Ministering to the One

I’m really not a fan of having General Conference on Easter weekend. The date of Easter is known years in advance, and if we really want to show the world that we’re Christian, we would treat Easter as the worshipful holy day that it is by holding sacrament meeting. It would be a simple matter to move General Conference one week earlier or later when Easter falls on the first weekend in April.

That said, there was one message from this weekend that I hadn’t dared hope I would ever hear over the pulpit, even though it desperately needed to be said. Elder Gong, in his talk on Saturday morning, instructed the married members of the church to stop judging, pitying, and infantilizing single people. He reminded the members that single adults are adults, not adolescents, and that being single isn’t a marker of divine disfavor. Marital status and righteousness are not correlated.

The Good Shepherd by Waiting for the World

He also said that more than half the adults in the church are unmarried, and that this demographic reality prompted his message. I’m glad he said it, but I do find it troubling that it took singles becoming a majority before Salt Lake decided to stop shaming us. Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Shepherd that if even one member of the flock needs care, the shepherd is to go after the one and leave the 99.

I think of all the other marginalized groups in the church who will never make up half the membership. We should care for them as well, even, or especially, when their numbers are few. We need to do better and be better.


  1. A-FREAKING-MEN to this.

    The church really fails on all levels to go leave behind the 99 to go after the 1. Too often, I feel like leaders make their preferences a little TOO blatant with how they bow down to the 99 and leave the 1 on the outside to struggle before the 1 just decides to leave the flock entirely. Too often, it seems that if you’re not married, don’t have children, are LGBTQ+, don’t fit the LDS definition of “pretty”, aren’t in “the clique”, or just don’t fit the LDS mold in any way, shape, or form, that people in the church want nothing to do with you.

    EVERYONE in the church, EVERYONE in their auxiliaries in their wards and stakes could all work on reaching out to each other, and particularly to those on the fringes of life, who are on the outside always looking in; and we shouldn’t leave that all to one person, either. I’ve been that one person who was always tasked with that outreach before. While I was happy to give service and grateful for the opportunity to serve those who wouldn’t have gotten that help and fellowship otherwise, it was A LOT… and it did cause burnout and resentment that no one was else was doing their part.

    Also, now that Elder Gong has admonished married members of the church to stop infantilizing, judging, and pitying single people, does this mean that the childish single adult activities, conferences, and dances can stop now? That is a huge part of why I stopped going to those things. When the single adult activity is a Disney movie night, the conferences are always the same old carnival games and cultural hall dance with married couples acting as “chaperones”, and the dances take place in the Cultural Hall with a TV set up in the corner so guys can play Halo and the music consists of a techno version of the “Little Einsteins” theme song, I’m honestly better off staying at home or doing my own thing with friends who aren’t going to patronize me.

  2. “I’m glad he said it, but I do find it troubling that it took singles becoming a majority before Salt Lake decided to stop shaming us.” This is a great point…it seems like a basic first step would be to put more single people in leadership positions. Why do we keep asking married people to lead in singles wards? Why don’t we have more single bishops and RS presidents?

  3. I liked his talk too. I hope we can stop “teaching the ideal” when a) a lot of people don’t want it so it can’t be that ideal and b) no one actually embodies it so it just makes us all feel crummy.

  4. Well said. Single members of the Church deserve so much more than what they often get in terms of ministering, respect, and opportunities for leadership. And such a good point about the people of other marginalized groups who will never become more than 50% of the membership.

  5. It is great that he brought this up. I hope that in addition to talking about the issue, church leaders will change policy to address it. For example, barring single people from leadership positions because they are single perpetuate the prejudices he said they would like to see end.

    I can think of one other majority demographic that church leaders treat this way, verbally encouraging members to respect them, but banning them from leadership: women.

    I think talking about it is a great first step, but won’t go far if the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve is unwilling to match their words with policy.

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