Exponent II (an online magazine for LDS women) is doing a series of articles this week on being single in the Church and they’ve graciously given me permission to re-post them. Please go check out their site here. The opening explanation is by Suzette:
“The church still struggles with ways to value variations on its strong family theme,” I recently said to a friend in a discussion about The Family Proclamation.
The theme variation that most directly impacts me is singlehood. As a life-long single member of a church that values marriage, couple sealings, family history and child rearing it is often difficult to keep my footing.
I do believe the gospel is for everyone and I (fortunately) have a caring spiritual home in the warmth and openness of my ward – but still there are struggles. I grieve the life I had intended for myself and the children I hoped for. I wonder about the next life as a single daughter of God. I am continually forced to “fit myself in” to lessons and talks that do not allow room for my variation. (Luckily, I no longer worry about where to sit in sacrament meeting, because my ward is inviting on every pew.) For other single members, the struggle to fit into their ward, socially, is significant. Some feel confused and hurt by counsel from uninformed Bishops. And many wrestle with self-esteem because of their inability to meet an unattainable standard. For all singles there are painful realities couched within Mormon Doctrine about the links between marriage and salvation.
Like most single members, I love families. I am blessed with a good family of origin, I value the families in my ward, and I believe that the family unit is a great way to traverse the journey of mortality. However, the continual rhetoric about “The Family” can (often in unintended ways) exclude single members and create pain in our lives. Whether we choose to stay with the church, or leave it, life can be lonely and full of self-doubt.
Conversely, I’ll be the first to admit that single life is pretty sweet. There are advantages that I would not like to trade for another life’s path. I am not waiting; I am not half-a-soul. I am, myself, a whole daughter of God ready to serve and contribute and share. That is how I hope to be seen.
The church rarely turns away from work – and I believe there is work to do on full inclusion for single members. Problems can be found in curriculum and in our ideas about eternal life. Problems can be found on both sides of the single/married coin: in the attitudes of married members toward single members and in the attitudes of single members toward ourselves.
For the next two weeks, this series, “Single and Married in the LDS Church”, will address some of these problems and concerns. It is our hope to inform, explain, and find solutions to bring the Body of Christ together. Our contributors are mostly single themselves and themes will include
- the unique contributions of single members
- dispelling myths about singles
- how to be a good parent to single adults – and how to including singles in your community as a married member
- how to speak for ourselves in positive says – as single members
- the interface of single members in a variety of contexts, such as sexuality, employment, the temple
- a focus on specific single situations such as single parents and divorce
- an introspective look at grieving as a single member
We hope you will enjoy the series, share the posts with others, and comment with your own stories and experiences.