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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Men Choose, Women Are Chosen. » Men Choose, Women Are Chosen.

Men Choose, Women Are Chosen.

mfranti - June 27, 2011

When I joined the Church back in 1999, I was a single mom in her mid or late 20s. Exactly one year later, I received my endowment in the Los Angeles temple and learned a little more about exhaltation. I wont say I was disappointed, but I felt like I had a long way to go if I hoped to reach the highest level. Finding a compatible mate is a lot of work.

I wasn’t really in the market for a partner back then. I was still healing from my divorce in ’96 and really enjoying life as a single person in South Orange County (geography matters). Getting married or even seriously committed was NOT on my mind in the late ’90s. But being a new convert and wanting to be a good Mormon girl/woman, I felt the pressure to find a mate. My only problem was the adorable 60 pounds of tanned skinned, brown hair, doe-eyed cuteness that kept me company. Plus I was old and had a career and way overqualified for the young men in my singles ward.

Being the curious type, I inquired about my chances of being exalted and got an earful. I learned that women, not having as many opportunities to find a companion, will have a chance to marry and have a family in the next life but men aren’t so lucky. I was told it’s because they’re the ones doing the picking.

I think I snorted under my breath at the absurdity of it.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first or last time I heard such nonsense. I heard it several times by well-intentioned married folk in my family ward. I even heard some of the older single sisters say it. Most memorable was a long discussion in a church parking lot with a 42-year-old single man who lived with a lot of guilt because he hadn’t picked someone yet. (Did these people feel sorry for me because they knew I was going to have a rough go in the dating department?)

It’s been over 10 years since I heard the idea but it came up recently in a conversation. Later that day I read Ardis’ fantastic post reminding me of those first (and awkward) years as a single member and thought y’all might have something to say about what I was told.

Do we really believe that single women will have the opportunity to marry and have families in the next life but single men won’t?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of being able to marry and have a family (If I wanted one) after I’m dead, but I don’t like that men are denied the same blessing because they’re the ones with the power /more opportunities to choose a companion . It suggests that women are just waiting to be chosen.

27 Comments »

  1. We’re getting there in terms of treating women equally. Still a ways to go though.

    Comment by Dan — June 27, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  2. Did you really mean “exhalation”? Or were you aiming at “exaltation”?

    Comment by Mark B. — June 27, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  3. Mark,

    Thanks for pointing that out. Oh, and next time the rest of my post disappears, let me know.

    Comment by mfranti — June 27, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  4. been a member two years longer than you, but have never heard that it’s only women who will get a chance later on.

    Comment by makakona — June 27, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  5. makakona,

    I don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s unique to the California ward I was in, but I don’t think so. The group of folks I was discussing it with made me think it’s a widely held belief.

    Comment by mfranti — June 27, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  6. I have also not ever heard it explicitly said that men will be unable to proceed in that manner after death, although I guess I see how people might extrapolate that. After all, the sisters need someone to marry, do they not? Surely they will not all be marrying people who died in childhood.

    While I do not take anyone’s threats of what will happen in their supposition after death, there certainly is a double standard right here and now. I have 6 adult single sisters, and 2 adult single brothers; I guess if I had to bet, I would bet on one of those brothers marrying before the sisters. They certainly feel the freedom to date around. I cannot see my sisters pursuing anyone–we were just not socialized that way. So in their real here and now lives, my brothers will choose and my sisters will hope to be chosen.

    Comment by ESO — June 27, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

  7. No, that’s not doctrine, it’s an obvious folktale based on 19th century sexual politics. I’ve never actually heard it said out loud as fact, but I can believe it would be repeated in SoCal. My experience as a missionary there taught me that California Mormons are not too discriminatingf when it comes to repeating any brand of pseudo-doctrinal claptrap that comes down I-5.

    I can see how some GA might have invented that story at some time over the years in order to get young men off their asses and get them to make more efforts to be married, but it makes no real sense at all.

    If it had any basis in reality it would be totally unfair because certainly there are plenty of women who have had opportunities to marry that declined for one reason or another. Men don’t have a complete monopoly on control over marriage prospects, especially now.

    Comment by MCQ — June 27, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

  8. I’ve heard that once in a youth conference, when I was younger. Haven’t really heard it since, which is good.

    Comment by Niklas — June 28, 2011 @ 12:00 am

  9. I’ve heard this sentiment twice. Once in a regional YSA conference in Edmonton, Alberta about 5 years ago. Our stake president joked that he and his wife had a sign-up list available for any men wanting to be their ministering angels in heaven (the implication being, ‘choose a wife or be doomed to an eternity of servitude’). And I heard a similar sentiment from an Area 70 in England in 2007. It may not be doctrinal, but the idea is certainly in circulation.

    Comment by Martine — June 28, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  10. “Do we really believe that single women will have the opportunity to marry and have families in the next life but single men won’t?”

    Nope. We don’t.

    Comment by Steve Evans — June 28, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  11. I’ve heard it taught, but I think it’s baloney and I don’t believe it. Another thing I’ve heard taught that I think is baloney is that if a woman turns down a marriage proposal and then never gets married in life, she’s lost her chance. (Naturally, people told me this when I was 17 and had just broken up with my fiance because he cheated on me with my best friend.)

    Church doctrine is clear that anyone who lacks the opportunity to receive saving ordinances in this life will have the opportunity to receive them in the afterlife. God is the judge of what constitutes an opportunity. We aren’t.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — June 28, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  12. The problem comes when we look on marriage as a “saving ordinance.” Thinking of it in that way leads to not only false docttrine like this, but also a lot of bad marriages.

    I had a dear friend who married a girl in his single ward on the recommendation of his bishop, which was based on the idea that marriage was a “necessary ordinance” and he needed to bite the bullet and make it happen. It was pretty much put exactly that way. Very romantic. He dutifully married the girl even though he didn’t love her. Problem was, the girl was a lesbian, which was known to her and to the bishop but not my friend. Several painful months later, they got divorced. I don’t think that “saving ordinance” saved anyone.

    Marriage is much more than a saving ordinance. It requires more than a desire to be saved. That alone is not the basis for a successful relationship.

    Comment by MCQ — June 28, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  13. Handbook 2, 1:43–

    Church leaders should give special attention to individuals who do not presently enjoy the support of a family of strong Church members. These members may include children and youth whose parents are not members of the Church, other individuals in part-member families, and single adults of all ages. They are covenant members of God’s eternal family, deeply loved by Him. These individuals should be given opportunities for service in the Church. The Church can provide wholesome sociality and fellowship that these members can find nowhere else.

    Every member of the Church is as precious as every other. God’s eternal plan provides for all of His faithful children to receive every blessing of eternal life, exalted in families forever.

    Comment by Matthew Chapman — June 29, 2011 @ 7:25 am

  14. re: the above

    It seems to me that “all” includes both male and female, both single and married, and that “faithful” does not exclude “haven’t found anyone yet”.

    Comment by Matthew Chapman — June 29, 2011 @ 7:28 am

  15. Almost two years ago now in a special YSA conference which took the form of a question answer session a member of the quorum of the twelve expressed this idea. Females will have the chance to marry and raise families but didn’t mention anything about the male position. Though it was bracketed by statements towards the men about our failure of duty in the getting married department

    Comment by Not Karl — June 29, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  16. Yes. I have heard this with different variations and different levels of “doctrine.”

    The most doctrinally infused version I have heard has to do with Polygamy and the fact that women are far more righteous than men, thus the logical outcome of a surplus of women in the Celestial Kingdom that did not get the chance to get married to a worthy priesthood holder on earth because there are too few and thus polygamy being the resulting ideal structure for the celestial ones.

    Included in the “non worthy priesthood holders” category are those who willingly procrastinate getting married and therefore willfuly delay the blessing of temple marriage.

    Also, throughout college, I was repeatedly told that it was men’s fault that there were single sisters, or that sisters in the ward were getting old and remaining single because the men were too conceited, juvenile, immature or picky.

    I believe this is still the culture being taught by the bretheren to the priesthood organizations. It is the responsibility of the men to establish families through getting married. Single men are usually single due to their negligence, lack of maturiy, lack of preparedness or pickyness.

    At least once I have received these teachings accompanied with the following scripture:

    D&C 132:
    16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

    17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

    The scripture (according to my personal interpretation of verse 15) is speaking to those who knowingly and willingly choose to marry by other law which is not “the Lord’s” after having the opportunity to get married within the law.

    Nevertheless, I have seen this passage used to condemn men who haven’t gotten married after they came home from their mission. Remaining eternally single and being the servants for the more obedient married ones is the punishment for such negligence.

    During my last mission dinner with my mission president, both him and his wife asserted we ought to be married in the temple within a year of having returned home. And they strongly implied not doing so constituted willful procrastination and willfully delaying the eternal blessings of the temple. There was one returning sister with us at the dinner and I clearly recall the mission president’s wife tell her something to the effect that it was not her responsibility but ours (the male missionaries).

    And that is my experience.

    Comment by Manuel — June 30, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  17. Culturally (or biologically) men do the chasing. Out of all the years of having crushes on guys I never managed to get one interested in me (all the flirting/chasing got me practically nowhere). Who did I marry? One of the guys who was interested in me and then I became interested in them.
    I am sure that it is the opposite for most guys. They like a lot of girls who don’t like them back. Their girlfriends are those who they pursued and actually accepted their “pursuit.”
    NONE of my married women friends describe a courtship of chasing a guy until he married her. I am sure there are a few out there, of course. Of course it happens.
    Now, since part of this is cultural I am sure that the “blame” can be shifted to be more equal as society’s dating behavior changes. However, I think for a long, long time there will still be a little bit of difference between how men and women are attracted.

    Comment by jks — July 1, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  18. All I have to say is that it is about time ladies and men worked out their OWN salvation in this area.

    If you do not do what is necessary to get a man (within reason and the boundaries of the Church), and deal with that in a realistic way, can you really say you have done your due diligence?

    Comment by Nate T — July 1, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  19. Nate,

    I’m not sure if you’re joking or not. If you’re not, what exactly does it take to get a man? What is due diligence?

    I’m sure there’s lots of women who want to know.

    So now that women aren’t a man’s property, to be bought and sold and “kept”, can we dispense with the idea that proper women don’t pursue (I hate that term) men?

    finding a mate, a good match that is, takes time. I’ll never understand why people are in such a hurry to pair up for life.

    Comment by mfranti — July 1, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  20. I add my voice to mfranti. What exactly is “due diligence,” Nate? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I rather like the old-fashioned social structure. I used to think it was only fair for the girl to work as hard at “pursuing” the guy as he did at pursuing her, but after seeing the lack of energy in most guys around my age, I’ve changed my mind.

    I think the current problem is that guys DON’T chase enough, and expect the women to flock to their doorsteps. And, sadly, we do.

    If I ever marry again, it will be because the guy is man enough to take more initiative than simply expressing interest.

    As for the question in the OP, I think that (like with women) it will depend on why they didn’t have an opportunity.

    Comment by SilverRain — July 6, 2011 @ 6:16 am

  21. Back when I was in Young Womens, the bishop’s son always used to joke that he wasn’t getting married until after he died because “then all the girls up there are perfect.” He was joking, obviously, but it’s always felt like an equal-opportunity promise to me.

    Comment by Jamie S — July 6, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  22. Elder Scott said marriage provides an ideal setting for overcoming any tendency to be selfish or self-centered. “I think one of the reasons that we are counseled to get married early in life is to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change,” he said. “I feel sorry for any man who hasn’t yet made the choice to seek an eternal companion and my heart weeps for the sisters who haven’t had the opportunity to marry.”

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/60749/Elder-Richard-G-Scott-The-eternal-blessings-of-marriage.html

    Comment by mfranti — July 10, 2011 @ 1:13 am

  23. Ok, but Elder Scott is about 1000 years old. Of course he looks at it that way. But he’s not announcing doctrine. Or at least, not on that particular point.

    Comment by MCQ — July 10, 2011 @ 2:20 am

  24. For me, it’s not so much that it’s doctrine, it’s that that’s the mindset of so many people in the church–men go out and choose someone and women wait to be chosen.

    What, a woman can’t be single by choice?

    Comment by Randi — July 10, 2011 @ 8:20 am

  25. No. Resistance is futile. Marry or be assimilated.

    Comment by MCQ — July 10, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  26. Matthew above quotes the handbook – “and that “faithful” does not exclude “haven’t found anyone yet”.”

    Just wanted to add my 2-cents in that faithful, probably doesn’t include those who say, “She/He is nice, but not good looking enough to tempt me.” or otherwise refusing to accept someone because of their various imperfections. To me, that’s basically showing an unwillingness to forgive someone, but it’s even worse as they aren’t requiring any forgiveness for simply not being “sexy” enough (a false contruct of society that we buy into and incorporate into our consciousness).

    Of course, in any case, I am perfectly ok with eternal progression through the kingdoms so even those LDS who have convinced themselves they have no opportunity to marry for superficial reasons would still be able to work past that, but it wouldn’t be easy, and because the possibility exists doesn’t mean it would happen as often as we suppose (or maybe it does). I’m just saying, it’s not like the lights just turn on beyond the veil and we become a changed person with a full understanding. We still have to earn that line upon line.

    Of course, everything I said could and probably would equally apply to a married couple — we have so many hang-ups and issues that disqualify us from being fully considered “faithful” that we’ll have to progress and work beyond those as well. But whatever light and knowledge and faith we gain in this life, so much the better then.

    Comment by chris — July 13, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  27. faithful, probably doesn’t include those who say, “She/He is nice, but not good looking enough to tempt me.” or otherwise refusing to accept someone because of their various imperfections. To me, that’s basically showing an unwillingness to forgive someone, but it’s even worse as they aren’t requiring any forgiveness for simply not being “sexy” enough (a false contruct of society that we buy into and incorporate into our consciousness).

    Ridiculous. You aren’t required to accept someone just because they are willing to marry you. How about if you just don’t love that person? Is that a failure to forgive as well?

    I would much rather have someone tell me that they don’t love me (whatever the reason) and send me on my way than try to be with me out of a sense of duty, or because they don’t want to be thought superficial. There are such things as “attraction” and “love.”

    You may say someone isn’t sexy or isn’t attractive enough, but what you really mean is that you just don’t love that person. If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t marry them, whatever their other qualities might be.

    Comment by MCQ — July 13, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

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