Sunday, December 11, 2005

Single and Mormon

Time Magazine has an interesting article in it that represents me fairly well which has le to this post. The author, Jennine Lee-St. John, depicts the condition of singles in the Mormon Church. I found this particularly interesting as I am one.

My faith is very important to me and I gain great comfort from the truths that I find in the doctrines of my church. This does not mean, however, that I am always comfortable within the Church's communal or social environment. Brigham Young, the second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, once said that a single man over the age of 25 was a menace to society. While that age has slid upwards somewhat, it is still a sentiment common to many Mormons. On more that one occasion I have been directly asked what fault or defect did I have that has prevented me from getting married. Since violence is generally frowned upon in polite society I typically ignore these queries.

A commonly quoted piece of advice in the Mormon Church is that we should be in the world but of the world. This means that while we cannot cut ourselves off from the world around us, neither should we fully immerse ourselves in all the activities that are available and separate ourselves from those parts of the world that would lead us to violate the code of conduct that our dogma requires of us. As a play on this, one that was rather serious and somewhat sad, a roommate of mine and I, felt that we were in the branch (local congregation) but not of the branch as by being single we were in effect ostracized from the non-worship activities of the congregation.

The Mormon Church is fundamentally centered on the family unit. The entire organization in built around it. For those of us in the Church that do not fit into the common mold, it can be difficult. The leadership has recognized this and tried to build support systems for nonmarried members where possible. The most common representation of this is separate congregations for singles (where population density allows). Unfortunately for many, these congregations currently only serve those 30 and younger. Having spent some time in an older singles congregation (now defunct) in New York City, I must admit that I often miss the opportunity to worship and fellowship with others who understand the issues and trials that I face. I spend many a Sunday morning listening to lessons on teaching my nonexistant children and many a time I have wanted to just get up and walk out, fortunately I usually don't. I have pretty much given up on going to Church on Father's Day though. It is usually more that I can take.

This is my life and in the end, I am in the situation I am because of the choices I have made. No one has forced me to be as I am. That does not mean that the feelings of isolation that I have at times are not real and of significant impact on how I relate to my fellow members of the Church. That's just the way it is.


Blogger exMI said...

I sort of surprised this didn't draw more commnets just from folks doing searches of "single mormons" on google and such....
Did the hits go up?

7:10 AM  

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