Archive for May, 2007

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Agree to Disagree?

May 31, 2007

by JP 

Throughout this week’s topic, there have been some strong opinions about being single in the church and about keeping the law of chastity.  Please know that I am not trying to take away or make light of any of you that have expressed your opinion.  I am here to only share my (twisted) opinion of all of this and my experiences…for what it’s worth.

If my memory serves me, you’re considered single once you turn 18.  So if my memory (and my math) is correct, I was technically single in the church for about a year and a half before I had my daughter and then got married.  But seeing as though I was pregnant during that time, 8 of those months don’t really count.

For all intents and purposes, I never experienced life as a single in the church.  I should walk away from the computer now.

And yet, I can hear a few of you…“Oh, she was one of those girls.”  And yes, I suppose I am/was.  I was the Molly Mormon that messed up.  Sure, I grew up in the church… and I was just an all around good girl.  I knew all the rules.  (Although, I just learned in this week’s comments that hand holding isn’t encouraged.)  But you know what?  Sometimes, things happen.  People make mistakes.

When I think about how I got married at 19, I am blown away by how young that is.  I’ve addressed this before, but it is astonishing the number of girls that get married at such a young age.  I’m not judging anyone for their choices (please, I was 19, getting married WITH a child) but I look back at my life and I see just how…young I was.

A family friend is 26 and single, active in the church.  She is beautiful, intelligent and just gosh darn wonderful.  Yet, she has felt, at times, that there must be something wrong with her because she’s not married yet.  Why in the world are these girls wondering what is “wrong” with them?  What IS wrong with being single in the church?  Why all the pressure to get married so young? 

To prevents mistakes like mine?

I know, I know…all the blessings and such from having an eternal companion.  I understand.  (At least some of it.)  I guess it just brings up a touchy subject that some of us won’t see eye to eye on.  But I suppose that’s why I believe in the things that I do…and why you believe as you do.

We are at an impasse.  And that will just have to do.

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Going it Solo

May 30, 2007

by melbo

I grew up in Wisconsin, the full blown mission field, where there are 5 Mormon kids in your high school and at least 3 of them are your siblings. You go to all the stake dances on the off chance that a cute inactive boy will show and sweep you off your feet. None ever do, but at least it leaves you free to act like a complete fool instead of trying to impress someone.

When I was a Laurel (and of dating age), the most eligible Melchizedek priesthood holder was also my best friend. Needless to say, we were the ones acting a fool together at those infamous stake dances. (No romance, though, which sorely disappointed our mothers.) With no other Mormon boys to date, I preyed on the nonmembers. I dated some of the nicest guys while I was in high school. Interestingly, I didn’t date naughty boys until I was surrounded by RMs in Utah (with at least one exception, that is)… Serving a mission does not a saint make.

I always vowed never to live in Utah, especially the notorious “Happy Valley,” but I somehow ended up moving there right out of high school. Much to my chagrin, I found myself completely immersed in Utah’s single culture during my prime dating years. I decided to make the most of it though, so I kept busy. My roommates and I used to say we “dated for food”. Even if a date wasn’t great, at least we got a meal out of it. And we wouldn’t forget to order some extra to bring home and share.

Utah culture knocks me out. The elaborate lengths people go to to ask each other out still mystifies me. I never would have believed that there are guys who write poetry and bake cakes just to invite a girl to dinner. Plain old asking seems so boring after all that hoopla. And the lingo they use… I still hear my husband asking his friends if they “scored” with their dates. It sounds dirty, but as it turns out, the Utah version of a score is much tamer than the Wisconsin version. A makeout seems to grant you clout in any circle on BYU campus. The best part is that Marc’s friends respond to his question the same way a guy would after a one night stand — with a cock of the chin, one raised eyebrow and an “oh yeah, man”.

Going it solo can get more difficult as the years pass on, though. The older you get, the younger the singles wards get – something the guys usually like and the girls usually don’t. I have a friend in my family ward who has threatened to go to the singles ward on a few occasions but seems hesitant. Her husband passed away a few years ago and she is raising their 8 year old son alone. As a single mother, she feels out of place in our ward and has had a difficult time relating to and building strong friendships among the other women. She’s also been stuck in primary for years, so that doesn’t make it any easier. She has said to me that my friendship is the only reason she’s stayed in our ward, but I feel it’s more than that. Even though her parents could take her son to church so she could go to the Singles ward, I sense that she’s afraid to face it all alone, in fear that she’ll feel out of place there. She’d be solo at church for the first time in years without even her son as company. She’d be starting all over, dating, making friends, etc. That’s a lot of pressure to impress other people, especially without a gaggle of girlfriends to support you.

I think that’s why I always say that I’d never want to be single again. I had fun while it lasted, but I sure thank the Creator for my ‘ole ball and chain. I got married at 22, which seems young now, but it didn’t at the time. Mormon women get a lot of flack for marrying young, but I think it’s a little unfair. Getting married young works for some people. My sister, for example, got engaged at 19 after a three week courtship. They have been together almost 9 years, have 3 kids and are perfect for each other. In my case, although I was young, I had known my hubbie for 2 years before we got hitched. Although I was sure about him long before he was sure about me, in the end we were sure together. Looking back at the 3 years we’ve been married, our timing was perfect. I guess all that dating paid off.

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One is the Loneliest Number

May 30, 2007

by HP 

I know of two sisters, both of whom are dear to me, who entered into ill-advised relationships because of a fear of being alone.  Actually, that is unfair; they continued in ill-advised relationships because of a fear of being alone.

In one case, she was a sister who joined the church in her thirties (after the great marriage free-for-all period).  She was a beautiful eccentric; an artist who loved her art enough to travel the world to perfect it.  I don’t understand exactly why she never found anyone, but I think it has to do with the slim pickings in her area.  The male singles her age in her area were doing one (or a combination) of three things: looking for a younger hausfrau for baby-producing and husband pampering; not at all interested in the arts beyond what it took to go on dates with her; too involved with day to day living to care about what interested her.  In any case, when she did find love, it was unexpected.  On a trip to Italy, she met an Italian who professed his love for her.  After a whirlwind romance, in which he was baptized, they were quickly married.  Unfortunately, he was more interested in a green card than a marriage.  He denigrated her, hurt her, and left her.

In the other case, the sister suddenly lost a lot of weight in her late forties.  She was skinnier than she had been since her early twenties.  Well-meaning family members encouraged her to use online dating services, geared toward members of the church.  She dated a couple of clods (most men her age who are unmarried are unmarried for a good reason).  She also met a man who was an ex-Navy officer.  He travelled a lot and came out to see her.  He was dashing, funny, and handsome.  Frankly, he was interested in her in ways that men had not been for a long time.  They fell into dating and he recommended a business venture to her.  Her family grew concerned when she began to approach them for loans to her boyfriend.  A little investigating turned up a series of failed relationships and cons perpetrated by this man on LDS women.  Suddenly, this sister was the subject of a scenario out of a Lifetime movie.  She denied the facts for a time, but eventually she was presented with sufficient proof to convince her of his ill-intent.  She’d been conned.

These were both intelligent, quick, witty, capable, and confident women.  Exactly the kind of woman who you would never expect to be taken in by con-men.

I don’t want to lay the blame for this at the feet of the church.  Certainly anybody can be lonely and anybody can be taken in by someone looking to prey on the lonely (look at Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).  But I know both of these women and I know that in both cases they felt incomplete, like they weren’t living to their highest potential if they weren’t married and caring for a family.  I also know that they no longer feel that way; or rather they don’t feel that way as poignantly.

Perhaps we all need a bad love affair, to teach us the value of good ones.  I wish nothing more for these sisters than that they be happy.  I think that they should be now and that they will be forever, if there is a just God in Heaven.

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One Singular Sensation

May 28, 2007

by Carrie Ann

When I was younger, I had a very specific timetable for myself. I would go to college at this age, get married and that age, and be done having kids at this age. I basically thought that I would live my own mother’s timeline: start young, finish young. I guess it’s good to have some sort of plan, but my life has turned out very different from how I thought it would, and that’s a good thing, too. But I had to learn to be flexible.

I have realized lately that I am a late bloomer. I am glad, looking back, that I did not marry younger (although at the time it’s all I wanted). I am glad that I had the chance to work and go to school before I became a wife. I would have been a lot less mature and a lot less “worldly” had I jumped into something sooner. I could have forced my timetable, but I’m glad I waited for Todd. Even still, there are things I wish I had done as a single person that I never had the chance to do.

To be honest, I have a hard time relating to people who don’t feel included as single people in the Gospel. You can be as included as you want to be in any situation, except maybe Junior High and some playgroups in Japan. We have argued as much in previous topics about being childless in our family culture as well. Being childless has not stopped me from making friends or being involved in the ward. Being single didn’t keep me from going to the temple, participating, or feeling like I was a part of a ward family. My older sister and brother did not get married until “later” as well, and I never sensed bitterness or impatience from them either.

People might not always be nice. There are people who are completely insensitive. Mothers will most likely hound their single children for all eternity. But isn’t it always about what you make of it? I don’t see people like Sherry Dew being “held back” because she’s single. Our stake young women’s president is single AND childless, and no one is questioning her ability to lead and serve.

I understand that the requirements for full celestial glory include being married AND having posterity, but can I be bitter if it doesn’t happen for me in this lifetime? How will being bitter change anything? I will make the most of it, and I have.

And I make sure the young women in my class understand this as well. We are very careful about the lessons and activities we do concerning temple marriage. Never will you catch me planning an activity where we go try on wedding dresses, because the reality is that not everyone is going to get married in this lifetime. I want them to really understand that. We teach them very clearly that if they choose to fully participate in the whole celestial rewards thing it requires them to marry in the temple, but we also try to instill in them a sense of confidence and purpose and individual happiness aside from that. Marriage doesn’t make you happy. Only you can make you happy.

P.S. Sorry about last week. It was a great topic and I have enjoyed reading the posts and comments alike. I was in Portland visiting a sister and new baby and was too busy falling in love with my new niece to tear myself away and post. Ahh…baby love…

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The Benefits of Marriage

May 27, 2007

by Joseph

Joseph is an inactive gay member of the church (for now). Still waiting for new revelation on gays and the priesthood.

Ten years ago, if you would have asked me what I thought about gay marriage, I probably would have chuckled and said it will never happen. The next thing I would of probably mentioned was that gays aren’t capable of being married. Having only started living a gay life at that time, my perception of gays and gay life did not allow for the idea that gays were commitment oriented. My experiences were leading me to believe a lot of very different things altogether.

Move forward 10 years to today and ask me what I think about gay marriage and you will find me nodding, even somber and considerate. You might wonder what it is that would cause me to see things differently. There is one thing that I can think of, and that’s love. Not the bubble gum love that comes and goes so easily, but the kind of love that tugs you, holds you, completes you. Back then I was so quintessentially naïve about what it meant to be gay, but today I understand completely. Being gay means that I choose a companion, a lover, and a best friend who is the same sex as me. That’s all it means, it doesn’t mean that I live my life differently. 

I must confess, that the idea of special legislation to grant me ‘civil unions’ and ‘domestic partnerships’ has a tendency to push my angry mo button. That’s not to say that I get my hackles up over every little thing, but let’s be honest here, why do I need to have special rights? Conservatives are so focused on the idea that the word marriage is so fundamentally fused with God, righteousness and sanctity, that the very idea that it could be used to define any union might undo the very fabric of life, as they know it. 

But that’s just it isn’t it? It’s the only life they know, therefore, it’s the only life that matters. Under this umbrella of thought though, other lives are co-existing. By other lives, I mean people just like me, people outside the ring of privilege. Every day I go to work, earn my income, buy groceries for dinner, fill my car with gas, come home to my family, make dinner, do dishes, talk about my day, pay my bills and crawl into bed exhausted, knowing that I’ll have to do it all again tomorrow. And just like everyone else, I’ll do it, because I know that the reason that I do so is to contribute to the well being of my family, to make a home for us to live in together, to provide shelter, sustenance, security and hopefully a secure future. 

No one does this as a knee jerk reaction; they do it out of love and commitment. They do it because it gives them purpose. There was a time that I didn’t believe in gay love, because I thought that gay love was different. I know now, that love is love, no matter who it is and that no law, no religion, no group of people can decide who loves whom. I found love in Nicholas. I found purpose and meaning in my life with him. Together we struggle, we succeed, even lose sometimes, but we do it together. Our combined efforts strengthen us and bring us closer together; sometimes they even push us apart. 

It’s easy to look at it this way, from a political, personal rights type of view. What I wonder is if anyone ever just stops and looks at it from a different one? Just for a moment stop, think and wonder what it means to a couple to get married. It seems to me that there is so much tension built up around some kind of sanctimonious attitude about what marriage is supposed to be, that no one is really considering what marriage really is. 

When I think of marriage I don’t see dollar signs (unless it’s regarding the price of the wedding…ugh), insurance claims or tax deductions. When I think about marriage and why I would want to get married, I think of my family, my friends and my community. By getting married, I see my partner and I standing before all of them, showing my parents that I have chosen to share my life with an individual who gives me unconditional love, who makes me feel complete and who I give my unconditional love and support to. We take vows and promises in front of our friends and community, to show them our commitment, to give them confidence in our roles as members of this society. Our parents’ bear witness to the love and encouragement that they have given to us our whole lives, in the hope that we will find happiness, love and joy.

Marriage is more than rights and privileges, it’s commitment, it’s strength and it’s about love. In the world today, other countries are recognizing this and granting marriages with rights to gay couples. Our friends in London will be celebrating (without us sadly) this June. I can’t tell you how happy I am for them and how ever so slightly, with little bits of bitterness, just how jealous I am. Because you see, with their union will come guarantees for each other; the life they build and invest in together will be protected and reserved only for them. 

When I get married, it won’t be for a political statement; it will be because it’s within my right to choose whom it is that I will dedicate my life to. I will do it because I have found with in that individual all that I require physically, mentally and emotionally from another person. Okay, so maybe there are some things that don’t quite come with the package, but that’s what girlfriends (no, not that kind of girlfriend either…remember, I’m gay) are for, right? I understand that love is flawed and that there are ups and downs to being in a relationship. It’s not perfect. Or, maybe that’s what makes for the perfect marriage, the knowledge that it is flawed; that it has weak spots that need tending. Regardless, it’s within each of us to discover for ourselves what it is that fulfills us in marriage, not churches and governments.

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Man, that’s really gay

May 26, 2007

Mainstream Christianity will never accept gay marriage and neither will the Church. The whole discussion over gay marriage and civil unions in America can become extremely hurtful and convoluted by religion, and I might add, needlessly. America is a nation of many faiths and many beliefs. You can attend a church, mosque, synagogue, shrine, or you can stay at home. Churches and religious organizations should do what they do best, care for the poor, help in relief efforts after a disaster, and save souls. Save the souls that want to be saved and render the rest unto Caesar.”And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”

Apparently this instruction is so important that it’s listed in all four of the Gospels. There are things in life that belong in the religious sphere and there are things that belong solely in politics. Please do not confuse the two. In the Muslim world apostates are condemned to death. Victims of rape are killed by male relatives, sometimes in the public square, in order to defend the family’s honor. Do we need any more reasons to keep our religious mores out of the public business? Just as we wouldn’t want Sharia law to replace our Constitution we should not let the Proclamation on the Family dictate our political conscience.

I mean, my God, until 29 years ago, Black males weren’t even allowed to hold the Priesthood. We had to wait. We had to wait for a revelation from God in order for us to see African Americans as equals. We had to wait for a sign from heaven, which the Book of Mormon teaches is adulterous, in order for us to do the right thing. Before that, Mormon apologists were using the curse of Cain to defend the decision of the Church to denying Black men the priesthood authority to bless their own families. And just as if by magic, 15 white men received a “revelation” from God in 1978, only a decade or two behind the Civil Rights movement. Please. Keep religion out of the gay marriage issue. It would serve us well to be reminded from time to time that Christ did not come to Judea to establish a political kingdom but a holy one.

Traditional marriage faces no threat from gay marriage. The sorry state of marriage is the doing of heterosexual couples. Half of temple marriages end in divorce. Are gay couples to blame? If you want to start defending marriage, start with your own, please. Weak families with heterosexual parents at the helm are the failures of heterosexual parents. Let’s not pass on the buck to homosexual couples. It’s easy to blame the boogeyman. Many gay people were raised by heterosexual parents. It would be ridiculous to blame the parents for the flamboyantly straight lifestyle that has so obviously corrupted their children and turned them gay.

Society ought to commend any couple who make a commitment to each other and keep it, be they gay or straight. Good people of any stripe will love their children and teach them right from wrong and teach them ethics. Let them do so.

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How Gay Is This?

May 25, 2007

by alice

I was recently at a business dinner in Atlanta. After the usual business chatter, the three of us—a woman I’ve worked with on and off over the last few years, a woman I was meeting for the first time, and myself—moved the conversation from business to much more personal aspects of our lives. I’m not sure if this was because much of our conference focused on creating more meaningful business relationships, or if it was because the business dinner consisted only of women, but for whatever reason, by the end of the evening I had learned more about these women than I currently know about some of my close friends.

One of the women, we’ll call her Jane, lives in San Francisco with her partner and their 7 year-old son. I had known her before the dinner, so none of this was new information for me, but learning that her parents had disowned her because she is a lesbian and learning that more than half of her paycheck goes to different payments for her son because she and her partner are not recognized under the law as a married couple, meaning that she isn’t even recognized as one of her son’s parents, was new to me.

I’ve always felt that denying individuals from the gay community the right to marry their partners is discrimination. Now, however, after listening to Jane’s story, this form of discrimination enrages me.

I don’t understand why the law defines “marriage” as between a man and a woman. It isn’t like men and women are all that successful at it, so why make it an exclusive activity? We allow rotten people who are going to do horrible things to their significant other and future children to get married all of the time, but we put a caveat on marriage based on someone’s sexual orientation? This is backwards. If we are going to put a caveat on marriage, it shouldn’t have anything to do with one’s sexual activities, but whether or not they are in it for the right reasons, whether or not they are going to make good parents, etc.

Gays, lesbians, and transgenders are going to continue to be gay, lesbian, and transgender, continue to fall in love, and continue to create families together. None of this is going to change, in fact, it is only going to increase, regardless of the laws that are in place. We are doing more damage to our communities by making these individuals lives more difficult than for other individuals. It is all so 1950’s, it is discrimination.