Young Single Adults Are Not Half-HumansBy: Jake
The church does not have a solid reputation of treating all people equally. Some unequal treatment is based on behavior (e.g. the heathen drinkers of alcohol), other distinctions are made for tribal reasons (e.g. other religions or unfamiliar backgrounds), and there are distinctions made for who people are inherently (e.g. one’s sex or sexual orientation). Rather than being a revolutionary trail blazer of progress and equality, the church is too often the last group to get the message, or worse, the church is found kicking and fightingagainst progress rather than fighting for it. In all cases, though, there seems to be preferential treatment toward white married middle aged American males. As I have observed before the church has some similarities to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in particular the maxim that: ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal then others.’ Certainly, some members are more equal in the church then others. I want to look at another area in which the church treats some members as being less equal then others: Young Single Adults (YSA) and Single Adults (SA).
Just how the church views singles struck me recently at a YSA dance. Walking into the building I was confronted by a throng of married couples. The following conversation occurred:
SINGLE ME: So married life is that bad that you had nothing better to do then come and hang out with the YSA as they prowl around looking for their future spouse?
MARRIED FRIEND: Haha. Well as surprising as this may seem we are not here by choice.
SINGLE ME: So why on earth would you be here?
MARRIED FRIEND: We are here as chaperones.
SINGLE ME: What? Really? The average age of the people here is 24, are you telling me the church doesn’t trust 24 year olds without an adult here? I mean I can have my own house, a car, get married but I can’t be trusted in a church? If I wanted to fornicate I don’t think you being here is going to stop that.
MARRIED FRIEND: I know. I don’t get it, I am only here because the Stake President asked me to come.
At this moment the sheer absurdity of them being at the dance hit me. Half the singles present were returned missionaries; some were Elders Quorum Presidents. The only difference between the singles and the “chaperones” was our marital state. If I and my fellow YSAs had been married, we would have been seen as trustworthy, worthy to chaperone others, and capable of being in the chapel unaccompanied by a ‘real’ adult. The fact that we were all single meant that we were not to be trusted in the building. What on earth is the church thinking?
Here are three of my speculations.
Single people are a menace to society.
As apocryphal, and possibly completely fabricated as the quote from Brigham Young is, the fact is that many members think its true and they still quote it (at least I have heard it countless times). Perhaps my view on this is jaded as I hear it so often simply because I am considered more of a menace than most singles. However, what about us is so menacing?
Maybe due to our raging hormones voluntarily suppressed by our obedience to the law of chastity we have an increased risk of fornication. With no adult supervision by our same age married peers, potentially there will be more children born out of wedlock. And a society full of single parents is not as stable as the ideal two parent home.
On the other hand, with modern contraception (and the high cost of giving birth in the US) this fear of unwanted pregnancies isn’t that valid anymore. It’s relatively easy (for those who do violate the law of chastity) to have sex and avoid pregnancy. So why are we still seen as a menace to society?
Single adults, along with Relief Society members are planning a revolution (or orgy).
In some ways the perceived need for adult supervision at a church event for YSA and SA is like the fact that Relief Society meetings and Young Women’s camps have to have a priesthood holder present as well. After all, if a male was not in the building then who knows what the sisters (and YW) would get up to. They may form an anti-polygamy faction like Emma Smith did, or get up to all manner of devilish schemes like encouraging equality, or equal responsibility between sexes. This cannot be allowed. A man is needed in the building to keep the women in check. Although it may simply be that he has the keys, both metaphorically and literally – why are women and singles not simply entrusted with keys?
In the case of the YSA does the church think that without supervision by a married man the YSAs are going to descend hedonistically into a mass orgy? That lone married man stands between us and orgiastic debauchery. Then again, if we wanted to have sex, the chapel or any room in the church is not likely to be prime real estate for our wanton hook-ups. After all, we are not teenagers; we have our own rooms, cars, beds and homes. We live independently and don’t need a place to hide from our parents for illicit acts. Given the choice between sex in our own beds, or the Relief Society room floor, it’s not a difficult one to make (the idea of sex surrounded by handmade sentimental decorations that adorn Relief Society rooms is a truly terrifying one!). Even if we really fancied the floor of a church room for our acts of love, then there are far more rooms in a church than chaperones can adequately police. Having a few married people in a church will not stop a particularly horny couple from finding a way round it, if they really want to.
The church is hallowed land, and sin must not happen on it.
The churches that we worship in are sacred buildings and as a result must be treated with respect. If sin defiles a building and makes it unfit for worship, then what about sins such as lying, judging, gossiping, gluttony, modesty, vanity, the love of riches and pride?Every week on Sunday we see many of these going on in the building yet these don’t result in the church being reconsecrated every week. So sins per se can’t defile a building, unless of course breaking the law of chastity (if it is true that singles are at greater risk for breaking the law of chastity while in the church) has greater metaphysical properties then other sins. Other sins simply stain our souls, but sex stains our souls, the building, and even licks our cupcakes so no one will want to eat them after we have been defiled. This does not make sense to me, if one sin defiles a building then any sin should have the same effect.
Whatever the reason for the policy, it is still demeaning to treat a group of twenty-six year olds as if they were sixteen. This practice is symptomatic of the fact that the church views single members as being incomplete, or half human (missing their better halves?). As if the rhetoric of being single is a sign of spiritual weakness wasn’t enough (just have more faith and you’ll get married!) we halflings are not worthy of the basic respect to look after ourselves in the church. We require a “complete” (meaning, married) human to look after us. Single members, like women, are not given the same respect and treatment as the married male members of the church. To adapt Orwell’s maxim it seems to me that all members are equal in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of the church married males are more equal than others.
- Why do you think the church sees single members as a menace to society?
- Why do you think we need priesthood (read married male) supervision for YSA and Relief Society meetings?
- How could the church improve its equality?