Could there ever be a Mormon advice columnist, dispensing advice to a Mormon audience? Or is that what Bishops are for?
I came across bad advice today from Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. In her most recent column, she advises a woman dating a Mormon man that “I am no theologian, but I would guess that “no sex till marriage” is meant for those who are approaching marriage for the first time.” She suggests that the woman dump the man because he says he doesn’t want to get married anytime soon and doesn’t want to have sex. [If you are going to comment on this advice please read the column first! I've left out important details.]
Regardless of Howard’s advice, she is clearly ignorant of the LDS mindset and common cultural assumptions among Mormons. I even think that this gentleman’s reticence to marriage could be read as either mourning for his late wife, or showing hesitation toward someone who would need to join the Church before he would be willing to marry.
My point here isn’t that the advice is bad, but that Howard simply doesn’t have the background to really give advice for a very Mormon situation.
In our culture, advice comes chiefly either from friends and neighbors within the Church or from our local priesthood leaders. Clearly some advice needs to be restricted to priesthood leaders (and usually only a Mormon would really understand where the line is). Other times, advice from others is fine. I think that there are even areas where local priesthood leaders should NOT give advice (such as when the advice requires specialized knowledge).
So, given all this, would a Mormon advice columnist make sense?
Of course, the state of Mormon media might make such a column (or blog, for that matter) difficult. For all I can tell, there is some unwritten rule against public advice columnists that I can’t figure out that might keep Meridian Magazine or someone else from such a column. No doubt someone will tell me if that is true.
What do you think? Would Church members write and ask advice from a public source similar to Dear Abby?