I am really close to just availing myself of the Internet. Mostly because of comments. Commenters often just show me the truly horrible depths of humanity.
Most recent case in point: this blogger. I really like her. I’ve probably met her once–she served her mission in Montreal and our missions overlapped by a few months. So I’m sure I saw or met her once. But I don’t know her. But I love her writing style, as it is similar to mine, and through her blogs about the Rooftop Concert Series in Provo, she’s introduced me to some awesome music.
The above-linked post is about her experience as a youth in the LDS church. A very similar experience to mine: many lessons and activities centered on preparing for marriage and motherhood. Fact: one mid-week activity, I was dressed in a wedding gown for a mock wedding, complete with reception/wedding cake, intended to impress upon me and the other young girls there the importance of marrying in an LDS temple.
I was 16.
Now, I don’t mean to bash the idea that was taught–all of my siblings were married in temples, and I’d like to be one day, if I can administer enough methamphetamines to a reasonably attractive man to make him forget what he’s doing that day.
But putting a 16 year-old in a wedding dress and having a fake wedding reception sends the message that marriage is the ultimate accomplishment I could have in life. I wasn’t ever really taught that a career was a good idea. When I went to BYU, the older women in the ward told me they couldn’t wait until Christmas when they could see my engagement ring. I wasn’t dating anyone–I would meet someone there! Going to BYU wasn’t about getting internships or study abroad or a degree. It was about getting married.
So to all the hater commenters over on CJane’s blog, you might have had an idyllic youth experience in church, where you were taught by forward-thinking, egalitarian leaders, and that’s just great. But to say that she is bad PR for the church, or that she got the wrong message about the youth program is uncalled for. It was her experience. It was my experience. And in the years since, dozens of well-meaning church members have made me feel like absolute garbage for not being married (as if it was my choice).
Don’t pretend that marriage isn’t placed at a premium in the church, that it isn’t taught early and often as the ideal. It is. And for some of us, we do feel a little robbed, as we look back and realize some of our choices might have been oh so different had our worth not been implicitly tied to getting married.