In a private conversation among general authorities revealed in “Mormon Leaks” (if this source is to be trusted), only about 25% of single members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are active worldwide, which sounds accurate. (Source: https://religionnews.com/2016/10/05/leaked-worldwide-only-25-of-young-single-mormons-are-active-in-the-lds-church).
Within those 25% active singles, there are about 3 active women for every 2 active men. In other words, there are about 50% more active single women in the church versus single men. That equates to an overall active rate for single men in the church to a low 20% (and an active women rate of about 30%, making for the 25% total). Over the years since those 2008 statistics, it is doubtful that the statistics have gotten any better as the world moves to a more secular, anti-organized religion existence. In other words, it is very hard and getting harder to be an active single in the church and even harder for men. So, what makes it so difficult?
Reasons for the Low Activity Rate of Single Men:
I have hypothesized several reasons for the greater inactivity rate of men in our church. I alone take responsibility for these suggestions. Here are the reasons that make sense to me to be aware of:
1) The social stigma of not serving a mission. In church circles there is still a stereotype of a returned male missionary being deemed a more righteous and higher status member than a male member who did not go. Although this stereotype is less than it once was, it still exists and exists strongest in Utah where church and local culture overlap, thus creating a bigger rejection effect. Such second-class membership attitudes help fuel inactivity for men who do not serve a mission. For more information on the Utah effect on men and activity, see: https://religionnews.com/2015/09/16/more-mormon-men-are-leaving-the-lds-church-say-researchers-but-especially-in-utah/.
2) Sexual issues: because the law of chastity requires all singles to have no sexual outlets until they marry, they are expected to completely abstain. With sexual libidos and sexual response cycles higher on average with men than women, this creates a real problem and challenge. In addition, men possess a stronger visual sexual stimulation wiring than women and hence are more likely than women to engage is pornography, masturbation, and other forms of sexually acting out. (These issues effect women as well, just not proportionally at the same level as men). And so, with common, regular, even continual sexual guilt, repeated church disciplinary issues, and stressful Sundays of church attendance, chastity violations and issues contribute to single men going inactive.
3) Leadership guilt and pressure: In General Conference and in other venues where church leaders speak to singles, it is common for general authorities to put the main pressure, blame, and the responsibility on the men for being single, whereas women are largely exonerated for being single and are given support and sympathy instead. This shame/blame/guilt approach often leads single men to fall away as well. For instance, here is a sample quotation illustrating these ideas from a 2011 Priesthood Session in General Conference by President Thomas S. Monson:
President Gordon B. Hinckley said this: “My heart reaches out to … our single sisters, who long for marriage and cannot seem to find it. … I have far less sympathy for the young men, who under the customs of our society, have the prerogative to take the initiative in these matters but in so many cases fail to do so.”
I realize there are many reasons why you may be hesitating to take that step of getting married. If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions. Perhaps you are afraid of making the wrong choice. To this I say that you need to exercise faith. Find someone with whom you can be compatible. Realize that you will not be able to anticipate every challenge which may arise, but be assured that almost anything can be worked out if you are resourceful and if you are committed to making your marriage work.
Perhaps you are having a little too much fun being single, taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars and toys, and just generally enjoying the carefree life with your friends. I’ve encountered groups of you running around together, and I admit that I’ve wondered why you aren’t out with the young ladies.
Suggestion for How to Stay Active Anyway:
Because of the three reasons stated above, as well as other possible numerous factors not addressed in this brief article, it is hard to be an active male single member of the church. Here are a few suggestions to stay active anyway:
*Continually fortify yourself spiritually. Do whatever possible to strengthen yourself spiritually as often as possible in as many ways as possible. This includes regular scripture study, prayers, temple attendance (or at least striving for temple worthiness and a recommend), church attendance, fulfillment of callings, etc. Meet with the bishop as often as needed to continue to attain and retain worthiness. Ask for a blessing periodically as well.
*Treat church like a religion, not a social club. Church is first and foremost a place of spiritual worship. Socializing happens there as well but when the emphasis is having a spiritually uplifting and revitalizing experience each week, the occasional social irritations that occur will matter less and activity becomes comparatively easier to achieve.
*Read articles with additional related ideas and incorporate them. My recommendations:
Stay active. Your eternal welfare depends on it. Stay the course and eventually you will have the relationship you desire. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
P.S. If you can questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
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|2019-11-25||Randy Gilchrist||Understanding men, Spirituality|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).