NightSG

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2015/09/no-blessing-a-plea-to-lds-leaders-regarding-single-members-in-the-church/

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Oh Lord how I hate the “no blessing will be denied/withheld/whatever” statement! I doubt any freethinking single LDS woman (or man) likes it or feels particularly comforted by such a thought. Human nature craves validation and fulfillment now, not after death. Why is this such a hard concept for our leaders to grasp? Truthfully, the only people who can find this concept comforting are those who do not have to face up to it every day (i.e. those who are married and probably have been for at least a decade or four). When you are 33 years old, as I am, and have a good shot at at least another 50 years on earth (my grandma is 101—the genes are there), the expectation that you are going to endure alone each day of all of those years and somehow still find a way to maintain a faith in God sufficient to spend the life after this in His presence is, well, daunting to put it mildly.

 

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1 hour ago, NightSG said:

 

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Oh Lord how I hate the “no blessing will be denied/withheld/whatever” statement! I doubt any freethinking single LDS woman (or man) likes it or feels particularly comforted by such a thought. Human nature craves validation and fulfillment now, not after death. Why is this such a hard concept for our leaders to grasp? Truthfully, the only people who can find this concept comforting are those who do not have to face up to it every day (i.e. those who are married and probably have been for at least a decade or four). When you are 33 years old, as I am, and have a good shot at at least another 50 years on earth (my grandma is 101—the genes are there), the expectation that you are going to endure alone each day of all of those years and somehow still find a way to maintain a faith in God sufficient to spend the life after this in His presence is, well, daunting to put it mildly.

So, what does this writer want "our leaders" to do or say?

Do they control any one but themselves? Are they supposed to find mates for all the singles in the Church?

And, especially for men, what are they, individually, doing about changing their own plights?

This may appear heartless, I can't change how any reader sees this, but again I ask. What does he expect? If he had his dearest wish granted, how would it change his world?

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I will also tell you that just about all the single sisters I know smile and roll their eyes a bit at these talks, knowing that they might work for a little while after Conference is over…that maybe they might get a look or two from a guy that they otherwise wouldn’t have enjoyed…but in the long run, things are not going to change. The menwill not start really listening to or acting on these talks unless and until those giving them show a true understanding of the situation from the single male LDS perspective and not falling back on the presumptions made through the lens of decades of marriage and successfully following the culturally-prescribed path for men in the Church. Yes, you and so many single women in the Church would love for the guys to step up and get married, but saying so in blunt terms risks further alienation of these brethren. Please consider what is being taken on when an LDS man marries, and approach it from that perspective – validating the concerns but not surrendering to them – when writing for or speaking to this audience.

So, what "is being taken on when an LDS man marries" that is different for this guy (or these guys) compared to what I took on, or any other LDS man? Is the commandment to multiply and replenish not valid any more? Are we no longer supposed to tell men to stop hanging out, start dating, and get married, because marriage is a sacrifice?

I didn't see an answer, nor did I see a real suggestion as to how this problem could be solved. This morning, in our High Priests' Group meeting, one brother made, essentially, the same complaint (on behalf of his single brother), and, like this article, long on chiding, long on pleading, but missing entirely was anything practical anyone, the Brethren, a bishop, or I could do, beyond being sensitive.

I'm not going to yell at anyone because he's not married. Gotta son who is single (no fault of his, as his ex-wife has told him, my Jacquie, and me many times), and I understand the frustration of his being single. But that hasn't made him start ranting at the Brethren to change the whole Church so he won't feel affronted at every meeting. And, while he's not quite ready to marry again, he recognizes that he most likely will at some point, and he's doing the kinds of things that will allow that to happen.

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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The 33 year old me understands what she feels.  The current me knows her plight is self-inflicted, and only she can change it.  Perspective is a choice, and she's looking at things from the wrong angle.  But no one can teach her that; she has to learn it herself, from God.

Edited by zil
Double-checked author, it's a she...

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So, what does this writer want "our leaders" to do or say?

Well, the first step would be to ditch the script.  If the same answers worked for everybody, psychiatrists would just memorize all those answers and eradicate depression within a month.

Singles, just like everyone else are all different. Take the time to at least try to understand the individual before giving advice.

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What does he expect? If he had his dearest wish granted, how would it change his world?

First off, I'm pretty sure Stephanie isn't a "he."  You might want to have someone with a clearer understanding of such things go over the birds-and-bees talk with your son again and see if that makes relationships a bit easier for him.  :rolleyes:

Second, I'd refer you (and the leaders in question) to another post, aimed at parents, but equally applicable to anyone in a position to guide singles: http://www.the-exponent.com/how-to-be-a-good-parent-to-single-mormon-adults/  (The "kids table" pretty well describes my experience visiting a midsingle magnet ward. Singles to the back of the bus chapel where the good married folk don't have to look at you, and make do with this dusty classroom and no heat for Sunday school.)

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Is the commandment to multiply and replenish not valid any more?

Might want to listen in on that birds-and-bees thing yourself.  Menopause means it's really not valid for a fair number of midsingles and pretty much everybody beyond midsingle age.

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Are we no longer supposed to tell men to stop hanging out, start dating, and get married, because marriage is a sacrifice?

Exactly.  Most of the men are trying.  It's the women who want to hang out, sometimes for months, before they'll agree to a date, and then complain that by the time they're ready to date, the guys have given up and started dating nonmembers.

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I didn't see an answer, nor did I see a real suggestion as to how this problem could be solved. This morning, in our High Priests' Group meeting, one brother made, essentially, the same complaint (on behalf of his single brother), and, like this article, long on chiding, long on pleading, but missing entirely was anything practical anyone, the Brethren, me, or a bishop could do, beyond being sensitive.

If you were on fire in a room without any resources aside from a few dozen other people, would you wait until you had a solution before mentioning that you're on fire, or would you bring up the problem and hope that someone else might already know a solution, or at least that with some open and compassionate discussion, the group might come up with one? 

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1 hour ago, NightSG said:

the first step would be to ditch the script.  If the same answers worked for everybody, psychiatrists would just memorize all those answers and eradicate depression within a month.

Singles, just like everyone else are all different. Take the time to at least try to understand the individual before giving advice.

Elder Oaks told the story of a veteran who came to him, more than a little concerned that, as a soldier, he had broken the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" because of a talk that he, Elder Oaks, had given at the last conference. The apostolic response was, "we give general counsel". A conference or other talk is not individual advice, and no one should take it as such.

And, I ask again, what does he (or she, if you insist) want the Brethren to do? Stop telling us to get married?

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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8 minutes ago, NightSG said:

 Menopause means it's really not valid for a fair number of midsingles and pretty much everybody beyond midsingle age.

And? The commandment is not just about producing children. There's a reason the widowed general authorities get remarried.

Lehi

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OK, I read the whole thing (hadn't when I made my last comment).  My last comment stands.  In addition, I see lack of faith and turning to not-so-faithful sources for answers...

I will say, however, that it is a fact among some wards that mothers of the same age as single sisters generally do not befriend / welcome / socialize with single sisters.  (I suspect this will be somewhat dependent on regional culture.)  It appears that despite their in-Relief-Society-Meeting pleas for adult conversation about something other than their children, the reality is that these mothers only want to get together with other mothers (e.g. at RS and other ward activities).  Now the only fault I can find with this is the discrepancy between the stated desire and the actual behavior.  The behavior itself is completely understandable.

Instead, single sisters can be friends with the young women (sometimes) and with women whose children are out of the home.  Some single sisters probably aren't satisfied by that, and feel rejected by other sisters of their own age.

Personally, I don't see a solution to this aspect - people will be people, not much you can do about that.

The loneliness and other feelings associated with being single among people who focus so strongly on family, can be solved by the gospel, but it's not easy to see or believe in that path when you're in the thick of feeling alone.

IMO, the best things any member can do for singles are: give them a calling; carry on conversations with them about something other than your spouse and children (that doesn't mean don't mention your spouse and children, it means don't make them the topic of conversation).  If you literally have no time for anything other than spouse and children so that your brain is devoid of all other topics, well, hopefully there's someone else nearby who isn't in that state.

Some of the things @NightSG describes sounds like a bunch of nonsense* (segregation!) and it can't be done without the singles complying - there's no reason for them to comply - sit wherever you want.  SS is for adults, not singles vs married, RS is for women, not mothers/wives vs. singles, etc...  I have never experienced this, gladly, and they wouldn't much like me if I ever did, cuz I'd call them to repentance probably**, but as I mentioned, some of the behavior is bound to be regional.

*Not in the sense that I don't believe it, but in the sense of being ridiculous and childish.

**I might try to start out subtly.  Maybe.

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8 minutes ago, NightSG said:

Most of the men are trying.  It's the women who want to hang out, sometimes for months, before they'll agree to a date, and then complain that by the time they're ready to date, the guys have given up and started dating nonmembers.

This is true, and I've seen it happen in our ward. But there are more than a few fish in the sea, having cast my own line more than once.

Lehi

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9 minutes ago, NightSG said:

If you were on fire in a room without any resources aside from a few dozen other people, would you wait until you had a solution before mentioning that you're on fire, or would you bring up the problem and hope that someone else might already know a solution, or at least that with some open and compassionate discussion, the group might come up with one? 

No reasonable correlation between a self-imposed catastrophe and a fire.

The answer is the same one that has worked for millennia: go out on dates (i.e., go where the potential mates are and interact with them), ask one of them to marry you, and, if that doesn't work, ask another one.

Yes, the young women of the Church have been attacked by the worldly view that marriage is for losers, and many have succumbed, but that is insufficient reason for the Brethren to stop telling people that marriage is the Lord's plan, and the ideal.

Lehi

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26 minutes ago, NightSG said:

If you were on fire in a room without any resources aside from a few dozen other people, would you wait until you had a solution before mentioning that you're on fire, or would you bring up the problem and hope that someone else might already know a solution, or at least that with some open and compassionate discussion, the group might come up with one?

Big difference between screaming, "Help! I'm on fire!" and screaming, "What's the matter with all you clueless people? YOU SUCK!"

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27 minutes ago, Vort said:

Big difference between screaming, "Help! I'm on fire!" and screaming, "What's the matter with all you clueless people? YOU SUCK!"

If your perception is that the people are randomly dousing you with whatever liquid is closest to hand, whether that's kerosene or sulfuric acid, then it's not such an unreasonable thing to issue a somewhat exasperated call for them to think a bit before acting.

42 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

The answer is the same one that has worked for millennia: go out on dates (i.e., go where the potential mates are and interact with them), ask one of them to marry you, and, if that doesn't work, ask another one.

Yeah, try that one around here.  The only place "where the potential mates are" is maybe once a month at the chapel.  Since the bowling alley closed down, the only "hangouts" within 60 miles are bars.

It is interesting that nearly every other faith has some sort of student auxiliary near the university, (even the 5 Jews in town...though that's more just because one of them lives close to the campus) and non-students are generally welcome there when activities are going on. For the Baptist one down the street from me, that's at least 4-5 nights a week until 10PM or later.  LDS students are just expected to spend every spare moment in Scripture study, apparently, since even the YSA branch hasn't tried to get a singles Home Evening going, much less anything for the rest of the week.

I know at one point, First Methodist had an adult single program (mostly over college age, since the student ministry kept the others busy) that weathered a couple years of having less than a half dozen active participants.  Because of that, they've been extremely effective at keeping their singles active; they know that no matter what, even if it's down to just one single and the couple in charge of that week's lessons, there will be somebody there two evenings a week for them.  Our tendency to shut down any program that doesn't have 10-15-20-whatever people (Addiction recovery is now only at the stake center, and may not last even there because not everybody can make a 6:00 meeting 60 miles from work every week.  Last I heard, even the stake-level singles Home Evening isn't likely to return unless there are orders from On High, because it was only averaging 3-5 people when they shut it down.) just reinforces the perception that anyone who doesn't fit in isn't worthy of the Church's time or resources.

45 minutes ago, zil said:

Personally, I don't see a solution to this aspect - people will be people, not much you can do about that.

Uhh...then what's religion for?

Might as well say the same about alcoholism, porn addiction, or any other behavior.

Quote

Some of the things @NightSG describes sounds like a bunch of nonsense* (segregation!) and it can't be done without the singles complying - there's no reason for them to comply - sit wherever you want.

I did that, and was told in no uncertain terms that the singles seating was back in the overflow on the metal chairs, not up front in the comfy pews where we might actually hear anything being said from the stand.  (And no, the building wasn't full enough to actually need the overflow that day.)

If I go back, I'll handle it the same way I do locally, (sit wherever I want to sit and show them that I'm better at giving dirty looks than any of them) but I figured it being the first time that I'd follow their rules and see how it went.  "How it went" was so badly that I felt compelled to drive to the next stake immediately afterward and take the Sacrament again in a more welcoming ward where I could feel the Spirit.

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5 minutes ago, NightSG said:

I did that, and was told in no uncertain terms that the singles seating was back in the overflow on the metal chairs, not up front in the comfy pews where we might actually hear anything being said from the stand.  (And no, the building wasn't full enough to actually need the overflow that day.)

If I go back, I'll handle it the same way I do locally, (sit wherever I want to sit and show them that I'm better at giving dirty looks than any of them) but I figured it being the first time that I'd follow their rules and see how it went.  "How it went" was so badly that I felt compelled to drive to the next stake immediately afterward and take the Sacrament again in a more welcoming ward where I could feel the Spirit.

I have a difficult accepting that this is standard church practice, and, if not, and I were in that situation, I'd make sure the stake president knew it, and, if he didn't respond well, the Area Authority Seventy would know soon enough.

Lehi

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3 hours ago, NightSG said:
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Oh Lord how I hate the “no blessing will be denied/withheld/whatever” statement! I doubt any freethinking single LDS woman (or man) likes it or feels particularly comforted by such a thought. Human nature craves validation and fulfillment now, not after death. Why is this such a hard concept for our leaders to grasp?

["Stephanie's" emphasis]

One also wonders why the Church should respond to "human nature", and the "crav[ings of] validation and fulfillment now". There are a host of things we must wait for. Yes, not everyone must wait for the Resurrection for marriage, but the Lord's perspective should become our perspective. Not all blessings will be poured out on our heads in this life, and even those that will be are not poured out to all who merit them in this life. God knows what's best for us, not us, ourselves.

"I want it, and I want it now" is not a celestial emotion.

Lehi

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36 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

I have a difficult accepting that this is standard church practice, and, if not, and I were in that situation, I'd make sure the stake president knew it, and, if he didn't respond well, the Area Authority Seventy would know soon enough.

Not all of us have access to the secret phone book that has their contact info.  I barely have a valid email address for my own stake presidency.  I've tried contacting missionaries and bishops (the only numbers available on the "find a meetinghouse" site) in another stake to get in touch with their SP, but the calls were never returned.

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45 minutes ago, NightSG said:

If your perception is that the people are randomly dousing you with whatever liquid is closest to hand, whether that's kerosene or sulfuric acid, then it's not such an unreasonable thing to issue a somewhat exasperated call for them to think a bit before acting.

So making the true and loving observation that "all of God's blessings will be available to his righteous children in the next life, regardless of how things might turn out here" is equivalent to dousing someone in sulfuric acid? I'd hate to know what a bone fide insult might be compared to.

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2 minutes ago, NightSG said:

Not all of us have access to the secret phone book that has their contact info.  I barely have a valid email address for my own stake presidency.  I've tried contacting missionaries and bishops (the only numbers available on the "find a meetinghouse" site) in another stake to get in touch with their SP, but the calls were never returned.

You realize that all ward and stake officer information is freely available under your account at lds.org, right?

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1 minute ago, Vort said:

You realize that all ward and stake officer information is freely available under your account at lds.org, right?

For my ward and stake.  If others are in there, I haven't found it.

Of my stake presidency's listed emails and phone numbers, two emails have never gotten a response, the third will in a week or two.  All three of the phone numbers have always gone to voicemail, even when I was returning a call at the requested time.  (That time, I got a call back in a couple of minutes.  Any other time, it's usually taken so long for them to return the call that I forgot what I was calling about.)

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13 minutes ago, Vort said:

So making the true and loving observation that "all of God's blessings will be available to his righteous children in the next life, regardless of how things might turn out here" is equivalent to dousing someone in sulfuric acid? I'd hate to know what a bone fide insult might be compared to.

Once you've heard it a few hundred times, it might as well be the far more honest "I don't care, so I'm going to parrot the same old line to you so that I can pretend I did something."  Getting a form letter from my Senator and knowing full well that my letter was only read far enough to figure out which form to send is one thing.  Getting the in-person equivalent from my Priesthood leadership is demeaning.

While it usually does have the immediate desired result of getting said troubled single to shut up and go away, it might be worth considering a different approach given the number of inactive single adults, and the rate of increase of that number.  Something about doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results comes to mind.

Edited by NightSG

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1 minute ago, NightSG said:

Once you've heard it a few hundred times, it might as well be the for more honest "I don't care, so I'm going to parrot the same old line to you so that I can pretend I did something."  Getting a form letter from my Senator and knowing full well that my letter was only read far enough to figure out which form to send is one thing.  Getting the in-person equivalent from my Priesthood leadership is demeaning.

NightSG, I am not without sympathy for your plight. But the essay you referenced is outrageous. Stephanie says, in essence, that no one should say a perfectly true and well-meant thing (that has in fact been of comfort to others) because SHE finds it objectionable. Instead, everyone is supposed to dance around her feelings just so, acknowledge exactly what she thinks needs acknowledgement, and never say anything except, "Poor you, life really sucks." What other response is possible other than "grow the heck up, woman"?

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13 minutes ago, Vort said:

NightSG, I am not without sympathy for your plight. But the essay you referenced is outrageous. Stephanie says, in essence, that no one should say a perfectly true and well-meant thing (that has in fact been of comfort to others) because SHE finds it objectionable.

Judging from the comments and the long trail of other bloggers linking and quoting the article, she's far from being the only one who finds it objectionable.

In fact, the one I found it from was a blogger who was planning to leave the Church after he attempted suicide because all anyone would ever tell him is that he should just have faith he wouldn't be alone on the other side.  It's not hard to get that "better off dead" interpretation when you're constantly told "hey, just keep giving of what little you have to serve these people who have all the blessings your heart is begging for, and have faith that when you've suffered enough, you'll be allowed to die and get the things they have."

2 hours ago, LeSellers said:

And? The commandment is not just about producing children. There's a reason the widowed general authorities get remarried.

Really?  Haven't seen President Monson at any single adult activities.  It's coming up on three years now.

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8 hours ago, NightSG said:

Not all of us have access to the secret phone book that has their contact info.  I barely have a valid email address for my own stake presidency.  I've tried contacting missionaries and bishops (the only numbers available on the "find a meetinghouse" site) in another stake to get in touch with their SP, but the calls were never returned.

At the very least, there's stake conference: if the stake president isn't there, you have worse problems than sitting in the back of the chapel. There's the stake executive secretary. And, the stake presidencies I know of have weekly (or monthly) Temple Recoomend interview nights. Ours is every Tuesday, 6:30~whenever.

There is 47 E South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150, or 50 E North Temple, same city. You can phone (801) 240-1000.

There is no "secret phone book", the Church is a very public entity, and finding an address, eMail address, or phone number is simply not difficult.

Lehi

 

Edited by LeSellers

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7 hours ago, NightSG said:

 Haven't seen President Monson at any single adult activities.  It's coming up on three years now.

Really?

I'm not going to research it, but I know of at least three dozen General Authorities who re-married in the 70s, and even 80s in my lifetime. Some of these widowers have had two such marriages.

Lehi

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40 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

I'm not going to research it, but I know of at least three dozen General Authorities who re-married in the 70s, and even 80s in my lifetime. Some of these widowers have had two such marriages.

Most wealthy widowers in their 70s remarry.  It's not a General Authority thing, it's a human nature thing.  Any straight man pursued by enough women is going to get caught eventually.

GAs can't exactly get away with the Hugh Hefner lifestyle, so it's either starve while standing in a buffet line or put a ring on one.

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Just now, NightSG said:

Most wealthy widowers in their 70s remarry.  It's not a General Authority thing, it's a human nature thing.  Any straight man pursued by enough women is going to get caught eventually.

GAs can't exactly get away with the Hugh Hefner lifestyle, so it's either starve while standing in a buffet line or put a ring on one.

Now who's cynical?

So, you're saying that desirable men can marry/remarry more or less at will.

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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31 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

So, you're saying that desirable men can marry/remarry more or less at will.

Wealthy men in prestigious positions, yes.  Simple fact of life.

Who was the last single President of the US?  For that matter, how many Senators are single, compared to, say, truckers of the same age range?

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