Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh yeah? You don't say.

Being one summertime away from my 29th birthday and continuing to be a (faithful) single Latter-day Saint, I hear a lot about marriage. In fact, just this past Sunday, our high council speaker's wife felt like it was important for us to hear about the importance of marriage. She introduced her topic by saying she'd talked to a couple other single members of our stake and said that she was planning to speak about marriage. One, a guy, said "Please don't", and another, a girl said "Oh yes, please do." And she decided to side with the girl. I think at that point approximately half the men in our ward tuned out. When she launched into a talk from Elder Bednar that started with "Temple marriage is essential for our salvation", I'm pretty sure that the other half hit the mental snooze button.

Not to say that we don't care about marriage or don't realize its importance. I'm sure there are a few recalcitrant ones who don't agree to that or who really are putting off marriage because they don't think they can afford it right now. But I would say that the vast majority of LDS single men are not married because they haven't found what they're looking for, or when they did find it, it wasn't looking for them. Not because they figured they'd sail right on into the celestial kingdom without a spouse. Trust me, we're all well aware of the fact that only married people can go to the highest degree of glory. We hear it at least several times a year if not several times a month. So if you are worried that we aren't getting the hint, don't worry.

Along the lines of talks on missionary work, most talks on marriage fall into the camp of telling you how important it is, without giving you much in the way of how to go about doing it. Most marriage talks tell you that its important to be willing to be selfless and sacrificing and to treat your wife with the utmost of love and respect, and that qualities like a testimony and potential for being a good mother should be looked for above qualities like attractiveness. But rare is the talk that attempts to give a man some guidance in how to go about winding up with a wife in the end.

So essentially, several times a year, we get to sit and listen about how we need a woman to be our help-meet, and that she should be someone more spiritual than ourselves (a topic that deserves its own post), and that without her we're pretty much on the express train to ministering angel town, but without actually giving any counsel on how to actually get married, other than that we need to "date more". Keep in mind that most of the guys truly do want to be married. Pounding us over the head with how screwed we're going to be if we don't get married isn't going to do anything other than make us think that its not even worth trying any more. Meanwhile, the sisters get the whole "if things don't work out in this life, there's always the next" routine, as though if you haven't already gotten married by age 27, you must already be worried about your own personal salvation. (What happens to single people after age 30? Do they just leave the church? Has anyone ever actually gotten married in their 30s?)

Anyway, I'm sure there are topics here that could use some expansion, but for now lets just say that if you are worried that single adult men in the LDS church aren't aware that marriage is a requirement for exaltation, you can sleep easy knowing that we get the picture.


Chip Chief said...

its all about settling

lovestrong said...

Over the last year and half or so, I've come to the conclusion that men really get trashed in the church. I think it would be really easy to feel brow-beaten. Why don't we talk about the potential men hold instead of how awful they are?

There are so many potential posts in this one - but suffice it to say: I agree with you.

lovestrong said...

That didn't quite come out right. I believe men are better, right now, than they're taught to believe. So it's not only potential: it's also present tense (most of the time).

Ju said...

all the single people over 30 move to boston and reside singly well into their 40's. So we'll see you next summer? :)

Suzie1 said...

I realize I'm late to the party here, but I seriously wanted to high five you and buy you a root beer float after reading this post. You hit the nail oh-so-eloquently right on the head.