The recognition of adult singles in the LDS Church is usually a footnote buried in the dominate family rhetoric of Mormon culture, and yet it is estimated that 30% of Mormons are single. Julie Lefgren has never married, is a life-long active Mormon and is now in her mid-40s. A lifetime of never marrying, not having children and yet staying active in the family-centric Mormon Church can be distressing. In our discussion Julie addresses with candor the pain of that path, but also how to achieve happiness and peace too. With Julie we take an in-depth look at this interesting, and yet often invisible space of Mormon single adults.
Currently Julie is an adjunct professor of Chinese at BYU, but she has spent much time wandering the globe and exploring other cultures. She has always focused on learning Mandarin and works hard on developing and maintaining deep friendships with those she meets. In the winter, when not teaching, you will find her searching for a powder shot on the Utah ski slopes and in the off-season traveling, fishing and generally being outdoors. But many of her life choices have revolved around assisting in the parenting of her 21 nieces and nephews.
Julie blogs about being Mormon and single on her blog Single Sassy Mormon and welcomes input from all voices, especially sassy ones. (http://singlesassymormon.
This was a fantastic discussion. Thanks for being authentic and open. It is great to talk about this sensitive topic in a way that pushes for progressive growth and healing.
What was the name of the mentoring group?
Aspiring Mormon Women
There is also a vibrant Facebook discussion board.
Wow, this is such an important conversation to be having and sharing. Thank you Julie for sharing your wisdom and experience! So many good points.
I’m single now, after thirty-six years of marriage, and have a lot of commonalities with Julie. She speaks boldly, truthfully, painfully, comfortably and comfortingly of the single experience. It was worth every moment to listen to this. If only bishops, relief society presidents, etc. would take that time, so they could more meaningfully relate to up to a third of their ward members!
I thought this was supposed to be about single adult issues in the church, but instead it is more of a feminist rant, yet again. Gain a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, rather than just the “Christian aspects of the church”. As a child of divorced parents, and having never been married in my 44 trips around the sun, I am grateful for the Brethren teaching the doctrine of marriage and families. In fact, I get annoyed at bishops who are reluctant to talk about the importance of temple marriage. Without the Church teaching the doctrine of marriage, I would not have seen the example that I need to have and seek to have in my life. Sure it is disappointing that some things don’t work out according to God’s timing for me the way I want, but living by faith means faith in the Lord’s timing for me. These kind of rants appear to be designed to undermine the doctrine of eternal marriage, because of course, temple marriage is sexist, right?!
I can tell by your anger that you are in pain. Pain sucks. I truly hope you find the salve you need.
Actually I am not in pain, but I appreciate your concern. I have had pain in the past, but I long since have stopped crying myself to sleep over failed relationships and other romantic disappointments. Several priesthood blessings, thoughtful conversations with bishops who care, and regular temple worship were the salve I needed when I was in pain. I recommend that prescription to anyone in the same situation. Perhaps it is ironic that the place which is all about eternal marriage and families is the place to find comfort in the disappointments of not having children and a spouse.
Anger? Well, I have read enough in the blogernacle to have seen through to the core of what some are trying to do, and it does make me angry. It seems to me that some people view the temple as sexist and therefore they want to keep others from making those covenants, or from going back to be reminded of them when they make them for their ancestors. Some seem to want to tell the Brethren to quit teaching about the importance of marriage and families under the guise of keeping single people from feeling hurt. But the real motive behind it is that they want to stop the doctrine from being taught in the first place. If people won’t make the covenants in the temple, or renounce the covenants they have made, then they can not make it to the highest place in the celestial kingdom. Then the devil wins one more victory over that person. And it makes me angry that there are some who claim to be good members who peddle that message.
Lets agree to disagree. I’m grateful that good people have been there for you in your time of need. We are all different. Learning to understand one another is always an important part of finding peace.
You have seemed to miss the whole point, that is unfortunate. The statements, criticisms, judgements & assumptions that you shared are not quite true and unnecessarily meanfully said. If you are coming from a place of “true doctorine” there wouldn’t be so much Anger. Peace be with you @tired of this crap.
Heather, Please explain how what I said is “not quite true”, especially considering what Beth said in telling us that the doctrine associated with eternal marriage is wrong and must change. She encourages people like me and Julie to forsake the covenants we have already made and which I still hope to make someday. (Also, please see my comments in the reply below her comment.)
Great conversation, very insightful. These issues are hardly ever talked about and most single church members suffer significantly in silence.
Thank you Julie for being honest and open about your experiences and feelings. You brought up so many good points… I especially appreciated what you said about women/career, loneliness, sexuality and loss of being a parent.
That being said, I have very little hope that the church can deal honestly and effectively with these issues because they stem from the very core beliefs of the church and are in turn institutionalized.
In the eyes of the church you are not legitimate until you are married. If you are not married…you are less than. You have not achieved. You are not worthy. You are disobedient. You are the “other”. You are the outsider. This will always be the case… it doesn’t matter how nice ward members are to you or how loving they are… if you are single you will always be the “other”. These beliefs are at the CORE of the doctrine. “Marriage is essential to his (God) eternal plan” (Family Proclamation). If you are single you cannot be a God, or a goddess (unto your husband). You cannot be exalted if you are single. If you are single you will be an angle, a “ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory”. A SERVANT!
THIS IS MORMON DOCTRINE. This is not my opinion, this is DOCTRINE. This foundational doctrine instructs every action in the church.
“For these angels (people who have not been sealed) 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,” (D&C 132).
As a woman I was taught my whole life that my purpose, my divine calling, the reason I am here on earth is to be a wife and a mother. Nothing else really matters except for that. I was taught my worth come from fulfilling those roles. Therefore, if I have not fulfilled my divine purpose I have no worth. This belief/teachings are so incredibly destructive and just set people up for pain.
We should not be trying to make peace within the confines of these beliefs. We should be adamantly and even aggressively speaking out against them. These beliefs are destructive, damaging and cause people an incredible amount of unnecessary pain.
The issues that “a single” experiences in the church cannot truly change until the Church disavows these harmful beliefs/doctrine. Unfortunately, the church is much more likely to continue to sacrifice people in order to uphold their dogma.
My advice to all the “a singles” out there… DON’T GIVE YOUR LIFE as a sacrifice to uphold this destructive dogma. It’s not true, it’s not worth it. Do you really think you are going to be a servant for eternity because you aren’t married? Do you really believe in that God?
Find what makes you happy, you deserve love wherever that comes from, you are entirely unique and worth everything and it has nothing to do with your marital or parental status, you deserve intimacy, live your life how you want to and follow your own conscience.
Beth, thank you for proving the point I was making- that there is an effort by part of the Mormon feminist community to undermine the doctrine of eternal marriage. (To be fair, maybe it is not just the feminists involved in this effort. Frankly, your comments sound as if you are not even a Mormon but some anti-Mormon trolling these blogs for anyone of weak faith.) However, what you overlook is the principle that is taught in D&C 137. All who would have made the covenants required for eternal life if they would have had the chance, will be given the chance sometime and will receive the blessings of eternal life. I am grateful that it is the Lord who is the judge of our desires and actions, and have the faith that all blessings will be given in His time; if in this life great, if in the Millennium, then that is fine too.
Heather, if I missed any good point it was because I could not listen to more than the first 15 minutes of this. As my mission president would have said, “The spirit of error doth abound.” I had to turn it off because of the feminists apostate views being used as the foundation of the conversation. In total contrast, after closing this podcast, I opened my email and found an invitation to take a survey of singles about single’s issues and concerns being conducted by the Church. Taking that survey including writing some short essays about concerns I and others I know have brought a great feeling of the Spirit that was refreshing and totally different from what I had felt just a few minutes before.
“Anger” is not really the best word to describe my emotions concerning those who I see trying to lead others away from the fruit of the gospel tree. “Sadness” and “sorrow” are better words. But sometimes I do ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” and the answer I come up with is, “Knock over the money changer’s tables and chase them with a bull whip.”
I’m sorry for you that you do not like, rather – detest – feminists because I can assure you there are many sitting next to you in church every week. Also, it saddens me that you have judged so harshly without even listening through to the end, as I am guessing that we most likely have many things in common. Would love to meet you in person if the opportunity can be found so that we may discuss our differing views in open, honest, face to face conversation instead of through the anonymity of the Internet. God Bless
I hear a lot of pain in your comment, which in turn pains me – would love to speak in person if the opportunity arises. God Bless.
Julie, the statement you made that was most meaningful involved following threads and losing faith over it,…but in your case, you needed to focus your faith more securely on Jesus [only].
I am learning more all the time, and listened to this cast not to formulate opinions, but to actually broaden my perspective. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
There are problems with historicity, concerns with cultural bias, and other cultural concerns that have seriously affected me in my own life. LDS theology and practice create a lot of this for me. It can be frightening to encounter such things, and it seems getting back to faith in Christ is such a stabilizer. But,…what about the unanswered questions that multiply on and on?
I will never go back to disavowing such questions exist, because they do. Someday, I want to have some straight answers to some serious questions.
I’ve also listened to Finlayson-Fife and read her dissertation. Interesting that you were friends.
Great podcast. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing these issues so openly. I do not fit the Mormon ideal picture in many ways and one thing I wrestled with before joining the church was if there really would be room for me. I’m just recently figuring out my place in life and in the church more and I’m finding a lot more peace as a result.