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Well, that's not good enough!


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I don't have many friends in my hometown that I've kept in touch with over the last four years. Only two, really, and they're sisters who I spent a lot of time with in high school and whose house I came to consider a second home -- those kinds of friends. Close friends. Good friends.

Very religious, very active in church friends.

Friends who don't watch PG-13 movies because they don't like the vulgarity or violence, who only listen to "good" music, who don't go to bars to avoid the appearance of evil, who volunteer for every service opportunity that comes along.

They're good and faithful people. And in high school, we had a lot in common (except that I liked PG-13 movies).

And now that we're older -- well, one is married. The other, all but engaged. And both to good, righteous, upstanding Priesthood holders.

And me?

I joined their family for Family Home Evening on Monday -- a trip to the movies to see one of the kids movies that just came out. A good, clean flick. After it was over, we wandered out into the parking lot and I showed off my new car. We chatted. We talked. The sister who was there cajoled me to come to Institute the next night -- said I should stay after and sing in the choir with her. She'd introduce me to some good Mormon boys -- because, if I'm single, I obviously need introducing.

They began to list the possible boys: well, this one's cute, if you don't mind dating a dentist. Stay away from this one -- and this one -- and this one -- and this one. This one likes so-and-so, but he's 24 and she's only 19, so if you wanted to go out with him...

And so forth.

At that point I casually (or, rather, not-so-casually) mentioned that I've been seeing a guy back east, and wasn't all that interested in being set up...

...at which point, of course, they ask the obviously logical question: "Is he Mormon?"

"Well, no, but--"

"Well, that's not good enough!"

And so on it went.

Isn't it? I've given that conversation a lot of thought over the past couple days, and I have to wonder.

When I was younger, I was determined I'd only marry an RM in the temple. As I got older, I began to temper my zeal a little bit -- he didn't have to be an RM. But I basically had a list of priorities -- of "What I Want In A Guy" and those were high on it.

Now?

They're important, but not top-most. If I'm going to spend time and all eternity with a fellow, I'd like him to be someone I feel like I can be myself around; and if I can't find that in the Church, then I'll be happy to settle for time, and let eternity sort itself out.

So there's the question -- is it good enough? Am I allowed to make my own priorities? Or do I need to conform them to what I'm told in church is most important? And when it comes to dating -- just dating, not Mormon-dating-with-high-marriage-pressure -- does it matter?

(I don't intend for this to turn into a discussion of whether there are date-able/marry-able guys/girls in LDS-land. There must be -- Heaven knows, they get married often enough. The question, rather, is whether religion ought to be every young LDS person's highest priority in looking for a mate.)


15 Responses to “Well, that's not good enough!”

  1. Blogger HP 

    As the child of a part-member family where (luckily?) the non-member doesn't care about religion at all, I'll say that it probably shouldn't be top priority (there are, after all, a whole lot of active LDS jerks), but it should probably be up there. The question isn't really what you want, but rather, if you are going to be serious with this person, what do you want for your children. People who seem "tolerant" of your religion may not be so regarding their children's religion. So if it is absolutely important to you that your children be raised Mormon, then this is something that you need to consider and discuss. I was lucky in that my father's complete apathy toward all things religion meant that he didn't care what we did religiously, but that appears to be the exception, at least according to the anecdotal evidence that I have heard.

    That said, I wish you and your beau the best (even if you aren't thinking marriage at this point).

  2. Blogger lchan 

    I think if someone completely buys what the church is selling, they would want to get married in the temple. It's one of the big ticket items.

    But, I'd say you are absolutely allowed to make your own priorities. If you spend your life trying to conform to what you're told in church is most important despite your own feelings and ideas, you'll end up resentful, slightly schizophrenic, and a false person.

    And, there are no guarantees in life. I'm not the same kind of Mormon that I was when I married my husband and neither is he. Luckily, we've changed in similar ways.

  3. Blogger Arwyn 

    John,

    You've got a very valid point there. My step-father isn't LDS either, and not very religious really (though very philosophical), and has always been very tolerant of us kids being raised in the Church. Before I actually married someone, I would be sure to have a very serious conversation about that.

    Laura,

    You're absolutely right. It is a big ticket item. But what if (and this is hypothetical) someone wasn't able to find someone in the Church that they'd want to spend eternity with? Would it be better to remain single their entire life, or to marry someone only for time and hope for things to work out in the future?

  4. Anonymous harpingheather 

    The purpose of this life is to prepare ourselves for eternity. You can't let it just take care of itself.

    As a child of a part-member family and now in a part-member marriage myself, I don't recommend it.

    Pray very hard before you make any life-altering decisions.

  5. Blogger lchan 

    I personally think it would be better to be married outside of the church than to be single indefinitely.

    But, really, that hypothetical doesn't really match up with the real world for me. When you decide to get married, it should be because you're totally in over your head in love and can't imagine not spending your lives together. It wouldn't be a logically calculated thing.

    I don't know how much of it you can even figure out. I mean, sure, you can decide whether or not to continue to date non-members. But, when that guy comes along, he comes along.

    When I met my husband it was just completely different from any other guy I'd ever dated. And, while it took time to make the decision, looking back it was just a really powerful thing. More powerful than the church or what my parents thought or anybody else.

    We were married in the temple, but his mother isn't a member, and if it had been important to him to have a civil ceremony first and wait a year, I'd have done it.

  6. Anonymous Kim Siever 

    Eternity and whatnot aside, John has a very valid point. Marriages are most successful when both parties come from similar backgrounds. This is particularly the case when it comes to economic status and religion.

    If you're going to settle for someone of a different faith, you need to make sure that he has no problems with you attending faithfully and participating fully. You also need to make sure he has no problem with your children doing the same. You also need to make sure that if he is okay with all that now, he'll also be okay with it 15 years from now. You also need to make sure he isn't just saying he is okay with it because he loves you and saying yes is the only way to marry you.

    I served my mission in Utah. I met hundreds of part member families. The majority of them consisted of a member who never talked religion with the spouse before marriage, or if they did and the spouse was opposed to it, the member thought they could convert them.

    Many divorces have happened because of differences in religion. It needs to be very clear what is expected from both parties where religion is concerned.

  7. Blogger Arwyn 

    Heather,

    I would fully intend to put the matter to the Lord before making any life-altering decisions. But living parents of whom only one is a member, I know that it can work out, and am optimstic that if you get two of the right people together, it's possible.

    Also, is "preparing for the next life" limited to "marrying in the temple"? Could it also mean "developing personally in order to better fulfill the purpose of the next life"? And could that, in the case of certain individuals, be done better in a happy marriage between two people who aren't necessarily of the same faith?

    Laura,

    I'm afraid some of us -- even if we're hopelessly in love -- can't avoid logical calculations. That's -- fortunately or unfortunately -- my reality. Which is why this question intruiges me.

    I'm also intruiged that most of the responses have run along the lines of "if you decide to marry this guy (or one like him), remember to keep this in mind."

    Kim, you have an excellent point along those lines, that a marriage works well when both parties are from similar backgrounds. They also work well when both parties have similar goals in life and value similar things highly. I've found that most LDS guys I know don't necessarily have the same values I do outside of the LDS aspect, and my priorities are weighing more heavily that way.

    My point, in short, is that I'm not sure I can find an LDS guy with whom I have enough in common to make it a match like the kind you're suggesting. In that case, does religion trump everything else?

  8. Blogger D-Train 

    Arwyn, I share a number of your concerns. Heather's argument that we're here to prepare for eternity and thus cannot assume that it will take care of itself is legitimate, but misses the point.

    If we're agreed that a temple marriage is our goal, we should ask ourselves how being a 40 (or 50, or 60....) year old single moves us any closer to that. I'm super young now (21), but with a couple years of school, a mission, and more school to go, I'll likely be 26 or 27 before I'm in the marriage market. And, what's more, I'll be moving around a lot, making it tough to find someone and spend enough time with them to make a marriage quality relationship. How likely is it that I'll find that perfect over-30 single wherever I end up? I don't see it being that likely.

    I want to challenge the assumption that a temporal marriage means giving up forever on celestial marriage. After all, if that covenant is only binding in this life, why would it chain you down later? The chances of you finding someone that might accept the gospel later in your marriage might well be greater than the chance of finding someone later.

    In the end, this is always a personal decision. Nobody can tell you to marry outside the temple or to only wait for a worthy member. Personal decisions must be suited to personal circumstances.

  9. Blogger D-Train 

    One other thing: I believe that any major decision must ALWAYS include a stiff rational component (at least in the absence of clock-you-over-the-head revelation). We wouldn't ever buy a house or move to Belize without thinking clearly about whether this decision would help us meet our future needs, no matter how strongly we felt about the house or the move. I don't dispute that emotions are very important, but I'd rather have reason without love than love without reason.

  10. Anonymous harpingheather 

    >>After all, if that covenant is only binding in this life, why would it chain you down later?<<

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I find the idea of building my life and family with someone and then losing them in the next life because I didn't do my best to be sure we were sealed, depressing as all get out.

  11. Blogger lchan 

    D-Train,
    You're right on that "Personal decisions must be suited to personal circumstances". We could end the discussion on that and be done with it, really.

    Arwyn,
    I get what you're saying and I didn't mean to say there should be no logical thinking before marriage. It's a HUGE decision - things should fit logically as well as emotionally.

    There's a point, though, where you have to take a leap of faith.

    What I actually meant about logical calculation is: at what point do you say that you're going to "settle" for a non-member? I don't think that would or should happen. If you marry a non-member, it should be because you love that man and he fits into your life and your future plans as he is now. The whole idea of marriage and settling just doesn't sit well with me.

    Heather,
    I think that is a depressing thought, but I don't see God as a bureaucrat who splits up families because the paper work isn't right. Then again, I'm just totally open to the fact that I have no idea how eternity actually works.

  12. Blogger Arwyn 

    Laura,

    Good point. You're definitely right. I wouldn't marry anyone that I felt I was "settling" for. You may have put it better than I was able to there, since what I was hoping to get at in the gist of this post was when it would be better to go out with a non-member over a member (if it was) -- and I think your point about love really hits the nail there.

    Heather,

    I do find that depressing; but not as depressing as I find the idea of "settling" for a guy because I can marry him for eternity when maybe I could build what I think would be a happier life in this life with someone else.

    I think Laura's analogy of God as not a bureaucrat really touches how I feel about it -- I think there's wiggle room. What if (hypothetically) I spent a happy life married to a non-member who was determined not to convert -- but who accepted baptism in the next and we were sealed then? Now, I wouldn't necessarily build my life assuming that would be the case; but it could be. Eternity's not fixed yet.

  13. Blogger annegb 

    Cheiko Okazaki married a guy out of the temple and he later joined the church and became a mission president. He didn't become a more wonderful person, but he blessed the lives of a lot of people.

    My first and third husband were inactive men, my first husband never became active, he died, my third husband in now very active and a good man. My second husband was the returned missionary son of a stake president and a member of an esteemed Utah family. He was the biggest rat ---- on the planet.

    You can never tell.

  14. Anonymous Anonymous 

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  15. Anonymous andrea 

    i don't know you or anyone else on here, but i do believe that the mormon church is a cult that will ruin your life whether you stay in the church or try to leave. aside from that, it's not any church that saves you. and, if you can't share core beliefs with the person you eventually marry, what do you really share?

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