who doesn’t know anything about me.

  70. Steve Evans says:

    The problem is not you, Kristine.

  71. Gees if we can’ttrust the men at Church, who can we trust? Oh, that’s right, we don’t.

  72. So when my terminally ill husband dies I will probably lose my HT too? What kind of sense does that make?

  73. Clark Goble says:

    NR, I don’t think that’s what’s being said. Rather the problem is what one member of the companionship doesn’t want to go. As I said there’s plenty of ways around this within the current structure. Further it appears there’s not even a church policy on this – just some bad assumptions people have – perhaps arising out of mission rules for 19 and 20 year olds.

    As I said I think it’s ridiculous for people to abrogate their responsibilities for HTing with this excuse. It’s interesting in that a lot of Pres. Monson’s stories appear to be about him visiting single women to help them as home teacher, Bishop or other responsibilities. Going by how he relates the stories it sounds like he didn’t always bring a companion.

  74. Common One says:

    There are many thoughtful comments on this thread. I was fortunate enough to be a home teacher to a family composed of a single mother and her five children (four boys and a girl) for about seven years. I became very close to the family and took the sons on campouts, the daughter to a YW event, tutored one of the sons through some tough classes in high school, was home teaching companion for a couple of years with another of the sons and was as available as often as I could be for that family. I was eventually called as Bishop of the ward and was able to perform the wedding of the youngest son. The out of state kids (now grown) still stop by my home to visit me and my wife whenever they are in town. The mom is like another member of our family and a great example to all of us in the ward. I generally had a companion or wife or son with me when I would go to her home, but not because of any concern about being alone there to help out. I would not have let a lack of a companion on a specific occasion get in the way of ministering. I couldn’t agree more with the comments of the single women on this thread who have articulated so well the true purpose of a “ward family” and a home teacher. We obviously need to be wise in our interactions, but I am concerned that we can yield to the tendency to over lawyer our every relationship and thereby wring the Spirit out of our sisterhood and brotherhood.

  75. So, Clark (64), are you arguing that sexism isn’t really a problem in the church, or that men are the victims as much or as often as women?

  76. Kristine, respectfully I regret your tone and substance in #27 above. The point is that if two people meet privately, the likelihood of litigation (while small) is (nonetheless) significantly higher than if three people meet privately. That you would uncharitably interpret me to be putting the onus on any one particular sex in such two-person encounters says more about your priors and issues than about my quite serious point. No need to apologize, we all jump to conclusions from time to time, but please try to be charitable in your interpretations rather than conclusory.

  77. Gee, and I thought *I* could be passive aggressive.

  78. @77–LOL, ok I deserved that!

  79. So I have a wild and crazy hunch that if men and women want to hook up with someone else, chances are they don’t need home teaching to do it. Chances are they would go find someone they are really interested in. Also, if a woman really wants to cry foul and start litigation, she’d have better luck conning a guy at a bar.

  80. Yeah, Tom, I don’t think you get to regret _my_ tone, any more than I get to regret your unfortunately imprecise expression of your idea which necessitated charitable interpretation.

  81. Ardis, while you may be aggressive…I do not think I would classify said aggression as clearly not passive.

  82. That reads more drunk than I actually am.

  83. Kristine I don’t think I was making either of those claims.

  84. I’m just trying to parse “As for women vs. men I think that’s a bit silly…” I’m really not being truculent, just trying to understand what you’re arguing.

  85. “I’m really not being truculent, just trying to understand what you’re arguing.”

    See, there’s where you made your mistake.

  86. Wow, the comments are as interesting as the original post.

    Personally, I don’t like home teachers coming over. The ones I’ve had in the last several years only did it for show anyway; to get the numbers. The few I did like didn’t give us lessons, they helped us instead. If they *have* to come over, I’d prefer they bring a wife with them instead of a bored, sometimes obnoxious boy-child.

    I can read the “lesson” myself, just like I can read the VT message myself. (My vter seemed relieved when I told her I didn’t want the “lessons”. She’s awesome, btw.)

    If any man fears I’m sex-crazed or that he might be in danger of being attracted to me sure hasn’t looked at me very closely.

    How about we ditch or drop the ht and vt programs all together? The origins of home teaching are creepy anyway. (Was it on this site I learned about that or LDSA? I forget.) How about we just learn to be . . . um, . . . oh, I don’t know . . . Christlike . . . without having to be *assigned* to pretend we are? How about we help each other because we love each other? How about we get to know each other’s needs because we are so close to God and His Spirit that we can tell when someone needs help that we have the ability to give?

  87. “How about we get to know each other’s needs because we are so close to God and His Spirit that we can tell when someone needs help that we have the ability to give?”

    How about we’re all perfect and just get translated?

    We’re aiming for the City of Enoch and we all hope and expect that we’ll get there someday but we can’t just have it right now, we have to earn it. We can’t have the law of consecration if we can’t even live the law of tithing, and we can’t have Zion if we can’t even do our home teaching.

  88. i like the programs. I understand the need to make sure everyone is cared for…or at least assigned so the appropriate guilt trips can be placed when they are not cared for. It’s impossible to not keep a record and just hope that people take care of everyone.

    I always thought the partner thing was so there would be two witnesses of truth when teaching, and more hands to help.

    I’m glad to know it’s not in the handbook. Most of us have gone rogue at some point as vt or ht.

    We now have a great ht who comes alone. He teaches a short message every time. He has earned my children’s respect and trust…my 8 year old asked specifically that ht speak at his baptism.

    I would love for ht of singles to be approached as concern for how they would best feel comfortable individually.

  89. This has been a fascinating and enlightening discussion. Thank you, Kristine (and a couple of others) for illustrating the effects these pseudo-policies can have on women (and thanks go to all the posters that got taken to task for inspiring their awesomeness). I had a great discussion with my wife about this topic last night, thanks to your comments, and I hope that I’ll be a better home teacher for it.

    To those who would like to see home/visiting teaching disbanded, I can only partially agree. When I moved into my current ward, I didn’t see home teachers for the first three years. Eventually I was reassigned to a new companionship, one of which was a brother I had met within the first few weeks of moving in. At the time, I had written him off as chauvinistic, close-minded, and not worth associating with. I reluctantly agreed to let him come visit one night, and he very openly admitted, “I think I may have left a bad first impression a few years ago.” He still clearly a chauvinist, but he’s a likable one (if you can believe it), and he’s much more open minded than I originally thought. While he was my home teacher, he would usually come alone and his visits would usually last between 90 minutes and 2 hours, and my wife and I loved it. He’s become a true friend and someone we enjoy spending time with, mostly because he was interested in building a friendship and not checking a box. He’s actually the model I am trying to follow for my own home teaching now (somewhat harder for an introvert like me to pull off, however).

    Sadly, I was reassigned recently, and the more aggressive member of the companionship assures me every time he tries to schedule a visit that he’ll only be there for 15 or 20 minutes. The next time he says it, I’m going to tell him that if it’s so important for him to get out of my home, he may as well not come at all. However, he’s welcome to stay as long as he wants as long as he’s interesting while he’s there.

    Entirely tangential to the actual topic of the thread (sorry). I’ll go away now.

  90. #82 for BCoTW

  91. Kevin, I’m interested to know when the rule changed. Having served my mission in Southern Germany in the mid-70′s, we ran into a lot of single women when I was assigned to a part of Munich – newer apartment housing with a lot of refugees from the East (Soviet Union and Eastern Europe). If we had told those singles we couldn’t talk to them, wouldn’t have come close to the number of discussions we had. In fact, one of the divorced sisters in our ward held FHE for all of the missionaries and singles in the ward.
    In two other cities we had elderly sisters who had all of the missionaries (one city was six elders and two sisters, the other was six elders) over every Sunday night for dinner and discussions…. Geez, what their neighbors must have thought!

  92. Clark Goble says:

    I’m just trying to parse “As for women vs. men I think that’s a bit silly…” I’m really not being truculent, just trying to understand what you’re arguing.

    That was me saying that worrying about who ends up better off with respect to a particular policy (i.e. ignoring the underlying structural differences) isn’t the best way to think about it. As soon as our focus is on how much we get we’re looking at it wrong. Rather the focus should be on looking at the structures as an aid to help us give service. That’s why I was at pains to say there are plenty of ways to ensure these people are served and those using this issue as an excuse not to serve are being disingenuous.

    It goes back to my basic view of the Church as an infirmary run by the informed. When you look at what you’re not getting you’ll always be upset because frankly any particular ward always has disfunction. As soon as you invert the relationship I find people are (a) much happier and (b) typically the ward ends up better as well.

    My strong opinion is that we look for the Church to do for us too much. Realistically we should be looking around our ward and doing most good deeds on our own. That we wait until some program forces us to do good is a sad commentary in many ways.

  93. Clark Goble says:

    Sorry “infirmary run by the infirmed” Lion’s auto-correction gets a little “too helpful” sometimes.

  94. Kevin, I know the story intimately since we were in the same Ward and my wife was a good friend of the widow. There is no question that what you did represented a superior “model of proper priesthood behavior in the Church.” How often do you hear stories told by President Monson and others where they went alone to visit a family or a widow? The guidelines are there for a reason, but in the end we’re called to serve where, when, and how we best can, rules be damned.

  95. Clark–I wasn’t at all thinking about what I (or women, or single women) get. I was thinking about the semiotics of such policies. Your sermon is misaddressed (although I don’t disagree with its point).

  96. it's a series of tubes says:

    Re: Handbook, it is worth pointing out that this restriction *is* in the Missionary handbook, and it shouldn’t surprise us to see that many RMs continue to see the restriction as normative and desirable, even decades after they return home. It isn’t like people are just making this up.

    Mark, in fairness, many, many other restrictions are in the Missionary handbook, but don’t seem to bleed over and take on quasi-official status for non-missionaries. Why has this one become ingrained, I wonder?

    WRT anything like this topic, the only thing I could find in Book 1 that seemed related was the following counsel regarding traveling to Church activities:
    (17.1.48) A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single.

    Also, let’s keep in mind that the Handbook is policy, and as such is neither infallible nor necessarily perfectly aligned with current practice or guidance from the top. For example, let’s review another section, and consider it in light of the current “I’m a Mormon” campaign…

    (17.1.38) Referring to the Church and It’s Members
    …..As a shortened reference, “Latter-day Saints” is preferred and “Mormons” is acceptable…

    Darn, the “I’m a Latter Day Saint” campaign would have been so catchy. Halos for all!

    Doctrine.
    Policy.
    Tradition.
    Identifying where a particular issue or bit of counsel falls has been helpful to me in determining the amount of leeway which is appropriate.

  97. Clark Goble says:

    Oh, I probably agree with a lot of your semiotic analysis. I’d tried to indicate that, but probably didn’t so so clearly enough. My comments weren’t really just addressing what you said, but instead using them as a taking off point. Sorry if you thought I was critiquing what you said. In semiotic terms I think there’s sufficient gap in the code to enable quite a lot to be done. Indeed to the degree I understand the plan of salvation it would be counterproductive to have Church structures that make service too easy, or that does it all for us. The real point is getting individuals to change how they view the world and act charitable.

    Note that this is not a critique I favor with respect to government where I think the point of structure is to provide a set of particular services. That’s just not the point of Church.

  98. Clark Goble says:

    Mark, in fairness, many, many other restrictions are in the Missionary handbook, but don’t seem to bleed over and take on quasi-official status for non-missionaries. Why has this one become ingrained, I wonder?

    The more I think about it the more skeptical I become that this arose out of the missionary guide. I think it’s more just a social trapping from a previous generation that has remained. I think if it has a function its due to the problem of predators and the legal liability the Church has faced over the few cases that have arisen. But I also think it’s an echo of old sexual mores from before women entered the workforce in the degree they have. I think within Utah it is persistent precisely because fewer women are in the workforce and thus the social changes haven’t yet happened here in the same degree as the rest of the country.

  99. Meh, I think you were right on Kevin. When Elijah was under strenuous circumstances it didn’t seem to peeve the Lord much when he went in a stayed at a widow’s home and ministered to her.

    I won’t lie though, I’m the type of person who wouldn’t have even tried to get another elder to tag along at all if my comp refused to do his duty.

  100. Sharee Hughes says:

    My home teachers visit regularly and if one of them can’t come (which is seldom), the other one brings his wife (who is my VT companion). They have come over together (HT and wife) also when I’ve needed some help in the yard or moving heavy boxes, although my HT came by himself once to help get the battery charger hooked up to my car..The EQ President has been to my house by himself more than once. But then, he is a young man and I am an old woman, so maybe that makes a difference. I know the church has had a policy that a married man should not be alone in a car (and maybe other times as well) with a woman not his wife (whether she was married or single), but that did not apply to single men and single women, so I don’t know why a single male church employee could not give a single female a ride home. I think, Ardis, that the person who said that was misunderstanding the policy.

    I have heard that older single women may serve missions, but older single men may not. I don’t know if that is true or, if it is, why.

  101. Meldrum the Less says:

    For those who wish to disband HT / VT:

    Why don’t you disband it for yourselves? Don’t go. Don’t just passively appear to be trying and not getting it done or doing it on your own terms and niggling the handbook. Refuse to accept visits unless they are entirely as specified or else they are not to be counted. Be open about it and tell your respective leaders that while you are willing to do any number of specific chores you believe in, you will not participate in HT/VT under the current rigid specifications. Don’t let them and this misguided program as it is currently constituted continue to take vicarious credit for good deeds not exactly specifiedf by it. Don’t allow the leadership to continue to delude themselves about how great it is working. Admit that being nice to somebody and doing many goodly works on your terms is not home teaching. What happened to integrity? This course of action will burn some of your social capital, but it actually is easier for leaders to manage constants than variables. When the constants approach zero, then the decision to try something else becomes easier.

    BTW does anybody know what the churchwide home teaching percent might be? Any theories why that number is such a carefully guarded secret in this statistics obsessed church? Hmm, 14 million members; 14 thousand visits with a companion, message from Ensign and prayer? I submit that HT % is far below anything Bro. Goble has indicated the infidelity rate for married men might be, (<10%).

    Bro Gordon: STD rates do indirectly reflect infidelity rates, to the degree over life spans that screwing around before marriage reflects a tendency to screw around after marriage. Isn't that one of the main reasons we tell youth not to get into these bad habits? A roll in the back seat of a car with a little tart on BCP is not nearly as big of a problem as when a father of several children gets kicked to the curb for it. But they are connected and hence we Mormons have a low tolerance for neither one. I call a Russian truce with you on the male infidelity rate: 50%. I haven't cheated on my wife, you probably have. Just kidding. :)

  102. .

    It’s Schroedinger;s Adulterer.

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