Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Creating a Dependence on the Church

My mind has been stuck on one particularly baffling statement made from the pulpit last weekend by Quentin L. Cook:
Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained.  While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, comply with counsel of modern prophets and is not compatible with sound doctrine.
I keep thinking:  why would anyone give that kind of advice?

And I finally have a theory.   It's another strategy designed to keep people from leaving the church.  The missionary age was lowered to keep youth from having the time to experience life away from home and questioning what they've been taught.  This is the same kind of thing, only it's targeted at a slightly older age group.

Let's say a returned missionary gets married in his first or second year after coming home.  He'll still have two or three years of school left before he even gets his bachelor's degree and longer before he finds gainful employment.  But because he's followed the counsel of Quentin L. Myopic, he'll spend at least the next few years in exhaustion, attempting to finish his education, keep a job to pay for his education, fulfill his church callings and still trying to find the time to be a husband and father.  His wife will be in a similar boat, trying to maintain the household and take care of the children while trying to stretch her husband's meager income (minus ten percent) and receiving little assistance from her burnt-out spouse (and don't forget her church callings).

The result?  I think Cook is hoping that, in the midst of all the stress this couple has flung themselves into headlong, the church will become their most important source of emotional support.  They'll call it their "harbor in the storm" in testimony meetings.  Surrounded by others going through the same crises and some who have gone through them before, the couple will look forward to Sundays as a time to finally feel peace...even though it was the church they attend that created the need for such respite.  The church is trying to turn people into junkies so that the only thing that gets them through the day is a good strong hit of Mormonism.

I can't think of a single practical reason for why Cook issue this admonishment.  To demonstrate faith?  I think everyone's experience can speak for itself that not all faithful Mormons who marry before being financially stable wind up with good incomes and happy families.  If there is no guaranteed reward for the faith, why does God expect his children to do it?  At least when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, he was rewarded by not actually having to go through with it.  But here, people can suffer for decades with debt and stress and generally spreading themselves too thin because they demonstrated their faith and received nothing for it.

It's another control tactic.  It's a doctrinal lobster trap.  It's irresponsible and reprehensible.

And it certainly doesn't seem right to me.


  1. Not disputing your argument here, but Cook (and anyone within Mormonism) would give this advice precisely because they actually believe that postponing family life is one of the biggest social ills of our generation.

    It seems to me that the church advocates this sort of life trajectory/life timeline because that's the only way its program really works. (This is why anyone who is not on the trajectory...or isn't on schedule with the timeline, feels out of place at the church. the church isn't *for* them.)

    1. I guess I really don't understand how someone could beleive that...or at least believe it enough to make it church policy. It just seems so ill-advised. What's the social ill? Not multiplying and replenishing the earth?

      That, and I'm of the opinion that at least some of the Big 15 know perfectly well the church is a fraud and make decisions accordingly. But that's impossible to prove and there's a lot of different schools of thought on that one.

    2. From the church's POV, the only way to actually be FULLY HUMAN (or at the very least, fully adult/mature/etc.,) is to be married with children. So, putting these things off is abdicating your humanity, or at the very least abdicating adult responsibility.

      I'm not surprised that you would disagree...but I am surprised that you don't know people who sincerely believe this. I agree with Ahab that it's *not* just a Mormon thing. Plenty of conservative Christians have a similar belief.

      I personally do not think any of the Big 15 know the church isn't true. I think that they are so insulated from the issues that they are probably not even aware of most of them. I think the Mormon Stories interview series with Hans Mattsson is most illuminating here -- most of these people are career business types (absolutely not theologians, historians, etc.,) who have been too busy to really dive into issues.

    3. I do know people who believe this, but it seems like a pretty big step to take from believing it yourself to preaching it as doctrine from a position of authority. Then again, the church leaders have done that many times over the years. I should have been expecting this kind of thing.

      I'll have to check out the Mattson interviews on Mormon Stories. Sounds interesting.

  2. It's not just the LDS encouraging young people to marry prematurely, no matter what the negative consequences. Protestant fundamentalists also look askance at postponing marriage, and I suspect that it's for the same reasons you described.

    1. I didn't know that.

      Sometimes it's frustrating how slowly society can progress when you have things like this pulling us down.

  3. So I searched for quotes on marriage and found these at the site under the topic of mate selection. I agree with these two quotes. It's interesting how Lee says to wait and Cook says to marry.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

    “This will be the most important decision of your life, the individual whom you marry. …

    President Harold B. Lee

    “I am not trying to urge you younger men to marry too early. I think therein is one of the hazards of today’s living. We don’t want a young man to think of marriage until he is able to take care of a family, to have an institution of his own, to be independent. He must make sure that he has found the girl of his choice, they have gone together long enough that they know each other, and that they know each other’s faults and they still love each other. I have said to the mission presidents (some of whom have been reported to us as saying to missionaries, ‘Now, if you are not married in six months, you are a failure as a missionary’), ‘Don’t you ever say that to one of your missionaries. Maybe in six months they will not have found a wife; and if they take you seriously, they may rush into a marriage that will be wrong for them.’

    1. Those are some good quotes. The second should be especially damning except that the church has made it so that, in its unchanging doctrine, more recent trumps less recent instead of Prophet trumping junior Apostle.

  4. These 2 quotes, on the other hand, show how wacky some of the presidents can be and how they contradict each other. Cook fits in this category.

    President Spencer W. Kimball

    ‘Soul mates’ are fiction and an illusion; … it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage.

    President Ezra Taft Benson

    “And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own. Some of our sisters indicate that they do not want to consider marriage until after they have completed their degrees or pursued a career. This is not right... We earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother” (“To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 96–97).

    The best decision I ever made was waiting to marry until I found the right woman, my soul mate. Having children was the other best decision. I feel sorry for people who married the wrong person based on Kimball's ridiculous advice. Of course, it doesn't surprise me that a descendent of Heber a Kimball would have that attitude toward women. My wife and I are quite different, neither of us is perfect, yet we are right for each other. I had finished a degree and had a stable job. We bought a home and had our 1st child in our 3rd year of marriage. It's interesting that many of my classmates from high school married young but have less children than I do. Their youngest child is several years older than my oldest. They couldn't afford or emotionally handle more than 2-3, so they stopped.

    1. Anyone want to play the "Which Prophet was Speaking as a Man" game?

      I don't believe in soulmates, but I do think that there is a finite number of individuals with whom I could be happy. My girlfriend and I are planning to be married and have children, but we want to be better prepared to provide for a family before we have one. I've seen too many people pop out kids before being financially and emotionally ready and I will do everything I can to make sure I'm not contributing to that particularly depressing facet of our society.

      Screw Cook. His advice is utterly moronic.

    2. Yup. When it's the most important decision you'll ever make, as a believer or non-believer, you should take your time and prepare yourself for the responsibility.