Caption This MormonAd

The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.

Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning:

A virtuous young man pledges his love and fidelity to the girl of his dreams with a precious stone–a diamond. And the happy girl treasures the gift as she would her life, promising, in return, her own fresh, virtuous love in marriage.

The ring–with its precious gem–becomes a symbol of fidelity for the engaged couple and a reminder of the priceless value of virtue in them both.

Solomon said it centuries ago: “A virtuous woman . . .her price is far above rubies…” For men it is equally true.

A latter-day hymn-writer composed these beautiful lines:

“Cherish virtue! Cherish virtue!
God will bless the pure in heart.”

Cherish–how beautiful and meaningful the word: to hold dear; to trust or keep with tenderness.

And virtue: integrity of character; uprightness of conduct; chastity.

The prophet Mormon, in his last affectionate message to his son Moroni, called virtue and chastity ‘the most dear and precious of all things.’

Modern prophets have reaffirmed this eternal truth.

So, young people of the Church, if you would deserve the confidence of the clean young man or young woman you someday hope to marry–if you would enjoy the fullness of happines which belongs only to the pure in heart, be clean, be chaste.


I thought I’d get the ball rolling by suggesting a few captions of my own:

1. Get it straight, fellas–she didn’t repress her sexual urges for 18-30 years for your mix tape. Cough up some bling!

2. The shimmering glory of the stone is proven to distract potential fiances from poo-brown blazers . . . and what appear to be hair-plugs.

3. Looks like he (or she) who laughs years after prom night laughs loudest!

4. My decision to remain celibate in my youth was 2% doctrinal, 50% reputational (14th in line in a Mormon family in a largely non-Mormon school), and 48% thanks to a hormone imbalance and acne. [Channeling Colbert; arm extended] Rubies, please!

5. So, the text contains some beautiful Biblical revision: “For man it is equally true.” Was it true? If so, where was the male partner taken in adultery when Jesus was drawing in the dirt?

6. “More precious than rubies” = Socially relevant marriage propaganda all the way to the mid-1960s . . . from the time of Solomon! You’ve been served, “All because two people fell in love”!

7. No, gemology conspiracy theorists, the Church did not receive any funds from the diamond industry for conflating a sacred rite with a commodity.

So, I’m interested in reading your snark, your analyses of the image and accompanying texts, and your thoughts on abstinence, the value of female virginity, marriage as a product . . . Whatever.

Extra Credit: Can you spot the artist’s “mistake” that was probably slipped in by some sleeper atheist working in the Church media department to derail the whole project? Brad Kramer will give you his wife’s wedding ring if you are the first to post a correct answer.


  1. RE Extra Credit: Either he’s got an enormous wart or she’s got six fingers on her right hand.

  2. Left Field says:

    I think that’s a lapel pin.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    “Yes, my darling, I’ll accept this ring and give you my fresh, virtuous love if you’ll let me wax that nasty unibrow you’ve got goin’ on…”

  4. Oh come on, there is nothing particularly objectionable about this ad, and a sarcastic, snarky presentation is not exactly the way to appreciate what cultural anomalies it does have. One could do *exactly* the same thing about anything and everything the Church publishes today. <sarcasm>It is all worthless misogynostic detritus from first to last, is it not?</sarcasm>

  5. “misogynistic” that is.

  6. As usual, Mark’s right, guys. I’m shutting this mutha down before anyone else has a chance to comment on how particularly objectionable, worthless, and misogynistic this ad is.

  7. I knew it!!!! Virtue does mean chastity, and rubies are a symbol of virginity. They could totally use this in the new YW booklet.

  8. I’m just wondering if the Fascinating Womanhood text would approve of her hairstyle.

  9. StillConfused says:

    The Be Honest With Yourself part is what is throwing me. Be honest about what? Your virtue? Hell, lie about it and get a bigger ring!

  10. There is a ghost face in the woman’s hair.

  11. Yes, I once was a cave man for GEICO. How do you think I paid for the ring?

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 9, I didn’t understand the “Be Honest With Yourself” tagline either.

  13. Yes, I’ll marry you. But only because you’ve met the prerequisites of serving on a honorable 3 year mission to Great Britain, earned your Eagle Scout award, finished your college degree, descended from Brigham Young, and have earned millions of dollars by selling Amway dealerships.

  14. More precious than rubies: A diamond. Unless you have a lot of rubies, and only a small diamond. Then the rubies are more precious.

  15. Marjorie Conder says:

    In the late 1950s there was a whole series of these posters with the tag line “Be Honest with”Yourself”. The subjects were as varied as Prayer, WoW, Scripture Study and of course Marriage and Chastity (I can think of at least two more in that category.) Maybe Ardis could rustle up the whole series out of the archives for our “viewing pleasure.” There was usually a poster sized version hanging in the foyer and each youth also received a smaller (about 4×6 inches) version. I think they were passed out about monthly.

  16. I think the illustration has fabulous vintage charm. And as for the message, there’s nothing there that I would have any problem with teaching to my own kids.

    Maybe with the exception of the emphasis on the diamond. I’d go for a less traditional stone, maybe something with some color.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the historical context, Marjorie, that explains that tag line that otherwise seems to be a non sequitur.

  18. Jeremy,
    I can’t believe you got the extra-credit on the first comment . . . so . . . I really should have checked with Brad’s wife about the whole wedding ring thing.
    The truly conspiratorial wonder here is that the sleeper atheist knew the dangers of six-fingered people in the 1950s.
    On the other hand, if Left Field is right, why is this man wearing a tiny hot dog for a lapel pin?

  19. The Other Bro Jones says:

    Wow. I notice that she does not even have here ears pierced! (That is some serious virtue)

  20. Marjorie,
    I definitely should have explained more. I didn’t realize that there were posters as well. If the post doesn’t offend too many people, we’ll probably post one or two of these every once in a while.

  21. RE: 3, 13 & 14,
    Oh if only for an upvote button. Woe is me.

  22. RE: 11
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to forget you.

  23. “Well, Mrs. Brady, there’s something I need to tell you – but I’ll marry you for the children’s sake.”

  24. Ray, FTW.

  25. As women, we hear the “and that goes for women/sisters/girls/etc. as well” all the time. It’s refreshing to see the shoe on the other foot (ring on the other finger?).

  26. Markie,
    Maybe chastity belt on the other unmentionables?

  27. StillConfused says:

    ” If the post doesn’t offend too many people, we’ll probably post one or two of these every once in a while” … until we find some that do in fact offend lots of people. Then our work will be done.

  28. Weird. This does look more like the cover for a “Fascinating Womanhood” book or something. Can’t put my finger on it but something is just weird.

  29. about offending: I think these are fun. The only worry I’d have is if the picture is based on an actual couple that posed for the picture back in the 50s. I think it would be important to make sure those individuals wouldn’t be hurt.

    For the mistake: I agree that his hand seems kind of large. It almost looks like a third hand. Also perhaps his hand is too close to her chest.

  30. one other idea on the mistake: some cultures think red is more of a sinful color, so perhaps that is kind of humorous. Perhaps it might have been better for her to have been wearing a white dress?

  31. StillConfused,

    You’ve seen through me, Sir (Madam?); you’ve seen through to my very soul.


    If there is a real couple who posed for this, I will post my high-school yearbook photos and everyone can make fun of my acne.

  32. @14 That’s exactly what popped into my head when I saw the ad.

    Funny that a church publication would take the time to teach us that diamonds are more precious than rubies. In the modern version, it’ll be Glen Beck explaining that the best investment is gold! ;)

  33. I’m with C. Jones and Mark D. on this. The picture is typical of its vintage. The thoughts are still good, though we might phrase them differently today, and they are written better than the parodies.

  34. #7. Done and done. The YW revamped their program, and the new medallion thing has a ruby.

  35. StillConfused says:

    StillConfused is of the female persuasion.

  36. #35 – by nature or persuasion? :)

  37. He kinda looks like Don Draper in a different light.

    honorable 3 year mission to Great Britain

    What, a foreign language is out of the question?

  38. queuno,
    Foreign languages are the playground of the devil.

  39. MikeInWeHo says:

    These old MormonAds would make a great Taschen-style book. What a great project for John Hamer!

  40. I DO need another Taschen book on my shelves…

  41. This lovely young couple needs to do one more thing before scheduling the cultural hall for the reception. I suggest they compare genealogy charts. They look unusually alike, even for natives of a homogeneous Utah hamlet. They are probably first cousins, without knowing it. I’ve seen it happen, when the first cousin cohort (on one side!) was 50+.

  42. Indeed they do! The scorpionic eyes. the slender pinched noses, the matching cheekbones and pointed chins. Holy catz, they look like brother and sister!

  43. Cynthia L. says:

    SCANDAL!! They are so not a Book of Mormon apart.

  44. Elouise!
    You just blew the lid right off this mutha! Oh, here’s a ruby for you; you just proposed to your sister.

    My momma taught me that engagement = first trip past Alma

  45. MikeInWeHo says:

    First trip past Alma?

  46. MikeInWeHo,
    All the other Mormonal Innuendos I tried to make up just sounded to twisted.

  47. I don’t know why I just capitalized “innuendo.”

  48. #46 – Thanks for not sharing the others!

  49. Wow! I’m actually impressed at how much effort the writer(s) went to to make clear that the whole value of virtue applied to men as well as women. It seems to me (and I could be wrong) that it’s more emphasized for women now, at least young women with their new virtue value.

    Also, I think “value virtue” sounds better than “cherish virtue.” Can we please have the hymn rewritten?

  50. #37, please remember that when this ad came out, all foreign missionaries went either to Great Britain or were left hanging on how to learn the language…. no LTM/MTC, yet.

    Besides, if he went to a foreign language mission, he obviously would be giving the ring to a Spanish/French speaking woman. If it were a Spanish-speaking woman, she’d be much shorter and wearing traditional costume. For a French woman, she would be looking at him with the disdain French people normally give to Americans.

    Since neither is the case, she’s obvious an English speaker – Great Britain. Well, wasn’t it the norm back then for missionaries to bring home their spouses to Utah with them????

  51. Captions:

    1) Debeers slogan “Take her breath away” Translation: Diamonds . . . yeah that’ll shut her up. (Ron White)

    2) Because it broke.

    3) Because your bishop told you its time.

    4) Because you don’t want to be the only single 25 year old in Utah Valley.

    5) Because Monogamy beats Celibacy.