'Twas a special weekend in April, and not just because the weather here in fabulous Las Vegas was gorgeous. This weekend marked another year's passing with the 181st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a special weekend for me, and more than 14 million Mormons around the globe, as we listened to the inspired counsel of Prophets and Apostles, leaders of the church who preside and guide the daily affairs of the Lord's kingdom on Earth.
This one hurt, though.
There are three talks that mentioned the dreaded 'M' word, specifically, and several more that pointedly struck me at several spots, prompting me to cower at my inabilities and wince at my many imperfections. I'm talking, of course, about Marriage (because "Marr-waige is what bwings us two-get'er today"). In particular, a Prophet of God, President Thomas S. Monson called me out.
Two of his Apostles, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Richard G. Scott, also called me out. One spoke of having a desire to marry. The other used his death-stare to subdue me into dating "those poor sisters in the church." Then, to top it off, Elder D. Todd Christofferson came out to tell me not to murmur, but to accept correction with humility and gratitude.
I know what you're thinking: there's no way he knew he was calling you out specifically. And maybe he wasn't. But in the Saturday evening Priesthood session (for male members of the church), President Monson took a dramatically obtuse tone in directing his remarks to young single adult men in the church around my age — those who had gone through life "just having fun" and "enjoying being single" without "putting any real thought or effort into marriage."
"Nothing in this life will give you greater happiness than marriage," President Monson said. Sounds simple enough, right? It gets better. He then quoted former President Harold B. Lee.
"You are not living up to your priesthood if you purposefully put off marriage to a righteous woman in the House of God."
OUCH! I was struck. I had always considered myself a solid, faithful, active Mormon who fulfilled his priesthood responsibilities (with the occasional Home Teaching gaffe, sure, but who doesn't?) and magnified his calling. Yet because of my reluctance to dive into the forbidden, scary and outright intimidating world of dating, courtship and marriage, I wasn't living up to my promises. I was — in many ways — denying my covenants, and forfeiting blessings that could be had — whether I find true love or not.
Three talks. Three specific examples in which the general church leadership admonished young single men to "get with the program" and focus on finding — or creating — an eternal family. It hurts. It stings. It's the sharpest admonition I've ever received.
I guess I have a lot of work to do. Sigh.
NEW MEDIA OF THE WEEK
To lighten things up a bit, here's a video made by a BYU student ward about courtship and marriage. How long is too long? How short is too short? This answers it all (well, sort of).