Why It’s Tough to Be a Mormon Man

Let the skirmish of the sexes continue.

A lot of posts in the bloggernacle focus on the difficulties of being a woman in a church (and society) that has sexist and patriarchal norms.  What about the ways in which that culture is difficult for men?  Feminists acknowledge that men are harmed and limited by these same systems, albeit in different ways than women are.  In Golden Rule fashion, I thought I’d take a little time to brainstorm on what our brothers in the gospel experience, just as I want them to understand things from a woman’s perspective.

  1. Men are expected to be the sole financial supporter.  They are also told repeatedly that they must treat their dependent wives as equals and ease the more difficult burden women bear by helping out equally at home.  Just as women may feel reduced to only their physical attributes and fertility, men may feel reduced to their earning potential.  The reductionist thinking associated with role prescription cuts both ways.
  2. SAHDs and single or divorced Dads are persona non grata.  Even men who are secondary earners may feel like they are viewed as deficient in a Mormon context, and yet, within the US, 38% of wives out-earn their husbands.  And yet, in my experience, Mormon men are some of the most nurturing males on the planet, second only to seahorses.  Despite this, because of the heavy role prescription, Mormon men may be ill prepared to transition to the full time caregiver requirements associated with joint custody agreements in the wake of divorce.  As one divorced male Mormon put it:  “In divorce a lot of time men are assumed to be at fault. He didn’t treat his wife well enough, or he had an affair.  This goes hand in hand with what men in the church are perpetually told…that we married “up.”  That our wives had to stoop down to accept us and that we need to be grateful for this. I had several bishops tell me this (not my current one who saw my ex’s behavior first hand).  I had one bishop tell me that I ought not to complain about my wife’s faults because it was likely those faults that made it possible for her to eventually marry me.”
  3. Church volunteerism expectations with a career.  While wives with high-powered careers are typically not called to demanding roles like presidents of auxiliaries, because most men have careers no such reprieve is given to them.  The high demand of their time on church activities often reduces quality of life, including the amount of time men are able to spend with their children.  This expectation was just raised again with the missionary program changes.
  4. Men are expected to take initiative.  Whether it’s regarding asking girls out on dates, asking them to dance, proposing marriage, or taking the lead in meetings in the church, even introverted men are expected to take charge, even if they are not suited to this expectation.  This can leave some men feeling stressed out or anxious, and it can also result in social ostracism and judgment from women in dating situations when a man is not comfortable being the one to initiate, and the women have been told that it is the man’s responsibility.  While these expectations are shifting in society, social norms in the church remain planted in the traditional expectation that men do the asking and men run the meetings.  Women who go outside these norms may be viewed as bossy or undesirable.
  5. Cryers wanted.  We expect men to adhere to social norms of the 1950s but with a twist:  they have to be comfortable with crying in front of an entire congregation of their fellow Mormons as a sign of their spirituality.  We want our men to be emotional and fully domesticated while acting macho.  That’s a pretty tall order.  Fortunately, they see it modeled frequently.
  6. Men are shut out from the “nurture structure.”  While men theoretically have access to competitive hierarchical positions (the power structure), men don’t have the peer-based social support structures that women do in the church (the nurture structure).  Our awesome expat ward in Singapore instituted a male social support structure in creating weekly “menrichment” activities so that men whose families left for the summer still have support in the ward.  They went to movies, dinner, museums, or participated in sports together.  Even so, men were seldom asked about their mental well being, how their marriages fared, or their personal happiness.  Additionally, men who care for children find themselves shut out of the female organized nurture structure.  They are not invited to play groups, and husbands may feel threatened if they become too involved in the child-centric activities with the other “mothers” in the ward.
  7. Bad lessons / indifferent teachers.  Relief Society teachers are hard core.  They prepare the lessons far in advance with a lot of forethought, and often a table display and crafty handout.  Contrast the lessons I get in Relief Society every week with those same lessons in a typical Elder’s Quorum.  Often, the men are basically phoning it in, having class members read straight from the manual.  More coma-inducing than thought provoking.
  8. Pressure to marry.  As tough as it is for single women in the church, I suspect it’s even tougher for unmarried men who are often stigmatized and ostracized.  If they don’t marry young, they are accused of porn addiction and Peter Pan syndrome (being perpetual adolescents).  And it’s acceptable for the women to be single if they haven’t been asked; it’s not acceptable for the men to be single as they are responsible to ask.  The divorced of both sexes can also feel stigmatized, but in many cases, divorced men lack the social network to rebound within the organization.
  9. Worthiness objectification.  Many women in the church will only date or marry RMs.  They objectify based on being a return missionary even without themselves being one.  They feel entitled to someone who is “worthy” by those standards.  Just as women may feel objectified for their looks or youth, men may be viewed as interchangeable so long as they are temple worthy, not known and loved for who they are as individuals.
  10. Pressures of the organization.  As part of the Priesthood hierarchy,  men are prone to pressure over missionary numbers, and may feel a push to be promoted from Elders Quorum to High Priests Group.  I have also observed that men are frequently lectured and spoken to in a punitive way whereas sisters are often coddled by male leaders.  In my mission, the elders often caved to the pressure of numbers, whereas the sisters (who were outside the power structure) didn’t and could focus on the work.  To me, that speaks to the power of organizational pressure when you are inside the system rather than outside of it as we sisters were.

First, stop sexism. Then, stop vandalism!

Obviously, men do have certain privileges and entitlements that women don’t have, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to be a Mormon man, and there is a downside to the privileges (just as there is a downside to women being put on a pedestal).  Truth be told, I think the rigid role prescription makes it difficult to be either sex within the church, especially since we do not experience the same rigid structures in daily life.  What do you think?

  • Are there other ways it is difficult to be a man in the church?
  • Are there ways the church could be more supportive of both men and women?
  • What changes would you make?


*This is a reprint of a previous article at W&T.


  1. Single men are excluded from serving as a temple worker once they hit their 30s. What this is supposed to achieve is beyond me.

  2. Re #9 – this is changing (and in some degree, has become less of an issue of the years). A lot of girls today are reporting feeling pressure to serve missions or be seen as less worthy.

  3. Really glad for this post. That’s all.

  4. I’ve got personal experience with #1. The recession really did a number on my husband’s career path; on two separate occasions I had to re-enter the workforce despite having young kids at home. Even though this is explicitly condoned by the FamProc, my husband felt like a failure because he wasn’t providing for his family. (I don’t mind working. I DID go to college, after all.)

    His feelings of failure were, I think, exacerbated by the standard narrative that paying tithing leads to financial blessings. The stories told in the Ensign and GC fall along the lines of “I was laid off, but because I’d been paying my tithing, the bishop’s brother-in-law hired me the following week for twice the pay!” For us it was more like: husband was laid off, and after FOUR MONTHS he got a job with a 60% pay cut, and the wife had to re-enter the work force just as soon as childcare could be arranged. And yes, we were paying tithing. And during that time period, members of our ward wouldn’t even make eye contact with us because they were afraid it was catching.

  5. Well said, Angela.

    The “2 girls for every boy” thing making the news lately might seem like a boon for single men, but it could also be brutal on the self-esteem of those who nevertheless can’t get a date.

  6. In conversations about gender and the priesthood, men are frequently thrown under the bus as less naturally spiritual than women, and thus somehow more in need of godly power.
    It is also considered an acceptable pass time by many women to joke in public settings (like relief society) about their stupid/untidy/unhelpful/thoughtless husbands: although it is not necessarily an institutional phenomenon, and is also seen outside the church to some degree.
    Also, if men make a habit of wearing a colorful shirt and sweater vest instead of a white shirt and tie, people seem to assume they are on the fast track to inactivity (yay, Utah).

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    1. The assumptions made in general priesthood meeting that as a dude you’re obviously addicted to porn. Not cool.

    2. Not giving women the priesthood means that the burden of work in the church falls on the men, and priesthood creep means that that applies to all sorts of tasks that shouldn’t actually require the priesthood to do. Men have to be chaperones in the church building anytime women are in the building; they have to be present at girl’s camp for unclear reasons; that list goes on and on. So we have only half the people doing many tasks that could just as easily be distributed among all the people.

  8. Fortunately I have encountered little overt sexist behavior in my interpersonal experience in the Church. My husband, on the other hand, has been a victim of cultural expectations throughout his entire life and has really suffered for it. One of the worst is that just because he has received a leadership calling, he is suddenly expected to be able to handle – and solve! – all the emotional, physical, spiritual and temporal needs of those he is steward over with very little training or mentorship because priesthood responsibility.

  9. “What changes would you make?”

    Angela, you can’t change the institution; you can only change how YOU interact with it.

    One of my favorite slogans of all time is the one employed by Nancy Reagan in her campaign against drug abuse: “Just Say NO!”

    Don’t try to live up to others expectations or succumb to institutional pressure. Take the good you find in the church, leave the silliness behind, and concentrate on rendering service to your fellowman as your circumstances permit. And do it all with a smile on your face. You will be much happier, and you will drive the ultra-orthodox within our ranks to distraction (a bonus).

  10. Word of Wisdom. Many men do not connect or open up easily in social situations. Having a drink or two is traditionally how buddies loosen up and get chatty. Mormon men are some of the most friendless, lonely people I know. Also, male friendships are subtly frowned upon in the church. I’ve had multiple priesthood leaders suggest that once you are married, hanging out with buddies ends as its all about wife and kids now.

  11. I have a friend who married a straight arrow, Peter priesthood type . . . When they were engaged once after making out she was happy, and he immediately knelt down to ask forgiveness in prayer. I think this is a small segment of the male population, but for those on a ga track mentality, normal human mistakes seem to loom and disqualify them from their “future.”

  12. I don’t think #9 is getting better, if anything it is getting worse because now it is going both ways for women and for men, equally bad treatment is still bad. I remember talking to my cousin about his leaving the church and he described how women in his YSA ward liked to feel up guys legs to do a “garment check” as a way to determine if the guy was an RM and worthy of their time. It was one of the things after his mission that helped to encourage his disenchantment with the church. Apparently it turns out guys dislike being treated as meat as much as women. Who would have guessed ;)

  13. I also despise the “our husbands are bumbling idiots and need their wives just to drag them to heaven” mentality from men and women. Last month in RS they called men pigs, then they said wives have an extra spiritual gift to see their husbands potential and push him towards it. in a very gentle and nurturing way, of course.


  14. Thank you Angela. My view, in nutshell, is that men and women are both worse off whenever we limit roles based on gender. Of course there are differences between men and women. But there are many more similarities than differences. And most differences are a matter of degree; very few are absolutes. Real differences just are. If a difference must be taught or enforced, that is prime evidence that the difference is not real.

    As for the current situation, honestly, men have it pretty good compared to any other time period. But so do women. My biggest gripes as a man are (1) the church places very little importance on the quantity of time fathers spend with children, at least in comparison to mothers, (2) collectively speaking, we are much slower to break down gender barriers for men than for women, and (3) in our zeal to trumpet equality, but also justify arbitrary gender differences, we have a tendancy to often disparage men (e.g., “men have the priesthood because they are spiritually inferior to women”).

  15. (cont.) I’ll give one (not-so) hypothetical example. Suppose a sunday school teacher is explaining the role of “provider” and gives the following expansive definition: “providing means to give food, shelter, clothing, etc for those in your care. It is more than just acquiring money; mothers who prepare meals, clean homes, etc. are providers just as much as fathers who acquire money.” In my ward, if that sentiment were expressed, I’d see a lot of heads nod and cheers of approval. But the teacher would get a very different reaction if she followed the natural flow of the argument and said: “that’s why fathers who stay at home, prepare means, clean etc. are also fulfilling their role as provider.” Honoring women in the home as providers is a progressive and praiseworthy idea. Giving the same option to men will get you kicked out of the synagogue.

    I’ll also give one (real) example of how things are improving. Take at look at the church’s stock photo selection for ‘fatherhood’ and ‘motherhood.’
    Apart from giving blessings, the activities depicted are nearly identical. Judging by this photos the primary role of fathers is to nurture, not preside, provide and protect. That’s a very good development in my book.

  16. I think that #7 is directly related to #6 and #10. Since women are completely removed from the hierarchical power structure the only way they can accrue LDS social capital is by being individually “awesome”. So you have the over-the-top lessons and activities, the tiger moms, etc. Men, with access to the power structure, gain LDS social capital by moving up in it, and my experience has been that there is no correlation between moving up and your performance as a teacher or an activity planner. Since no power is accrued through doing those things little time is expended carrying them out.

  17. RE #7:

    Wife: “We had a really great lesson in RS today. How was yours?”
    Me, a young High Priest: “Meh.”
    Wife: “Oh, well ours was about strengthening families. What was yours about?”
    Me: “Misogyny and xenophobia.”
    Wife: “I’m so sorry.”

    RE #6: As a SAHD I have been invited to attend or send my daughter to a play group, but I haven’t ever done it. For awkward. Maybe it would be fine. I don’t know. Just seems weird. A couple of years ago there was another SAHD so we would take our kids to the park together, and we played paintball sometimes on the weekends, but then he moved. As my generation (very broadly speaking) of men in the ward have moved into more demanding callings, all social interaction has ceased. It sucks and has really reduced my feeling of connection. Luckily I’ve been able to make some friends outside the ward. If I were to be offered a very demanding calling that might make it harder for me to have that social life, I’m not quite sure what I would do.

  18. Men in church have it pretty bad. They are expected to spiritually and physically nurture those they are responsible for, to be conscientiously obedient, to be “gentle, meek, submissive, full of love.” They are expected to eschew what they crave most, and which comes the most naturally: porn, promiscuity, and power.

    The natural man is an enemy to God, but the natural woman is not. It’s man’s bad luck that our particular religion is focused on conscientiousness, sensitivity and nurturing, rather than warfare, sex, and hunting. God made the church feminine, but He made men masculine. We are no longer living in the masculine church of the Old Testament where we were given wars, concubines, and a culture of oaths and honour to validate our nature.

    In addition to bringing home the bacon at home, the man is also supposed to help out the wife with the domestic and nurturing responsibilities, responsibilities for which he is not naturally inclined.

    The honour and responsibility of the priesthood is his only tie to his natural inclinations, and even these are constantly thwarted with accusations of unrighteous dominion. If one day he is forced to share the priesthood with the woman, his inferiority in all things spiritual and conscientious will be so obvious that he might as well just go out and hang himself.

  19. Someone needs to give Nate a calling in boy scouts while there is still time.

  20. “Mormon men are some of the most friendless, lonely people I know. Also, male friendships are subtly frowned upon in the church. I’ve had multiple priesthood leaders suggest that once you are married, hanging out with buddies ends as its all about wife and kids now.”

    J Law, I agree. In my adult life in the church I’ve never been to a priesthood social function that did not include spouses and/or children. But the RS in the wards I’ve lived in seem to function as exclusively female social clubs, holding women only parties multiple times every year. I’ve never understood why the women need their own Christmas party every year in addition to the ward Christmas party. Men getting together with other men seems to have the stigma of boys hanging out together in the church, while women getting together with other women seems to be honored and encouraged. Plus, let’s face it, when you have a demanding job and a demanding calling and a family you have little extra time for male bonding. But it makes for some extremely socially isolated people.

  21. “I have also observed that men are frequently lectured and spoken to in a punitive way whereas sisters are often coddled by male leaders.”

    1,000 times yes.

  22. On the one hand, the Handbook recalls “the positive influence of worthy men in the ward” but on the other stipulates that they cannot be trusted to serve among children unless in the presence of another “responsible adult” or regularly monitored by a member of the Primary presidency.

  23. Number 6 has always been especially tough for me. There is no Mormon equivalent of “let me buy you a beer” which is a situation where men are socially allowed to sit in conversation with other men and talk about their lives and feelings. It’s especially hard if you don’t like sports like me. That seems to be the only possible acceptable topic of conversation for men in the church.

  24. When a good friend of mine got married, I joked that all of the usual bachelor party options were off the table for good Mormons like us, so the only choice we really had was to buy a veggie tray and talk about our feelings. (In practice, we ended up consuming vast quantities of Henry Weinhard’s root beer, but we did get a veggie tray just for the laughs.)

  25. It may seem callous of me but I’m tired of the whining from both women and men. Can’t we just work together to lighten each other’s burdens and magnify our callings whatever they may be? Priesthood doesn’t have to just read from the manual, and more discussion with less cutsie handouts in Relief Society would be better too. Come on, we can do it. Put your shoulder to the wheel!

  26. I agree with A Movis. I’m an introverted, single LDS man in his mid-30s and it honestly feels like this most is out to pansify me.

  27. So… if men have it bad because of gender roles, and women have it bad because of gender roles… Is there actually anyone who benefits from this crap? Someone who gets assigned the topic for a lesson or a talk and relishes the opportunity? Someone who checks the manual gets excited because tomorrow’s lesson is on gender roles?

  28. #4, #8, #9 describe my entire adult experience in the church. I usually deal with insensitive comments with sarcastic humor. To the older brother who asked why I never brought my wife to church, I replied that she was too young to drive. To the sister who asked how many children I had, I replied “none that I know of.” To the brother who asked when I was going to become responsible and find a wife, I asked how old his daughter was (still in primary).

    It would nice instead, to have a Sunday morning where I was asked how my week went. I’ll tell them I spent it in Neverland.

  29. Anonymous for this post says:

    Hopefully this remains mostly anonymous. I’m not sure if that little gravatar fellow is going to show up. Here goes …

    Female attraction to social status. LDS culture bestows social status upon some males in the form of titles and authority over others. That social status is tied to a concept of “worthiness” and more often than not “worthiness” is also tied to material prosperity.

    My humble contribution to this thread is that if a male opts out of the social-status structure, one’s spouse is still likely attracted to a certain type of male. I guess what I’m saying is that being a nurturing male with no social status is not particularly “sexy.” (Maybe this is all just biology?)

  30. This article could not have come at a better time. http://time.com/dateonomics/
    It describes the terrible ratio of men-to-women in the church, and how it affects both genders. (Also, this article merits it’s own treatment in the Bloggernacle, but that must wait for another day, I guess)

  31. Trevor, I’m clearly against gender-limited roles (see my comments above), but at the same time we must be careful not to diminish the value of the roles themselves. Presiding, providing, protecting, and nurturing (as a few examples) are all very good things that we should be teaching. It only becomes a problem when we exclude someone from those goods based on their gender (or based on race or other characteristics).

    Also, while gender exclusion is harmful, most all couples find it helpful to specialize in certain roles at certain times. Whether gay or straight, couples do not split 50-50 the breadwinning, house cleaing, kid driving, and other tasks. They maximize the total output based on their person strengths and desires, and on every-shifting needs and conditions.

    In my experience, most “role” lessons in the church end up awkward and unfruitful. But a lesson can be beneficial if it focuses on the goodness of the roles and how to balance through the changing circumstances of life.

  32. designpubgroup says:

    Tell it to Moroni and see what he thinks. Here’s why it’s tough to be a Mormon man: Mormonism doesn’t cater well to the entitled, spoiled and selfish generation.

  33. Allison J says:

    Wow. While this is well-intentioned, it is seriously, SERIOUSLY flawed. #7 is inaccurate and offensive. Both to the Relief Society and to the Elders Quorum. Relief Society does not always have hard core teachers. In my experience, the Relief Society spends more time talking about the fact that the gospel is so great or ISN’T THAT QUOTE LOVELY than about the actual substance of the gospel. Generally when I hear what goes on in Elders Quorum, it’s much more substantive and they often have very capable teachers.

    #9 shows that you don’t understand what objectification is. Men aren’t objectified for being RMs. That’s taking a serious problem that is mostly against women and trivializing it. “Oh, poor me.. all the girls want to date me because I live up to certain LDS standards.”

  34. The poor lessons can be explained by having to go to the B-list for instructors. Think about it: men have to staff the bishopric (5), EQ (4), High Priests (4), Young Men (4 at a minimum), and Sunday School (4) in addition to stake callings like the High Council and Stake Presidency (17). That’s 21 men in the ward, plus whoever is taken out by the stake. That leaves lessons to overwhelmed leaders who don’t have time to prepare, or to specially called instructors who are often (but not always) not particularly engaged in the Gospel. I don’t know about you, but I would be thrilled to even have 21 high-quality men in my ward, much less some extras to give decent lessons in the third hour.

    Women, on the other hand, have to staff RS (4), YW (4 at a minimum), and Primary Presidency (4). There are a lot more remaining high-quality women not called to leadership who will put the effort in to do a good job at teaching. It’s just a numbers game, and maybe a fortunate side-effect of women not being ordained. Elders Quorum and High Priest lessons don’t stand a chance because the quality men in the ward are usually (but not always) in some sort of leadership capacity.

  35. RM status really shouldn’t be used as a qualification for marriage eligibility. There are plenty of decent guys who never served missions. There are, I suspect, even more jerks who did.

  36. I agree that Mormon men are lonely. (Maybe all men are lonely, but I mostly know Mormon men.) I think both men and women are prone to feel guilty about time spent away from family, but it seems like there’s more expectation that men will devote their limited amount of leisure time to family, as opposed to socializing. Usually it’s assumed that women already spend all day with the kids, so they deserve a night out, whereas men have been out interacting with other adults all day at work, so they should spend their evenings and weekends with their families. But work isn’t socializing or relaxing, and frankly, neither is family life. Men and women both need breaks from both work and family life, and everyone needs friends. I think part of caring for your spouse is allowing them to have time for themselves, regardless of whether they work outside the home or not, and not begrudging them that time.

  37. Clark Goble says:

    We should probably be careful about generalizing too much. For instance I constantly hear in Church messages that men should be helping with dinner, doing dishes and cleaning, getting up with babies at night, etc. The idea that caregiving is a joint project and not something to be put on the wife’s shoulders. Likewise we have house-husbands in our ward and I can’t recall anyone disparaging them. (Although I confess I’ve never asked if they ever felt that way – the sad reality of statistics is that even a small percentage of people with aberrant views can make people feel like others perceive them a certain way)

    There certainly are social norms in the church and society at large that push men into certain responsibilities. Not being married. Not being financially successful. etc. All these can lead to stress. (Trust me I can remember the year I got the boot from the singles ward and how it made me feel)

    That said I think we tend to put too much onto social norms and fundamentally that’s the problem. Further some of these expectations (such as the move to High Priest) just seem silly. I’m sure some people might feel that. But it seems akin to someone feeling pressure to having the most beautiful girlfriend in High School. Not necessarily something to be praised.

  38. Anecdote: On number 7. In my current ward, the teacher that covers “teaching for our times” in EQ just plays the conference talk. Sometimes he asks for comments afterward.

  39. Clark Goble says:

    A lot of times calling people to attend a teaching training set of classes before calling them as a teacher can be very helpful. Especially if they don’t have a lot of skills. There definitely are people who aren’t great teachers and it can be frustrating both for them and for the class. Sometimes though it can also help develop skills they can use in life.

  40. Reading this made me think of this talk that has always stuck with me about the purposes of the Priesthood Quorum. More than just a moving company and a cadre of chair setter-uppers, it should, literally, be a fraternity.


    That should, in my humble opinion, mean that when we’re doing it correctly, it IS an environment of that provides real friendship and bonding, not just lessons (which yeah, often suck). While I identify with several of these, this also made me want to be a little better in my own quorum. It sucks that maybe structurally, it’s hard for us dudes in a lot of places, but we can try to make it a teensy bit better in our own wards.

  41. Three things to add to MCS’s comment about unbalanced callings that create a shortage of male teachers in wards. 1) We should acknowledge that all of this is partially offset by a primary that is mostly staffed by women. 2) Because men are split into two groups, they need twice as many good teachers. Someone remind me again why the high priests and elders meet separately on Sunday? 3) The high priests keep stealing all the best elders! In my ward, the last 4 men called into the bishopric have all been right around 40 years old and have all been elders immediately prior to being in the bishopric. And once they serve in a bishopric, they never come back to EQ. Our bishop’s house is for sale – in a few months he’ll be gone, and I just assume the next bishop will be drawn from the EQ

  42. Most of these qualms are people problems, not male problems. Even if these issues were rooted in church regulation, guess who the church regulations were written by? Men.

  43. This is a very interesting post. I’ve enjoyed the comments as well. Thanks to all participants. Perhaps my experiences have been unusual (#6). I have never felt like there was a lack of opportunity to “hang out with the guys” in my ward. We might not hang out and drink beer but we do other manly things like help people move, shovel gravel, chop down trees, go camping (with the scouts usually but Fathers and Sons outings too), Elders’ Quorum activity to attend a basketball game, men’s basketball (which I don’t especially love but play anyway). We have some “scout” camps that get highly attended by Dads and a few others simply because it is fun to hang out with the other men. When we first moved in I remember a man telling us how great the ward was and that we would love it. We waited a little and found it good enough but not over the top welcoming like I thought a “great ward” would be. So we decided to take a page from my older brother’s handbook. When he and his family move in they immediately get involved – every activity they help if they can, they invite people over, etc. He’s less of an introvert than me but we did it anyway. Now my kids think a Sunday isn’t a Sunday without inviting someone over for dinner. And we feel completely at home in our ward and it is a “great ward.” Maybe the best in the church. Yet I don’t think ours is really all that much different from others. To a large degree it will be what you make it.

  44. Ali J,

    You know how when someone makes a post about issues women have in the church or in society due to patriarchy and some guy comes in and comments how “Men have it bad too!” and then everyone rolls their eyes and gets annoyed?

  45. jesselund86 says:

    When women leave the church they can still function in the idealized role (if they are lucky enough to be married with children). If a Mormon male leaves the church, his worth, which hangs on his priesthood, is questioned.

  46. One major problem is that masculinity is funneled through a priesthood lens. That is, we’ve collected all our positive and idealist things about masculinity under the heading “priesthood holder.”
    In an EQ discussion a while back, the question was asked “how do you act differently because you’re a priesthood holder.”
    The answers were all very stereotypical things *which also applied to their wives.* It seemed like “priesthood holder” was just a synonym for “good person,” nothing distinct.

  47. This is a great post, Angela. If you watch Louie, he’s done some really interesting story lines about the inability of males in our culture to make new friends and show affection/appreciation for them. (Which I think is true of working people generally, not just males.)

  48. I don’t know about anyone else, but in the spirit of FMH’s comment policy, I just want the women on this thread to butt out. Stop woman-splaining to me how I should feel and what my problems are or are not supposed to be. And stop trying to fix my problems for me. I am a complex and emotional creature who sometimes just wants to be heard.

  49. Amen to “anonymous for this post” for his/her comment. I agree, the PH hierarchy creates a caste system for males which is most often tied to their professional title and earnings. If you watch men in the foyer meet and greet each other the conversation is always the same . . . who are you, where are you from, where did you serve your mission, and where do you work. From that conversation you automatically know everything you need to about him and what his status will be in theward. A man’s professional status brands him. For example, in our ward (which includes part of a military base), enlisted men have NEVER been put in positions above officers. (I’m sure it happens, but as a rule it doesn’t). Non-missionaries (of which there were many during the Vietnam War Era) also suffer tremendously.

    Stereotypically speaking, you see more tiffs, arguments, and power struggles in RS than you do in the EQ or HPG. Why? Some say it is because women are placed in a competitive stances with each other, vying for social status whereas the men fall into an organized social status based on their professional title and PH ranking. Women have to be “awesome” (as stated above), have lots of kids, and draw upon the ascribed status of their husband. But that isn’t enough. They have to sometimes duke it out in subtle verbal ways e.g. tiffs, power plays and squabbles. We don’t see the men “bitching” as much because they are naturally more calm and mellow. No They simply know their ascribed and iron-clad social status and don’t even try to rock the boat.

  50. This post was amazing. I think these factors contribute to a higher inactivity rate and higher apostasy rate for men compared to women.

    I am irritated when church leaders criticize single men for being Peter Pans or something similar. I even wrote a letter once to Elder Oaks after he criticized single men in General Conference. I was surprised that he wrote back and didn’t dismiss reasons I gave as to why it wasn’t always easy for men to find the right person.

  51. eponymous says:

    I would be interested to hear Steve and Scott’s approach to this question.

    I’ll just be upfront and state that much like my fellow Feminists who are sisters experience hackle raising when a man tries to examine their experiences I feel the same way hearing a woman attempt to explain mine.

    It’s not Angela’s fault but I think it’s important to state that each gender in our Church has a responsibility to own and examine our own experiences. I look at this list and see some fairly common stereotypes and I think the nuances are critical to each individual.

    Let me give you some examples:

    How does a man respond when he sits in a Church leadership meeting and listens to other leaders examine the circumstances that cause members to be late to sacrament meeting when he knows that the sisters chiming in are living in empty nests and the brethren either have spent too much time on the stand to understand or they’re too strident clinging to the “Line” they think is expected that they’ve forgotten how things really are? Especially as he observes silently that this very meeting is going to make half the adults in attendance late to their own Wards’ sacrament opening hymn.

    How much is our American culture (or inset other nationality) that influences our actions and expectations and how much of it really is what is taught in our meetings and standards we instill in our children?

    I’ve felt and experienced some of what you describe here Angela but for the most part J never looked at it as cultural victimization because I saw it as opportunities to help others understand my personal challenges.

    I guess being raised by parents who regularly taught us to question the norms of society and even the Church inoculated me from worrying too much how anyone other than the Savior saw me. My favorite story ever was my father telling me how he experienced Pres Packer visiting our Ward in the late 70’s, surveying the congregation filled with engineers and other professorial types and declaring to Dad, “Bishop, you’ve got too many beards in this Ward.” How do you respond to that statement? What does that imply about symbols of masculinity? Dad replied, “You know, we have extremely faithful members, a thriving Ward and Home Teaching numbers are on the upswing.” In other words, what matters most?

    I think that’s the most important question any man in the Church can ask themselves because that is the most consistent message we hear across the board. Everything else is noise.

  52. Listen, we’ve got our own approach to this question, believe me, but when Angela speaks the thinking is done.

  53. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I was just reading the recent news article on the Utah dating crisis and thinking of my past dating experiences before getting married. I can remember two first dates where the women complained about commandment-slackers—i.e. removing your garments for working out and not replacing them immediately afterward, eating out on Sabbath day. I assume they were looking to gauge my reaction, but though I generally agreed more than disagreed with them, I was so turned off by that topic of conversation when we were just basically getting to know each other, I remained mostly silent rather than responding. One of those women had a online profile that I had read indicating that she was looking for an Elder Henry Eyring type. Well, good luck with that one. I had gone out with her during a trip to Utah and decided it was just as well I didn’t live there. One woman I dated kept talking about the dates she had been on previously in the week. Another told me about the guy she dated for 2 years who never asked her to marry him so she concluded he was gay and broke up. In one singles ward, a member of the bishopric had been asked to approach me about arranging a blind date as part of a group date that was being organized by sisters in the ward. I agreed thinking that there was really only one woman in the ward I would not care at all to go out with. Yup. That was the one that I got fixed up with.

    Flash forward to (by the grace of God) my great married life. Being thrust into the high priests group after a release from the Bishopric-followed by Young Men’s Presidency was very depressing for me. It felt like my youthful identity had been stolen from me and I was forced into a social group with men old enough to be my fathers. The release felt like a punishment form the Bishop–and maybe it was. I grew a goatee just to reaffirm my individualism. During my first HP class, I watched an old guy in a Jazzy Power Scooter argue with a morbidly obese old guy about whether there are multiple gods or one God. I thought, ‘Oh God!’ These are supposed to be the holders of the higher priesthood and they are supposed to have a greater understanding of the Gospel–this is where I am stuck in for the rest of my life. After a few years, I have gotten over myself and really enjoy my connection with my 86 year old buddy.

    I have enjoyed some friendship with non-member males with whom I’ve worked out and played racquetball. I don’t really fish, hunt, or play golf so that takes me out of some sports. I can’t really imagine most of the men I’ve served together with treading into the ‘subtly discouraged’ realm of male-male recreation. Service projects are the closest church activity that comes close to this. I’ve never lived in a ward that had that ‘so-called’ menrichment night.

    And as much as my wife tried to support me in those callings that kept me in PEC/Ward Council/Bishopric meeting for several years, she was not able to survive it without feeling scarred by the experience. I had to deal with double guilt—guilt that she was on the verge of a spiritual crisis from repeated non-spiritually edifying Sundays due to the demands of functioning like a single parent and guilt that I was not doing more with my calling–ie going to round table, begging out of the summer young men’s activity, home teaching more faithfully etc.

  54. I apologize if this has been mentioned in one of the comments above. A big problem for young men is the impossibility of repenting in private if there are only a few in the AP quorums. It is obvious to the entire congregation if a young man is not considered worthy to participate in the sacrament. A private problem cannot stay private in this situation.

  55. Angela–
    Thanks for this post. In the past I’ve struggled with some depression due to unemployment and the expectation that I “provide,” I’ve also struggled making friends in my current ward (so much in fact that I have entertained thoughts of moving closer to my hometown, even if it meant financial instability, in order to be able to hang out with my high school and college friends more often).

    I appreciate your efforts at putting this together, and I think you got it exactly right.

  56. I think much of the time we blame “the church” when it really seems to be mostly about people. Us. You. Me. Everyone.
    I support and sustain President Monson and the brethren that preside over the church. Of course, they make mistakes, but I do not believe they will lead us astray.
    There is much to be said about (church) culture and how pervasive it is. Some aspects may be unique/particular to a ward, or even a quorum, even a single local leader. Other cultural aspects transcend one unit and seem a much broader trend. For whatever reason, God doesn’t intervene in our cultural idiosyncrasies and social norms. Even ones that are unhelpful and result in hurt etc.
    A few years back, I was really struck by the Elder Hallstrom talk, “Cultivate Righteous Traditions”. He taught, “Unwanted traditions are those which lead us away from performing holy ordinances and keeping sacred covenants. Our guide should be the doctrine taught by the scriptures and the prophets. Traditions which devalue marriage and family, abase women or do not recognize the majesty of their God-given roles, honor temporal success more than spiritual, or teach that reliance upon God is a weakness of character, all lead us away from eternal truths”.
    Only this past Sunday, after we had finished Ward Council meeting, I overheard some Ward Council members complaining about a “crazy” ward member + family, their excessive use of social media and basically completing the full cycle of character judgement. Rather than talking positively about “what can we do to help them?” it was a negative discussion about why that person deserves to be criticised.
    What they said and how they acted was not a result of the callings they hold. It does not demonstrate the Church organisation is wrong. Rather, it simply shows that we are human, and we err. We judge each other, often without really understanding the error of our thoughts and ways or the impact it can cause.
    I try to remember the critical need to build my testimony on the Savior, based on the witnesses of past & present prophets and then…try and be compassionate, patient and loving in my interactions with others and also with myself. I think think it is a simple concept that is incredibly difficult to execute :)

  57. I’d have to agree that it’s often lonely to be in the church. Seems like I build a good friendship with the guy I home teach, then get reassigned in an effort to get the percentages up. I shouldn’t socialize with women at work, because they are vile Jezebels who want to destroy The Family (TM), and shouldn’t socialize with the guys because they just don’t have the same standards and might invite me to go to wings night at Hooters. Heading to the gym is selfish use of family time. Callings are acceptable, but most of the time that’s just discussing ward issues and not having human interactions. Add in a healthy dash of depression issues, bridle your passion lectures, and before long you’re not even qualified to have a friendship outside the home.

  58. it's a series of tubes says:

    And as much as my wife tried to support me in those callings that kept me in PEC/Ward Council/Bishopric meeting for several years, she was not able to survive it without feeling scarred by the experience. I had to deal with double guilt—guilt that she was on the verge of a spiritual crisis from repeated non-spiritually edifying Sundays due to the demands of functioning like a single parent and guilt that I was not doing more with my calling–ie going to round table, begging out of the summer young men’s activity, home teaching more faithfully etc.

    I hear you on this one, 100%

  59. When people praise women from the pulpit as being more spiritual, or less susceptible to temptation, or otherwise “amazing,” I think they forget that it isn’t only adults in the audience. I want to plug my young son’s ears every time someone thus suggests that he does not have the same potential as any girl to be virtuous, dependable, and spiritually gifted.

  60. I would add sngle, never married, men as a unwelcomed person as well. On one hand you’re told you need to have certain responsibilities, on the other hand, you’re not qualified for those responsibilities because you’re not married. There’s callings you can’t have, volunteer activities you aren’t allowed to do (like volunteering in the temple past the age of 30), and you can’t serve a mission past the age of 26.

    Also, for the divorced men, getting a divorce can dramatically affect your life. Because of the church policies regarding married men, if you are a institute teacher, or a seminary teacher, getting divorced will cost you your job. If you are a bishop, counselor, stake president, et cetera, getting divorced will cost you your position.

    Lastly, men are not allowed to be Mormons if they don’t accept the priesthood. Past the age of 12, not having the priesthood is simply not allowed. You also can’t get married, teach, or have any other calling without it. Contrast that with my non-lds friends who are not denied or obligated to volunteer in their churches based off of whether or not they want to take the responsibility of having the priesthood.

  61. The Other Clark says:

    Great post, great comments.

    May I add that the Church(tm) also has a few policies that appear sexist to the detriment of men. One, that single men cannot be temple workers once they reach a certain age, has already been mentioned. Another is that unlike single sisters, who can serve a mission at any age, senior men (widowed or single) cannot serve a mission without a wife. Yet another, all men are considered to be potential child molesters in Primary and must team teach, but women are not.

    I’ve been told that women receive a verbal forgiveness of sins in the initiatory, which men do not, but I suspect this is an extension of “you women are wonderful// men quit looking at porn and do your home teaching” dichotomy that appears every 6 months in conference.

    I work from home, and when all the moms have a pool party with their kids, it’s really awkward for me to show up and hang out. Bring on the quarterly manrichment, I say.

  62. rickpowers says:

    Wow, Angela C, this is amazing. Has there ever been another discussion like this on the blog?
    Truth be told, I’ve never much enjoyed being a white male. Since the 60’s we’ve been told that we are historically responsible for the plight of women, children, elderly, blacks and all races other than our own (even going after Italians, Irish, and other caucasians at times), gays, handicapped, the underprivileged, and all combinations of the above. And, of course, that’s pretty much correct. I personally could care less about who receives the priesthood: I’ve had some very sad things happen to people whom I’ve given blessings to that are just gut-wretching, so I’m more than happy to share it or give it up all-together.

    Anyway, I’ve strayed terribly from the mere point of thanking everyone for this discussion.

  63. Is this an Onion article? Seriously dude, grow a set. “Men are expected to take initiative.” I think you are complaining that the world, not just the Church, expects everyone to take initiative.
    In all seriousness, this guy raises issues that are just sort of part of life — it ain’t easy and no one promised you it would be. What really confuses me is when he complains that the Church doesn’t support his mental health, but then states that his awesome Singapore ward did in fact create the ‘menrichment’ summer outings. The point is that the Church is made up of people that take initiative to organize the support networks and service opportunities; we make up the church and we as men or women need to be the source of incremental changes. All big organizations take a long time to change. Improvements in the Church are akin to a marathon, not a sprint. However this guy is really getting to the bottom of the barrel with this stuff.

  64. One more reason it can be difficult to be a Mormon man:

    A lot of Mormon men feel sexually frustrated. I’m not saying that they have it worse than women, and I’m not arguing that we should condone more avenues for release. Just throwing the fact out there.

  65. thattheymighthavejoy82 says:

    Interesting. As a woman with a career, no children, and an incarcerated spouse, I always felt that I don’t quite fit I church ( although I’m completely okay with not fitting). This post made me realize that the male role prescribed by the church can be just as restrictive.
    We should be careful not to assume that outwardly perfect Mormon families do not also struggle with these issues I some form. Yet, I think at times the members who keep showing up despite not quite fitting in seem too have a more sincere and genuine testimony, which can be inspiring.

  66. I’d also note that just because a family appears to be outwardly perfect doesn’t mean they are being fake or putting on some facade. It just means there are problems going on that you don’t know about and they haven’t told you because it’s none of your business.

  67. Clark Goble says:

    Reminds me of when I was young and feeling alienated. Then I got a bit more maturity and realized nearly everyone feels a little bit like an outsider and alienated. Once I realized that oddly it mattered a lot less and I started feeling far less like an outsider (or at least I just didn’t care).

  68. Daniel, wow, you’ve really proven my point. You assume a man wrote the article (a man named Angela, natch) and then proceed to “shame” your imaginary male author by implying he’s not a real man because he complained. It’s OK for women to complain (after all, there is no expectation that they will “grow a set”), but men should just stoically deal with it. Well done.

  69. Perfect.

  70. Didn’t read through all the comments (two week newborn at home=not a lot of reading time) but I HATE the fact that asking the YM to provide childcare for any activity is generally “not ok” in my experience. My husband put it best when he said “I’m expected to be a father and to take joy in my children, but I’ve never had the opportunity to actually spend time with babies or children (he’s the youngest of two boys with no extended family) the same way that women in the church have.” Essentially we’re telling our young men that their hormones are so uncontrollable that they can’t even be trusted around babies and children?!?!

  71. I hate the pressure to be a prophet, priest and pastor. I’m not a particularly spiritual person, and that doesn’t bother me. I’m happy to go, allow my family to be raised in it, and volunteer for the service projects. But, in Mormonism, that’s not enough.

    I hate Father’s Day, because it means I have to sit there while my kids are reminded how unfortunate they are because I’m not the kind of priesthood holder who jumps at every opportunity to give a blessing.

  72. #1 has been a big influence in my life. While at BYU I was an BFA (low earning potential) student. It was always hard too get a date. I was able to date two women seriously one for two years and another for one. I proposed to both. The first one left me for a pre law( the guy got fired from three law jobs for anger issues and is currently unemployed) and the other left me for a MBA (who has been a very unsuccessful entrepreneur) both of these men dated my ex girlfriends for less the 3 months before getting engaged. I had a lot in common wth both of these women and their families (This really is true) When I left BYU I was suprised how easy it was to get a date. It shouldn’t have been. I’m a kind, smart classical good looking guy (I know this is an odd thing to say but I have been asked to model and act several times even though I’ve never been a “model” I’ve been on the cover of several catalogues and featured in three movies.) Since then I’ve been very successful in my art and was offered a faculty job at a top 5 art school. I turned to down because if started a company that makes many times what I could make teaching. So now I have a duel role. I am a successful artist and a person who makes well into six figures with my business. Guess which one flys with some Mormon women? The art thing works with others. As it should because I’m more successful in that field and often other women have jobs that supply them with more then enough money. But the short is money changes the way women view me drastically. Which is odd because I’m still me. I just make a lot more then I ever thought I would. I have to admit the fact it’s easier to get a date now I make more money makes me more suspect of people motivations.

  73. I hate it when Steve Evans comments under the “James F” handle.

  74. Whatever. Dude sounds so hot. Hoping for pics.

  75. I’m a classical ugly looking guy. It’s odd to say, I know.

  76. “It was always hard too get a date. I was able to date two women seriously one for two years and another for one.”
    So, to summarize: You had a steady girlfriend for 75% of your time at BYU, but still found it hard to get a date? Were the people you were asking out put off by the fact that you always had a steady girlfriend?

  77. Scott, you’re misreading. It was always hard too, get a date. It’s a directive that you ought to get a date. The reasons for the directive appear to be unspeakably vulgar.

  78. I can’t go around asking people on dates, Steve. I have a steady wife 100% of the time. If that dips down into the 75% region, I’ll reconsider it.

  79. Scott is that because of the art thing, or the six figures thing?

  80. Neither. It’s about flying with Mormon women.

  81. Congrats on the duel role, btw.

  82. Thanks. But I’m still me.

  83. I thought James F was Steven Peck. Go figure.

  84. I suspect people motivations are at work, Scott.

  85. Fair enough, but you still haven’t addressed the fact that women have jobs that supply them with more then enough money.

  86. I did angry pre law undergrad, but then did an MBA with an emphasis in very unsuccessful entrepreneurship.

  87. (This really is true)

  88. I’m just excited to learn that James Franco went to BYU.

  89. It’s Julio Franco, SGNM. Not James.

  90. I guess it could be Jimmy Fallon, but I don’t know that he ever did any catalog cover modeling.

  91. For 20 years of marriage, even though I was on the Mormon fast track (put on the High Council at age 25) I’ve never been good enough for my wife, always been criticized, yelled at, controlled, physically assaulted, etc. And … I’ve developed a porn habit. So now I’m the bad guy. My psychologist agrees with me that the porn is likely a maladaptive coping mechanism to escape my crappy marriage. But while I am convinced that my addiction is a symptom of my bad marriage, my soon-to-be ex-wife is convinced that my addiction is the sole cause of our marriage problems. Once again, it’s always my fault. Even if she’s been a massive witch the whole time. Even though her parents, my parents, and most of my siblings and in-laws (on both sides) see her constant mistreatment of me. But as far as the Church goes, every Bishop seems to go into default porn-is-the-problem mode as soon as it comes up. If only I lived my covenants, she would be happier with me … Ya right.

    I’m still committed to the gospel and the Church, but we have a flaw in Mormon culture where the sisters always get a free pass. They are rarely if ever held accountable for misbehavior. It can be extremely hurtful. And I actually blame radical feminism. It has scared off most priesthood leaders who have to deal with abusive women. And ironically, I feel that this actually patronizes women and makes them less independent, which is counter-productive to the feminists’ cause.

    The church is full of pharisees who eagerly anticipate skewering the unworthy for their flaws while conveniently ignoring their own. But that’s a misapplication of doctrine. It’s not the way it should be. Christ went after the pharisees in His time, and I suspect he’s not too happy with modern-day pharisees either. So in spite of the hell I’ve gone through I am thrilled to get a do-over. I don’t care about the women who would reject me for not having a current temple recommend. I don’t care about the gossips speculating about our separation and pending divorce. I don’t even care about my local priesthood leaders who don’t get it and probably never will (they are untrained volunteers who are trying their best). I just care about finding friends who accept me as is and for that one angel who will one day commit to me in spite of my flaws. The rest I just need to let go.

  92. Mike,

    Sad, too common story. I’m afraid that hyperbolic “plague” rhetoric, which connotes a fatal infection of perversity, along with a silly concept of “addiction,” ruins too many decent marriages. Although, in your case, it sounds like the marriage isn’t that much of a loss.

    You’ll come out the other side of this. Best wishes.

  93. Mike, for hell’s sake take some responsibility for your own actions. Even if all your complaints about everyone else in the world were 100% accurate, you’re an individual actor. Own it.

  94. I think what Steve Evans is trying to say is that you might use porn not because your wife drove you to it but because you enjoy looking at pictures of naked women. Apparently this is fairly common among male humans.

  95. ^^^ A poll of 2 billion honest men confirms that this is most likely the actual cause.

  96. Angela– Technically, both men and women have “a set” that can embolden one’s self-confidence — but I dont think that’s my point or your point. In hindsight, that comment was probably not necessary in my original post. Withdrawn!
    But what I do still stand behind is that this post is just another rant that tries to blame the Church culture for something that is really just part of life. For example, I think you are complaining that the Church expects men to take initiative, but that is something the world (not just the Church) expects of men and women. Taking initiative, being a source of income in your family, pressure to marry, bad teachers/bad classes — these were all complaints that apply to men and women everywhere and in every church! The grass is not greener — it’s just kind of brown every where. The so-called public shaming you accuse me of is simply my opinion that maybe I wished you advocated for increased personal responsibility for our own happiness, while also highlighting some of the successful ways that people have increased their positive experiences through the Church. Men and women: everyone should stop murmuring and focus on making their situation better!

  97. Atlee Hammaker says:

    #9 – RM status is only one facet of this objectification of the “priesthood holder” — prerequisites for the role of husband or father.

    If anything is praiseworthy, Mormons don’t stop at seeking after such good things, but tend to conceive of all ‘good’ things as a spiritual checklist that they demand of men — especially of husbands and fathers.

    Are you healthy? If not, you must not be following the WoW.
    Are you disabled? A disabled spouse is less likely to be a good provider / father / priesthood leader.
    Are you from a bad family? The most desirable in your own family? Why settle for the runts in either case. Those from broken homes, more likely to have broken homes after all. And do you really want to go to Thanksgiving, Christmas or family events with the [materially] poor sibling?
    What is your job / wealth / earning potential / status? The righteous will prosper, after all. And it will be easier for a partner to keep commandments, not complain, bless the live of others, etc., if only the man ensures that she live in a nice zip code, drives a nice car and doesn’t have to work.
    Have you ever seen/used porn? Never mind 99% of men outside the church and __% of church member men have within the last year.
    Do you have [the kind of] testimony [others think you should]? I’ve seen firsthand the *husband must be a rock* mentality ruin marriages. It’s okay for the ‘fairer sex’ to doubt, waver, etc. [They’re not leaders, probably didn’t serve missions, etc., etc.] That’s when the strong man has to stay the course and keep his house in order. Sexist, yes, but also detrimental to men. A lot of women think they should be able to doubt, have moments of weakness, ignore commandments, but it’s the husbands job to stand firm and not do any of those things. It’s the “all men are dogs” imperative to finding a diamond in a rough. A dog won’t keep your family on the strait and narrow. My wife confides her doubts and spiritual weakness, disobedience to commandments, doubts about church truth-claims to me — and I’m suppose to empathize, forgive, and encourage while remaining loyal to church. If instead, I suggest we take a break from church, confide my own problems, etc., the response is more like *why did I marry you, you’re supposed to give me strength*
    Are you keeping the [important] commandments? Forget the irrelevant injunctions to charity, love, idolatry, honor, industriousness, faith, hope, charity — can you rise to the top of Mormon man-culture? Can you inveigh against the ills of our day and the decline of the family while not having any beams in your own eye?
    Do you have or have you ever had any bad habits or addictions? If you’ve had any, you’re out. We’re not talking about negativity, backbiting, complaining, lack of kindness, etc. here.

    I’ve seen good faith arguments from Mormon men and women to not marry or even to divorce a man over *spiritual* weakness, where any of the above or other ideals are seen as revealing something about the man’s spirituality. Men are expected to be dogs, but demanded to be Mitt Romney if they are to be husbands or fathers. In the world but not of the world, I guess.

    This thread is not about women — and there are different checklists they may be held to — but I’ve never heard the line that “you can make a handsome man spiritual”. Above all, a man/spouse/father must be spiritual. And lots of Mormons — men and women — think you will know it because he will have only good attributes and no weaknesses.

  98. Anonymous for this post (as well) says:

    I posted up above as well. I’m still anonymous.

    Mortimer, I agree and I’ve seen the same dynamic in non-military wards and branches.

    Hopefully nobody read too much into my post above. Let me see if I can clarify a bit. This is all just hypothetical … a hypothetical from an anonymous poster …

    James marries Cassey. Casey finds a certain set of characteristics attractive in James, including but not limited to James’s church status. Several years of marriage pass. James goes through a faith crises transition. James is no longer interested in The Church, or the social status bestowed by The Church. Casey still attends The Church where certain men are placed in positions above others because they are “worthy.” Literally, some men in congregations sit above all the others. Metaphorically, we have groups called “high” priests. Titles and positions are very much a part of LDS culture where some are placed “above” others and these titles are associated with overall “worthiness.” I’m not criticizing the structure (today); I’m just making an observation.

    Casey may find social status attractive.

    James and Casey may want to have a conversation about the fact that Casey finds social status attractive. A gentle conversation. A conversation where James enjoys a couple glasses of a nice red wine and Casey has a warm cup of Postum.

    That’s all I’m saying. Hypothetically.

  99. Well considering demading the lds church will get you excommunicated, unless your famous (Elizabeth Smart-demanding the church to get rid of the bubblegum wrapper lesson) why bother? #8 I feel from my family all the time, I’ve tried to date in Utah. But despite being a good and caring person, I’ve had girls tell me they will not date me because I’m not mormon enough. So I know #9 is true, yet the guy that had issues with porn and played sexual games with girls in jr high got married, so it’s about how honest you feel lying to your bishop to go on your mission. Then again I knew a girl that was raped and her bishop did nothing and allowed that boy to go on his mission. My father even raped my mother and his bishop asked my mom to give me up to adoption so he could go on a mission.
    If anything I’d say the church needs to train ALL their bishops how to handle physiological issues, treating them without saying you need more God, before they can take their desk. Like telling someone they need a hug while drowning. Sure it feels good, but your still drowning.

  100. nurseryworker says:

    I’m currently a SAHD, and I do think it’s somewhat harder than for my wife when she was a SAHM–primarily for the social reasons. She was always going on “play dates” with other women in the ward. No such thing for me. Plus all the men in the ward want to do is talk about sports and talk about how much money they make, and I don’t do sports and don’t make money. And as far as I know I’m the only SAHD in the ward…so yeah, super lonely.

    Also, most of the active men my age in the ward have callings like: Elders’ Quorum presidency, YM presidency, ward clerks, and even bishopric. My calling is…nursery worker. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that most of them are businessmen, lawyers, dentists, etc. Nobody thinks a SAHD has the mental capacity to, say, teach a lesson in church.

    Just my experience, but there it is.

  101. Rigel Hawthorne says:


    There are men outside and in the church that have less concern about responsibility and their lack of meeting responsibilities (spending time with wife/family, earning income, being faithful) doesn’t bother them. There are also men outside and in the church that face difficulties meeting the stress of their responsibilities to which they have devoted valiant effort and could use an outlet or a listening ear that would support without judgment. One such male reported to a female psychologist (non-LDS) that men who ‘complain’ about stresses get the emotional sh*t beat out of them instead of non-judgmental listening and support. With our emphasis on ward family, priesthood brotherhood, and loving one another, you would think that the church would do a better job than the general public about supporting stressed men. Do you think they do?

    Most men who have been active and returned from a mission have ‘grown a set’ along the way, but even the growth of a set doesn’t guarantee that the set will be perpetually healthy. One could have emotional epididymitis, orchitis, cancer, infertility or low T–metaphorically speaking.

    I can’t think of too many precise cultural similarities to the demand of a man to work a full time job and be a Bishop–outside of the church. Yes, there are demands that require a man to work 80 hours a week, but there is something truly unique about balancing career with LDS service. I understand that you can read these posts as ‘murmuring’ as it creates a window for venting, but if you read into the messages, there are some that are releasing bottled up pain that has been released after years of NOT murmuring. Now that its out, maybe it will be easier to, as you advised, focus on making their situation better. So, now you can go on and shame this message too.

  102. Rigel,
    I appreciate your thoughtful perspective. The idea that there is a subset of Mormon men who could use specific support speaks to a problem, but also implies that we need a solution. I feel like you are saying that the Church needs to be aware of stress in the same way they should be aware of depression or addiction, which both have robust and organized programs to help anyone struggling. I suppose my question about your idea to support stressed men would be: how do you measure success of that help? Also, is the Bishop a resource as the “listening ear” needed? Are home teachers? Are Elders Quorum presidents? We don’t have a formal calling to deal with the “stressed out” members of the Church, but I agree that members who struggle with this challenge should be able to find resources at Church. To answer your question, yes I do think the Church provides that help in informal ways. I think the social fabric of the ward organically provides support, which is to say that a stressed out person needs to be open about their feelings and seek out help from his peers or leaders. Are all people gifted with enough empathy to be helpful? No. So it is really the art of finding the best listening ear, which is the same art in making friends.

    With regard to the stress involved in being a Bishop and holding down a full-time job — there is no escaping that situation. Accepting a calling is akin to accepting to make a sacrifice in your life, and the Bishop accepts one of the biggest time commitments of any calling in the ward. Callings are meant to be an opportunity for us to sacrifice and serve others, and that is rarely easy. But it is up to the Bishop to decide how much of himself he wishes to “give” to the ward and members. I’m not able to propose a solution about the unique balance that a Bishop has to find to make his life fulfilling — but I have rarely met a Bishop that doesn’t look back at his service with fondness and gratitude, even if during the actual service he felt overwhelmed and inadequate.

  103. I for one am happy with how our church promotes the doctrine behind gender roles. I am loyal to our modern day leaders and their teachings. Being a worthy priesthood holder is of utmost importance and should be considered to be of utmost importance by the women in our lives. The Lord calls men to their callings by inspiration and he is aware of the need the have to be with their families and children, and it does not cheat them or their families from any blessing god could give them if the dad was at home more. Men should be willing to take initiative in many ways in their lives, people should be engaged in self improvement and should be a strength to each other to push the other to be the best self they can be. I have lived in AZ, CA, UT, and ID and am a non-married 26 year old RM who has been an always active but not always worthy holder of the priesthood. From my perspective and experience the majority of members have a very fair and loving point of view towards men regardless of temple status, martial status, income, callings etc. The same old complaints from the same people who just love to complain about the flaws with Mormon outlooks or worship culture. I have had very very few if any male leaders in this church who sought callings or status, many of the men and women who serve in this church understand fully that no-one is above or below each other. The tone of this post and of most of the commentary is that of whiny criticisms, I for one am just glad to live in the great day of the Restoration where I attend church with and am led by other imperfect humans figuring it out one step and a time like me. Maybe if we spend less time whining and more time being the men (and women) the Lord expects us to be then we could get lost in the work. And when your lost in the work there isnt a ton of time for nitpicking, your too full of enthusiasm and positive thinking

  104. it's a series of tubes says:

    The Lord calls men to their callings by inspiration and he is aware of the need the have to be with their families and children, and it does not cheat them or their families from any blessing god could give them if the dad was at home more.

    Spoken with the confidence that only one unmarried and without children could muster, combined with the naievete that comes from never having been involved in the calling process.

    But it is up to the Bishop to decide how much of himself he wishes to “give” to the ward and members.

    While a pleasant sentiment, boundary maintenance is not that simple in practice.

  105. The Other Clark says:

    Thomas, I’ll be curious if you have the same rosy outlook on life when you have a wife, a couple kids, a busy career, and a Church leadership calling that pull you in different directions.

    I’m happy your experiences this far in the Church have been great, though.

  106. Angela,
    I fall into your latter category and while I don’t agree with everything Thomas said, I also don’t think that the white American LDS male experience is full of the hardship you describe. So don’t dismiss him just yet. By the way, I’m working on the next iteration “Why it’s hard to be a Sunbeam in a pre-Clinton America”

  107. I have a high-responsability calling in the Church, and it has made my life really miserable. Often I feel like I’m trapped, having given up dreams and career goals. I have become more and more frustrated with myself and with the course my life is taking (right now, seems to nowhere). I didn’t ask for this calling and some times I wonder if I was called out of desperation, but I feel nowhere up to the task, since I’m still in my middle 30s and it is evident my lack of experiencie and my inability to cope and manage my very own emotions and feelings.

    I don’t have time anymore for myself, for hobbies or passtimes. I feel lonely, isolated and without friends. My wife, who is truly an angel, has to put up with a lot and sometimes I wonder if she will eventually leave me.

    If that’s not tough for a guy in the Church, I don’t know what is. I feel like crying now.

  108. Thomas, God bless, and I’m glad you are having a great experience. As with everything, attitude certainly contributes to outlook as does the part of your life you are in. Come back in 20 years and let’s see if you’ve ever had any ebb or flow. One of the things I love about my ward is that so many were inactive for decades, and now that they are back in, they really are very positive about things. It can be infectious. Optimism certainly beats the alternative.

    Bruce, hang in there. Life has ups and downs, and it tends to return to the median.

  109. Angela,
    thank you for your kind words and THANK YOU so much for writing this post. It was needed. Some of the comments here showed me that I’m not the only one that might feel like this.

  110. Tim Rollins says:

    In almost 45 years in the Church—this comment ALONE should give me away—so what…LET it; the fact is that I live by four simple rules, the first and foremost is to never apologize for the truth, as it will always stand on its own.

    So what if I don’t fit the ideal of some ‘Uptighty-Whitey’ or their pals living on the Wasatch Front in Utard Nation? BIG DEAL!!! I fled the place over 30 years ago, because I got tired of one group after another of insipid people trying to box me into what THEY wanted me to be, despite the fact that I never got any memo stating God had died, and signed the succession papers over to a host of self-righteous imbeciles who thought they knew better than the Master Himself did?

    There is a world of difference between being a ‘Cultural Mormon’ and a peaceable follower of Christ; and anyone with a lick of an IQ over 70 (the clinically defined standard for mental retardation) will also tell you that you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar, so these self-righteous yo-yos are more than welcome to take a hike.

    When one has to deal with attitudes like these, it’s easy indeed to understand that all is NOT well in Zion, and that most of their souls have been dragged to Hell by soothsayers who have helped make Utard Nation (Utah) the white-collar fraud capital of the country…so much so, that the United States Attorney for Utah now has its own separate Branch Field Office in Utah County to deal with the sheer volume of complaints of people (oops, did I say suckers?) who lost everything to ‘flim-flam’ artists who took them for everything they had, all because they made the leap from BS to “Oh, really?!?”, once church affiliation was used.

    THIS is why I almost never do business with anyone in my ward and/or stake; it’s kinda like a bird not ‘doing its business’ in its own nest, if you get my drift. It’s especially true when you have to live with these people.

    Another perk of living outside the Jell-O Belt is I experience real-life, mission field style, being on the front lines, every day, and outside of the 24/7 faux-Disneyland bubble Utah inflicts on those who can’t cut it living in the real world, much like academia. People like that are better off remaining there forever, and not inflicting themselves on the rest of us.

    Either in Utah or out, the culture the Church members give an afterbirth to is one that produces robots that are so hung up on the ‘letter of the law’, that they’re to the point they wouldn’t recognize the ‘spirit of the law’ even if Jesus Christ Himself came down from On High and drove a chain saw and divided them in half…that’s how severe some of these people just do not get it!!!.

    Exhibit #1 is the Milwaukee Wisconsin South Stake, where a predatory bishop, and a an abusive and corrupt to the core stake president, plus the legions of impotent phonies that make the scriptural Pharisees look like pussycats by comparison, as they lacked either the integrity or honor to stand up and do the right thing. If you want more details—as I will not live in the shadows of their atrocities and other inhumanities, feel free to email me at ldsbiz@gmail.com.

    Cultural expectations are a joke in some units when they parrot out of the manuals as if we’re just a bunch of “Cabbage Patch Members” and the teachers are just phoning it in. Either do it right or stay home. If they cannot make it a spiritually exciting experience for one and all to the best of their ability, then they should either ask for a release, or just stay home and let someone else willing to do it right be afforded the opportunity to serve.

    This is especially true in wards where there are more members than willing people to serve, especially when those wards are presided over by bishops who subscribe to the STP (Same Twelve People) method of leadership, where the same 12 people hold all the key callings, and they are rotated amongst themselves as a result of one of two scenarios: (a), the ward has only these people as the reliable ones that can be counted on to do their callings in a reliable, stable manner; or (b), that ward is presided over by a bishop who is a micromanager from Hell who only lets the ‘beautiful people’—the high-income earners, preferably over $125,000 a year or higher—hold all the key callings, as his inaccurate assessment sees it as equating wealth with spirituality and righteousness, hence Utah once again being seen as Ground Zero for Scam Central for the test market for fraud in America. This only reinforces in concrete the wisdom of my voluntary southbound drive OUT of the state in 1984.

    In some places, I felt like a cultural misfit; in others, I felt loved, welcome, accepted, and deeply appreciated; in other words, in the latter, I found a spiritual home, which in the end, goes to show what I said once in church to a group of professionals as they were ending their training, be they law students, medical residents, etc…and that was when they were going out in the world to start and establish their careers, I told them to WARD SHOP.

    This is especially since these people were going to be your new extended family for the next season of your life. Find the ward that is the best fit for you, and when you do, find a place in ward boundaries as your TOP priority. I did, and for me, that was the base of a season of priceless blessings that will extend into eternity.

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