Anti-patterns of Singles’ Congregations

I wrote earlier somewhat glibly that singles’ congregations fail at their intended purpose of marrying off their members.  This post will attempt to address why.

The first and most important reason is that the definition of “marrying off” has changed.  “’til death do you part” (or eternally, for the LDS) is mocked by social acceptance of divorce.  “Love, honor, and obey”/”preside” is given lip service, but generally ignored or twisted beyond recognition in practice.

The second reason is that such congregations are often treated as unisex.  This would be fine, but that the very idea of singles’ congregations is that they are not, in fact, unisex.

This severely sabotages male camaraderie within the congregation.  There are strong reasons for men to cooperate: mutual protection, advice, and tackling bigger-than-one-man projects.  But if they are single men on the make, and there are women present right now, then they are plunged into competition against each other.  This wouldn’t be the end of the world if they were game-aware, but the vast majority will not be, and will, sensing their weak position, try to buy female approval through supplication, rather than bask in it.Third, it deprives both men and women of role models.  Singles congregations live in a sort of Perpetual Rapture, in which “the righteous” are “taken up” and join the family congregations upon marriage.  If you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, and those people are cripplingly beta or actual Peter-Pan-manboy-cads, what do you turn into?

Fourth, it tends inevitably toward infantilization.  If responsibility is grown into, then singles’ congregations are a terrible idea.  When everyone in the congregation is self-sufficient, what exactly is someone supposed to grow into spiritually?  Parents can learn about our Heavenly Father by raising their own children; single people can participate in at least a surrogate role within the community of a congregation—unless, you know that congregation is composed of other unmarried adults.  Without a strong creative purpose, and opposed to a destructive one, they tend toward hedonism.  But even in their hedonism they are restricted; chastity keeps them from pursuing a pretty great adult pasttime, so they move to childish pursuits like parlor games and childrens’ songs and sugary food.  The alpha-but-marginally-spiritual men are not fed by the spiritual meat that ought to be present, and bail, while the only men who stick around for this tripe are simpering betas with no other option.

Lest some well-meaning idiot criticize me for complaining without providing no solutions, here you go:
If you’re the leader of a singles’ congregation:
  • Encourage gender-specific activities that help, practically, prepare your members for marriage.  This will probably include un-spiritual-seeming things such as household/car maintenance, personal finance, cooking(lean toward women), and employment/entrepreneurship material(lean toward men).
  • Bind the men to each other through shared sacrifice in service of something their own.  Sports teams that play against other congregations are good here as a supplement, but are poor excuses for the real thing.  Better options include having them teach the sort of activities I mention above.  My church sends men out in two-men teams to teach the Gospel to congregants at their homes.  The guy on my team is one of my best friends, and the experience of teaching together has strengthened that.
  • Prohibit Primary (children’s) hymns  When I was a child I thought as a child, but now I’m a man.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Condemn divorce.  Publicly.  God hates it.  Men doubtful about marriage for fear of divorce will be reassured that they have the church at their back in support, rather than waiting to cut them off at the knees.  It will also cause everyone to ask the right questions about the person they’re dating.
  • Encourage contact with married congregants.  This provides a constant, in-your-face picture of the realities of marriage, and provides good examples for both your men and women
  • Don’t back away from preaching submission of wives to husbands You have ample scriptural support, and, for the LDS, you have even more.  This might need to be approached delicately and with forethought, but “delicately and with forethought” does not mean “watered down.”  Make a stand.

If you’re a man in a singles’ congregation:

  • Seek contact with older, wiser men.  Business opportunities, good stories, jobs, daughters, wise counsel—the list goes on and on.  These guys are goldmines.  Respect them, and they’ll respect you.
  • Seek contact with young single men  At some point you’ll be stuck in a “singles'” situation, where you will be competing directly with other men for women.  Stack the deck. Bring friends.
  • Lead and care for the men.  As Christ with his apostles, if you’ve taken the red pill, you likely have a much clearer picture of what needs to be done than most men your age.   Adopt a no-bullshit manner, have their best interests at heart, and they will respond.

I have deliberately omitted advice for single men on how to interact with women; that will be the subject of later posts.

Quick Rule of Thumb

I’m glad to see the beginnings of Donal Graeme’s series on finding the one, and plan on adding my own perspectives as the series progresses.

For now, though, I just wanted to share this one anecdote:

I attend church at what I suppose would be termed a “singles’ ministry” (for those unfamiliar with Dropit, I’m a mid-20’s LDS guy somewhere in the non-Utah U.S.) by mainstream Christianity.  We call them singles’ wards.  They exist mostly to marry us singles off  (They largely fail at that task, for reasons I’ll go into later).

Recently I’ve been thinking about historical cultures, and what we can learn from them that we have forgotten today.  Men seemed to have more…disdain…for women’s opinions, and seemingly didn’t seek to spend a lot of time with them, except for sex.

So, I decided to basically not talk to women in my congregation.

And…it’s been great.  Honestly, it’s awesome.

In the past, why have I spent time talking to women?  Mostly because I either wanted to sleep with them, and I thought spending time talking to them would help me toward that goal, or because I wanted some ego validation.

The first is understandable, but short-sighted: for an LDS guy, sleeping with them would mean I’d have to marry them first.  Was I fit to husband (read: provide for, protect, teach, guide, direct) someone?  Hardly.  I was a wreck, a checked-out student into video game binges.

The second is just stupid and selfish.  Ego validation from women?  Ought we not to fear God rather than (wo)man?

Consider my task as a future husband.  I need to get a career going, I need to have strong doctrinal understanding, and I need to build alliances with other men.  Talking with women helps with pretty much none of these goals.

So I haven’t been doing it.  I talk to the men plenty, and I’ll speak to the entire congregation as a whole given the opportunity, but I really don’t talk with women.

One bonus, unplanned side effect of this is that it is apparently really attractive.   I’d be lying if I said I’m not gratified by this, but it honestly wasn’t the initial motivation.

So to any guy in my situation—low-SMV, not living up to his potential—try it for a few Sundays.  See what kinds of conversations you have with men.  Look at the guys who are always talking to women, and think about if you want to be like them (in my experience they’re either players or betas).

I have to go to bed now.  But seriously, consider trying this.