Single Men: Second-Class Citizens in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
By Ken K. Gourdin
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Lord’s greatest blessings are received by couples who have received the faith’s highest ordinance (marriage, referred to as sealing) in one of the faith’s temples. Those blessings, however, will not be withheld from women who depart this life not having had the opportunity to receive that ordinance. Still, what of single men in the Church? I recently wrote the following at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board:
While there is a certain strain of thought in the Church of Jesus Christ (gravely mistaken, in my view) particularly as regards men (since social custom dictates that we do the asking) that the clock is ticking for us: if we (men) depart this life not having been sealed, then our fate … as ministering angels [as opposed to “small-g” gods; Mormons believe that faithful couples who’ve been married (“sealed”) in one of the faith’s temples, will be exalted to “small-g” godhood, while those who do not desire to be sealed to a spouse but are otherwise faithful will become ministering angels and those who do desire to be sealed but were not in this life will receive that opportunity to a suitable mate in the hereafter] … is sealed. I don’t believe that, because it removes moral agency … for which Christ spilled His blood and died … from the equation …
Just as His Single Daughters aren’t second-class citizens in His Kingdom, nor are His Single Sons!
In response to a poster who expressed angst over when, and whom, he might marry, another poster said the following:
If you are super jealous [of those who have had the opportunity to marry, or who have done so at a comparatively young age], decide you are going to marry someone and get to figuring out whom. Fix whatever is holding you back. Change whatever you need to change. And/or go looking in places where you are more likely to find someone (your poster name suggests you struggle with this [his moniker is VideoGameJunkie]).
With no disrespect and without even the slightest desire to give offense (I agree with you, by the way, that an inordinate amount of time spent in “non-social” pursuits … [what, you mean, like posting on message boards? ] can be counterproductive to achieving certain goals) that’s great advice, and it often works … except when it doesn’t. Many people in the Church of Jesus Christ would hold me solely and entirely responsible for my current plight as a long-term bachelor. They would also be very wrong to do so. As much as I might be frustrated with that plight on some level (although I’m at least trying to learn to avoid being defined by what I lack), I would never want to abridge the moral agency of the women I’ve dated, expressed interest in, and/or had (slightly longer-term) relationships with.
I think we need to be careful to avoid laying the “blame” (bad word, I know) for such a state of affairs at a single person’s feet (both single in the marital sense and single in the numerical sense) when two people need to choose to exercise their agency in order to pursue a relationship with one another and attempt to determine their Mutual Eternal Suitability. Sometimes I think we treat the problem of long-term single status in the Church as a problem that someone (like me) could solve simply by choosing someone he thinks would be a suitable mate, bopping her over the head, being sealed to her while she’s unconscious (“agency” [how the Church of Jesus Christ refers to free will] is so overrated, anyway! ) and … well, she’ll get used to the idea eventually after she wakes up!
Update, 7 March 2014: Dissatisfaction With God’s Beyond-the-Veil Propositions? — A common lament among gay people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, “I don’t [won’t] want to be straight in the next life, either.” I wrote the following on Mormon Dialogue & Discussion, and (while it’s true that I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be gay) I think it’s relevant to God’s dealings with single people generally, so I thought I would post it as an update here.
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I don’t know how God’s going to sort out the complicated issue of human relationships there, either; I simply have faith that He will. I know at least one of the brethren has said that same-sex attraction won’t exist after the resurrection, but I don’t know of any official pronouncement from the Prophet or from the Fifteen on the subject. I don’t know what will happen then. I don’t know whether I’ll meet the future “Mrs. Go1969” on this side of the veil or on the other side of the veil. I do know that whatever happens, we will retain our agency: as important as I believe the commandments to husband and wife to “become one flesh” and to “multiply and replenish the earth” are, God isn’t going to fulfill them or to allow others to attempt to fulfill them by abridging anybody’s agency. Perhaps the one lesson my long and tortured (sick and twisted? ) social life has taught me that perhaps I’ll take with me to my grave is that you can’t manufacture chemistry: if it ain’t there, it ain’t there. I could obsess about what’s gonna happen in the afterlife: will there be “slim pickings”? Given how hard it has been to persuade anybody on this side of the veil to explore the possibility of an “LTR” [long-term relationship] with me, how much “convincing” will it take on the other side of the veil? Is the whole thing simply gonna be one loooong stake singles dance, where almost everybody else brought a date, and the rest of us are simply desperate? That doesn’t sound like my ideal version of Eternity (or at least, of Eternity’s beginning) either. I don’t know how God’s gonna work it out, but I don’t think He’s gonna have to apologize to any of us: “Sorry … I know you were hoping for better, but this is the best I could do.” And I don’t think we’re going to say to Him, “You know what? If this is the best you can do, thanks, but no thanks: eternal ‘ministering angelhood’ will be fine.”