Ministering Angels

"They neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those what are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Single men, the poor darlings

By Melinda

"Sisters, sadly, some of you will not marry in this life. To you we say that we love you, we need you, the work you do and the service you offer lightens the burdens of those around you. Please know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of you, and that all the blessings of exaltation will be yours if you continue faithful to your covenants. To the single men, we would remind you that an unmarried man over 25 is a menace to society, so go get married."

I made that up, but it sounds familiar, doesn't it?

After I got over feeling smug because Church leaders love me while they think all the men who haven't married me are slackers, I started wondering why single men don't get nearly as much love and encouragement as the single sisters.

I came up with the following reasons:

1. The Brethren think men are in charge of initiating a relationship. (I think that's a bit odd, given all the talk about how the husband and the wife are equal partners in marriage who should work together. If that's true, shouldn't they be equal partners in initiating the relationship?)

2. If a man dared to suggest that the women needed to shape up, he would be eaten alive.

3. Single men have a harder time living the law of chastity than single women, and so need to get browbeaten into a legitimate sexual relationship before they sin.

Those were the only politically polite reasons I could think of.

Or maybe, by encouraging women to be faithful and subtly discouraging men, the Brethren ensure a surplus of women in the Celestial Kingdom for post-mortal polygamy. Ooh, that's a diabolical plot. I can't see that as a reason, though. It's just not nice.

So what do you think? Why do single women get all sorts of nice things said about them, while single men typically have to endure scoldings?



at 6/20/2005 8:11 PM Blogger Dirk said...

Just as with Luara's post my primary comment is Amen!

And actually the "menace to society" comment was by brother Brigham, and starts at age 27.

at 6/21/2005 11:45 AM Blogger Confutus said...

I think #1 is pretty much on the mark. It's consistent with other expectations of men that they should exercise initiative and take the lead.
Suppose also, that worthy and prepared women outnumber worthy and prepared men. Then, you have a problem of comforting the women who have poor chances of finding an appropriate husband, while for the men, it's a case of "with all these good women to choose from, what's your problem?"

at 6/21/2005 11:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's because of theology. In order to become like God, a man must be married. (Some)Early Church leaders were polygamous, and they did all the choosing. As long as they had a wife or wives and were faithful, they could reach their divine potential.

Singles are sometimes told that it's their fault they're not married, but it's hard to place that fault on women who culturally aren't the ones asking guys out on dates. It's easier to blame the men, although sometimes women are told they're "too picky" (as if it's ever okay to just marry *anyone*).

at 6/21/2005 5:10 PM Blogger Melinda said...

Confutus assumes that there are more marriageable single women than single men. He may be right, according to a bunch of anecdotal evidence.

But do single men leave the Church or slip into inactivity partly due to the pressure to get married, and the assumption that they're doing something wrong if they're single? Do you know any men who got tired of the push to get married and quit attending Church for that reason?

at 6/21/2005 10:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As somone who has taken rhetorical theory and criticism, I do not think it is good to apply this to Church Talks. Some things are sacred and should not be picked apart. I know that you probably are saying this from the vantage point of concern for the men and their needs for self-esteem. I recall hearing a fine talk by President Hinckcley where he spoke of a single man who I think was older and had trouble getting the people in his Church to accept him. Eventually they became neutral to him. Our leaders know the struggles of the individual. They speak to the whole with advice but people need to seek own direction.

I know wonderful men who are in their thirties or fourties and have never been married. They are strong members of the Church. One of these men does temple work very frequently.

at 6/21/2005 10:26 PM Blogger Laura said...

I totally agree with Melinda that single women get a lot of support while older single men seem to be viewed with suspicion--as a small example, I have never heard anyone speculate about an older single woman being a lesbian, although I have heard plenty speculate about unmarried guys being gay. But come to think of it, I don't actually know any single men who have left the church because of negative comments etc. Does anyone?

at 6/21/2005 11:56 PM Blogger Dirk said...

Left the church? No. Struggled with activity yes. Having, Singles congregations (of all age groups) available helps.

Then you get comments like my Bishop dropped during his talk sunday. At least he was fair and told all of us that because we are single whe are selfish and that we needed to repent of being so selfish. Knowing the Bishop I doubt that is what he really meant to say, but it's what he said. I've been grumbling to myself all week about it.

Again I don't think he meant it to come out quite like it did, but things like that can chase those who are struggling away.

He's gonna have to try harder to chase me away though.

at 6/22/2005 3:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have know single men and women to leave the Church over their singleness, for various reasons and in various ways including (but not limited to) these:

1. They recognize, in visiting other churches, that other religions don't concentrate on families as a menas to the highest future (i.e. afterlife) blessings to which one is entitled. The doctrine of eternal families is painful for many (especially older) LDS singles and divorce(e)s, and I have had several friends join other churches in order to fellowship with people who don't preach *marriage* as much as they do other precepts.

2. They get tired of being told they're lazy, unmotivated, lacking, slacking, selfish, or any other number of adjectives simply because they didn't find the right person to marry. Bishops and other leaders sometimes pry into their dating lives (some even trying to set them up, insinuating that if they turn the set-ups down, they're not sustaining their leaders). Some guy friends of mine say that in EQ they're told dating is a *priesthood responsibility* (HUH?). They feel that many of their reasons for being single are out of their control, and that if an inspired leader can't see that, (a) maybe he's not so inspired after all and (b) they'll go where they're not hounded all the time and made to feel like "menace(s) to society."

3. Searching for answers to the single dilemma and other conundrums can lead to other places, and some friends have insisted that's also meant leading them outside of the Church. Some of my single guy friends (and a few single girls) *did* turn out to be gay, for instance, and now they live other lives, engaged in other pursuits, and seem to be very happy.

(b) Still others left the Church for other reasons related to, but not caused by, their singleness, including reasons of loneliness and wanting to pursue their own intellectual, social and philosophical paths.

at 6/22/2005 9:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melinda, I hope my previous comments where I mentioned rhetorical theory and criticism etc were not offensive. I do agree that we need to make an effort to make sure that we do not treat anybody with a stigma. It is none of our business why a person is not married. I remember a YSA who was a good friend of mine who was so depressed when he turned 25 and was not married. He had wanted to marry a girl previous from back home but she turned him down. So he bought a really nice car instead of a diamond. Another girl that he really liked prayed about it and felt the answer was "no". She married someone else not too much longer. Then, he was engaged to a woman and broke it off and told me he almost made a huge mistake marrying the wrong woman. Much of this was post 25. He was decent looking man who was going to dental school. Parents just loved him. Well, he moved away and I am not sure what become of him. I do not have all the answers and have pondered many of the same things that you have.

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