Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Lonely, Bitter, Maladjusted, Highly Disagreeable, Sour, Gay, and Insane: The Unmarried Saint in the Pew Next to You
 


Lonely, Bitter, Maladjusted, Highly Disagreeable, Sour, Gay, and Insane: The Unmarried Saint in the Pew Next to You

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 15, 2009

Mormon attitudes toward the never-married adult are of particular interest to me, in part because that’s my own status but also because this is a demographic rarely addressed in a church that sacralizes the married state.

Two months ago, I posted a 1922 lesson on The Destiny of the Unmarried that was, to my mind, surprisingly positive in exploring the reasons for both “voluntary” and “involuntary spinsterhood” and acknowledging that singles can have a positive role in life.

The lesson posted this time is from The Latter-day Saint Family, written by Mormon sociologist Harold T. Christensen. The Latter-day Saint Family was used as the manual for the 1947 family relations class in Sunday School.

Beyond that, I leave all interpretation and commentary to you.

What of Those Who Never Marry?

We have just seen how woman is trying to find herself in a world of change and confusion. We have pointed out her unique opportunity in the home, and we have emphasized the moral mission that is hers. In regards to the relationships of the sexes, we have argued for a differentiated equality, with responsibility and moral integrity on both sides.

Here we shall continue with this same general theme, that of personality adjustment in the modern world, but our focus will be upon the unmarried of both sexes.

Who Remain Single?

United States census figures reveal that nearly ten percent of our adult population never marries. Only about ninety percent of all who reach the age of forty-five have had the marriage experience. Since very few of the remaining ten percent will marry after that age, it follows that nearly one-tenth of all adults end their lives as single individuals. The percentage that never marries is even greater than this when all ages are considered. This is illustrated by the fact that of every 100,000 females born, only approximately 78,000 ever marry, and of these, incidentally, only about 65,000 eventually become mothers. This means that between one-fifth and one-fourth of all mortals never marry; some because of death before the time of marriage; and others because they either choose it that way or lack opportunity on the adult level.

We have already seen how the average woman that remains single is of higher quality than the average bachelor man, though there are exceptions. This condition grows out of the tendency of man to marry down for the sake of ego protection, plus the tendencies of many capable women to want a career, to delay marriage for it, and to be more particular than men in choosing a mate.

This point finds reinforcement in the fact that of women who don’t go beyond the sixth grade in school, about ninety-five percent marry, while only some seventy percent of those who graduate from college ever marry. Apparently it is the more able and career-minded of the females that go on for higher education, and in going on they reduce their marriage chances, both by becoming older and by becoming too intellectual for the dominance-loving male. We should add parenthetically, however, that though marriage after college graduation becomes slightly less likely for the girl, this does not necessarily apply while she is in school. Furthermore, as studies reveal, college marriages when they do take place are much less likely to fail than the average run.

Single persons of every age group have higher death rates than do those that are married. This is particularly true of the male, but with certain exceptions in the childbearing ages it applies to females as well. Reasons are two:

(1) Marriage is selective as to health; though the weak and the unfit don’t always remain single, the tendency is in that direction.

(2) Marriage tends to improve the health of its members by settling them down and stabilizing their lives.

Why Don’t They Marry?

There are many reasons why people don’t marry, only a few of which we will be able to review here.

In the first place, an occasional individual remains single of his own choice. Sometimes this is in the spirit of self-sacrifice and is because of defects in heredity, health, ability, or character. More frequently, however, those who decide against marriage do so out of a reluctance to give up their independence, a fear of the uncertainties and responsibilities that family life entails, a lack of normal love feelings, or some such reason. But feelings like this are natural only when they are mild; it is rare indeed if healthy people voluntarily decide against marriage. Religious celibacy, as in Catholicism, is the one exception.

Most of those who remain single do so out of circumstances rather than by choice. Sometimes this comes through no fault of their own, as with those who die or become institutionalized before the age for marriage. But more frequently it is due to situations such as the following:

(1) They fail to make themselves attractive to mate-seekers of the opposite sex. This may be because they leave their personalities relatively undeveloped, remaining crude and unmannered, or overly shy and reclusive; it may be because they have lowered their standards of morality and decency; or it may be because they have neglected to prepare for the responsibilities of marriage, such as the girl’s giving evidence of being a sloppy housekeeper or a poor cook and the boy’s being unprepared to make a living. Serious and upright individuals notice these things as they search for a mate. It isn’t the physical features that are so important, although with the superficial these qualities do receive considerable emphasis, but inward beauty, moral character, and ability are the things of importance. Without their cultivation the person runs the chance of either marrying someone inferior or not marrying at all.

(2) They develop an individualism or an independence that precludes real love and cooperation. The growing financial independence of woman is a factor in this. When people seem too self-centered and selfish, others are frightened away. Everyone likes to feel secure in his love. One-sided surrender does happen, but it is hardly fair, and many turn elsewhere when they discover that their feelings and favors are not reciprocated.

(3) They delay marriage too long, hardly realizing that the older they get the smaller is the market from which they can choose. This is particularly true with the girl, for she is not as free to make the advance. Furthermore, men generally marry someone younger than themselves, and the older men are when they marry, the greater is the age difference between them and the ones they marry. Older girls, for this reason, very frequently get skipped and left out. In addition to all of this, we can note that by middle life many people become rather particular and hard to please.

(4) They isolate themselves from normal contact with the opposite sex. The plight of the white-collar girl in the large city is a good example of this. Surrounded by millions she is nevertheless lonesome and without male companionship, or enough of it, or the right kind. Unless one is willing to degrade himself, the social and psychological isolation of the metropolis is difficult at times to break down. Then, too, there are many more young women of marriageable age in the city than there are young men. In the country the reverse is true. Because of this, girls can marry easiest in the country, and boys, in the city.

If marriage is the goal, and it is for most and ought to be for all who are normal, young people should study the situation, themselves included, and should put themselves in line, and plan for maximum opportunity.

Compensation Dangers.

But with all of this there will be some who are eliminated, and through little fault of their own. What then?

The greatest danger is for the permanently unmarried to become frustrated, sour, and cynical. They will have had a dream blacked out, and unless they are able to dream anew, and along different lines, life may seem pretty hollow. Feelings of inferiority at having failed, resentments at having been shortchanged in life, despair in having little left to work for, all are possible. Bachelor men and women are frequently very sensitive of their position, and restless, nervous, and irritable because of it. This is particularly true of the woman, for she is less independent, more the victim of circumstances, and more closely tied up with the reproductive process – which in this case has become blocked.

Disorganized personality is one of the consequences of such a frame of mind. Bachelorhood is a crisis for most of those who experience it, and, while some adjust very well, others become maladjusted because of it. In its milder forms the person is simply touchy and highly disagreeable. Rare cases, however, develop much farther than this, leading eventually to the mental derangement known popularly as insanity.

But the loneliness, bitterness, and sense of isolation and ridicule that so often accompany bachelorhood do not end in their effect upon the personality itself. Sometimes the bachelor man or woman, frustrated in love as he is, attempts to take it out on society or to substitute some socially disapproved activity in the place of that which was denied him. This we call compensation. It may be that such an individual will resort to either self love and abuse or to homosexuality as an outlet for his love drive. it may be that he will choose an illicit sex life with someone of the opposite sex for the same reason, to bolster his need for affection and his sense of power. It may be, too, that he will turn anti-social in other ways, such as deliberately trying to break up a home, or entering a life of crime. All of these reactions are unfortunate, and unnecessary.

Sublimation Opportunities.

Not all compensation is of the anti-social variety described above. It is entirely possible to substitute for a blocked desire, such as that for marriage and parenthood, by activities that are moral and socially approved. By adjusting to the idea of remaining unwed, and accepting it with optimism and courage, real contentment can be found through other outlets than the family, and life can again be worth while. While marriage is important, it isn’t everything. Where it is denied one for this life, there are other things that can fill in satisfactorily. Though celibacy is not the ideal, if it comes, uninvited, life still need not be sterile.

Compensation of this kind is called sublimation, for through sublime behavior defeat is turned into victory. There are many ways by which this might be done. Here are three to illustrate:

(1) Engage in nursing, child welfare work, or teaching. In this way the troubles and joys of other families can become one’s own, vicariously.

(2) Surrender oneself to a cause, and become so busy and wrapped up in it that you don’t find time to feel sorry for yourself. In this way, too, the joys that come from achieving and from contributing to society will be yours.

(3) Cultivate interests in recreation, art, and religion. There is no medicine for discouragement like creative accomplishment.

Adjustments to bachelorhood can be made, and in a moral way.

Latter-day Saints can take added comfort in the fact that life is eternal. Inequalities and injustices here need not be permanent. They will not be if each of us, in spite of his handicaps, arises to the best that is in him.



40 Comments »

  1. I LOVE this lesson. It seems very honest. By that, I mean that stuff like this wouldn’t be explicitly taught today, but it mirrors, I think, what many people FEEL. They all want a reason that someone is single: oh yes, she must be sloppy, or too well educated; and he just can’t earn a living.

    Nonsense, of course, for the sloppy and the unworking still get married, but people DO think like this.

    An interesting phrase: “the dominance-loving male.” It isn’t even a censure, just a matter of fact (according to the lesson)!

    But my favorite is in the end, when giving advice for what single people can do:

    “(1) Engage in nursing, child welfare work, or teaching. In this way the troubles and joys of other families can become one’s own, vicariously.”

    Because everyone needs more troubles, and if you don’t have your own family to give you some, than get them vicariously!

    Comment by ESO — June 15, 2009 @ 6:56 am

  2. Wow. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the answers to life’s questions like this author did?

    By the way, great title.

    Comment by Researcher — June 15, 2009 @ 7:09 am

  3. The title before the colon would make a great T-shirt.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — June 15, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  4. Oh, you gotta love it.

    “have had the marriage experience”

    Sounds sort of like “the BYU experience” or the “Disney World experience.”

    “few of the remaining ten percent will marry after that age,”

    What’s that old canard about the likelihood of being killed by a terrorist?

    “lack opportunity on the adult level”

    I guess when opportunity strikes on the child level, go for it!

    “the average woman that remains single is of higher quality than the average bachelor”

    Some would say that the average woman who marries is of higher quality than the man she’s married to, but who wants to argue?

    “but there are exceptions”

    Sociologists were never any good at math, were they? An average is an average, dammit, and tells us nothing about any specific person–so how can there be an exception to the average?

    “marriage after college graduation becomes slightly less likely for the girl,”

    They don’t call it “senior panic” for nothing.

    “should put themselves in line, and plan for maximum opportunity.”

    How romantic!

    Comment by Mark B. — June 15, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  5. Make that list disjunctive, Ardis, and I’ll bet you could find married people to fit each descriptor!

    Comment by Mark B. — June 15, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  6. As a single gay 40+ year old living the law of celibacy (not because I want to but because I am required to), this article hit home (except for where the lesson talks about homosexuality as a result of singleness and not as a trait in and of itself). As I grow older, I am fully aware of how easy it is to become lonely, bitter, maladjusted, highly disagreeable and sour. I have made it my goal to NOT become like that and have concentrated my efforts to maintaining hope, wonder and joy in my life.

    However, the first suggestion offered in the lesson is definitely not desirable or not possible in today’s world of lawsuits and unfounded accusations. One would never be able to trust that they would not be accused of some malicious or evil act by an unrelated family to whom they seek to endear themselves.

    Suggestions two and, especially, three are much more fulfilling and entail less risk of jail time.

    Comment by Michael — June 15, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  7. This article falls into the well-known fundamental attribution error studied by social psychologists. The error as illustrated here is that authors often have the tendency to explain differences in others as due to character flaws. Of course, if we are explaining our own personal differences, then we tend to look to the environment. In other words, we like to make others look as bad as possible, but we like to make excuses for ourselves.

    It is a good thing that the REAL gospel understands that the spirit world is just a continuation of the physical world. Not everything can happen in this life — nor does it need to.

    My never-married “Aunt B” (who I have recently blogged about) was a true angel who helped her young widowed sister successfully raise a family of three children during the Great Depression. I have never met a more beautiful individual nor a more successful one.

    Living meaningfully sometimes involves avoiding pairing off. Consequently, those who marry should NEVER judge those who do not.

    Thanks for this post and to your commentators who have reminded me of these important lessons.

    Comment by S.Faux — June 15, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  8. I was struck by two sentences:

    “They delay marriage too long, hardly realizing that the older they get the smaller is the market from which they can choose.”

    “Marriage tends to improve the health of its members by settling them down and stabilizing their lives.”

    Although these possibly are still true, it doesn’t account for the epidemic of divorces and broken marriages. One of my sons married in his thirties. By that time, almost all of his closest friends and many of his classmates (who had married early, by the way)had divorced and were being remarried. My other two children have been divorced and are on highly compatible, happy marriages now (married in their thirties). I think there are a lot more unstable lives due to unstable marriages today.

    Comment by Maurine — June 15, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  9. It is strange to me that the 1947 manual doesn’t mention a major reason many women did not marry post-World War II. As we grew up in the years following the war, my friends and I speculated that any attractive unmarried woman remained so because her sweetheart or potential husband had been killed in the war. I was positive that my old maid aunt who went to college during the war years had suffered such a tragic, and to my immature mind, romantic loss.

    I can’t think of any apparently “single for life” person I have known that fits the description of sour, bitter, lonely, etc. It does fit a number of recently divorced and unhappily married people I have met.

    Comment by Phoebe — June 15, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  10. Marriage tends to improve the health of its members by settling them down and stabilizing their lives.

    Hmm. Given the sedentary lifestyle that’s set in once I got a real job and the weight I’ve gained from my wife’s cooking, I’m going to say that marriage will probably have the effect of shortening my life.

    I may not have eaten as well when I was single, but I weighed a lot less and exercised a lot more…

    Comment by queuno — June 15, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  11. I think the Internet destroys many of the assumptions the author has made regarding access to desirable spouses.

    Comment by queuno — June 15, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  12. I remember two coworkers who had four divorces between them agreeing with each other that if someone had never been married by age 30, you could be sure there was something wrong with them.

    I don’t think married people’s beliefs have changed much since 1947, though they might not say it out load. But really, when you think of it, it’s much more universal than that. Young people deep down feel that age is a character flaw they could never have. Healthy people mostly feel that way about sickness or disability, that it can’t happen to them and it’s more or less the disabled person’s own fault. Thin people feel about fat people the same way. They’re sure that overweight is something that happens to a certain type of people, and the reason they themselves are thin is because they’re a higher quality person than that. Beautiful people are exactly the same way about ugliness. It’s an intrinsic quality: ugliness, not anything to do with luck or genes (or money). Ditto rich people about the poor, sane people about those who struggle with mental problems, developed vs. developing nations, etc.

    So it’s not any wonder that married people feel the same way. Particularly they think single people must be sexually messed-up somehow. If not gay then perverted or pedophilic or twisted and evil in some other sexual way. For heaven’s sake keep them away from the children!

    It’s very much like white people considering themselves inherently superior to blacks, or Russians thinking they’re better than Poles in Dostoyevsky, etc. This is a very human tendency which almost all of us may have in some sense or another. How many times have we thought, “wait, this can’t happen to me!”

    That just means we’re human, and we have a long way to go before we become like Christ.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 15, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  13. Tatiana,

    That is a great comment! So very, very true!

    Comment by Michael — June 15, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  14. Wonderful discussion — thanks, all.

    On first read-through, this seriously offended me. By the time I had typed it up, I was mellower, and, like Michael, recognized a few tendencies that I have to fight, tendencies that I realize do arise from the disappointment of not realizing my greatest dreams in my case, but which can just as well arise in others from other causes.

    Then I went back to a milder case of being offended, because I don’t see any value in discussing this material in the Sunday School setting, even assuming every conclusion were absolutely true. Just as I did in writing the title for this post, wouldn’t virtually everyone in the class take away the titilating elements, and practice diagnosing the faults of every single adult they know? How does anything in the lesson reinforce a gospel principle, other than reinforcing desire for marriage because the alternative could be so awful?

    And finally I just decided to see what the rest of you think. Thank you for such thoughtful and articulate responses. Keep it up.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  15. Ardis (14) – I heard 80s updates of this material in Sunday School and priesthood when I was a youth. It was cringe-worthy as a teenager. My parents encouraged college selections based on marriage potential (living in NE Ohio where we did, those concerns were not necessarily unfounded).

    Comment by queuno — June 15, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  16. Ardis,

    I think that one of the benefits of correlation (and, yes, there are benefits even though everyone loves to denigrate it) is the focus placed on just what you mention – the determination if something in the lesson manual actually leads to a strengthening of a gospel principle or if it is merely an observation that reinforces stereotypes and leads to unnecessary judgements.

    Comment by Michael — June 15, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  17. Amen to 16.

    Comment by queuno — June 15, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  18. I also detect a bit of “if you’re a woman, having a career and your own money is really bad for your marriage prospects”. Interesting how, today, our church leadership is practically begging women to get educated and develop career skills, married or not.

    I can’t remember where I’ve seen it, but the number of graduating BYU students who are still single is at an all-time high (depending on how much one wants to use BYU as a sample here).

    Comment by queuno — June 15, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  19. Funny you should mention correlation — I’m writing another post this morning (it won’t appear for a while because it has too many similarities to today’s post) that pretty much boils down to #16.

    I didn’t realize this kind of thing was still appearing in the ’80s, queuno, or maybe I blocked it out (sublimation, anyone?) because by ’86 I was becoming acutely sensitive to it.

    True story: That was the year I went into a counselor’s office to see what I needed to do to get back into BYU, and the counselor (whose name I had forgotten by the time I left his office, I was that shocked) told me not to bother to apply, that BYU “is for those of marriageable age” (I was 27) and that I would be unfairly occupying a spot that should have gone to a worthier use, because tithe-paying LDS parents had “the right to send their children to BYU to find their eternal mates.” He was genuinely not intending to be [fill in the blank as you please], he thought he was being kind by helping me not waste my application fee. I just thought he was a holdover from the bad old days; maybe, though, he had just read the Sunday School manual.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  20. 18: Maybe I should type up the lesson just before this one on singles. The author addresses “Adjustment Problems of the Modern Woman.” Fasten your seatbelts …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

  21. “Adjustment Problems of the Modern Woman.”

    Nothing that your friendly chiropractor couldn’t solve, eh?

    Comment by Mark B. — June 15, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  22. I remember feeling very ostracized in the 1980s, at the age of 25 being commanded by a member of a stake presidency during a temple recommend interview to repent and get married. Definitely not the kind of thing we wish to hear.

    My 29 year old, single son was insulted by a member who asked him if he was married (no) or dated any (no). She asked him if he were gay/homosexual. Definitely not the way to help a person who struggles with being in any size social group. He withdrew for several months from many events he’d begun going to. I’m not a violent guy, and not one to hit a woman, but that was one time when I really thought about doing it, as it took my wife and I a long time to get him as far as we had socially.

    I wish we would allow the encouragement to be a little more understanding and generalized to large groups, rather than singling out individuals.

    Comment by Rameumptom — June 15, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  23. Quite fascinating.

    I was intrigued by the tendency for men to marry down for the sake of ego protectionism. I take it this is another way of articulating the meme that men are intimidated by educated, intelligent women.

    When he listed reasons the people didn’t marry, I got the impression that he was assigning a certain amount of fault, but at the end he says this is “through little fault of their own.” So that part seemed like a bit of a mixed message to me.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — June 15, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  24. But with all of this there will be some who are eliminated, and through little fault of their own. What then?”

    Ask Darwin.

    Comment by kevinf — June 15, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  25. Flippant comments aside, I think we are all still wondering why some really great folks don’t get married, and the reasons are probably as varied as the number of LDS singles over 30.

    I still feel huge empathy for the single sisters in my ward while I served as bishop, who were bright, talented, creative, and incredibly faithful, not to mention that none of them were in any way physically unattractive.

    Flame War Alert: It is the only time that I have ever thought that polygamy had any relevance to our modern era, but not enough relevance to consider that it would be a good thing overall. Yes, and I also feel empathy for the single adult males, as well, although most of them that I have known usually are divorced as opposed to never married.

    There are some truths here, along with a bunch of blatant unsupported assumptions. Not sure which side carries the day.

    Comment by kevinf — June 15, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

  26. I have your back on the flame war thing, kevinf. One of the 19th century justifications for plural marriage was so that every worthy woman could have the blessings of a husband and children, something that otherwise doesn’t seem to have been a realistic possibility at any time. Acknowledging that historical and continuing condition should not be construed as an invitation to a debate about polygamy.

    Kevin Barney mentions the mixed messages noticeable to close and careful readers. I suppose it would have depended on the teacher and the course of discussion in any particular 1947 classroom, but I wonder how many class members left the lesson thinking “It isn’t Suzy’s/John’s fault” versus how many left the lesson thinking “I wonder if John practices ‘self abuse’?” or “I always knew Suzy could have married if she had learned to make better pie crusts.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  27. … Of women who don’t go beyond the sixth grade in school, about ninety-five percent marry, while only some seventy percent of those who graduate from college ever marry. Apparently it is the more able and career-minded of the females that go on for higher education, and in going on they reduce their marriage chances, both by becoming older and by becoming too intellectual for the dominance-loving male.

    Interestingly, studies have found that highly educated women today are more likely to get married and less likely to get divorced. See this NY times article.

    Comment by Rivkah — June 15, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  28. Only tangentially related to the OP, but more in line with some comments, here’s a talk given by a single sister at a stake conference (Sat night session) in 2006.

    The conference theme was marriage. And by what I consider to be great diplomacy, sensitivity, and inclusion, the stake presidency invited this sister to talk about being single in a church that focuses so much on the family.

    The sister gave voice to some things that many singles would like to say publicly in the church, but we usually don’t have the guts to say them outside of our circle of single friends. Her talk was very diplomatic, and she obviously has a testimony.

    I had to restrain myself from not giving this sister a standing ovation at the end of her talk. But if I had, I’m sure the other singles sitting near me would have joined in.

    Comment by Bookslinger — June 15, 2009 @ 3:42 pm

  29. That is a wonderful talk, Bookslinger, thank you for linking to it. It’s disorienting to note the parallels between her life and mine — her highs and lows have been more extreme, but if I wrote my experiences of being made repeatedly to sit in the folding chairs in the overflow area so that couples and families could have the benches at the front of the chapel, you would think I was aping this sister’s story.

    And if in no other way (but I do think there are other ways), this talk relates directly to the OP because the counselor calling her to repentance fits right in with the philosophy of this 1947 lesson, that singleness is due to a character flaw.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  30. Bookslinger, I want to thank you for the link to the talk also.

    Comment by Maurine — June 15, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  31. Thanks for posting this, Ardis. I find it interesting how the issue of more religiously devoted women in the Church than religiously devoted men is apparently an ongoing one.

    Also, I think it’s interesting how the author repeatedly says “we” in talking about himself and his audience, while single adults are always “they.” I doubt it was intended, but it sounds like he’s intending to have a conversation with other married people (I assume he was married) about “those singles” like parents might talk about their troublesome kids.

    Comment by Ziff — June 15, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

  32. Holy cow, Ziff! I hadn’t noticed that at all, but you’re right! Wow.

    (The Family Relations class was intended for married couples. There’s no question about that.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 15, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  33. I agree, that was a great talk. Thanks for posting it, Bookslinger.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 16, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  34. Holy smokes! I couldn’t believe the story about sending the old women with their walkers packing to the folding chairs in the back. (I recently brought a wheelchair bound woman to our sacrament meeting, so that one hit close to home.) I can’t even imagine a bishop doing that. He needs to read about “pure religion and undefiled” in James.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — June 16, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  35. I really enjoyed that talk, Bookslinger. Thanks. I just wish I could have been there to hear it live. I much preferred reading this single sister’s own perspective, rather than that of the (ostensibly married) author of the OP.

    Comment by Hunter — June 16, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  36. A “you’re welcome” to all those who enjoyed reading Sister C’s talk that I linked. I’m glad she gave permission to put that online. I really had to fight the tendency to give a standing ovation. Only the many years of conditioning of “no clapping at talks given in a chapel” was able to override my desire to applaud the sister. But if I had given in, I’m sure the whole row of singles I was sitting with would have joined.

    Comment by Bookslinger — June 16, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  37. Oh, and a few “Amen Sistah”‘s, would have been thrown in there with the applause.

    Comment by Bookslinger — June 16, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

  38. Everyone’s comments are well taken, but I wonder if we are recognizing that, first of all, this essay is not founded on gospel principles but rather on common perceptions of the time, 60 years ago, perceptions were to a large extent observations rather than prescriptions. In 1947 the surge in college attendance due to WW II veterans using the GI Bill was just starting, so saying that a woman who got a college degree was essentially eliminating most men as husbands, because they were mainly jerks whose egos could not stand living with a woman with more education than themselves, was an arguably accurate statement.

    My wife’s family came from farming and working in mine smelters. One aunt had attended BYU for a few years but dropped out when she married. When my future wife was considering what to do after high school, her family encouraged her to learn secretarial skills at LDS Business College, rather than do something more exotic, like the fashion merchandizing program, or even a regular college program. They were so out of touch with the world of higher education that they were not even aware that there was financial aid available that could have paid for a BA program for someone as poverty stricken as she was. And her neighbors in Magna and the counselors at Cyprus High School were equally unhelpful.

    When our kids were a little older, she started taking classes at a community college in California, where she had a straight A average. She always had the potential to do something more with her education, but didn’t have any advice about her choices. She lost opportunities because everyone in her environment had no vision of the value of higher education. They saw her as just one more girl who would play out her life in one of the standard roles.

    And I think that is where the author of this essay was, describing the consensus wisdom of the time, with many accurate observations, but lacking a vision of how circumstances could be improved, a vision of how finding a mate should work in Zion (the real one, not the “Zions Bank” and “Zions Used Cars” one).

    Comment by Raymond Takashi Swenson — June 18, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  39. I am so disappointed that the link to the talk no longer work. Any chance you archived it Ardis?

    Julia
    poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

    Comment by Julia — August 31, 2012 @ 5:56 am

  40. Julia, you could probably ask Bookslinger for a copy of the talk. (Click on his name for a link to his blog, and if you’ve never read Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.)

    Comment by Amy T — August 31, 2012 @ 6:27 am

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI