There has been an interesting discussion at Feminist Mormon Housewives in response to a guest poster’s request for advice on how she, as a single Mormon woman, should deal with her strong sex drive. Tangentially, I was interested by a comment made by David on that thread:
Let me just state the obvious that no one seems to want to say:
There are more decent, inteligent, active, spiritual single women in the church than there are men.
I dont know how it all balances out in the end, but right now, thats just the way it is
I’m sure this issue has been discussed before (for example, I think it came up in these threads at FMH). There are clearly more committed, active women in the Church than there are committed, active men. Given that marriage is emphasized so much, my question is what the Church should do about the imbalance and all the single women it leaves frustrated.
I’ve thought of a few possible solutions, and I would be interested in hearing yours.
1. Ask single women to just stay single and have faith that everything will work out in the eternities. This is the current solution.
2. We could bring back polygamy (well, polygyny, anyway). Economists sometimes argue that polygyny should be good for women. The theory is that it gives women more options because they can marry any man, whether he’s single or already married. Women’s increased options would force single men to work harder to attract them. But the most important reason why polygyny might be thought of as a solution is that it allows for everyone to be married in a group that contains more women than men.
3. We could set the Church up to give men more incentive to attend than women. For example, we might prohibit women from having any kind of ecclesiastical authority, allow only men to perform sacred rituals, read from scriptures written by men about men’s experiences, and ask women to covenant to hearken to their husbands while asking men to make no similar covenant. Such a male-dominated church might attract more men than women.
4. Okay, we already do #3, and the Church still has more women than men. The strategy does seem to work to some degree, though, as the Church has a lower woman to man ratio than you would expect just generalizing from women’s generally greater religiosity. So maybe #3 just needs to be taken a little farther. Perhaps if we explicitly embraced the doctrine of women’s submissiveness, openly preached that all women are evil because Eve ate the fruit, barred women from speaking in church, and so forth, men would find the Church attractive enough relative to women to push the sex ratio closer to 1:1.
5. Deemphasize marriage. This seems unlikely to happen, although we could always shift emphasis from present marriage to marriage in the eternities.
6. Encourage single women to enter committed lesbian relationships. This would go well with #5 but seems even less likely.
7. Encourage single women to date and marry non-members. While marrying non-members isn’t exactly encouraged, it doesn’t seem to be spoken against as strongly as it used to be.
Yes, many of these suggestions are more than a little tongue-in-cheek. But I do think this is a real problem, and wonder if there might be some better solution than asking single women to hang on for an opportunity that might never come.
Of the solutions I’ve listed, I think that #4 would be the easiest to implement. After all, I’m sure there are stacks of scriptures and prophetic comments one could find to support any sexist practice the Church might want to try. It would just be a matter of emphasizing some scriptures and doctrines and ignoring others.
But #4 isn’t my favorite. I would actually lean toward #7. I suspect that many Mormon women would be happier married to a good non-Mormon man than they are single and giving up hope on ever being married. But that’s just me. I’m neither a woman nor single. What do you think?
- 8 December 2006