Q: How to get single Mormons to attend LDS Institute classes?

A: Guilt and sex.

Tonight? Oh, behave. Rrrrr.

h/t: r/exmormon and t.t.a.n.s.

See also Mormon Ad FAIL:

I know I shouldn’t be shocked and outraged that this comes from a church whose finest entertainment moment was the depiction of Johnny Lingo bartering for an 8-Cow Wife. And I know I’ve heard more returned missionaries than I can count who’ve been promised “a hot wife” in exchange for their faithfulness. But it is different when the video comes straight from the Church’s official website.

Chino Blanco

--- We are men of action, lies do not become us. ---

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55 Responses

  1. chanson says:

    I have to admit, I was fascinated by the discussion in that BCC thread. My initial reaction was that some people really lack empathy. But upon reflection, I guess that from a Mormon perspective it makes sense to look down on her, pity her, for failing to “endure to the end”. She’s saying that the “law of Chastity” is wrong (and that Mormon culture has some major problems), and one can hardly be surprised if faithful Mormons take issue with that.

  2. Lisa says:

    i had all sorts of fun with this video. seriously, bring back the 80s video with the chicks in shoulder pads (what was that called again?). i think that was a better vid, but whatever.

    i was all with the MC when he said “whatever!” but because i had a friend (and a husband) with the same sentiments. i loved institute, but i had my personal reasons for that that had little to do with the church (and i was an investigator/convert at the time–my love for institute died a fast death once i married).

    the people i knew who didn’t dig going were some of the best people i knew, so leave the guy alone. but we’re really going to tempt him with video games? really?

  3. Cognitive Dissenter says:

    Guilt and sex. It’s been working for centuries.

  4. Cognitive Dissenter says:

    Oh. My. Gawd. I finally brought myself to actually watch the video. Wow. I’m having LDS flashbacks … No wonder so many Mormons need prescription meds.

  5. Seth R. says:

    Q. How do we get young people to experience higher education?

    A. Guilt, sex, and bribery.

    Thanks for playing.

  6. Seth R. says:

    I’ll have to catch the video later.

  7. Chino Blanco says:

    I agree the objections are not surprising. I also agree with this bit from the OP at my second link:

    There is a vast gulf between living the law of chastity and merely living without sex.

    I suspect that what really bugs some believers about that NYT piece is that it paints a picture of Mormon singles who are ostensibly living the Law of Chastity but who are no more chaste than the rest of us, they’re just not having sex.

  8. Seth R. says:

    Just watched it.

    I didn’t see much wrong with it, other than being the usual dose of cheese you get from Church films.

    People go to Institute to get married to someone who shares their values and goals. It’s one of the reasons the program exists. Nothing particularly wrong with that.

    In fact, I’d be a bit upset if the Church was not providing places for believing Mormons to hook up. It’s kind of a big deal.

  9. kuri says:

    I guess that from a Mormon perspective it makes sense to look down on her, pity her, for failing to endure to the end. Shes saying that the law of Chastity is wrong (and that Mormon culture has some major problems), and one can hardly be surprised if faithful Mormons take issue with that.

    For people who live in the black-and-white world that the church teaches — where everything is black-white, yes-no, 100%-0% — not only does that make sense, it’s inevitable. It’s the only way they can look at the situation. If she’s right, I must be wrong. I can’t be wrong — my whole life is dedicated to this — so she can’t be right.

  10. Seth R. says:

    You know Kuri, I read that NYT article and, ironically, was thinking – you know… this is possibly a woman for whom polygamy might have been a good option.

  11. kuri says:


    Maybe. That might have ended her problem of not being able to marry a Mormon. (Although one wonders whether polygamous Mormon men would be any more interested in an independent 35-year-old woman than monogamous ones apparently are.) But it would definitely have brought a whole new set of problems with it.

  12. simplysarah says:

    Reading the NYT piece was like reading a piece of my personal history. So when I read some of the comments in the BCC article, many of them felt so judgmental and hurtful (while many others were refreshingly compassionate).

    Seth R., while your polygamy comment made me laugh, and perhaps it was intended tongue-in-cheek…I politely disagree. What I believe this woman wanted (cue: projection) was so much more than a sex partner. She wanted to love an equal and be loved as an equal – emotionally, intellectually, AND physically. She wouldn’t want to share a man – she wanted one for herself. Sex made the narrative interesting, but it was just a tiny part of the story — a need with an exclamation point that finally helped her to reconsider what the “right” places and “right” way of seeking companionship and intimacy were.

    I too could never click with single Mormon men (or single men outside the church, not that I even considered them). I wanted to, had plenty of crushes, and tried to find an eternal companion for 10+ years. But the relationship dynamics with single Mormon guys never felt satisfactory. And the longer I was alone, the lonelier I felt, the hungrier for connection, and the less it made sense to me that a god who desired his children to become like him through family life (which is never perfect) would wish so many of his children to remain celibate and single.

    I am still shocked how quickly I was able to find the kind of love I always wanted (equal, whole-hearted, exclusive, intimate, emotional, intellectual, physical love) after leaving the church. Building a life with my love is challenging, thrilling, humbling, refining…and makes me so much happier than I ever imagined. I hope Nicole finds the love she also desires.


  13. chanson says:

    Kuri — Yes, I think that pretty much sums it up.

    It’s a commandment to [heterosexually] marry, have kids, and to refrain from sex before legalizing that union. Regardless of whether those commands are a lot easier for some than for others, the gospel rewards those who succeed (as more righteous) and, well, doesn’t reward those who fail to hit that mark. If you say “The church and Mormon culture generally should be more welcoming to people who are different,” that sounds suspiciously like saying “keeping the commandments really isn’t important.” And that’s a hostile, threatening message for people who have invested their lives in the Mormon commandments.

  14. Michelle says:

    Ewwwwwwwwwwwww. That eye raise head nod look at the end was insulting. Blech. Ew. Gross.

  15. kuri says:

    I remember the first I was forced to confront the idea that some people are simply better off — happier — not being part of the church. It was back in the day when we were living in Japan, and I was in the Young Men’s leadership and my spouse in he Young Women’s.

    There was a high school girl, Tomoe, who’d recently joined, and she didn’t really fit in. She was a little bit, well, “slutty,” and she liked to party and have a good time. She found the whole thing too serious and strict. (Lord knows what made her think she wanted to join in the first place.)

    One day my spouse said she’d seen Tomoe walking down the street with some of her non-church friends, and she’d just looked so happy and free compared to how she was at church. And my spouse told me, “I really think she’d be happier and better off without the church. It just isn’t right for her.”

    I was shocked. To hear something so unorthodox from my spouse for a start, but also at the idea. The church was supposed to be for everyone. It was supposed to make everyone happy. It’s not right for some people? Unthinkable.

    But I had to think about it. And I recalled a lot of people, not just Tomoe, but a lot of others too, who were very unhappy in the church. And I had to admit that it sure seemed that in many cases, the church was the main source of their unhappiness.

    So I had to admit that the church isn’t right for everybody. (It would be another 15 years or so before I entertained the idea that it might not be right at all.)

  16. simplysarah says:

    @ Kuri: Great story. If there was a way to upvote or like your comment, I would do it. 🙂

  17. kuri says:

    Thanks Sarah. I guess I was pretty naive — over 30 and a member of the church for more than 10 years — but I’d simply never considered the idea before. It was an important discovery for me.

  18. Andrew S says:



  19. Seth R. says:

    Sarah, I agree the NYT author wouldn’t really be down with my suggestion for the reasons you mention. It was definitely tongue in cheek. But only partially.

    She didn’t want kids. She was independent. She was financially stable.

    All good things for an enlightened polygamous guy. He doesn’t have to depend on her to have kids (she explicitly said she didn’t want any), she doesn’t provide too much of a burden financially. And there are some benefits for her too!

    She gets a social support structure. She gets affection, but not so much that it’s smothering to her (this point is, of course, debatable). And she gets that coveted theological status.

    Everyone wins!

    OK, back to reality, we’re nowhere near the sort of “enlightened” polygamy that would be necessary to make it even remotely palatable to someone like this. But just saying…


    Look no further than Brigham Young. Known for marrying widows and divorcees – women who would otherwise have little marriage prospects anywhere in 1800s America. And the occasional strong-willed, independent, and intellectually formidable gal.

    I give you Eliza Roxy Snow.

  20. Chino Blanco says:

    I suspect the situation will be somewhat ameliorated once the Mormon church phases out proselyting missions next year and shifts to a co-ed kibbutz model of service missions for young LDS. Rather than living apart for two years only to return to a BYU campus or enroll in Institute in order to hook up in short order, the new Mormon kibbutzniks will spend the best 24 months of their lives together in close proximity on the new kibbutzim that will run the gamut from agricultural projects in Ghana to high-tech ventures in Taiwan. Wherever they are, many will find their life partners there. These felicitous lifelong pairings will be facilitated by careful evaluation of aptitude and interests prior to assigning candidates to the appropriate kibbutz, and as NGOs and CEOs begin to take notice of the substantial contributions made by tens of thousands of productive young Mormons, many non-Mormon youth will take an interest in converting to the Mormon faith in order to avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in the program.

  21. kuri says:

    I hadn’t heard of that. Why am I always the last to get that kind of inside information?

  22. Hellmut says:

    If you can’t prosper in any given environment, find a better place. Any amoeba will do that. Why not Mormons?

  23. Hellmut says:

    Please, Seth, Brigham Young married Eliza R. Snow because the woman was several times smarter than him and he needed her to govern the church.

    Polygamy Brigham style is not the solution. The man was notorious for neglecting his wives and his children. You are better off as a mistress because mistresses have to be paid.

  24. chanson says:

    Chino @20 — That’s a good idea. I’ve been thinking for a while that they would do better by dumping the proselytizing missions in favor of service missions (see my earlier comment here). If the folks in the COB have any sense, it’s probably already in the works.

    And if they haven’t thought of it yet (as you pointed out on that other thread), they’re reading this blog, hence are receiving this helpful hint, free of charge!

  25. Seth R. says:

    I wasn’t holding up Young as an example of ideal polygamy Hellmut.

    Kuri asked whether any men would be able to stomach marrying an independent woman.

    Brigham Young.

    You have your answer.

  26. Seth R. says:

    Having served in a mission that already had a heavy community service component, I can tell you right now the whole thing wouldn’t have been half as beneficial for me personally if service was all we were doing – or even over 50% of what we were doing.

    Something that people in the West don’t understand is that pushing your charity on someone else can be just as big an intrusion on people and societies as pushing your faith. It can be every bit as imperialist, condescending, and just downright interfering as it is fashionable to accuse proselyting of being.

  27. simplysarah says:

    @ Seth R. re #19, ahhhhh, your comment reminded me that a so-called “enlightened” form of polygamy does or has existed – just in African regions, and apart from the modern Mormon dynamic. At least, according to my anthropology professor last year, in many African cultures men gained wealth by marrying more wives who were financially independent (because they were the ones doing the root farming). I stand corrected about the possibility of such a situation.

    @ Chino #20 – bwahahaha!! The church could seriously use some of your wisdom. If they started replacing proselyting missions with humanitarian (I’d say 1 year in length), they’d have a bajillion young members interested in participating and it would be a much better PR campaign…and it would probably vastly increase the NOM numbers.

  28. Seth R. says:

    Sarah, I guess you are being a bit lightheartedly mocking there. But to clarify – I don’t hold up any existing or historic polygamous incidents as “models” of what “enlightened” polygamy would be.

  29. chanson says:

    She gets a social support structure. She gets affection, but not so much that its smothering to her (this point is, of course, debatable). And she gets that coveted theological status.

    I recently finished reading In Sacred Loneliness, and I would agree with you that the above makes polygamy an attractive option to some women (even today). But it really depends on what you want from your marriage. People vary quite a bit in what their marriage priorities are. But in the case of the infamous NYT article, it really looked like she was looking for a level of emotional intimacy and partnership that polygamous marriages like BY’s didn’t really offer. (They offered other advantages, but not that.) In this particular case, I think that opting to non-Mormon dating pool is the most logical option for the author of the article.

    Something that people in the West dont understand is that pushing your charity on someone else can be just as big an intrusion on people and societies as pushing your faith.

    If your service is as big an intrusion as proselytizing religion, then u r doin it rong. There’s enough human need in the world that you can find a way to make yourself useful. If you can’t think of anything, you can start by looking around at organizations that are offering useful, appreciated services and help them.

  30. simplysarah says:

    Nope Seth, I was being serious actually. 🙂 I was remembering my recent anthropology class and trying to acknowledge that, although polygamy is an unattractive option to me personally (and I agree with Chanson, probably not what Nicole Hardy was looking for), it can exist in many forms, some of which may even attract independent women. Mormon polygamy is probably also much more diverse than I’ve given it credit.

    I think Chanson said it best
    “But it really depends on what you want from your marriage. People vary quite a bit in what their marriage priorities are.”

  31. Madame Curie says:

    Ugh, I hated this video. So incredibly sexist. Go to Institute, and get a bonus – a hot girl to date! Women are not chattel to be given as “prizes” to righteous men. This is the same thinking that inspires polygamy, where you are given wives for your faithfulness. Sorry, nope, its still sexist.

  32. Carla says:

    I think my problem with the video is its assumptions about the people who’d rather not go.

    Similar to the stereotypes about people who leave Mormonism, it’s providing a stereotype that says ‘the only people who don’t want to go to institute are people who gave in to the temptation to do something less important.’ Also similar to the stereotypes about former Mormons, it’s a reason that places all the blame on the person, not the institutional church.

    I’m certain that young people have a variety of reasons for not going, and even more certain that some of them consider their alternative activity more important than going to institute. Or they could feel that it’s boring and/or not spiritually fulfilling. Maybe they have a bad teacher. Maybe they have doubts about their faith and don’t feel that they’re getting any answers from institute, or that when they raise their doubts and questions they are met with judgment and derision. There are a myriad of valid reasons not to go, and the video reduces it to “only lazy, selfish people don’t go to institute.” Because they don’t want anyone to know that there are valid reasons not to go.

  33. Seth R. says:

    Chanson, I could be completely reading too much into the article.

    But it didn’t really seem to me like the NYT author wanted full intimacy. She was definitely holding something back. There was a certain guardedness in her descriptions of her relationships and what she wanted. She didn’t want to go whole-hog. That was the sense I got. And that turned off a lot of the LDS guys she encountered.

    Something people don’t get is that marriage is ABOUT mutual vulnerability. You can’t get married and keep all your defenses up and options open. If you do that, you’re really doing nothing more than walking the aisle subconsciously planning your future divorce. Which a lot of people do today.

    But she definitely had the defenses up (for understandable reasons) and wanted the options open.

    But few guys looking for committed lifetime monogamy are going to want to take a chance on that. The only alternative is to seek out guys who aren’t committed to the idea of monogamy. And in that arena, you roll the dice and take your chances as well.

    This is not a defense of the 30-40 male Mormon dating pool by the way. They haven’t been treating a few of my dear female acquaintances very well either, in my opinion. It’s merely an observation of what the article conveyed to me that the author really wanted.

  34. Hellmut says:

    Well, she insisted on quality, Seth. That’s why she had her guard up.

  35. chanson says:

    Seth — that’s quite possible. She spins a great yarn, but we can’t be certain what she’s really looking for in a relationship.

  36. Chino Blanco says:

    FWIW, a BCC blogger makes the case for service missions.

  37. chanson says:

    @39 — Wow, what a great idea!!! Now, why didn’t I think of that? 😉

  38. Seth R. says:

    It is promising.

    Any calls for “service missions” will have to be couched in such a way that they are not phasing out proselyting to have any chance of viability in an LDS context.

    Asking us to give up proselyting asks waay too much. It threatens the core raison d’ etre of the LDS Church. But I’ve always felt that there ought to be a way in the LDS Church for people who are not qualified or suited to a proselyting mission to give some intense service.

    As long as it doesn’t threaten the core proselyting mission, I think there is a lot of latitude for creativity here though.

  39. Chino Blanco says:

    Gah. It threatens nothing and optimally would have has less to do with qualifications than training. Your supposed LDS core competence (i.e., proselyting) is a bust. How about tapping that other core competence (i.e., management)? Or has that always been a charade? Looking at the numbers, maybe so. At least as far as overseas efforts are concerned. How many more Potemkin villages (aka “missions”) will faithful Morridor Mormons fund before the gig is up? How about sending our young people out to support the efforts of the local leadership? And where local leadership is lacking, how about inserting the best of our young volunteers into those slots rather than wasting their time knocking doors?

  40. Seth R. says:

    Chino, your remarks would have a lot more force if they were not describing exactly what I was doing for two years in Japan on my mission.

    So you can drop the evil gloating routine.

  41. Chino Blanco says:

    Seth R., your prescience would be a lot more convincing if I hadn’t already read your missionary account. For what it’s worth, the fact that Mercosur + Mexico dwarfs Japanese interest in LDS online offerings is cold comfort. The numbers suck across the board.

  42. Seth R. says:

    What on earth are you even on about Chino?

    You’ve completely lost me, and I’m not entirely certain I care to have it clarified.

  43. Chino Blanco says:

    Sorry, Seth R. I’ve been trying to keep up while simultaneously working on this X-Mormon of the Year graphic:

    X-Mormons of the Year 2010

  44. Seth R. says:

    What about what’s-her-name from “Enchanted”?

    Isn’t she an ex or lapsed Mormon too?

  45. Chino Blanco says:

    Hey, if you think Amy Adams is an X-mo worthy of the honor on offer here, nominate away.

  46. Seth R. says:

    Well, I’m not entirely certain of her status really.

  47. Chino Blanco says:

    “Status” … god how I hate that f*cking word. It makes me feel twelve all over again.

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