WARNING: Sophisticated readers have described The Mormon Marriage Ref as a painfully artificial and repellent reality TV way of solving arguments, as using incredibly silly black and white binary thinking, and as sorely lacking in nuance. Read at your own risk!
Here’s the situation:
Matt and Sarah are a young couple living in Las Vegas. They are very physically active, and put a high priority on health and exercise. They love the warm weather and their big neighborhood pool. They originally met in Germany (Sarah is German, and speaks fluent English) while Matt was on his mission. Matt went back to Germany later on to study abroad, and after a brief courtship he proposed. They eventually ended up in Las Vegas where Matt is getting an MBA and Sarah is a personal trainer. They get along pretty well overall, but have had an ongoing debate about modesty. Sarah thinks Matt is too lax about wearing his garments. She doesn’t like Matt wearing his running shorts to the grocery store, or leaving his shirt off to wash the car. Matt doesn’t like Sarah wearing a bikini at the neighborhood pool, or on family vacations, or on facebook. Vegas summers are just sooooooo hot, right?
Let’s listen in on a recent debate…
Sarah: “I get that you don’t like to change at the gym, but why do you wait sooooo long to change after you come home? There’s always one more smoothie to grab, a car to wash, and errand to run. You end up never putting your garments back on until the end of the day. That doesn’t jive with what I learned at the temple, and I don’t see how you can have a recommend, Elder.”
Matt: [Laughing] “Oh no! I better give up my recommend! Chillax. Really though, after I workout I don’t like changing again until I’ve taken a shower, and I need to stop sweating first. It’s not exactly cool here. If God’s okay with me taking off my garments to workout, I’m sure he won’t mind if I wash the car.”
Sarah: “Heh, fine. I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on this, because I’m right and you’re stubborn. Why did I marry you again?” [playfully smirking]
Matt: “You’re hot!” [Sarah roles her eyes] “KIDDING!”
Sarah: [Scoffs] You’re digging yourself into a hole here buddy…”
Later on that day…
Matt: “I just don’t know how I feel about our photos on the beach in Maui ending up on your facebook–which you spend WAY too much time doing, by the way. Anyway, do you really want the Elder’s Quorum President or some other ward member to see you in a bikini when they check facebook? I don’t even want to know what they’re thinking.”
Sarah: “Okay, wow, so it’s my responsibility to control their thoughts? I have already had to adjust to the culture here… and what’s with the facebook dig, Mr. World of WarCraft? Anyway, that’s not the issue here. Americans are kind of ashamed of their bodies. They could use a little liberation. Gosh that sounds weird considering we live in Vegas.”
Matt: “Exactly! Are we living the Lord’s standards or the world’s? Women shouldn’t wear immodest swimsuits. What kind of message are you sending to the Young Women?”
Sarah: “So, YOU’RE the one who decides what is or is not modest? This is SUCH a cultural issue. In some places an ankle is immodest. And why is my belly button less modest than yours?”
Matt: “Standards for what we wear is NOT a cultural issue.”
Sarah: “We shouldn’t try to cram Utah Mormon Culture down the throats of all the other cultures of the world. People can still be faithful and have different cultures. Stop trying to force me to live according to your sexist standards… PLEASE tell me why my navel is more offensive than yours! You don’t have an argument, really. YOU are also often breaking something that is very much indeed universal with not wearing your garments a lot of the time. Who cares about what other people are thinking about what we wear. What matters is what we think and what God thinks, and you’re in the wrong here.”
Make the call! Who wins this argument?[poll id=”181″]
Granted, no one really wins, so how can a couple like this come to an understanding, or acceptance?