I just realized that I have a huge gap in my knowledge about Mormonism. After being born, the beginning of the Mormon life sequence seems to be — roughly, and by no means am I trying to be reductionist — education, marriage, parenthood. On the way to these, the Church provides a lot of cues to ensure this is what happens, preferably by age 30.
Then you’re a parent for so many years (or always, as my mom says) and then…? What is the role of the older Mormon person? Wait around, doing Church-delegated tasks, until you die and get your rewards?
I don’t mean to be rude at all and I’m sorry that I’m fairly ignorant on this topic. I was talking to my mother a while back and she was mentioning that there are unmarried older people in the Church (often converts), and they don’t really feel all that moved to marry (unless they really want to) — as if the Church’s cues don’t faze them — because, well, what? It’s not like you’re gonna start a nice little family and buy a new house and paint the baby’s new bedroom at the age of 57.
Obviously, there’s space for older men in the Church. If you live long enough and make enough contacts, one day you might be called as an apostle. But the older woman (the wife of the apostle)? I haven’t been to church in long enough (and I was young enough when I left) that I don’t remember what role older women play. Are there just a bunch of tasks that people get “called” to do, to keep things functioning?
It’s interesting the generational relationship in the Church, whereby a lot of older people are living a certain lifestyle and the Church’s public face is about leading young people into the same structured lifestyle — one that is very gendered. One search on Ensign regarding “older Mormons” brought up the following sentence: “These transitioning young adult women should enter Relief Society already having older friends who know them, love them, and are ready to receive them.” That’s scary!
Of course this post is also about the string of recent posts about homosexuality. Same-gender attraction screws up everything for the Mormon lifestyle, which is why the Church is so vocal about it. In the academy, this is sometimes called “queer temporality” and it’s one of my favorite topics. =D