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.

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One comment on “Anti-patterns of Singles’ Congregations

  1. Strong Man says:

    Interesting tips. I’ve been married for a long time, but much of this would also apply to a married ward. Also, when you mention “leaders” of the congregation, remember the true definition of a leader: Anyone who does something without being told what to do. There is no reason to wait till the official authorities start something.

    I’ve learned I’ve gained something valuable from developing some friendships with men in my area.

    I wouldn’t hold your breath on the preaching of submission. BUT–a good alternative is to understand and openly embrace and teach from the recent Church Leadership training on priesthood. My ward did that with some success this past Sunday. It’s very clear on distinct roles for men and women, with women as mothers and nurturers, and men as leading spiritually and giving blessings. The women and young women who spoke in our ward talked about supporting their husbands in the priesthood, and about preparing to be good mothers.

    No hint anywhere of the chance that the Church’s views on these roles could change anytime in the future. And any hint of ‘equal partners’ is about ‘equally important,” not “equal in authority.”

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