Let me be real with myself and all you. Nothing in the past General Conference weekend lit a fire within my soul as much as this title did to mine:
When I saw this title I was immediately ignited and could not believe my eyes. Thoughts stormed my brain, thoughts that I have not expressed enough such as; finally the Brethren are doing away with the ridiculous meat markets we call singles ward. Then I realized it was an April’s Fools joke. I couldn’t help but laugh at my own response to such an article.
Bravo LDS Daily, bravo.
Okay I will agree that some elements such as the “Choose the Right (teous)” app alternative for Tinder and the ward matchmaker calling was a little silly, but the main picture this article painted was one that I have yearned for ever since my coming home from the mission.
I do not feel comfortable in YSA wards because of the reek of special interest, a special interest that so easily diverts it’s way from the real meaning I attend church.
In the two years I have been home from my mission, I have been a member of four ysa wards, and only had one bishop that respected my goals and desires. The other bishops felt the need to force down my throat their own goals and desires…dating, marriage, etc.
These wards were created for this purpose and that literally makes ysa wards a meat market.
I want to increase myself in the ways of Jesus Christ, but how can church be a part of that process if there are other things focused on?
Now please don’t confuse this blog for a channel for me to vent through but rather a venue for advocacy. The idea I want to advocate is the thought that singles wards are not useful for everyone and testimonies will grow with or without them. Even more important, people would get married with or without them.
I understand that one could find quotes left and right from Brethren suggesting single’s attend their ysa ward. However, those are exactly that, suggestions.
The most important doctrines are clear to us, that we should worship Jesus Christ and partake of the Sacrament. In my own experience, I have experienced how the dynamics of ysa wards are an adverse to true doctrine. This is not a problem of church revelation, organization, or testimony but rather, an issue of culture and mindset.
Because ysa’s are a special interest ward and if one understands that the Brethren highly suggest ysa’s attend (not command or revelate) then leaders of the church should be more open to those who do not want to attend ysa but instead desire a conventional ward.
The Church Handbook 2 states: “Where local circumstances and the number of young single adults members make it desirable, priesthood leaders may recommend the creation of a young single adult ward.” (16.4, first paragraph)
I think it is safe to say that areas of the United States such as Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and California meet the requirements of the above criteria quite heavily. I personally think that because of the heavy YSA population in the west, this idea that if you are a ysa then you must, by default attend the ysa ward has become attached into the culture.
However, the more east you travel in the United States the more of the comfortable choice one feels to make between attending a ysa or family ward, and a comfortable choice it should be according to the same Handbook, which reads:
“Eligible members may, in consultation with their parents, choose to be members of the young single adult ward or to remain in their conventional ward.” (16.4, second paragraph)
One of my mentors I have studied and worked under is a man I respect and look up to for all things spiritual. I was glad to one day learn from him that he did not attend a ysa ward while attending BYU.
The other students teased him and made him feel horrible for his decision. But, he did not like the “meat market” feel and felt that he could progress himself more effectively in a family ward.
This man is a strong active member of the LDS Church and ended up getting married, without ever attending a ysa ward while in college.
This idea that I am advocating is the simple act of changing one’s mindset from “all ysa members should attend a ysa ward” to rather, the thought “it is okay if a young single adult would rather go to a family ward, because it is their choice.”
Please do not pressure those who are not interested in special interest wards to stay there so they can feel “normal.”