I'm not sure how many of our loyal followers might have viewed Elder Oaks' YSA fireside the other night, but the message was twofold.
The overlooked part of his message was the best, in my view. Oaks mentioned that we need the "dedication of a lifetime" to truly be centered in the gospel. True doctrine and a great message.
Of course, the part that everyone focused on was his demand to date one another and "pair off" rather than "hang out". I have a criticism and a question.
I agree that it's pretty silly to assume that one date is a proposal, although I do think that this is a bit less common than everyone (myself doubly included) thinks. But the question arises? Why do you need to have the opening stages of a relationship be in a paired off format? I don't see any logical reason that this isn't working or can't work. I know, I know, general counsel, don't send me letters, but I can't see how this attains the status of general counsel. That said, I do have a couple of explanations that are half humorous and half (to me) very interesting discussion topics.
If lots of people are anything like me, they like individual Mormons much better than groups of them. In my ward, I can count on my fingers the number of people that I dislike individually. I have to deal with them rarely and it doesn't matter. But I'd rather make out with a boa constrictor than go to an activity where a large group of Mormons will be present. This is true in regular society, but to a smaller extent. So, it's possible that Individual Molly might be a lot hotter than Group Molly. Certainly viable. You hate her less, you marry her more. I can see that.
But there's one other thing that might just be a specific-to-me issue, but that interests me lots. In a discussion with my roommates, they maintained that I underrate the attractiveness of Mormon girls due to my general prejudice against Mormons (I want to emphasize at this point that I am one of the active Mormon bloggers here. This prejudice is not "I hate Mormons and their dozens of wives" but "I generally feel more at home with nonmembers than with Mormons"). I noted that I think lots of Mormons are attractive, but in retrospect, it's likely that they're right. Not that I can't be attracted to a Mormon, but that it takes a lot more to get me interested. I'm willing to date nonmembers that aren't really any better than Mormons, but seem a lot more attractive for some reason. For example, a young lady that I wouldn't mind hooking up with at present is quite pretty in any context and I think is much more attractive than the vast majority of the girls at church. She's better by most measures and that's understandable. But the last girl that I was sort of with was a slightly better than average looking, slightly smarter than average, slightly nicer than average kind of girl. In other words, probably no better than the sixtieth percentile at your local singles ward. Why does she seem like a much better option than all but the most unattainable women at church?
I think the answer is pretty complex, but it's mostly (for me) just that there's a lot more baggage with the Mormons and that I can just do better outside of the Church. You date a Mormon girl and your church life and social life become a Utah smoothie. People will harass you about getting married and the girl will expect more. Date a nonmember and church stays at church. Righteousness can follow, a gospel-centered life can follow, but the institute building rests on [local corner near campus].
Not being a particularly attractive [read: overweight] male that hasn't been on the mission [read: convert of two years], I'm just a guy that thinks bad thoughts at church. Not that I'm being judged or whatever, but why on earth would any but the most pathetic pick me to crush on? You want a guy with my strengths, you go hook up with Mike (our beloved blogger) or Brett (the proprietor of the best hair of any of our commenting brethren). I can get a decent girl in the Church, but I'd have to work hard for her.
Outside the Church, I still don't have a shot with the cheerleader types (being wretchedly fat). But, instead of being a "bad Mormon", I'm a nice, righteous guy. I'm the guy that'll talk to you about your needs. I'm the great person that helps people. Not that any of that's actually true, but I look great in comparison to a lot of guys that some girls have dated. I'm not trying to get in anyone's pants, I'm just a poor, righteous, sweet Mormon boy looking for Semi-Commital Makeout. Basically, at my local ward, my ceiling in terms of who I can attain is probably between the 40th and 55th percentile....and that might take working hard. Outside the church, I can end up with a 60-70 working less hard and an 80th percentile girl with the work I'd put in in the Church for a 45th or 50th.
So, my questions to you:
1) Generic "would you date a non-Mormon?" Why or why not?
2) Is your attraction to Mormons higher, the same, or less than to non-Mormons? Discuss.
3) What about this "pairing off" thing?
4) Can you do better inside or outside the Church? How much extra credit do you give for being Mormon? (Married people should probably avoid answering this question at all costs. Brett and Katie, answer away.)