All the Single Mormons

October 14, 2011 | 103 comments
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MarriageI wouldn’t be shocked if, in April’s General Conference, I were to hear a reference to “All the Single Ladies,” the cover story of this month’s Atlantic. In spite of its utter not-Mormonness, Kate Bolick’s article is oddly resonant of a strand of discourse we’ve been hearing in the Church for the last several years.

In case you haven’t read the article,[fn1] a quick summary: the author finds herself still single at 39, in spite of having had plenty of relationships and in spite of the fact that she expected, at least for some portion of her life, to get married eventually (she points to 30 as the magic age). Now, she finds it less likely. So she explores the world of women who do not (by choice or circumstance or some combination) get married.[fn2] And largely she believes the decline in marriage is because of women’s increasing success, men’s declining status, and the marriage market.

How’s that, exactly? Let’s use her college example: in 2010, 55 percent of college students were women. That means that women have fewer choices of suitable mates. Men in college, on the other hand, have more suitable women. A man, therefore, is less dependent on any given partner because, if she doesn’t work out, he’s got other potential partners. Therefore, he doesn’t need to settle down with just one person. Women, on the other hand, are at a disadvantage—in order to get (and maybe keep) a relationship, a woman has to, essentially, deal with the the fact that, if she’s got a boyfriend, she has to keep him happy. And even that doesn’t guarantee that he’ll stick around. (The converse is, according to Bolick, that in societies with more men than women, women are “valued and treated with deference.” That said, they’re also, she says, kept out of the economic and political realms.)

The Church, too, is concerned that young adults are not getting married. In trying to solve the problem, fingers have been pointed[fn3] at, among other things, twenty-something men’s preference for hanging out instead of dating and their concerns about their ability to support their families.[fn4] And those may be contributors but, if Bolick is right, some of the problem may be structural rather than volitional.

Which leads me to two questions: first, should the Church continue to emphasize marriage and family, and second, what should it do about unmarried persons? I don’t, of course, have any definitive answers—heck, I don’t really have any expertise—but I have a couple ideas.

As to the first question, yes. For one thing, we seem to have some sort of (itsy-bitsy) theological attachment to the idea of the eternal and nuclear family. But I’m also going to say yes because I believe (as I’ve stated before) that one important thing we can do as members of the Church is to try to create a more just society. Turns out that individuals have a 98% chance of escaping poverty if (a) the head of the family has completed high school and works full-time, (b) families with children are married, and (c) the family head waited until she was at least 21 before having children.[fn5] Moreover, the authors say that empirical evidence suggests that the relationship between education/work, having kids within a marital relationship, and not having kids too young and escaping poverty is causal, not just correlated.[fn6] Note that this may not be a significant problem for Mormons—Utah appears to have the lowest out-of-wedlock births in the country and, while “Utah” and “Mormon” don’t overlap completely, that meets my anecdotal experience that Mormons don’t have a lot of babies outside of marriage. But still, to the extent we encourage marriage, we can, presumably, reduce poverty.

As to the second question: I think that, while the Church will certainly continue to encourage marriage, we need to recognize that some members won’t get married. For some, it may be because they group date, play video games, and don’t feel the need to settle down. For others, it may be because they don’t find the right person. Or they’re shy. Or gay. Or something else. But when we stop blaming people for being single, and instead figure out how to help everyone, married and single, grow spiritually and develop a relationship with God, I think we’ll be getting somewhere.

[fn1] Read it, btw. Although I have some issues with the article (and I’m not alone), it’s in the Atlantic, which I consider generally the best magazine in America. (Yeah, maybe you prefer the New Yorker; frankly, I find the Atlantic generally more compelling, plus I have time to read one compelling magazine a month, whereas, at least as long as I have both a job and small children, I don’t have time to read one compelling magazine a week.)

[fn2] My biggest problem with her article is that she does a lot of  generalizing based on anecdotal evidence about people a lot like her. It reminds me of New York Times Style section stories, which often strike me as, The reporter knew four people in Brooklyn who . . . .  But we’re all sophisticates who know that the plural of anecdote is not data. My contrast to her anecdotes of the unmarried: most of my friends, from high school in Southern California (largely not Mormons), from college at BYU (mostly Mormon), and from law school in New York (largely not Mormon) are married. Moreover, most have 2 or 3 kids. It may be that, being single, she knows more single people than I, being married, do (although, given that none of my high school friends were married when we became friends, I find that unlikely). It may be that it’s harder to get married in New York (where she and several of her friends live) than in California (though, again, I met my wife while we were both in New York). Or it may be that we both know a lot of single and a lot of married people, but she’s focusing on the singles while I’m not. Or it may be something else entirely. But, as long as I ignore the anecdote/data problem, I think she’s written an insightful and valuable article.

[fn3] Like the passive construction?

[fn4] I swear that somewhere I’ve also seen blame placed on video games, but I’m not up for searching for more.

[fn5] Creating an Opportunity Society, p. 70.

[fn6] Id. at 72. I haven’t actually looked at the empirical studies, so I can’t vouch for the authors, but, on the other hand, they seem to know their stuff pretty well, so I’ll believe them until I see compelling evidence that says otherwise.

103 Responses to All the Single Mormons

  1. Kevin Barney on October 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

    A corollary to your first response might be that we should continue to encourage marriage, but perhaps we should wait a little bit before having children rather than wanting babies a-go-go right away.

  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

    In statistics the lesson was “ancedotal data = false” … ;)

  3. Julie M. Smith on October 14, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Nice post.

    One unexamined assumption that bothered me in the article was that a college-educated woman simply couldn’t marry a non-college-educated man. Why should this be so? I know that there is a cultural belief that women must marry ‘up’ in terms of education and income, but, really now . . .

    And along those lines, I think one of the most damaging things ever to happen to the Mormon singles scene was when Pres. Hinckley rhetorically asked the men, with the assumed answer of “of course not!” if they wanted to marry a woman more educated than they were as a means of motivating the men to become educated. I adored that man, but I thought that statement was very unfortunate in terms of reifying a cultural norm that we should instead be actively burying.

  4. Sam Brunson on October 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Kevin, I agree. Long before I got married, an uncle recommended waiting three years after marriage to have kids. And for me, that was a good amount of time (not that we chose three years just because of my uncle, unless he happens to be reading this, in which case, of course we chose three years because of you, err, him). Of course, YMMV, and I think creating a three-year standard would be just as wrong as creating a 9-month standard. Some people seem to do well with a baby shortly after marriage; it wouldn’t have worked for me, though.

  5. Sam Brunson on October 14, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Julie, I actually thought she made a lot of unexamined assumptions (although some she seems willing to break, like a man’s marrying a taller woman). Ultimately, I found the article more troublesome than I usually find Atlantic articles, but I still think she raises some important and valuable questions.

  6. Kevin Barney on October 14, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Julie, I totally agree with you. And I write this as the father of a son who is pursuing a career in welding and body work. Someday he’ll make some lucky woman a fantastic husband, and she’ll be very fortunate to have him, even if she has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.

  7. dangermom on October 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

    “The converse is, according to Bolick, that in societies with more men than women, women are “valued and treated with deference.” That said, they’re also, she says, kept out of the economic and political realms.”

    Wait, what? China and India are the two countries that come to mind as having more men than women. Neither are notable for their deference to women (except in certain Bollywood movies).

  8. ESO on October 14, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Ditto, Julie. In my ward, with it’s large medical school population, I see a number of women doctors married to less-than-doctor educated men (some professionals, some students, some high school graduates). I am sure they would bristle at the idea that it would have been better for them to go single. So far, I think all those involved should feel blessed with their spouse–all fine people, as far as I can tell. And there are SO MANY skills more useful to a family than anesthesiology and writing perscriptions.

  9. Sam Brunson on October 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

    And there are SO MANY skills more useful to a family than anesthesiology and writing perscriptions.

    Although there are some days when I wish I could do either . . .

  10. Manuel on October 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I agree with some here that as Mormons we should probably shape our culture to what is really happening and not some outdated ideal. The norm of a woman having to marry up is becoming less and less an option, and our rethoric that the ideal marriage should consist of a man as the sole breadwinner and a woman as the housekeeper needs to be updated too. Our culture is becoming disconnected with reality and the facts of life.

    One factor that seems to be consistently left out of this type of article is the biological factors behind the social interactions that lead to finding a sexual partner (marriage), sexual health, and the creation of a family.

    I know some people are going to dislike this but I see a parallel between the decline of marriage and the increase of the global obesity pandemic. While this is not the only factor in the issue, I believe leaving it completely out and focusing solely on social constructions. Biologically, people look for healthy partners. Partners that will be able to reproduce and raise offspring.

    Obese women have more trouble finding a sexual partner than normal-weight women, according to a 2010 French study led by Nathalie Bajos and published in the journal BMJ.

    Obese women were 30 percent less likely than normal-weight women to have had a sexual partner in the last year.

    Obese people are at higher risk for diabetes, depression and urinary stress incontinence, all of which can lead to sex-related problems.

    Obese men also report a higher rate of erectile dysfunction.

    I have gone to those older adult single wards here in UT. One problem stands out loudly. It is the elephant in the room, pun intended. I see a huge percentage of obese people, among these, a great percentage of seriously obese and a small percentage of morbidly obese.

    I think obesity is most definitely a factor in individuals struggling to make healthy social interactions that lead to finding a sexual partner and forming a family.

  11. Keri Brooks on October 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

    But when we stop blaming people for being single, and instead figure out how to help everyone, married and single, grow spiritually and develop a relationship with God, I think we’ll be getting somewhere.

    Amen. I want to stitch this on a sampler (well, I would if I knew how to stitch a sampler) and send it to the church office building to hang in the lobby. I’m so sick of being blamed for something that is not entirely within my control. My relationship with God is not diminished by the fact that I am not married, but my relationship with my fellow saints often is diminished.

  12. SilverRain on October 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I wouldn’t have a problem necessarily marrying a man with less education than I have, but I would have a problem marrying a man who valued education less than I did. And oftentimes, the two go hand-in-hand.

  13. Cameron N on October 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Manuel – the whole point is not that ideals become outdated. It is that cultures mistakenly reject divine ideals because of hypocrisy and a lack of understanding. Church leaders have already addressed this many times, saying that they are obligated to teach the ideal with sensitivity to those who have not yet achieved it.

  14. Manuel on October 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Cameron N,

    I am sorry but I think ideals become outdated pretty often. The Church itself is quite an evolutionary phenomenon, there is plenty of scholarship that documents our cultural shifts. Our ideals, culture, lyfestyle, education, understanding and aspirations and even doctrine today are not the same as they were in the 1800′s.

    Wether the 50′s or 60′s conservative ideals of specific roles within a household are of “divine” or not can be debated, but I would be careful to simply claim divinity on our traditions and judge people not ascribing to them as hypocritical or with a lack of understanding.

  15. jader3rd on October 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I actively attended Single Wards from 03 – 09, and I constantly heard girls complaining about how they don’t attend events because they’re trying to avoid the guys, or trying to avoid getting married. They didn’t want to get married, they wanted to do things first. In Bishopric meetings I remember the Bishop mulling over if the guys really weren’t asking out the girls (or trying to anyway) and then a girl would show up who would actually let the guys talk to her, and the next week he mentioned how funny it looked to have all of the guys lining up to talk to the same person. I wasn’t surprised. I personally did not find the problem being that guys didn’t want relationships.

  16. Brad on October 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Should the Church continue to emphasize marriage and family?

    Yes, but not at such a young age. It should first encourage both women and men to pursue education a little longer and develop their skills, not just rush into marriage and children.

  17. Stan W on October 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Sam, I think you’re entirely correct that we’ll probably be hearing this article referenced at some point in the future by church leaders. To answer your questions, first I think the church will always continue to teach marriage like they have been (and should be). It is an “itsy-bitsy” doctrinal desire of our’s to find the right mate and skip off to the temple laughing and singing joyful songs about eternity. Of course it doesn’t always work out (I’m divorced myself), but I still find the teachings on marriage and family to be the Lord’s will for us. Is it hard to marry young, struggle through getting an education, and have babies. Heck yeah it is! But it’s right. Second, I think the church will find ways in the coming future to deal with the trend of less married folks. It’s a cultural worldly fact that less people are getting married now days. Sadly, as Saints, although we’re supposed to be in the world and not of it, we’ve grasped tightly onto that idea of “establishing” ourselves first (ignoring prophetic counsel), and think there will be a heavy price to pay in the long run for such decisions.

    The article is an absolutely great read, and I’m glad someone finally posted something about it before the Brethren had us all surprised that they’re avid readers of The Atlantic too.

  18. geoffsn on October 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I haven’t actually looked at the empirical studies, so I can’t vouch for the authors, but, on the other hand, they seem to know their stuff pretty well, so I’ll believe them until I see compelling evidence that says otherwise.

    I seriously doubt that the relationship between having children within a marriage is causal to escaping poverty. If someone has links to studies which indicate something even close to this, I’d love the links. On the topic of marriages and marriage rates, here’s recent study that was quite interesting.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/661594

    They showed that wealth and even assets are important predictors of the likelihood of someone getting married. Basically, poor people are less likely to marry, and poor people without a good bank account, etc. are even less likely to marry.

  19. chris on October 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I’m not sure if it’s college per-se that qualifies or disqualifies a person for marriage, but the cultural expectations of what a responsible person does. If the “alpha male” concept is to be believed, then women would want to marry upwards, however the “up” is defined. For the last 50 years, “up” is at the minimum having an education. Now that more women equal and even exceeding men in education, there are less “ups” to marry to because the women are just as “up” if not more so.

    If we could modify cultural expectations to replace education/occupation as a status-symbol with something more manly like peeing while standing or how many days can one go without a shower or changing their underwear, then I believe things would equalize a bit.

  20. chris on October 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Geoffsn – It seems we just need to pick our study to confirm our bias. Just googling marriage rates and poverty pulled up a link to this site, which references several papers:

    http://www.familyfacts.org/briefs/8/marriage-and-poverty

    Of course, it’s clearly a pro-family site, but I don’t know if it’s good to have a cultural expectation of disqualifying people who refuse to hide their bias and only believing the work of those who are really good at hiding it.

    No doubt, someone could pick a part many of the points at the above link. So to me it almost feels like a matter of faith and where you want to put your hopes/beliefs anyway.

  21. Sam Brunson on October 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    geoffsn, I don’t have the book with me, but it has extensive endnotes, including to those studies. I don’t know if the studies are available online—like I said, I haven’t looked into them—but the authors’ argument is that, by following certain cultural rules (specifically, the three I mention), 98% of people escape/avoid poverty. It’s not an outlandish claim, although, like I said, I haven’t read the studies they base the claim on.

  22. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    The article at the link is one that gets written and discussed every few years without fail. As far as Mormons are concerned, my sense is that we’ve sown a (sub)culture that rewards sexual naïveté and now we’re reaping the whirlwind. Courbet’s revelation of l’origine du monde back in ’66 should’ve been the last word but we were — and remain — too busy interpreting other Scripture to notice.

  23. MC on October 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Obviously we want people to marry in the church and in the temple, and I think young LDS singles ought to have that as a single-minded goal in their dating life. But I see many LDS women in their early thirties and wonder if they shouldn’t start looking for good men outside the church if their prospects within the Church just don’t seem to be working out. Spencer W. Kimball even endorsed this for women in far-off places with few members (in “The Miracle of Forgiveness”). It seems to me that they would be happier married with children and with at least the hope that their husband would join later, rather than to never have children in this life.

    Of course, no LDS man ever has an excuse for dating outside the Church.

  24. chris on October 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Chino, so the problem with our culture is it’s not focused enough on sex or we just have too many people ignorant of sex?

    Thinking about that suggested solution from an LDS perspective over the pulpit gets interesting… talks such as, “One of the primary functions of this life is to get a body and progress toward exaltation. One of the primary functions of your body is designed to have sex, go out there get married, and get started already.”

    Certainly would be an interesting conference talk if expanded upon! I think an Elder Oaks style talk which breaks down the details for us would be…errr… fun? The talk could be divided into a 4 categories: Bodies, Marriage, Sex, Repeat

  25. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Chris, something has gotten lost in translation in-between what the 50s generation of leaders is saying and what our current batch of singles is hearing. The words have remained the same, but the singles in the LDS church today have grown up in an environment that’s nothing like the one that the Apostles enjoyed as youth.

    For those who have dads who served missions, ask them to tell some war stories. There was stuff going on in the old days that would never pass muster in the current environment.

    We’ve forgotten what freedom is. And sexual attraction. And what they’re for.

    Think I’m nuts? Take a gander at #23. You wanna know my dad’s single-minded goal in his dating life? I hope not. Because it’s none of your or my [ . . .] business, but I’m pretty sure it ran a little hotter than hoping to prove his righteousness.

  26. Tim on October 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    “Of course, no LDS man ever has an excuse for dating outside the Church.”

    I hope that’s tongue-in-cheek…

  27. Gdub on October 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    As an unmarried 28 year old returned missionary, actively serving in the church and attending the temple, I feel like I can offer some insight.

    Although I recently started dating a great girl, I’ve been single most of the six years since I’ve been home. Why? Lots of factors.

    I think the problems begin as I had no real experience dating as a youth in the church. We were never really encouraged to date. The focus was on not going on dates until age 16, and then after that we were never told that we should start dating, but rather avoidance of immorality and steady relationships was emphasized. Simply put, nobody ever told me how to go on dates or suggested that I even *should*.

    I was a fat kid with a panache for saying inappropriate things for the sake of my own desire to find a laugh. I didn’t fit the stereotypical ideal I saw in the New Era, or worse, those praised in my ward. The football player prom kings with their super-Mormon appearance were beloved, but I’d seen them slipping out for a drink with buddies, and I knew that while they were passing the sacrament on Sunday, they’d been sleeping around Saturday night. I went on a few dates to school dances, but always with non-member girls because the girls from my ward and I had no real interest or common ground (we’d barely even interacted).

    After getting home from a mission every bit as stupid about women and dating with the added bonus of being that special brand of RM-awkward, I procrastinated dating. My first ever date with an LDS girl was in a large group date post-mission. I basically avoided dating until the throw-down from Elder Oaks. After that, I tried my best to go out on dates more regularly. Still, I went several years being single. Either the girls weren’t interested in me because they weren’t attracted physically, or because they thought I was too good a person and too interested in marriage and family life—honestly, I swear I’m not that creepy dude who talks about marriage on his first date. On my end, it was hard to find a girl who had similar goals and interests.

    So, what’s the issue? For me, there are a few apparent things that set us back in dating and marriage.

    1) The fairytale ideal is alive and well in LDS culture. A lot fo people are waiting for their ‘one’, their ‘soul mate’ or ‘prince/princess charming’ to come rescue them. This kills progression and creates a pretty emotionally stunted individual.

    2) The fetishizing of the sexual aspect of marriage causes YSA’s to falsely prioritize sexual appeal. Yeah, it’s important to be attracted and it’s important to be healthy, but not as important as things like, say, testimony and character. Sexual attraction is key, but it shouldn’t be first on the list. It seems to me that getting married for the action is like becoming a bull-rider for the clowns.

    3) There’s a vacum of quality teaching, training, and emphasizing of the “hows” of courtship. Most young adults, if candid, would admit to their crippling fear stemming from a complete lack of knowing how to even go on dates, and how to even progress toward marriage. Outwardly we’re all cavalier about blaming the lack of quality potentials, or admitting a disinterest in that sort of thing, but everyone has the urge to find a meaningful relationship. Those are just excuses.

    If anyone has any questions on this, please hit me up. Feel free to Email me at gdub [at] youshouldbe [dot] net

  28. Jacob M on October 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    And here I thought I would be watching Beyonce, or something! Anyway, whenever this subject comes up, and to a thirty year old single man like myself it does come up often, people always seem to want to narrow it down to one main reason that someone doesn’t get married quickly. The truth is, if it was just one thing, it would have been corrected years ago. There are so many different reasons for different people, and it gets so tiresome to hear that men need to buckle up and get married. It is not that simple.

  29. Al on October 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    27. Gdub You could have been me 35 years ago. But I think that we had a lot more cultural references to courting (though not like our parents) to help us along. When every one around you is just into “non-committed hookups” and too cool to ever admit that they would love an emotional relationship (and TV, movies and music reinforce the theme), well what’s a guy to do?!

    Could a Karen Carpenter song about love and loneliness and the happiness that comes from an emotional connection even exist today? (Yes they were cheesy but they were there).

  30. Keri Brooks on October 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    JacobM #28 – Amen. I get so sick of people presuming to tell me why I’m single. There are as many reasons for singleness as there are single people.

  31. Julie on October 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    @ jader3rd (#15)

    I’m going to push back on you a little. I can’t discount your personal experience. But I question it being representative (or perhaps even properly perceived). I don’t know…maybe there *are* hoards of active LDS party girls or single-minded career gals out there. But I’m not seeing them.

    I’ve attended singles wards for 15 years with demographics that have varied widely: wards filled with cuties fresh from high school; wards with the average age hovering near/over 30; wards at BYU; wards on the other side of the tracks; wards filled with working yuppies. I’ve had nearly 60 roommates. They have all been LDS women between 17-30something. I’ve been close friends with hundreds more. Never have I known an active LDS single woman whose Plan A wasn’t to date & get married.

    Now granted, this is not the first thing that comes up in conversation. For one thing, we know that too much talk about marriage is seen as desperate. For another, it’s painful. Who wants to admit that their Plan A isn’t working? that their fondest dreams are a bitter disappointment? (Especially when that disappointment can so easily be interpreted as a reflection of your own worth.) Who even wants to face that themselves?

    So of course we do other things! What else are we supposed to do? We go to school (I have two degrees, but will soon go back again). We work (I’ve done quite well for myself). We travel (my married friends are jealous). We buy cars and houses (I can’t put off preparing for my financial future forever). We do all we can to be attractive and appealing (if only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “how can such a nice and pretty girl like you stay single?”). We dote on our nieces and nephews. But never for a second do I forget that this is Plan B. Just because we do other things, don’t assume that I — and pretty much every other Mormon girl I’ve ever met — wouldn’t drop it all for a chance at happiness with a good guy.

    *Small corollary (and I’m trying to say this as sensitively as possible): If a particular girl isn’t interested in a particular guy, the problem is not likely a disinterest in dating in general.

  32. Julie on October 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    P.S. Having said that, I think the same is true for most active LDS single guys. I’m sure they are just as sick of hearing that they don’t desire marriage.

  33. Jared on October 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve seen it both ways- I’ve got lots of single friends who for one reason or another, just haven’t had the opportunity to get married in spite of their efforts. But I do also know a few others who didn’t pursue dating and marriage for several years, and then when they decided they were ready, the dating pool was a lot smaller and more spread out than it would have been had they made it a priority earlier in life.

    My experience is that more people are in the former group than that latter, and I would hope that they are able to shrug off any ‘why aren’t you trying to get married” talks from leaders. I don’t think they are talking to them. They are warning those few people who are slipping into the second group.

  34. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    As a married 44 year old exmo father and husband, it pains me that y’all don’t have the option of sleeping with your friends before committing to marriage. I agree with #27 that the fairytale creates an emotionally stunted individual. And that the pursuit of sexual attractiveness can become a fetish. Where I disagree is the suggestion that testimony and character somehow matter. That kinda talk only comes from somebody who’s never had a regular sexual partner. Here’s some quality teaching: you like her? Great. You’ll like her even more after you’ve established a steady sexual relationship. And the “character” that you’ll eventually develop (years down the road) will be nothing more than the recognition that you’re hooked and you can’t remember ever wanting anyone else. Welcome to the human race. That’s how it goes if you’re lucky enough to join up.

  35. geoffsn on October 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Sam (#21): If/when you’re able I’d love to look at the studies themselves, specifically the ones that show causality.

    chris (#20): Yes, but when you follow the footnotes you see a few research papers, and several “reports” from the Heritage Foundation. The research papers themselves certainly make no claims about causality. I just read through 3 of the papers cited at that link you post.
    The first paper cited explicitly notes that they just show correlation, not causation. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/354024.pdf?acceptTC=true
    The website omits (for obvious reasons) pertinent information to their second cited paper (footnote 3). The study shows a mixed outcome. Both cohabitation and remarriage help out the children economically, but remarriage is a bit better. Why? They address this in the paper, those who entered the ‘cohabitating cohort’ were significantly more poor than those who remarried. Additionally, unless the re-marriage lasted longer than the cohabitation, it didn’t actually provide more economic support to the children. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2657383.pdf?acceptTC=true
    When citing their 3rd article (footnote 4), they ignore important information that is even in the abstract of the paper

    for women who marry, but later divorce, poverty rates exceed those of never-married women. Marriage alone will not offset the long-term deleterious effects associated with unwed childbearing, nor will it eliminate the existing disparity in poverty and welfare receipt among various racial and ethnic groups

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1525/sp.2003.50.1.60.pdf

    I guess my point is that while many choose not to, we can use papers without pushing an agenda. We can acknowledge the uncertainty. It seems very clear that marriage is correlated with improved economic success, better health, and improved measures of happiness. But the big question is does marriage cause this, or are people who would already be more healthy, wealthy, etc. more likely (or able) to become married? The study I linked to earlier showed that low income and little-to-no assets were predictive of someone being less likely to marry. The answer is that we don’t have proof to show causality for anything related to marriage.

    My own opinion is that economics (and perhaps the implicit greed driving it) is the biggest factor in both the decline in marriage rates and the “disintegration of the family.” Ideally we want parents in the home spending time with the kids. That face time is important for a healthy family. As economic conditions have worsened for the middle class, we see more families forced through economic necessity to have both parents working and spending less time together as a family. For a young person contemplating marriage, the thought of the costs of a family and the need to provide for them can be daunting. And rightly so, the cost of raising children are continuing to grow. So given the higher stakes, people want less uncertainty in their decisions, which often means waiting until there’s an actual degree or job in hand. One solution to increase marriage and the number of children (which can be quickly and obviously ignored) is to get rid of child labor laws and instead of educating children allowing parents to force them to perform manual labor (maybe hire them out), then there is incentive to have lots of kids and be married (so you have legal claim on them).

    I’m all about people “heeding the counsel” about getting married. That said, being married with 3 kids and trying to survive grad school (knowing there may be more kids before grad school is over) is taxing on all resources including emotional and psychological. So as one in that situation, I can sympathize with single people wanting to reach some level of certainty before making the leap, whether the certainty is related to economic issues, or some spiritual confirmation about their choice.

  36. Gdub on October 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Re: Chino Blanco #34 — eat, drink, and be merry? Sounds familiar. I think I’m gunna’ stick with following my testimony of the counsel found in the prophets past and present, but thanks for your concern about my sex life. ;-)

  37. geoffsn on October 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    My ‘sarcasm marks’ were removed from the last sentence of the 2nd to last paragraph.

  38. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Yeah, I’ll eat, drink, and be merry and raise a family while you deliberate over issues that I can discuss openly with my son… but that are apparently too risqué for a grown man like yourself.

  39. Manuel on October 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Re: 34

    This really needed to be said.

    I would add that sexual health/appeal/attractiveness is more often than not a reflection of our character. I find it bizarre when people have a tendency to completely separate the two as if they were completely different and unrelated aspects of an individual.

    What we do to attract the opposite sex, how we keep ourselves, how we groom ourselves, how we treat our bodies and the message we want to send with our appearance are direct reflections of our character. Furthermore, they are huge factors on finding a companion. It’s not necessarily a “fetish,” it is just a product of being able to think logically and reasonably, and wanting something healthy and balanced.

  40. Christina on October 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Re: #34 on Gdub. NO No No! It isn’t like that at all. You got a message from a monster who is entitled to wake up in the morning unable to talk to his partner. That does not sound like the Celestial Kingdom to me but its the bed he made for himself.
    I was a chubby teen, then slimmed down and became a fraternity queen in college. I had no social skills and married swiftly, four times before growing up. I have now been divorced for a good amount of time and think I know how to pick out an appropriate partner for myself. I see myself in you and fully support your taking the time it needs to choose wisely.

  41. Julie on October 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Ugh, some of these comments are making me think that only single people should be allowed to opine on why single people aren’t married. (Answer for most: we don’t know!) (And you don’t either.)

    I do appreciate the concern, truly. But I’m being reminded of Elder Cook’s conference talk and his gentle refusal to try to explain away other’s circumstances.

    The only people I’ve ever heard give good commentary on singleness (explanations that actually jive with lived experience for me and my single friends) are those who have themselves been single not-by-choice for a long time. Or those who are very, very close to multiple people who are. (Hint: This is how they know enough to cut the generalizations.)

  42. Gdub on October 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Well Chino and Manuel, I’m glad to be put in my place and to have learned the important lesson that you’re both much better looking and more successful than I. I will now crawl back to the cave you’ve so artfully constructed for celebates and fatties. What was I thinking coming out of there? Some times I just don’t know what’s good for me. : D

  43. Manuel on October 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Gdub,

    On my part, it was not my intention to say anything hurtful to you. I also don’t want to pretend I know what is good for you or what isn’t. Also, on my part, I don’t want to imply I am more successful than anyone, since I measure success against my own trials and goals, not against others’.

    There just seems to me, there are things that need to be said, simply because they provide more pieces of information that in my experience are worthy of consideration.

  44. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    What is #40 talking about? Monsters? I’m just a guy in a hotel room in Shanghai biding my time before I can get home to the missus and our kids. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we didn’t need four marriages before finding out what worked for us. I know about her Dutch boyfriend, and she knows I’ll always have my J-dub high school sweetheart that I left behind to serve a mission in Brazil. We talk about this stuff. But it’s the stuff we’ve been doing between the sheets for nearly twenty years now that has really shaped my neural pathways (or whatever they’re called). If she was gone tomorrow, I’d be lost. And that’s got nothing to do with my (admittedly dubious) character, it just is what it is. And the most important relationship in my life didn’t blossom from chaste beginnings. But it’s been great. So, sue me if I think it ought not to be such a huge drama when it comes to hooking up. I say “go for it” … Enjoy yourselves. And if you’ve got room for kids in your picture, be forewarned, you’ll love them and fear for them like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

  45. Sam Brunson on October 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Okay, all, it’s been a good conversation. Let’s keep it that way—it’s the weekend, and I don’t want to have to police comments.

  46. Jax on October 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Chino,

    Your advice is anecdotal at best. You think that because you experienced it, and that “it’s been great” for you, doesn’t mean that anyone who has reservations about “go[ing] for it” with sex is making things more complicated than you think they should be. Just because your happy with the way things have turned out for you doesn’t mean that being part of the “human family” means it will work out well for anyone else. So please stop telling people to ignore prophetic counsel and trust your anecdote instead.

    Manuel

    I agree with some here that as Mormons we should probably shape our culture to what is really happening and not some outdated ideal. The norm of a woman having to marry up is becoming less and less an option, and our rethoric that the ideal marriage should consist of a man as the sole breadwinner and a woman as the housekeeper needs to be updated too. Our culture is becoming disconnected with reality and the facts of life.

    Well, what is really happening is shaped by our culture…so what comes first? The problem is NOT that we haven’t shaped our culture closely enough to the goingson “in the world”, but that we have done so too much. I agree that the “marry up” idea is nonsense and should be dropped, but if the family is the core of your religion, and childbearing is a significant part of that family core, then it is very hard to argue that the “reality and facts of life” don’t necesitate that mothers aren’t better suited to staying at home with children than fathers are. I suspect the other “facts of life” that you refer to are the economics of US culture and its social structuring. Well, OUR culture can make for a culture all of its own and completely reject those “facts” and still survive and thrive just fine. IMO we’d be much better off rejecting it completely than half-heartedly as we do. The “reality” is that we can shape our “reality” to conform to God’s will and prophetic counsel without the “worlds” permission. I do agree that physical appearance IS a bigger factor than people want to talk about.

    Silverrain

    I wouldn’t have a problem necessarily marrying a man with less education than I have, but I would have a problem marrying a man who valued education less than I did. And oftentimes, the two go hand-in-hand.

    Well said. Though often people value education but because of circumstance/opportunity they aren’t as educated as their peers. But they do often go hand in hand.

    Gdub

    The fairytale ideal is alive and well in LDS culture. A lot of people are waiting for their ‘one’, their ’soul mate’ or ‘prince/princess charming’ to come rescue them. This kills progression and creates a pretty emotionally stunted individual.

    Agreed. Just go find someone you like, who shares your values, and make him/her your “one”. It’s hard to do, but waiting for “the one” to come is like standing at a river, waiting to cross until the water has passed.

    There’s a vacum of quality teaching, training, and emphasizing of the “hows” of courtship. Most young adults, if candid, would admit to their crippling fear stemming from a complete lack of knowing how to even go on dates, and how to even progress toward marriage.

    Has any generation EVER had to say they needed instruction on HOW to date? This just sounded comical to me. I can see some formal training on how to make marriages work, or to form meaningful relationships, but to date? Here’s your instruction: ask any person of the opposite sex who you are interested in, “Would you like to go on a date with me?” Keep at this until someone says, “yes”. Find something that you’d both be interested in and go do it together. Talk about each other and just random stuff. Act like you always act. If after date 1 you are still interested in this person, repeat. If not, then start over.

    Julie,

    I’m with you. I know of only one LDS person who ever gave me the impression they didn’t have a happy family life as their primary goal in life. Pretty much everyone agrees with the sentiment expressed in the saying, “I’ve never heard a dying person say they wish they had spent more time at work.”

    Sam #45,

    Then don’t ;)

  47. LovelyLauren on October 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    On the “how to date” issue,

    I don’t think it’s as much as “how to date” as it is that LDS youth are counseled not to go on one-on-one dates in high school. Afterwards, the men leave for missions, and the girls pine around waiting to be asked out.

    You have a group who doesn’t know how to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. They don’t know how to be casually together, which I think is part of the reason so many of them get engaged so quickly.

    I’m no model seeing as I’m 21 and married, but I had several boyfriends before I met my husband and I think it helped immensely with my expectations.

    And to Chino and others, you don’t have to have sex before you get married to have a normal sexual relationship, but you do have to be mature enough to talk about sex, your expectations, etc. which probably doesn’t happen enough.

  48. Chino Blanco on October 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Gotta love this Jax character. I’m spouting off about my own marriage and he replies “meh, anecdotal”…

    No kidding. Who’s in charge of the gold stars around here? We got a winner at #46.

  49. Cameron N on October 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    @ Manuel (14)
    “Whether the 50’s or 60’s conservative ideals of specific roles within a household are of “divine” or not can be debated, but I would be careful to simply claim divinity on our traditions and judge people not ascribing to them as hypocritical or with a lack of understanding.”

    Well, I guess it can be debated that you think the apostles in 1995 were not inspired to sign the proclamation and that all subsequent apostolic reaffirmation of that document is irrelevant. I happen to believe that the Lord wouldn’t just abandon His church like that prior to His return, since he declared that it would never again be taken from the earth. Men and women have general roles, and there is lots of overlap for specific areas.

    I assume as a church member you accept that certain ideals, such as fundamental gospel principles and ordinances and doctrines, are eternal and unchangeable. I’m not talking about who does the dishes or laundry here, those things are trivial.

  50. Al on October 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Gold star winners don’t come to a place that despises their values so they can brag about it. What do you have for us? Anything?

  51. Sam Brunson on October 15, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Last warning: T&S’s comments policy says:

    1. Comments are expected to reflect different points of view. Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person. No insults.

    (Emphasis added.) A number of recent comments have crossed this line. Please don’t. We can have a constructive debate, full of different opinions, without attacking each other.

    I think there’s value in trying to work out different views of singleness; the men-aren’t-trying-hard-enough-and-women-are-innocent-victims-of-men-who-won’t-grow-up gets a lot of play, in and out of the Church. But I think, at least in many cases, that this view is overly-simplistic—there appears to be a strong argument that there are structural and cultural issues, some out of the hands of individuals, affecting the age and likelihood of marriage.

    So we, as members (both single and married) of the Church are in a bind. On the one hand, we want to encourage marriage, for a whole lot of theological and practical reasons. On the other hand, we know that some number of members will not marry, for whatever reason. And we need to balance the need to encourage marriage with the recognition that marriage won’t happen for everyone. And the question is, how do we do that?

    I’ve proposed that one thing we can do is stop blaming the unmarried for being unmarried, and create a church culture where everybody learns to progress, whatever their marital situation. But that’s probably not the only answer. And I’m interested in other ways of approaching these two sometimes-conflicting goals. How do we prioritize? What do we deemphasize, and what do we continue to emphasize? How, as a practical matter, do we hold fast both to our familial ideals and our no-respecter-of-persons ideals? How, that is, do we live our religion in a productive and charitable way?

  52. Cameron N on October 15, 2011 at 1:16 am

    @ Manuel – my previous comment was not meant as a personal attack, if Sam was referring to me. I felt that your direct statements deserved direct replies.

    On topic, I think general authorities do a good job of being sensitive while still teaching marriage and faith. General conference is a fine setting to address general concerns weighing upon their minds. In such settings, counsel regarding marriage should be taken as just that, -general- counsel, to be supplemented by the spirit. The presence of the Spirit can always soften our heart to receive tough counsel, no matter what the subject or how painful it is.

    The Ensign does a good job of more detailed support on this issue. There have been many good articles recently written by single members about how we can do better and also about how they did better.

    I think for the most part, the great area for improvement is in small groups and 1 on 1. In such cases, the spirit can help us be sensitive without being awkward or singling out singles. The spirit can also help singles address the issue by privately correcting insensitive remarks or giving suggestions for improvement to those who are socially awkward and don’t know what to do.

    One issue I’m interested in is the increasing extension of education time and the correlating delay of workplace entry. I think this is one of the main causes of this problem. People used to get more mature, faster, because they had to work as a family to survive. People could get married in their mid-teens and it wasn’t a scandal. The mother of the Son of God was likely early-mid teens. Today, it seems kids are in an increasingly long-lasting bubble that is an extension of premortal life, where they don’t do much work, beyond absorbing as much knowledge as their brains can handle and playing lots of sports. Although our life expectancy has greatly increased, it seems the required education period in order to get a well-paying job has done so proportionally.

    I am curious as to what our thoughts are on this angle of the situation?

  53. Stephen Hardy on October 15, 2011 at 6:32 am

    From my prior experience in a leadership position in a YSA ward, I would say these things about marriage:

    1. Most active YSAs really really really want to get married, See Julie’s post number 31. Encouraging active YSAs to get married is like encouraging deacons to eat bacon.

    2. YSAs on the “fringes” (and there many of them) might be more likely to want to avoid marriage for a number of reasons.

    3. Encouraging active YSAs to get married is usually insensitive, painful, and misguided, See number 1 above.

    4. Most of my time counseling YSAs involved trying to help them work out their “Plan Bs” (see Julie’s comment again) while they continue to hope for Plan A.

  54. Dan on October 15, 2011 at 8:01 am

    if you don’t teach people how to date, they’ll have a problem dating. If you teach people to date in groups, they’re going to have a hard time dating solo. I look forward to when we get Apostles who grew up in this day, as opposed to the 1950s. Maybe then their recommendations might actually have merit for the youth and singles today.

  55. Tim on October 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Dan, #54–That’s why the articles in the Ensign (written by people who actually know first-hand what it is to be single in this day and age) probably offer better advice than what you’ll hear in conference. I’ve been pleased that the Ensign has been addressing the topic lately.

    I think the church and its members should focus on two things:

    First, don’t make a mission–or even church membership–be some kind of test someone has to pass before church members consider someone dating and marriage material. It might be good advice for women to date RMs until their mid-20′s, but I’ve known plenty of great YSAs who never served missions (one recently served in my EQ Presidency). Many young single adult women are too picky, and it doesn’t help matters when they’re told to only date men with certain outward characteristics. Many men are too picky too.

    Second, provide more meaningful social events and encourage singles to attend. Service projects and institute classes are two of the best examples because they’re actually meaningful. And allow singles to meet in their own age groups–right now very few people in their 30′s attend adult single activities because they don’t want to hang out with and be considered dating material for people 20-50 years older than them, but they’re not allowed to attend YSA activities either. As more and more members delay marriage until their 30′s, we need to improve the mid-singles outreach and programs.

  56. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Jax,

    I do tend to agree with you. But I am commenting in the context of the original post. Therefore, my comments are directed to address the issue of singles who are remaining single (late 30′s etc) and for whom plan A is not working.

    You state:

    “Well, OUR culture can make for a culture all of its own and completely reject those “facts” and still survive and thrive just fine. IMO we’d be much better off rejecting it completely than half-heartedly as we do.”

    In the context of this post, I do not believe our culture is really “thriving,” I mean, that is precisely the issue: we have an increasing population for whom our ideals (sometimes stereotypes) are simply not working.

    Therefore, for those for whom the system works just fine, yes, I agree with you. But we can’t be so closed minded that we ignore the increasing population for whom it is not working, and that population is whom I was referring to.

  57. Eric Russell on October 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Sam,

    What do you think constitutes “blaming the unmarried for being unmarried”? Is encouraging singles to take a more proactive role in their own courtship a form of blaming?

  58. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Cameron N,

    No worries, I did not perceive your reply as an attack.

    With regards to your comment:

    Well, I guess it can be debated that you think the apostles in 1995 were not inspired to sign the proclamation and that all subsequent apostolic reaffirmation of that document is irrelevant. I happen to believe that the Lord wouldn’t just abandon His church like that prior to His return, since he declared that it would never again be taken from the earth. Men and women have general roles, and there is lots of overlap for specific areas.

    Like I said to Jax, my comments are in the context of the increasing population of singles for whom these things are not happening. Even the proclamation states there are exceptions. The thing is, we need to understand that for an increasingly large group of people these exceptions are very real, and there are plans B that can bring joy and fullness for those not lucky to enjoy our perfect and idealized plan A.

    With regards to your comment:

    On topic, I think general authorities do a good job of being sensitive while still teaching marriage and faith. General conference is a fine setting to address general concerns weighing upon their minds. In such settings, counsel regarding marriage should be taken as just that, -general- counsel, to be supplemented by the spirit. The presence of the Spirit can always soften our heart to receive tough counsel, no matter what the subject or how painful it is.

    Again, within the context of the original post, I strongly disagree.

    I do not think general authorities have done a good job at addressing the needs of this increasingly large population of singles who are struggling to form families. And, although GA’s do not intend to be insensitive, a lot of what they have said is. Not because I say so, but because I have been told numerous times by single people and because I have read the pain and frustration of many since it is an issue that gets talked about in the blogs often.

    Furthermore, I do not think these people feeling hurt and frustrated with GA’s remarks do so out of a lack of having the Spirit with them.

    To this audience, their speeches seem to insist the reason they are not finding the blessings of marriage and family is simply because they are neglecting to do so. Especially GA comments directed to men in this context, they are absolutely insensitive and shortsighted to be addressed to “singles in general.”

    Their accusations of neglect are out of touch with reality. They may address the issue for some, but I think they completely fail to give nourishing counsel to those for whom the situation is different and more complex than simply being neglectful, lacking of faith, or wanting to enjoy other things in life first. A lot of time is spent in speech directed to these “slackers” and little is spent to give actual guidance to those for whom this is not the case, and I am going to venture and say: the majority.

    Regarding your comment:

    I think for the most part, the great area for improvement is in small groups and 1 on 1. In such cases, the spirit can help us be sensitive without being awkward or singling out singles.

    I think this is already happening. See comment #53.

    Regarding your comment:

    One issue I’m interested in is the increasing extension of education time and the correlating delay of workplace entry. I think this is one of the main causes of this problem. People used to get more mature, faster, because they had to work as a family to survive.

    I agree. Jobs today require a much higher level of preparation than before and an huge emphasis has been placed on higher education: also endorsed by General Authorities. Entry to a workplace that will yield sufficient income to raise a family is most definitely being delayed. This delay is even more severe when we face economic recessions. There is little we can do to control this, and we all adapt to this new environment the best we can.

  59. Jax on October 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Manuel,

    You replied to me and said that you don’t think our culture is “thriving”. Neither do I. I said it CAN thrive without the world permission and regardless of what they are doing. But we don’t because we try to hard to both follow the the Lord (desires for family) and mammon (money, work, “establish myself first”). I think that ultimately most people desire the happy family ideal, but as a group our acceptance and adherence to the culture of our country is detrimental to them.

    I don’t blame singles for being single. I think we can help them most by moving the entire LDS population/culture away from US culture and closer to a Celestial/Zion culture. As long as we hold to/find value in the competitiveness of our socioeconomic culture it there will be a longing for both marriage and climbing social/economic/employment ladders. I don’t think you can mix the two at all.

    When we all stop climbing ladders, which will help singles stop as well, we can focus on more important issues. If the entire LDS population did this, so would the singles. Men won’t postpone marriage for education, women won’t have to “marry up” economically, we’ll see more clearly that you can value education and improving your mind and still work as a mechanic/maid/waitress/laborer/etc. People wouldn’t worry about being able to keep children fed because they know they’ll work hard and that others will help out if you come short. We’d all benefit, singles maybe most.

    That’s my honest opinion.

    If we aren’t willing to do that… well, then the thing we could do to help singles most is about what we’re doing… Keep providing social activities for them, keep them involved in units (callings), keep them in the HT/VT roles. Though a good stern talk in GC from an apostle telling the married folk to stop castigating the singles would help a lot as well. We need to keep emphasiving marriage/family in the church, but the active singles know that, I don’t know if telling them repetitively is helpful.

  60. Kevin Barney on October 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I had a meeting this morning over at the Church. As I was leaving, they were just about to start a regional single adults conference. The program looks fantastic; they’re going to be visiting a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque and a Jewish synagogue during the course of the day, with dance instruction in the evening.

    By my count, excluding (married) leaders sitting on the stand, there were seven people in attendance.

    Admittedly the numbers will pick up some during the day. But I imagine that turn out had to be pretty disheartening to the organizers, who obviously had put a tremendous amount of work into planning it.

    And of the seven people in attendance, only two were women, the majority were men.

    (Just thought some might find this observation from the front lines of interest. Seven people does not the critical mass necessary to gently encourage serious relationships make, I’m afraid.)

  61. Ben S. on October 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Kevin, the YSA Bible conference in New York was similar. At first there appeared to be very few people, but by the end, about 200.

  62. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Please refer to the Guest post about Singles dated August 31st on the Wheat and Tares site. Sorry I can’t give you the link; I’m on a phone.

    Anyway, that is what the singles need in this Church, no matter what age or tax bracket or education level they fall into.

    We do not need any more large-scale activities. None. They could stop them all today and things would be the same as they are now with regard to marriage stats.

    We do not need any more small activities that bring people of the same ward or stake together.

    What we do need is a way to get small groups of people from different wards and stakes together. And then keep these small groups rotating so that people keep meeting new people.

    We do not need lessons on dating as someone mentioned above. Dating lessons are a click away. If GAs want to help singles, they need to talk to singles themselves, not stake presidents, not bishops, not singles leaderships, not singles reps. They need to find out why people do not go to activities, and what would make them want to return. They need to find the opinions of unhappy singles active and inactive. What is wrong, and how can we improve it. Asking people who are either perfectly happy with the vast disfunction or in a callings that makes them feel unworthy to be honest is getting us nowhere except angry and embarrassed. Its like listening to political talk radio where everyone has the same opinions and nothing gets revealed.

    And who wants to share the Gospel with a 30 year-old single person these days? “Hey, here’s the truth of the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ. Good luck living it.”

  63. Whizzbang on October 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I would love to see a survey done on attitudes about love, sex, money,life from LDS singles in say the 29-40 view and another from say 25-28 and one from say 41-65 just to see what people actually believe and if their beliefs change over time. I know some people, not well enough to ask, that have never had a relationship before, very active, faithful but I would love to know what they think about certain subjects

  64. Bob on October 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    The most used and successful way of fixing this problem has been done in cultures since time began__yes often in 19th century Mormonism. The ARRANGED Marriage.
    Bishop: ” Bro. Jones (25), Sister Smith, (24). I have watched you each grow up and I think you will make a great pair. I will do the wedding after Sunday School”:)

  65. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Jax,

    Re:59. OK. Then I very strongly disagree with your opinion. LDS culture in my view is already awkward and bubbled enough. I don’t think becoming the Amish or the Mennonites is going to help.

    You say both, that you don’t blame the singles and somehow I also perceive in your statement the implication that they are not doing enough to “live a celestial culture.” Nope – very strongly disagree. This is the type of failed vision that in part led to our current problems and the type of view we must overcome: the traditions of our fathers. Sorry.

  66. Diane on October 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Manuel,
    If your assumptions are correct, than there would not be web sites dedicated to dating large women.

    I think what you’ve tried to say has a lot more to do with your perceived perceptions about overweight people than the other way around. BTW, I’m wondering whether your overweight or not?

  67. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Weight is, among other things, societal manipulation by media forces. Here’s a “fat woman” for you : Marilyn Monroe. She also was maybe the most beautiful sex symbol America has ever produced.

    But how can this be, you ask? Well, somewhere along the line certain people realized that a great deal of money could be made if most women hated themselves. They could now sell diets of all kinds, books,gadgets, therapy, and gourmet icecream

  68. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Now that women who are shaped like women are finally beginning to accept themselves (and women like them can be seen on screen ) , its men’s turn to hate their own bodies (just in time for global internet pornl. )

    People who look for a spouse based on who they think their friends will approve of, are still in high school. People need to grow out of this.

    Again, blaming weight or income on why the singles in the Church cannot find a spouse has more to do with the person saying it.

    Rather, the truth is that there does not seem to be a way to get people together which allows them to do much else than look at each other shallowly from afar. If there were ways to get people together in a way that encourages them to talk to each other in a fun way, it’d help. But they’d have to have something to actually talk about. Gee, anyone ever heard of a game night?

    This is not rocket science, but we keep insisting it be just that. We keep reinventing dances and firesides as if someday they will actually work.

  69. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    And we keep psychoanalysing the singles for something that is more a question of logistics than anything else. Most people who go to BYU come out married. Are they somehow better equipped for marriage? No. But they do have small groups everywhere.

  70. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Diane,

    My assumptions are actually backed by scientific studies. And… how many websites for large women are there compared to regular websites that allow people to filter results by body shape (athletic, slender, full figure, etc). And how many people going on those websites use those searches to filter out the profiles of overweight people?

    If you have answers to these questions with true data, or studies that contradict my “assumptions” that overweight women struggle more to find a sexual partner, you are welcome to share them with me. I am very interested in the subject.

    I am a bodybuilder and a fitness and holistic lifestyle enthusiast. I also have been invited to be part of a fitness modeling photo-shoot in LA this coming December.

    Furthermore, I have helped several obese people reach healthier weights and at least one of them got married as a result of such change, which, by the way, had a HUGE impact on his attitude and the way he approached single life. He is now happily married and him and his wife are expecting.

    While I agree the media does exploit both men and women with unrealistic and fake images that have been manipulated to show proportions that are no longer human or healthy; I don’t think going to the other extreme and telling obese people that it is perfectly OK to remain obese. That, in my view, is absolutely irresponsible and damaging.

    Balance is the key. I think we struggle more and more to find a balance, and attacking obsessive extremes to justify unhealthy lifestyles is not the answer.

    Glass Ceiling,

    I invite you to come with me to one of the older single adult wards in UT. I would love for you to point out a woman there with the body proportions of Marilyn Monroe.

    I on my part, and with actual clinical knowledge, will point out to you those who are obese and who have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hormonal unbalances that can cause conception problems, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Also, we can add some fun to it, and poll the men in the ward where they can express anonymously whether they are attracted to obese women, whether they think they would consider dating them for the purpose of marriage, and whether they consider them to be on top of things or still lacking preparation to be functional participants in a healthy household.

    I have seen these wards, and obesity is a REAL problem for a lot of people, not just an imaginary marketing tool to make money. Again, I believe that taking this extremist position that anyone suggesting a healthy lifestyle and people keeping within a healthy weight range is simply a part of an evil marketing machine is unhelpful. It is irresponsible and damaging.

    I wasn’t “blaming” weight or income alone for why singles in the Church cannot find a spouse. I very much agree with you that there are other factors, but I find your denial that obesity and financial stability as contributing factors part of the problem. If we don’t like acknowledging something, we simply deny it. That doesn’t make the problem go away.

    I very much agree with you, it is not rocket science, but there are more factors that simply people not meeting people.

  71. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Re 69.

    Oh, ok, I see now that you are totally missing the point… :)

  72. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I do not deny that people who are single for years and years in a Church that places marriage as not only the standard but a requirement for heaven can sometimes get depressed enough to let themselves go on some level. People sometimes replace love for food, a sexlife for food, company for food. It’s sad but not unnatural.

    And often people lose the weight but still can’t find a spouse. Around this time they start getting flirted with by people at the office, and there goes the subdivision.

    Again Manual, I believe the biggest problem is logistical. The Church is still in the paradigm of the squaredance on the Wasatch. The world no longer works this way. People need fun chit-chat. And walking up to a woman to dance with her when you have nothing to say can feel like a lame line on a barstool.

    Then, say, you do dance with that woman . You still do not know her any better. You are still relying in hormones to do your deciding. If only you could just have a conversation that wasn’t complete fluff. If only you could detect her personality, and she yours. But no, you must ask her for a date just to have that first conversation. This can be a recipe for disaster because, if you find that you do not like her personality, you are not only stuck on a date, but now you have to hurt her feelings.

    Yeah, love the dances.

    I am not the only person who has said this.

  73. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Manual,

    But you are right that many people could treat their bodies better. America has never been fatter. But there are many plump newlyweds out in the world. So what is it about being Mormon that throws a spanner in the works? It’s very ironic.

  74. Sam Brunson on October 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Manuel, saying that Mormons aren’t getting married because women are fat is, at best, not helpful. If that’s the case (and I think it’s demonstrably not a principal factor: the Brooklynites Bolick knows seem to be attractive, educated people), so what? Men are also playing video games, and men and women are going out in groups. Even if every woman in the Church weighed whatever the ideal societal weight was, though, and every man (and woman) had the optimal education, I suspect that the marriage age would still be rising, and there would still be unmarried persons. And, as members of the Church, it’s our duty to help them (and us) increase our spiritual relationship with Deity. And saying, You’re too fat doesn’t really do that so much.

  75. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    The media doesn’t help either. Marriage becomes a scary prospect when under a constant microscope of pessimism or shallowness.

  76. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Glass Ceiling,

    Yeah, I guess the squaredance setting is not very conducive of getting to know a person.

    Back in the day when I attended singles wards, I did manage to mingle with a lot of the girls and have conversations with them prior to venturing to ask them out. It happened mostly during our “munch and mingle” activities. Perhaps you are right, maybe this is not happening enough.

    Being in UT, I have never considered logistics a huge problem (probably just taken it for granted). I am aware the Church does provide quite a bit of opportunities for singles to meet, but you are right, perhaps the settings aren’t conducive of actual interactions that will lead to dating.

    About the plump newlyweds, yes. Being overweight does not make one’s chances 100% null, it just adds another factor that certainly does not help the cause though. Also, it is a pattern that I find among older single adults and that seems to be backed by studies. I was just suggesting that it should be a factor (among the other factors) to be considered, and one that I often times find missing in articles such as the one pointed out in the original post.

  77. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Sam,

    I am actually a bit surprised by your response. I have stated, now very repeatedly, that it is a factor, not the sole root cause. That it isn’t a significant factor is your opinion, and one that contradicts both scientific studies and my very own anecdotal experiences; therefore, I simply cannot agree with you on that. Sorry.

    Also, just for the record, I didn’t intend to single out women in my comment about obesity. That is just what the study shows: women have a harder time finding a sexual partner.

    I do not know what the “ideal societal weight” is, especially not among LDS, but just to be clear, that is definitely not what I was talking about. I was talking about the ideal clinical weight of a person, which is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Epidemiology Society, American Hearth Association, American Pediatric Association, among other research and medical organizations.

    I share your “suspicion” that with factors of weight and education/economical stability addressed, there would still be unmarried people. Because, as I said, I have repeatedly stated these are factors among other factors. Furthermore, no analysis of a societal trend can be fully addressed since the causes for that trend can be endless and unique within a community. I am assuming you and people reading my comments are reading under this logical assumption.

    I agree we should all help each other be closer to God and yes, telling people that they need to treat their bodies as temples is probably not the best way to do it. But, why is it wrong if someone thinks it is a factor that also needs to be considered? Or, is telling singles that they are simply neglectful and conceited helping them be closer to God?

  78. Diane on October 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Manuel

    Let me be frank, I don’t care that you are a body builder, you do not have the right to insist that because I am heavy(completely due to steroid use) that I am unhappy, depressed and not dateable(if that’s a word) I’d like to know who left you and people like you to make that kind of judgement on people like me.

    People like who, and who think like you should be ashamed, I do not need to be ashamed of my body, which is what what people like you would like me to be. Happiness is not, and should not be equated with size. People like you, like to use that rhetoric to make yourselves feel better. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe weight was not mentioned in the article, because it was not something the writer focuses on. It is quite apparent that it is something you focus on, And Maybe, you need to work on yourself and leave other people the heck alone. You need to walk a mile in my shoes and when you have then you can talk to me about weight until that time, You need to be quiet.

    I don’t date because quite honestly, I am not interested in dating. I am and always have been living on my own and I quite like it that way. I don’t need anyone to make me complete.

    My final take away message to you is this, My body,whatever size (22) is great. I know full well what it took to get me to this size, steroids (complete mind/body wreck) and chemo. I would really hate for you to have to experience what my illness has done to my body. But, the biggest destruction of my body and well being is ignoramuses who make statements like you do about peoples weight when you have no clue what got them there in first place. The only way you will change your tune is for you to get sick.( I hope you never do) and if I had the ability to I would post pre steroid/ chemo pictures of myself vrs post.

  79. Sam Brunson on October 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I am actually a bit surprised by your response. I have stated, now very repeatedly, that it is a factor, not the sole root cause.

    True. But what you’re doing is not significantly different than saying that people are unmarried because they don’t go out on dates or because they play video games or because they have an ideal and won’t settle: it may be true, but it’s not relevant. There are a host of reasons, both within and without the control of unmarried persons, for why people aren’t married. But listing those reasons tends to be, in most circumstances, totally and completely unhelpful, especially when those reasons are systemic. We do enough blaming people for not being married, and that doesn’t seem to substantively raise the marriage rate. So maybe that’s not the best approach to take.

  80. Whizzbang on October 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Something I learned the hard way is to get married when you know the right and you are in love and not because someone else wants you to get married because they NEVER have to live with the consequences. I totally ignore the brethren, general and local, when it comes to dating and marriage.

  81. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Sam,

    Fair enough. Your post by the way, does include Bolick’s hypothesis of the issue though, which lists three factors: 1) Women’s increasing success, 2) Men’s declining status, and 3) The marriage market.

    I am not sure how that is different than bringing another factor to the discussion. Again, that it is irrelevant in your opinion, ok.

    Just for the record, I have never called anyone “fat,” since that is not a term I use to describe people, nor was I suggesting to go around calling people “fat.” If there is to be awareness of factors such as women’s increasing success and men’s declining status, I didn’t know raising awareness of people becoming unhealthy in ways that affects their sexual life and their self-esteem was not welcome.

  82. geoffsn on October 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Manuel,

    I thought I weigh in a bit on your obesity themed comments (pun intended). I realize you threw out several studies showing correlation. As seems to be my theme for this thread, correlation is not causation. There are some health effects which have been shown to be a direct effect of being overweight. The majority of the health concerns however, have not been shown to be “caused” by obesity, but rather correlated with it. There are many studies that have shown that societal norms also play a major role for obese persons not just psychologically, but physically. See here, here, here, and here. Now one could also point to studies that show that by being assuming and supercilious are also detrimental to ones sexual life. You seemed to be going there in #39, but then it seemed (feel free to correct me) that you tied in that a person’s character shows through how they maintained their body. While you never said it was all that mattered, you were talking about it a lot. Just know that the social stigma is also a major impact on a person’s health, physical and mental.

  83. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Diane,

    I never intended (or even suspected) someone was going to take my remarks so personally. Therefore, I apologize that I made you feel so negatively.

    Having said that, and after reading your comment, I think you have grossly misinterpreted what I have said and taken it personally to an illogical degree, then added an invented ill will from me against you. I think you are being very unfair on your accusations and interpretation of my comments.

    I do not know you and I cannot possibly know half the things I would need to know to make such a personal attack. The only thing I can as is to not take my remarks personally.

    I absolutely do not believe anyone (regardless of size, shape, etc) should be ashamed of their own body. On the very contrary, I believe self love is essential to being healthy physically and mentally.

    I also was not making a judgment (much less insist) that you are unhappy, depressed or undateable. I was referring to a study that shows a higher incidence of depression and a harder time finding a sexual partner in a given group of people.

    From what I can read, you are in a situation that required chemotherapy and steroid treatment which resulted in weight gain. Being in such a unique situation, how can you possibly internalize my comments so much? And how can you possibly assume I am talking about you?

    Your situation is not what I am talking about. I am afraid you will find many things in life that are not about you and that are not going to contain a disclaimer saying: “this is not about you and your unique situation.”

    Obesity is a global pandemic, and in general, it is not being caused by steroid treatment of chemotherapy patients. Trying to silence someone who speaks about obesity because you are in a unique situation that is not under your control is extremely unfair.

    If you don’t date because you are not interested in dating, then, how exactly do any of my comments apply to you? If you need a scapegoat for your frustration, fine, I guess I can be the monster that is waging a vicious attack on you. If it makes you more comfortable to think this way, have it your way.

    I am a medical device engineer. I have worked for the global leading company that makes gastric bypass instruments to allow morbidly obese people be around longer to reach their dreams. I currently for the research and development team of the global leader in prosthetic heart valves, that allows people with cardiovascular disease live longer and with a better quality of life.

    I have helped people become fit, lose weight and reach their goals and their dreams.

    No, I am not ashamed of myself, never will be, and I will never be intimidated or silenced and will continue to stand for what I believe.

    And no, I am no “ignoramous,” about what makes people obese. I have dedicated my career to helping people with obesity and heart disease live longer and better lives.

    I also happen to know many people who are grateful to those who helped them lose weight and reach their dreams: marriage usually among those dreams.

    So, while I apologize for making you feel bad, I would also like for you to make a better consideration of your accusations.

    I hope the best for you, I hope you have a full recovery and that you can pursue whatever dream you have.

  84. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    All,

    The weight issue along with a person’s personal success, is part of the situation . Sadly. I have gained some 40 pounds over the last few years because of a health issue. The difference between the attention I got before the weight and after the weight is astounding. It’s undeniable. I don’t think we should shoot the messenger on this. It is A problem…just like gossip is also a problem in the singles program. But neither stop the show.

    It is a problem. It is not THE problem. There are happily plump people everywhere outside the Church . There are also perfectly healthy and thin, active Mormons who cannot make marriage happen in the Church at any age.

    Here is a line from the Smiths to present a point : “Amid concrete and clay and general decay, nature must still find a way.”

    The point is that the desire to love has the determination of a flower pushing through asphalt. Add to it the desire to live according to the true and everlasting Gospel, and it’ll push through a ten-foot thick steel wall…along with the asphalt, and then ask for more. Blindfolded.

    Its not the people, people. It’s the program.

  85. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    geoffsn,

    About societal norms and effects on overweight people: you are preaching to the choir. I am very well aware, thank you. I never said what should be a societal norm, I pointed out what already is. An individual can hardly have an effect on a societal norm.

    I am not sure about your “causation” vs “correlation” lecture. I don’t think I went there. Thank you though. Hopefully others here also apply that to what they share.

    About appearance and character, what I was trying to say is that while I do not conflate them fully, I also think it is wrong to completely separate them as unrelated aspects of an individual.

    I do think character is reflected not only on how we maintain our bodies, but on how we groom ourselves (learned that in the MTC), and perhaps what color of paint we choose for our bedroom.

    Example: If I like to spend my leisure time watching football and eating pizza, that will have an effect on my appearance. If I choose to spend that same leisure time mountain biking, jogging or swimming, that will be reflected on my appearance too.

    Assuming I can choose what I can do with my leisure time, how I choose to spend it is directly tied to my character: what I like to do, what priorities I have.

    Do I think blue eyes, freckles, height, male pattern baldness or a disability due to post-polio reflect our character? No.

    Do I think shaving my head and tatooing a swastica on my forehead, or letting my hair grow to my waist and having marijuana breath can reflect aspects of my character? Yes.

    Do I think these things can have an influence on finding a spouse? Especially in normative communities such as the LDS Church? Yes.

    Do I have a study that shows “correlation” of what I just said? No.

    “I’m talking a lot about it” Well, I am responding to comments and explaining my position. Any ideas of how to do so without “talking?” And I am sorry but, I do not believe what I have shared constitutes adding to a social stigma anymore than someone compelling us to keep the commandments does.

  86. Glass Ceiling on October 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Let me clarify. It is a numbers game. Desperate by design because it is also a game of scarcity. This means that people mean too little on the front end…they get judged and screened before much more there name is known. Then they mean too much on the back end…people will beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, and sell their kindred to make it work. This causes problems on every front. Talk about the “Hell on Church Street Blues. ”

    It just makes a wretched experience for most of us, and it affects all aspects and programs in the Church. How can one be Christian in tyranny? You eat ice cream.

  87. Manuel on October 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Glass Ceiling,

    Thanks, I love your comment.

    I am sorry for the threadjack, I am not sure how to clarify what I say without further explaining it, which turns the conversation more and more towards it.

    I’m off. :-)

  88. Diane on October 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    People can quote studies all the time. I dont rely on studies, especially nutrition studies,specifically because one minute one thing is good for you and the next thing its’ not

    (I was referring to a study that shows a higher incidence of depression and a harder time finding a sexual partner in a given group of people.)

    So, where in this statement does it leave out people in my situation. Its because of this statement and the attitude that goes with it I am constantly looked at as lazy, and even in your responses to others you talk about weight issues being about character

  89. geoffsn on October 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I never said what should be a societal norm, I pointed out what already is. An individual can hardly have an effect on a societal norm.

    How do you think societal norms change? People recognize problems with them and actively seek to bring about the changes they feel need to be made and encourage others to do the same. Also, in what context are you “the choir”? If you were really “the choir” you’d be actively striving to change the societal norm.

    And I am sorry but, I do not believe what I have shared constitutes adding to a social stigma anymore than someone compelling us to keep the commandments does.

    Really? What about:

    One problem stands out loudly. It is the elephant in the room, pun intended.

    Talk about perpetuating social stigma! Are you really still wondering how you could have offended someone concerned about their weight?

    Not to mention you make way too many assumptions in this discussion:

    Biologically, people look for healthy partners. Partners that will be able to reproduce and raise offspring.

    There are many more factors involved. There are many places in the world in which an ‘obese person’ is considered sexually desirable over ‘healthy people.’ Obviously I’m using those terms in the way you were. Can you see that you implied that an obese person is not a healthy person? I’m sure you’re aware, given how you spouted your resume, that it’s quite possible for an obese person to be much healthier than a non-obese person.

    Your interesting list of how you can tell what is person is like based on their appearance was also revealing. All that does is reinforce stereotypes. Look, am I saying that visual appearance can tell you nothing about a person? No. All the visual appearances can give you some probability about the person. The problem is how good is the probability? If someone has a Swastika on their forehead, what is the probability that they’re a neo-nazi? Certainly not 100%; it could be a person who was racist in their teens/early 20′s but has since changed but lacks the resources to change the tat. And the other “visual clues” you mentioned have even lower probabilities. Given all the prejudice we still have, can we just decide that all too often on the vast majority of these clues, the probability is too low to justify perpetuating their use? This logic kept some jews from listening to Jesus because he didn’t follow the religious cleanliness/grooming rituals and associated with publicans and sinners. Ironically, I think that by flaunting those societal norms, Jesus did show us about his character; unfortunately, those who subscribe to overuse of using grooming as a character measuring stick missed the point entirely.

    Sorry for harping on this more, but surely you can see that by saying the things you have perpetuates the kind of (pre)judging that Diane referred to in #88.

  90. Manuel on October 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

    geoffsn,

    How do you think societal norms change? People recognize problems with them and actively seek to bring about the changes they feel need to be made and encourage others to do the same. Also, in what context are you “the choir”? If you were really “the choir” you’d be actively striving to change the societal norm.

    The context of me being the choir is this: I understand what those studies show. I do my part by helping people overcome obesity, which is an undesirable medical condition that can have negative consequences physically and socially. Am I the poster example of how to approach it? No. Is that what this forum expects? Sorry. Am I going to stop encouraging people to lose weight? No.

    One problem stands out loudly. It is the elephant in the room, pun intended.

    I’ll give you that one. As for bringing obesity (as a problem) to the table as a subject to be considered in the context of people finding a spouse, nope, I am not contributing to a stigma. People need to understand it is a problem and that it has negative effects on the pursue of forming a family.

    Biologically, people look for healthy partners. Partners that will be able to reproduce and raise offspring.

    Actually, that is not an assumption as you speculate. It is a proven characteristic of mammal reproductive behavior of most animal species, including humans.

    There are many more factors involved. There are many places in the world in which an ‘obese person’ is considered sexually desirable over ‘healthy people.’

    Sorry, I do not believe the LDS Singles community is one of them. I guess there are places where cannibalism is ok also, but it is irrelevant.

    Can you see that you implied that an obese person is not a healthy person? I’m sure you’re aware, given how you spouted your resume, that it’s quite possible for an obese person to be much healthier than a non-obese person.

    No, I did not imply an obese person is not a healthy person. I implied obesity is a medical condition that can lead to being unhealthy and can limit people’s chances of finding a spouse.

    Well, first of all, your comparison scenario of “an obese person being much healthier than a non-obese person” is quite irrelevant. Furthermore, I do not believe it is “quite possible” for an obese person to be much healthier than a non-obese person; in general and in my experience, the opposite is true on a statistically significant basis.

    I think obese people not showing sings of a compromised health eventually will begin to show sings of a compromised health, and much more often than not, those signs will be related to their obesity.

    Your interesting list of how you can tell what is person is like based on their appearance was also revealing. All that does is reinforce stereotypes.

    Perhaps it does, but I am satisfied that it is not “all that does.” I also find this very disingenuous on your part. Especially in a religion that spends so much energy on this subject. Furthermore, as stewards of one of the most amazing gifts that allows us to experience mortality: our own bodies, I do believe it is our responsibility to keep them healthy and treat them accordingly.

    All the visual appearances can give you some probability about the person.

    And how do you think this affects the ability to find a spouse? Do we really get to know someone 100% before we decide to spend our lives with them? Are we able to have 100% access to someone’s brain? Again, disingenuous per the context and 100% probability irrelevant.

    The problem is how good is the probability? If someone has a Swastika on their forehead, what is the probability that they’re a neo-nazi? Certainly not 100%; it could be a person who was racist in their teens/early 20’s but has since changed but lacks the resources to change the tat.

    Comment on this: Really? What if you are the tat artist and you just finished tatooing the swastica and the individual does not say anything racist, rather he simply states “cool I bet Hitler would be proud”? Is that scenario good enough now? Should we add endless possibilities to every possible scenario to justify our points? Whatever.

    And the other “visual clues” you mentioned have even lower probabilities.

    You are entitled to your opinion. I am willing to bet you make decisions on people’s appearances all the time. It is just much easier to say we are absolutely neutral, it makes us look good, right?

    Given all the prejudice we still have, can we just decide that all too often on the vast majority of these clues, the probability is too low to justify perpetuating their use?

    Not necessarily. If my daughter wants to go out with a kid whose current choices regarding his appearance gives me “clues” he can be a criminal, or a meth user, I will advise accordingly.

    This logic kept some jews from listening to Jesus because he didn’t follow the religious cleanliness/grooming rituals and associated with publicans and sinners.

    Hum… ok. I never advocated the discrimination of people of certain appearance. I am not saying people with certain appearance shouldn’t receive the Gospel or should be mistreated. I am saying their appearance has an effect on their chances of finding a spouse and I find it acceptable if people take into consideration others’ appearance in their decision making process of finding someone to spend the rest of their lives with them.

    Ironically, I think that by flaunting those societal norms, Jesus did show us about his character; unfortunately, those who subscribe to overuse of using grooming as a character measuring stick missed the point entirely.

    OK, so, what you are saying is, Jesus disregarded societal norms of his day and he was Jesus, therefore, people who do that today could be good people too. I agree although I don’t see it working too well with obesity.

  91. Stephanie on October 16, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Diane, have you read many of Manuel’s comments on other threads? Obese women seem to be the cause of most ills in the world.

  92. Manuel on October 16, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Stephanie,

    Oh please, that is slander.

  93. Glass Ceiling on October 16, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Geez. All your guys’ banter has blindsided you from realizing that I am a genius! :)

  94. Manuel on October 16, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Glass Ceiling, you are a genius!

  95. Glass Ceiling on October 16, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Manual, I have read both sides of this and I feel that there had been some misunderestimation just due to the fact that we are all typing. I know what you are trying to say, and I am not offended. And I am fat. (Trying to fix that. )

    These things get started, and everyone is trying to be altruistic …but, try as we will, we end up with a pissing match anyway because of our anonymity.

    I get both sides. I know my weight affects my prospects at the moment. Still, I just don’t want to pretend that my weight makes me hopeless , or unloveable. Or that any other overweight person is either.

    The single Mormon lifestyle is crazymaking. I think it brings out the vulnerable in all who are in it. We become so forgetful of what we claim to know about love and hop and goodness.

    The thing is, the love of that larger man or woman may be THE solution to so-and-so’s world. Anyone’s world. But how will they ever know it if they don’t loosen up a little? Lose some of the insecurity?

    And suggesting for a group in a program to get skinny feels alot like a husband telling his wife “I’ll love you if you lose weight. ” All she can do is resent. Yet, the fact remains, good things can happen when the weight comes off. The discussion is bound to be a catch 22.

  96. Fat Man on October 16, 2011 at 2:12 am

    The thing Manuel hasn’t yet mentioned, to my knowledge, is the statistically higher odds of finding an obese person in an average Utah LDS meetinghouse than at other churches. We might shy away from alcohol, but we sure do love our ice cream, cookies and candy bars. Man, have you seen all the obese people in our wards lately (both men + women)?

  97. geoffsn on October 16, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Biologically, people look for healthy partners. Partners that will be able to reproduce and raise offspring.

    Actually, that is not an assumption as you speculate. It is a proven characteristic of mammal reproductive behavior of most animal species, including humans.

    Yes, but you’ve missed the point entirely. You can’t just assume that your view of what is healthy and capable of reproducing and raising offspring applies to everyone. For example, most women who might be considered by some to be the ideal of beauty are so skinny that it reduces their ability to reproduce. Yet many men still desire them. So don’t try to say that the reason people aren’t attracted to the obese is because of biology and their decreased likelihood to reproduce and raise offspring. Many men are already attracted to women who have decreased likelihood of reproducing or raising offspring (for the opposite reason), yet somehow biology isn’t stopping them. The fact that biology isn’t repelling men away from women who are too skinny is strong evidence that attraction is greatly influenced by society.

    I do not believe it is “quite possible” for an obese person to be much healthier than a non-obese person; in general and in my experience… I think obese people not showing sings of a compromised health eventually will begin to show sings of a compromised health

    Well, at least you’re going for anecdotal evidence here. It’s better than:

    That it isn’t a significant factor is your opinion, and one that contradicts both scientific studies… My assumptions are actually backed by scientific studies. And…If you have answers to these questions with true data, or studies that contradict my “assumptions”

    I’ll give you that one.

    Thanks? I’d imagine apologizing for further stigmatizing those who struggle with obesity would be better.

    No, I did not imply an obese person is not a healthy person. I implied obesity is a medical condition that can lead to being unhealthy and can limit people’s chances of finding a spouse.

    I’m sure you meant that, but your statements certainly did imply (even if unintentionally) that obesity?healthy.

    Am I going to stop encouraging people to lose weight? No.

    I don’t think anyone wants you to encourage people to be obese. I think you have some good points as I’ve gone back and read through your comments. It just becomes difficult to take your points as seriously when your first comment started out making jokes at fat people’s expense. Then understandibly people are offended by the manner in which you’re discussing the topic (not what you said, but how you said it) for example:

    I’m glad to be put in my place and to have learned the important lesson that you’re both much better looking and more successful than I. I will now crawl back to the cave you’ve so artfully constructed for celebates and fatties.

    and

    People like who, and who think like you should be ashamed, I do not need to be ashamed of my body, which is what what people like you would like me to be. Happiness is not, and should not be equated with size. People like you, like to use that rhetoric to make yourselves feel better. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe weight was not mentioned in the article, because it was not something the writer focuses on. It is quite apparent that it is something you focus on, And Maybe, you need to work on yourself and leave other people the heck alone. You need to walk a mile in my shoes and when you have then you can talk to me about weight until that time, You need to be quiet.

    As I’ve gone back through I can say that I didn’t take the time to try and really understand what you were trying to say, nor did I take the best of tones in responding to you (nor am I really in this comment). I really think most of the issue is just the way you discussed the issues.

    Just a last example of what I mean:

    Jesus disregarded societal norms of his day and he was Jesus, therefore, people who do that today could be good people too. I agree although I don’t see it working too well with obesity.

    I’m sure you didn’t mean this, but the way you wrote that makes it seem that you agree that people who disregard societal norms today could be good people, but you don’t think that someone can disregard staying thin and be a good person too. I’m sure you didn’t mean that, but can you see what I’m talking about?

  98. Al on October 16, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Poor Manuel. Everyone is so self absorbed that they can’t recognize that there is common sense truth in what he is saying. Shutting down generalization means trivializing conversation but that is a common and rude tactic for turning conversations off.

  99. SilverRain on October 16, 2011 at 8:42 am

    1) Most people in my singles ward are not obese.
    2) One of the cutest guys in my ward is obese.
    3) I am not obese and I like a man with a little extra, a nice Nordic build. :)
    4) Several hundred years ago, women who would now be considered obese were the epitome of beauty. Goodness, DECADES ago, one of the world’s most desirable women (Marilyn Monroe) was bordering on what is now considered obese.
    Ergo, 5) The main problem is not obesity, it is unrealistic expectations mingled with choice paralyzation.

  100. SilverRain on October 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Oh, and while I’m not a Marilyn Monroe look-alike by any means, our bodies are not proportionately dissimilar. And there are a number of womenin my singles ward with the hourglass, we just don’t wear skin-tight sequins to show it off.

  101. Chino Blanco on October 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

    @50: Here you go, Al… Brandon Flowers now has an official mormon.org profile.

    For those unfamiliar with The Killers, here’s one of their better-known tunes: Mr. Brightside

    Be sure to check that second link. It rocks.

  102. Chino Blanco on October 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

    When You Were Young is kinda fun, too. But, seriously, Somebody Told Me is as good as it gets.

  103. Sam Brunson on October 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Okay, thanks everyone for the discussion. I don’t think it can get much better than Brandon Flowers and the Killers, so I’m going to close the comments. If you’ve got something you really need to say, let me know and I’ll see about it.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.