The single Mormon and the city

Thankfully, it's been a long time since I've been single. But I hear things about what it's like being a single twentysomething in a religious community within a big city. In Los Angeles, Christians don't feel pressure to marry -- at least not from the church. That definitely is not the case within the Mormon community living just outside our nation's capital.

Michelle Boorstein has a fascinating story about this in The Washington Post. There were a lot of things I liked about this story.

To start, the story is about something novel: A church in Crystal City, which the reader learns has so many Mormons it's known as "Little Provo," that is exclusively for single Mormons in their 20s, 30s and 40s -- i.e. those looking to hit the meat market.

Next, Boorstein does a great job of explaining why finding a spouse is so important for members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. Why it is a religious imperative, in fact.

In a faith that calls getting married “graduating with honors” and believes that after death you live with your family forever, finding a spouse is central to being a Mormon. . . .

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as Mormons are formally known, teaches that all people have an afterlife, but one must be married, or “sealed,” to reach its highest parts. While Mormons believe it’s possible to be sealed in one’s afterlife, unmarried people are barred from key leadership positions in the church and often worship in separate singles congregations.

Just last month, a top Mormon official urged young people not to delay marriage or “waste time in idle pursuits” at a biannual churchwide meeting.

Then Boorstein discusses why Crystal City has such a high Mormon population -- deep dating pool or proximity to nation's capital and public service? -- and some inter-communal criticisms of the pressure for Mormons to marry. And of course, she quotes a few single Mormons along the way.

While reading, I didn't find myself wondering what was missing while reading this story. Instead, I felt like something had been revealed to me. I imagine this story was not so enlightening to someone within the Mormon community; maybe they would even notice some details that weren't exactly right. But in general this story did what all good newspaper stories should do: It informed.

There was, however, one line that could be developed into its own story:

The chapel’s young professionals brag about marrying later than their Utah cohorts and being more independent, but also worry about being co-opted by Washington’s ambitious, individualistic culture.

That is an interesting potential phenomenon. It reminds me of incidence of infertility in the Jewish community that are tied to Jews staying in school longer and starting families later. (Here's one source on that.) Bearing children, like marriage for Mormons, is a religious must. So how does one balance ambition and religious obligation? And how much more difficult is it for more career-focused Mormons?

Overall, though, this is a great story and one that doesn't scrimp on newshole. It's worth reading the whole thing.


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