Heather, Maren, Sarah, and Kim discuss their experience with the pressure the church places on young men to marry.
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I enjoyed this discussion immensely. Thanks for sharing your insights, ladies. I think the most damaging message I received at church was that I needed to have a man and marriage and children to fulfill my divine role and feel complete.
In my late twenties, still single, I spiraled into a deep depression. What was my value if no worthy priesthood holder had chosen me? It must have meant I was unattractive, intimidating, etc. But the underlying message I felt was that in my failure to land a man, I failed as a Mormon woman.
At 31, I lost belief and left the Church. I was excited to begin dating in the secular world, but, two years later, I find navigating the issues of secular dating and sex to be intimidating enough that I haven’t begun dating. At 33, I still feel like a teenager– inexperienced and overwhelmed by the realities of dating in the real world. Still, I am optimistic I will work through it and find a great life partner. But shedding those Mormon attitudes has been difficult and painful.
So many of the things you all brought up could be explored in more podcasts. Thanks for sharing!
J. Reuben Clerk
Everything the church does is designed to perpetuate the church. (I believe that the church evolves via natural selection to select features that perpetuate the church, *almost* as painstakingly slow as natural selection works in animals.) Because active members perpetuate the church as much as than anything, I expect to see features that increase activity.
In one of my recent wards, roughly 90% of Melchizedek priesthood holders were active. Almost all were married. Prospective elders, married or not, over 25 were 0%. I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that, if you want active men, you make them Melchizedek priesthood holders, get them to the temple, get them on a mission and/or married, and you make them parents after a temple sealing. Similarly, if you want active women, you get them to the temple, get them on a mission and/or married, and you make them parents after a temple sealing.
The church must know how the activity numbers generally drop when men and women don’t meet these milestones by certain ages. Young women are pressured to marry returned missionaries. This pressures young men to serve, which helps them reach the Melchizedek priesthood and mission milestones. And when the young men return, they return the favor by pressuring the young women for a marriage in the temple.
It’s no wonder they lowered the missionary ages for young men and women. They want them getting to those milestones faster.
A small. When my ex-wife was barely 19 years old she sat down in Relief Society in her mother’s ward. An older lady sat down next to her and said, “So…are you just anti-marriage or is there something wrong with you?” Still to this day it makes me giggle.
The conversation about whether the stigma of not going on a mission follows you was fascinating and it absolutely does. Neither my father (still in the church), nor my ex-husband (no longer in the church), found that to be true. My father didn’t serve because he and my mother joined the church a year and a half after they were married. But he gets “where did you serve your mission” to which he answers “I didn’t” and people will immediately ask “why”. He says ‘because I’m a convert and was already married when I joined” but it bothers him that he has to constantly justify that to people. My ex joined at 21, met me shortly after, and decided that marrying me sounded infinitely better than serving a mission. He had a harder time explaining it in a way that people found acceptable…which he and I both found ridiculous as it really is no one’s business but your own!!!
My father joined the church in 1972 and is still very active abut still people look at him sideways when they find that he didn’t serve a mission.
Heather, I don’t know if you have tracked down the conference talk you mentioned, but it reminded me of Dallin Oaks CES talk of 2006 https://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/06/dating-versus-hanging-out?lang=eng
Such a great topic for discussion and I’m glad you did the marriage episodes from both points of view. There were so many personal experiences this discussion brought to mind. I do not recall the recommendation to marry only an RM being super emphasized in the 70’s. My lifelong member, super righteous, BYU attending fiance was not an RM. I don’t recall ever giving it a second thought because he was such a righteous priesthood holder at the time. If asked he would just say he didn’t serve but he regrets that decision. It never became a big deal, especially after he had been called to other leadership callings.
Congratulations to Seb, the creator of our clever new bumper music! It's an 8-bit compilation of Pachelbel's Canon and various Mormon songs. Check it out here: "Canon in G's"
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