the older Mormon

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

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8 Responses

  1. Carla says:

    Aside from working in the temple, there’s not much older women can do, is there? So sad.

  2. Hellmut says:

    Typically, Utah couples tend to spend a lot of time in various temples. Apparently, there are even neighborhoods exclusively for seniors that spring up around temples.

    My in laws have served three full time missions. They loved Uganda and had a tough time in Albania. Their third mission was in Croatia, which was a lot easier than Albania.

  3. Lisa says:

    I always secretly loved the role of the old lady who regularly says things that made you think “omgdidshejustsaythat?!”

    before we decided to leave, i thought i’d like to end up being that old lady. she’s pretty cool.

  4. Molly says:

    The options for older Mormon women are: 1) temple attendance overachiever 2) battle to the death with other old ladies to gain status as the ward’s alpha female. Non-widows can maintain status if their husband is a local or general authority, or go on a couples mission. But old widowed women are essentially put out to pasture.

  5. Lee says:

    I personally think people get too dependent on the Church for their social and emotional well-being. Have they no creativity? It’s a big world “out there”, with meaningful contributions to make, new friends to meet, and new things to experience. Go to Church to worship, by all means, but if you feel lost, maybe you need to get out more.

    That said, I’m saying this to myself as well as others. I’ll be 58 next year, which rounds up to 60 if I remember my arithmetic. I realize that getting outside your comfort zone is a worthwhile goal.

  6. Albena says:

    Older women at my ward cook for activities or homeless people. They also go on a mission. Which I am very happy because I’m a convert myself and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be a Mormon. In Albania they also like to teach traditional dance to young generations. They always have wise advices too 🙂 hope this info helped you!

  7. Craig says:

    “I personally think people get too dependent on the Church for their social and emotional well-being.”

    Because that’s all the church realistically allows. The outside world is evil, fallen, dirty, unwholesome, immoral. Mormonism conditions its membership specifically to not fit in to the real world, and to fear it. It’s a classic cult tactic.

  8. momthebom says:

    Older couples, as well as older singles can serve missions. You now can pick a mission off of a list of possibilities, many missions are served locally, so you stay at home but devote 20 or so hours weekly to your assignment. Also, older LDS people, like younger LDS people are not confined to church run activities. We have persue hobbies and interests other than religious activities.

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