The Single Mormon Girl and the Priesthood

single mormon chick church, Culture, doctrine, eternity, faith, families, fear, feminism, general, Happiness, LDS, love, marriage, Mormon, Priesthood, religion, salvation, temple, testimony, women 32 Comments

Everybody blogs, right? Why not me? Looking for my niche, my angle, and the one thing that seemed to make me stand out in my corner of the world. I found it: Being single. And 40. And Mormon. In a family ward. In a town where EVERYONE is under 30, sealed in the temple and constantly reproducing. The best humor is found in our painful life experiences. Read about mine and laugh with me. Or at me. Whichever
This subject can be a tricky one. Gone are the days when a woman NEEDS a man for anything. We earn our own money, buy our own homes, travel alone, and live alone, but… we don’t  have the priesthood.  We need men for the priesthood.
When I was married, Mr. Soldier of Fortune was a non member, so the priesthood was somewhat of a non issue. We lived close enough to my parents that on the rare occasions I was sick or otherwise needed a blessing I could go to my dad. I was young, invincible, and though the absence of priesthood crept into my consciousness every once in a while, I didn’t think about it much. Then came my nightmare of a divorce and I was in so much emotional pain, I could hardly move. My family, seeing what I had been through, were sympathetic (they love me), but they were relieved to see my marriage over. I didn’t feel like I could go to my dad for a blessing of comfort when I knew that deep inside himself he was jumping for joy that Mr Soldier of Fortune was out of my life. I had been inactive for the majority of my marriage, but the year or so prior to our break up, I had started going back. No one really knew me. I usually just stayed for sacrament, but a few had introduced themselves and I was assigned home  teachers.

All that have been through an ugly divorce know that the pain can come in waves. Some you can stand against as the water rushes over you. Others are like a tsunami that sucks you in and spits you out in hostile and unfamiliar terrain. It was a tsunami day when I called my bishop and asked if he could come to my house and give me a blessing. I had caught him at a bad time; he was walking out the door to go somewhere with his wife. I apologized over and over and told him not to worry about it, but he came over anyway(it might have been the my unsuccessful attempts to hide the tears in my voice). I felt so embarrassed, but he gave me a lovely blessing that truly got me through a particularly dark period.

For several years after I divorced, I had no desire to date. the legal proceedings drug out(thanks to him)and I was determined not to get involved with anyone until the divorce was final. I had kind of settled into being single and I actually liked it. I worked hard, had fun with my friends, traveled, and pretty much did whatever I wanted to do. I was pretty active in a family ward that didnt treat me as some freak of nature because I wasn’t married. Life was good.Then I read an article in the Ensign about how people in the church are choosing not to marry and that it was considered a troublesome trend in our culture. It pointed out the commandments regarding marriage and encouraged single church members  not  disregard marriage as a worthy goal in  life. For the first time in 7 years I thought those words were written for me-a revelation of sorts. Most of the men I met didn’t seem to take their priesthood too seriously. Some had arrogantly lived beneath their privilege, unashamed of the covenants they broke, not sure if they even wanted to be in good standing with the church again. There were parts of me that held the priesthood in some disregard, sometimes even mild contempt. Heavenly Father had not blessed me with a faithful husband who honored his priesthood, so maybe this was just one of the many blessings that would not be mine in this life.

In more recent years, my heart has  softened on this subject. Going to the temple for the first time to receive my own endowment made me more aware of the eternal necessity of the priesthood. If you are a TBM(as I am)then you know in order to be exalted you must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. More priesthood.The first time I felt truly moved was about 3 years ago when I witnessed a baby blessing. It was a young father, a recent convert to the church, blessing his baby. He had invited quite a few men to stand in the circle and bless this tiny spirit so new to this world. They gathered and  formed the circle, placing one hand under the baby and the other on the shoulder of the elder next to him. It moved me that these men were joined in such a tender act and when the blessing ended and after the baby was shown to the congregation, there were warm embraces and slaps on the shoulder. For the first time I yearned to have an eternal companion I loved to be standing in one of those circles.

Late last year all the priesthood holders in my ward sang as a choir. I dont remember the song, but to see all of those men standing behind the pulpit singing, literally moved me to tears. Then today, the youth speaker canceled and the bishop(last minute) asked the three priests in our ward to share their favorite scripture and explain what it meant to them. These young men did fantastic. You could tell they were a little nervous, but they had scriptures ready and spoke in such a way that i was impressed with their conviction. I got a little misty seeing these young men, future missionaries, husbands, and fathers grow in their faith before my eyes. It’s somewhat affirming to know there are still men in the church who take the priesthood seriously.
Can we bridge the ever growing gap that exists between strong and effective women who don’t “need” a man, but require the priesthood in order to gain the exaltation we strive for?

Comments

comments

Comments 32

  1. SMC:
    Loved your article. You have a deep insight rarely seen in LDS women. You deserve a good man. I hope God blesses you in your endeavors.

  2. Can we bridge the ever growing gap that exists between strong and effective women who don’t “need” a man, but require the priesthood in order to gain the exaltation we strive for?

    1st I must say I’m no TBM. I do understand what it feels like to not receive your righteous desires, but it sounds to me you have a bit of a downer on “men”.

    A “Righteous” Priesthood holder rarely exist, it is the women that make us men good, if your looking for the finished article you wont find him.

    To answer your initial question, there is no need to bridge the gap, the gap has always existed and always will. women need love and companionship as well as any man.

    additionally it is not that the woman or the man require the priesthood to receive exaltation, they require sincere love the type that would exist between a righteous priesthood holder and his wife.

    I’m obviously not encouraging you to look for a relationship outside the Church but there is more to a man than his Priesthood.

  3. I’m obviously not encouraging you to look for a relationship outside the Church but there is more to a man than his Priesthood.

    MrQandA is right. I know a lot of women who married priesthood holders in the temple and have had miserable marriages.

  4. I want to point out that I was a single man until me 30’s. even though men hold the priesthood, we cannot enjoy exaltation without a righteous woman either. let’s not forget that men and women need each other to obtain exaltation. as a tbm (or tbm heretic), I often wondered is a temple sealing was out of my realm of possibilities, regardless of the fact that I hold the priesthood.

  5. #2 – I am not a big fan of the type of discourse that denigrates men, in saying that men are onyl good because of a woman. I think that we need each other be good. Moreover, I am not overly convinced that it needs to be a female partner. I think it is a partner that brings out the best and worst in us. Although I agree with the later comments about a good relationship.

    Can the Priesthood add anything? I guess we need to think about the distinction between priesthood service and ordinances. Ordinances, seeing that you are TBM, you need. Service is about the connections you have with the priesthood holders (or other men) in your life. Can you have positive spiritually fulfilling (non-sexual) relationships with men, I am certain you can. I have them with some females, not including my wife. I feel they bless and inspire me and I hope I do the same for them. I am not convicned that what you saw is unique to Priesthood but perhaps a more common and public manifestation of something within all or most men.

  6. Rico brings up a great point. I think too often people view gender dynamics as two halves of one whole. Yet each of us has male & female components to our personalities. We should strive to be a complete person in our own right without needing to rely on another person to complete us. Another person can inspire us to be our better self, but they should not become a crutch for our underdeveloped skills or a lack of motivation to become a whole person.

  7. Do you have a best friend in the ward? A woman you love and trust and who loves and trusts you, whose kids you babysit for and who you sit with at church or at ward activities? If so, you should ask for her husband to be your home teacher.

    You should never feel like you don’t have access to priesthood blessings if you need them. If you have a good home teacher, you will have priesthood access.

  8. Rico #5 I agree that it is not necessarily a male partner required, however..

    Hawkgrrl #6 . It is not my intention to turn this into gender specific roles, I was mealy replying to the theme of the post. we are speaking generally, there are individuals that are outside the norm, Now again I would affirm that we need companionship be that male or female, alone we are incomplete. I agree that a partner can bring out the worst in us but if true love is involved (which is what it boils down to), then we reform the worst in us. You can’t do it alone, you can’t do it in a social setting with friends****, it can only be achieved by intimate day to day dealings.

    ***Christ has the power to make up the difference***

    Hawkgrrl #6 It is not about one making up for the other, but due to love one magnifying the other MrQandA is a better person due to MrsQandA and vice versa

  9. Hawk-

    “We should strive to be a complete person in our own right without needing to rely on another person to complete us.”

    Agreed, but for me, my husband does complete me and I know if something were to happen to him, I would not feel complete again until I was reunited with him. I have felt such a stark difference in being alone vs. being with him that I know being apart from him would feel as though a huge part of me is missing. I don’t feel I could ever do anything on my own to bring that completeness to myself, even though I am educated, capable of working and supporting myself, etc. I think that need for one another is what connects us to that deeper eternal love and joy and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

    Single mormon chick-

    My husband is a righteous priesthood holder and I can tell you from years of experience that there is nothing better than a man who loves the Lord. It is worth finding a man who puts Him first and who respects you and his priesthood. Hang in there and I hope your righteous hunk of burning love comes your way soon! 🙂

  10. mh — I was only 29 when I got married 😉

    Ann — something we have stressed with our daughters is that boyfriends come and go, but girlfriends are forever …

    single mormon chick — you’ve said some things well worth pondering. I’m still thinking.

  11. Loved your post.

    I often feel the dilemma of women in the church. You have summed it up so well. Hugs to you. You sound like a strong woman….no man necessary! But I hope you do, in time, find a good one. :0)

  12. Jen # 10 It is worth finding a man who puts Him first and who respects you and his priesthood.

    What about Love, Passion, Attraction. What about being on a similar social and intellectual playing field, these characteristics are obviously more important to women (or men) than the ones you identified because there are plenty of single low paid, short balding men in the church too. (no offence meant to the short low paid balding men out there, and i’m sure many of you are happily married or in a relationship, but…)

    My point is don’t be judgemental, build relationships built on friendship, and look for the potential within someone.

    they may be divorced, less – active, have a gimpy leg, or… a tail? but love conquers all.

  13. As one of those balding, low-paid, middle aged men (not so short) I concur, reluctantly.

    This issue of marriage outside the Church is an interesting one for me. I had a good friend who wanted to marry some one who was a non-member and she asked me my opinion I said I would have to think about it so I read everything I can find. In my view it seems that the scriptures are clear when in gives reasons why marriage outside the covenant is bad. That person may lead you away from the covenant. But there are examples of righteous people who married outside of the covenant to their advantage, Joseph and Asenath & Ruth and Boaz. There has been a lot of things said about this issue by modern leaders but it is, IMO, a theological framework built up on these other concerns. For a TBM this is something to consider because the statistics are not encouraging. But I am not convinced that marriage inside the Church is inherently better than marriage outside of the Church. I think that marrying someone outside of the Church does not mean you forfeit any spiritual blessings by default. She got married to that guy a few weeks ago (not out of my influence) and they are very happy. I hope they remain so.

  14. Men can’t give priesthood blessings to themselves, right?

    If you were a single man, and you needed a blessing, you would still have to call another man to come give it to you, would you not?

    And if women were given the priesthood, you would still have to call another man or woman to give you a blessing, correct?

    I say all this because I’m not sure how much of a gender dynamic is really at play here. Seems to me that Mormonism is set up so that people need each other for these things. I get that there’s a goal of having a priesthood holder in every home so that the wife and children can be serviced by him, but if he’s the one who needs a blessing, he still has to call someone else. And if the priesthood-holding husband isn’t so great at giving blessings, you’ll also have to call someone else.

    My heart goes out to you hearing about your divorce. I’m a non-member married to an LDS man, and we went through a separation five years ago and nearly got divorced. It was one of the most painful eras of my life and I would never want to re-live it. We each go to our own churches two weeks out of the month, and I often feel like a single Christian when I do that. Interfaith marriages can be very lonely affairs sometimes.

  15. MrQanda-

    “My point is don’t be judgemental, build relationships built on friendship, and look for the potential within someone.

    they may be divorced, less – active, have a gimpy leg, or… a tail? but love conquers all”

    I’m not sure how I am being judgmental? I know what a relationship is built on, my husband is my best friend and there is also plenty of love, passion and attraction in our relationship. I disagree with you that love conquers all. If two people don’t have the same values and are not going in the same direction, love sometimes cannot conquer that. There is plenty of proof out there that this is true. I have loved people before that I could never live with or marry because of our differences.

    I think a marital relationship needs to start with friendship, trust AND similar values systems. It is easy to fall in love with all sorts of different people, but to stay in love, to be happy and be able to work through all the challenges life brings (including children!), it is much easier if it is with a person who values the same things you do. I don’t think stating that trying to find a man who loves the Lord and respects women is judgmental, but to each his own.

  16. Jen #16

    I have no real issue with being judgemental we all have to be at times, perhaps I should have said don’t be too judgemental.

    You have to be judgemental when your assessing if someone respects his priesthood, it’s subjective, how do you decide ?

    “If two people don’t have the same values and are not going in the same direction, love sometimes cannot conquer that”

    I agree there are exceptions, however generally if two people are truly in love, supporting and strengthening the other becomes much of their values and direction, regardless of religious, political, social beliefs.

  17. As I reflect back — high school, BYU, singles wards, graduate school student wards, more singles wards — most of the Mormon guys I went out with made me feel bad about myself. A few were abusive; all were domineering, patronized me, and were very clear in their sense of entitlement stemming from their possession of the Priesthood. Some of the nobler ones tried to carry a sense of gravitas about the power they wielded over the helpless females who had to wait for their help. Lots of them showed that they enjoyed the superiority just a little too much.

    One guy at BYU dumped me because he “didn’t think it fit well with the Lord’s plan for a Priesthood holder to have a wife that was too intelligent, as she might exercise unrighteous dominion.” That is not a joke. He said he felt sorry for me, because my intelligence was both a gift and a curse. If I were ever to become a mother, I’d be good at raising kids, he said, but he doubted I would ever find anyone willing to marry me because I seemed difficult to “guide.”

    This attitude is all too prevalent among LDS men. Singles wards are dating wastelands. The ones who aren’t gay are slackers or sexist. There is the rare good find but my overall experience has been such that making the decision to date non-Mormons has allowed me to meet the most rewarding, engaging, egalitarian and sincerely caring men I’ve ever met. They don’t look at me as a brood mare, and they don’t look at marriage as a compelled activity.

    I am happily dating a nevermo. We’re talking about family and kids, and he treats me like a million bucks. He is flabbergasted when I recall details of my life as an active Mormon, and he repeatedly expresses dismay over the issues of gender within Mormon culture. I’ve never heard an active, believing Mormon man say anything like that.

  18. Molly (#19), I’ve heard a lot said about Mormon males that agree with your assessment, but I gotta’ say I don’t understand where it comes from. I haven’t dated any Mormon men, but I’ve been friends and roommates with a lot of them. I do think the average Mormon male is sexist (depending on your definition), but patronizing and domineering? Most of the guys I knew were looking for women who would match them well, not women they could dominate, and intelligence in a girl was viewed as a huge plus. One really bright roommate broke up with his beautiful and outgoing girlfriend not because he was intimidated, but because she wasn’t particularly intellectual and he wanted someone he could relate to better.

    My experience is that Mormon guys aren’t turned off by successful, intelligent women. They’re turned off by women who constantly feel they have something to prove. I think it’s great that you’ve got a good nevermo, but I can’t help but wonder how many rocks you’ve had to look under to find those Mormon guys you’ve talked about. They sound like outliers to me.

  19. MrQanda-

    “I agree there are exceptions, however generally if two people are truly in love, supporting and strengthening the other becomes much of their values and direction, regardless of religious, political, social beliefs.”

    I disagree that if two people are truly in love that values and direction switch to supporting and strengthening the other. Values are a fundamental part of a person and tend to be what guide people in the direction they are going. For example, a dear friend of mine was from the Middle East. We got along very well and we were great friends. Our beliefs were so different, however, that we would have never been able to make a relationship work beyond friendship without serious compromises that would have made both of us unhappy. To me, truly loving someone is not asking them to change who they are and what they believe. Loving a person allows them to be who they are and to live as they believe and not expecting them to change for you or to be something that you would rather have them be. I think that religious, social and political beliefs can interfere greatly in a good relationship and to the point that the compromises are too much. This, of course, is referring to people before marriage. After two people are married, if one changes then the spouses try to work as best they can at making the marriage and relationship work. Sometimes divorce is sanctioned by the Lord though and this is obviously between the Lord and the couple. I just really can’t agree that love makes everything better, in fact, sometimes love is the reason people separate and go their own ways.

  20. As a father of a couple of very intelligent daughters, I cringed reading Molly’s #19.

    Ouch!

    Yes, there are bad apples among the LDS men, as one would expect, especially the ones that didn’t really have to fight tooth and nail for the right to be LDS and ordained to the priesthood and lose their lineal birthright in the process.

    Having gone through that grinder, I must say it has sorely pained me at times how lightly my sons treat their priesthood. (If you read this, son, I am not saying this by way of condemnation, but just that for you it is not as dearly bought as it is for me.)

    Sure women can live this mortal life fine without men, as well as men without women. However, “there is no woman without a man, nor man without the woman.”

    It sounds so cliche perhaps to talk about the male and female complementing each other, and I agree with some of the dissenters. The differences between individuals among both genders is bigger than those between the genders in general (and the difference does go deeper than just reproductive organs; women’s brains are different than men’s). But the yin and yang together make the full circle.

    And, without the priesthood there is no eternal life. If you have no faith in Eternal Life in the first place, then it doesn’t really concern you. But we were created male and female; together we prevail, disparate we will find our limitations fairly soon.

    Elohim is not plural just for decoration. It’s my firm belief, that the name reveals true nature of our Father; Father is not complete without Mother. Yet we know little about that. Does the typical male insecurity require that or what, I don’t know.

  21. just to be clear: i have both family and very good friends that hold the priesthood that i feel very comfortable asking for a blessing. i just think its different when its your own husband that you can rely on in these matters. its just different. its the constant presence of the priesthood in your home.
    the statistics are downright depressing. one study stated that only 8% of single lds men over the age of 40 are active. eight percent. that information coupled with the already painfully obvious fact that women in the church far outnumber the men. could look pretty dismal for a tbm sister just looking for a good guy. not a perfect guy. doesnt have to be peter priesthood and carry consecrated oil and scriptures with him where ever he goes. just a good guy. doesnt have to be george clooney(or whoever is people magazines sexiest man alive that year)or have a 6 figure income. just a good guy. with good intentions. who has similar values.
    dating only members guarantees nothing. i cant imagine anyone would think being sealed means you automatically get a celestial marriage. i know i dont.
    i am rambling and i apologize. trying to address a lot of the different comments.

  22. “one study stated that only 8% of single lds men over the age of 40 are active.”

    I find this hard to believe; I would question the methodology of such a study. Many of the comments that follow the above quote seem stereotypically negative, and I reject most of those. A single guy could easily lament that the only single women left are fat, ugly, or divorced, and I think you would take exception to such a negative stereotype. If you live outside the “mormon corridor”, then perhaps you have something to lament, but I’ve heard these same negative stereotypical comments right here in Utah, and they don’t apply here. I agree with Rico and Hawkgrrrl’s sentiments on this (and I know they live outside the Wasatch Front.)

    I have a brother and sister who have died (age 35 and 36, respectively.) Their spouses have both found wonderful mates, despite the baggage of each having 4 children. My bro-in-law married in the temple–my sister-in-law married a good priesthood holder. It’s not impossible, and this anecdotal evidence seems to fly in the face of the statistic you quoted.

    I’m not trying to be negative here, and I too got tired of the marriage talk when I was single, but I think you see the world as half-empty, rather than half-full. I think that has much to do with your perception of reality.

  23. #1 henry & #12 dawn- thanks! 🙂

    #2 mr q&a i LOVE men. some of my best friends are men.;) i dont think the priesthood is the only thing to a man, but for a tbm as myself, it is an important factor. better not to have it at all than to abuse or misuse it. i am not the “finished article” and i dont expect a man to be-life and marriage are works in progress and everyone changes. hopefully for the better.

    #11 stephen m- keep thinking and get back to me-your comments are always interesting.

    there were many things that i wanted to answer directly and specifically, but i will just say in general: i am a whole person who would like a spouse to add on to the existing happiness. i have a great ward(family)with amazing home teachers. my post did not come from a place of bitterness or negativity,but a commentary on my personal experiences and how i view the priesthood and its place in my life.

  24. #15 – Jack, I always look for any of your comments on any site. I find having an outside perspective from someone who can be crtical without ever being negative a valuable part of my understanding. Your comments (#15) caused me to reflect, ponder and consider for hours and hours over the past couple of days. Hopefully this isn’t looked at as a thread-jack but I need to know more about your thoughts on the subjects raised in your comment. As a person who is currently going through my own personal and spiritual crises your comments touched me deeply and helped me get through the past couple of days.

  25. I never seriously dated a lifelong church member. Most seemed to be looking for women who wanted to stay “barefoot and pregnant” (actual non-ironic quote from someone I was interested in until that comment) or at least willing to be a SAHM with no real career aspirations.

    I do have some great male LDS friends that are much more egalitarian. They are few and far between.

    My husband converted while we were dating. I’m very glad he doesn’t carry the unconscious baggage relating to gender roles that many men who grew up in the church come with.

  26. I am married to a momarn and have heard all of the above from either my wife or others of that faith. I have been married for twelve years and my wife introduced me to the mormam church. I’ve found no real reason to believe the momarn church is true or the official church of God. The fact that the Bible clearly states that no man can bear the sight of God, meaning that if he actually saw him our mortal senses couldn’t bear the greatness, the splendor, the awesome power of actually seeing him. The one account of one who actually saw God had to be ressurected. So, the though of a 14 year old kid actually seeing and talking to the Godhead is hard for me to accept. The other fact is that why would God rely on a 14 year old kid to establish a church when his own Son, Jesus, didn’t start a ministry until he was 30 years old? And the fact that Paul and the remainder of the Apostles stressed the fact that learned men of God should lead the church. The bible teaches that we all should have the attitude of little children in learning His word meaning that we should have their couriosity, their willingness to learn. Never was a child used to the magnitude of the proposed experience of Joseph Smith. Even Smith’s life would hinder me from believing the authenticity of his tale being one given to questionable practises. There are so many questions that the bible has answers to that the momarn church doesn’t and really can’t have answers to. Additionally, there are so many doctrines that the momarns purport that have no scriptural basis or precedence, namely, polygamy (which they’ve since denounced) sealed marriages, baptism for the dean, having the only priesthood . The bible clearly teaches in Hebrews and other epistles that each believer and follower of Christ is a priest and that Christ is the Highpriest. I hear repeatedly that personal testimony that I believe that the church is true and I cincerely believe that the testifier believes that fact. But does that make it right? Is the testimony based on scripture, feeling, emotion, blind allegiance or parents’ wishes? I believe that when one studies the scripture and asks God for guidance and confirmation of what he has studied that he will undoubtedly be led to the Church of Christ. This is a bible base faith who find authority for what they believe and practise in the scripture. There is no better foundation on which to build a church. Additionally, the priesthoods (Aaronic, Levitical) that are used in the momarn church have no basis in scripture. In Hebrewes, Galations and elsewhere, we’re taught that we should refrain from the Old Testament practise of temple worship. There is no indication nor record of temple work recorded in the new testament. But for space and time I could go on with other observations concerning this. But, I would like to say that I deeply respect the people of momarn faith. Their emphasis on family their amazing missionary efforts should be emulated by all who proclaim to be follower of Christ. They have such a great spirit about them that can only be described as infectious. But I truly believe that their mantra that their’s is the only true church is just not scripurally sound doctrine. I would love to continue this discussion and welcome any comments. Thanks

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