Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are printed to give help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“What can you do if you’re nineteen and you have never had a date?”

Answer/ Sharon Staples

Cry a lot—which is probably one of the healthiest emotional releases under the circumstances. However, what you tell your friends and how you spend your Friday and Saturday evenings may require different tactics.

If you lived in one of several Latin American countries, you would be too young to date at nineteen; if you lived in one of several aborigine villages, you would be married at age twelve and would not have to worry about dating at a later time.

What I am saying is that in America, our society, the mysterious ruler of our social behavior, tells us that it is okay to begin dating in our high school years. And if we do not begin our dating career at approximately this time of life, we are punished individually, not by society but by our own feelings of inadequacy. What a penal system! The mysterious “they” set up the rules in such a manner that if we cannot meet those rules, we punish ourselves. Unbelievable!

If we could only get the criminal element of society to do the same, what a lovely and peaceful world we would have.

I think the problem of how to deal with our own feelings of “not-quite-making-it” is a challenge, one that must be met individually, because our society does not provide for a collective substitute.

First things first: (1) I am nineteen and not dating. (2) How does that make me feel? (3) What am I going to do about those feelings? (4) Will what I do, change my dating pattern or my attitude? (5) If it changes my dating pattern, Hurrah! (6) If it changes my attitude, Hurrah! (7) If it does neither, I need to try again.

Situations, problems, and difficulties are not the real issues in life. It is how we handle them.

Since boys are people, not dating may be an indication that one is not relating well on any level to other people. This is a concern worth working on.

A positive attitude about not dating should be supplemented by positive action to improve your social status. An honest personal appraisal is a good starting place. The things that need improving or enhancing in your appearance, grooming, personality, or disposition ought to be dealt with.

Go where the boys are is also a suggestion worth considering. During your dating years, plan your classes, your involvements, your committees, your hobbies so that you are in the company of young men. You aren’t likely to get a date if you don’t know any boys. Getting interested in things makes you more interesting, and that makes you more attractive and more likely to be asked for dates!

Counting friends, not dates, is a better pastime. Life is the greatest gift we have, and to lose even one day worrying about one of society’s silly, unwritten rules is a self-punishment we should never allow.

member of the YWMIA general board

“Is it right to stress marriage right after a mission?”

Answer/ Ernest L. Eberhard, Jr.

This question undoubtedly refers to counsel sometimes given by well-meaning persons to missionaries—counsel that they should be married shortly after they return from their full-time missions. As a beginning point in finding an answer to this question, an investigation through the Church Historian’s Office failed to locate such counsel in the speeches and writings of the presidents of the Church. However, President Joseph F. Smith did make an interesting statement on this subject. He said, “We hold that no man who is marriageable is fully living his religion who remains unmarried.” (Juvenile Instructor, vol. 37, p. 400.)

President Smith’s statement poses the question, When is a young man marriageable? Certainly age is only one factor. The Lord expects him to be able to truly stand at the head of his family and be accountable for its economic, emotional, and spiritual welfare. The ability to do this depends upon not only age but also total readiness for marriage. A young man must think of the training and education he will need to properly sustain his family. The financial circumstances of the young man or his family will determine whether he can marry and also acquire the training he needs to provide his family with the necessities of life.

But beyond vocational and economic considerations, there is the vital question of whether he is properly prepared through an adequate courtship and engagement period.

Marriage, in the best sense of the word, is more than a legal or temple ceremony. It is a spiritual and emotional union that needs to be achieved before legal and physical union takes place. Many and varied social and religious reactions and interactions must be experienced before a true oneness of spirit and personality is realized. Such a union takes time. This is especially true of dedicated Latter-day Saint youth, whose courtship might well be termed a “temple courtship.”

Whereas an ordinary courtship may merely be an unplanned continuation of a dating relationship that has proven very enjoyable, a temple courtship has a unique spiritual goal—finding a suitable mate for an eternal partnership with God. It takes more time for such a courtship to reach its fruition. There must be a revelation to each other of innermost ideals and loyalties. Such a courtship involves extensive contact in a wide range of life experiences with each other’s parents, relatives, and friends. Emphasis on proper preparation and readiness, and not on immediate marriage at the close of a mission, is the proper stress for the returned missionary who wants to do all he can to lay a good foundation for an eternal family kingdom.

Coordinator, Aaronic Priesthood Department, Presiding Bishopric’s Office.

“Should a girl worry about not getting married?”

Answer/ Alberta H. Christensen

No. Worry does not solve a problem nor is it even an enjoyable activity.

It is normal for a Latter-day Saint girl who knows that marriage and motherhood are ordained of God and that the family unit may continue throughout eternity to look hopefully toward a happy marriage in this life. She should continue to do this. She should, however, keep in mind that marriage age patterns differ widely from country to country and culture to culture, even from family to family. Thus, no specific chronological age for marriage could be given that would have universal application.

In American culture, for example, there are unnumbered individuals who marry in their late teens yet mature into wise and happy marriage partners. Conversely, numerous late-in-life marriages are exceptionally happy and will be eternally rewarding. The marriage ceremony itself does not guarantee happiness and personal fulfillment. Divorce court records confirm this statement.

Every girl should be continuously engaged in constructive activities that will prepare her to be a happy and valuable person. This will be the result of living in harmony with gospel teachings and ideals. If possible, she should acquire specific vocational training, including homemaking skills. Where possible, she should engage in activities that give her opportunities to make new friends and to meet eligible and desirable men.

She should learn that the truly happy woman is one who considers life an enriching experience and who knows the joy of unselfish service to others.

The single girl should not be unduly concerned about her age, but very much concerned about the quality of her personal life.

From our church leaders comes this counsel:

“… You good sisters, who are single and alone, do not fear that blessings are going to be withheld from you. You are not under any obligation or necessity of accepting some proposal that comes to you which is distasteful for fear you will come under condemnation. If in your hearts you feel that the gospel is true and would under proper conditions receive these ordinances and sealing blessings in the temple of the Lord, and that is your faith and your hope and your desire, and that does not come to you now, the Lord will make it up, and you shall be blessed, for no blessing shall be withheld. …” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Elijah the Prophet and His Mission [Deseret Book Co., 1957], p. 51.)

“You young women advancing in years who have not yet accepted a proposal of marriage, if you make yourselves worthy and ready to go to the House of the Lord and have faith in this sacred principle, even though the privilege of marriage does not come to you now, the Lord will reward you in due time and no blessing will be denied you. You are not under obligation to accept a proposal from some one unworthy of you for fear you will fail of your blessings.” (Harold B. Lee, Youth and the Church [Deseret Book Co., 1955], p. 132.)

member of the Relief Society general board

Often-Asked Questions

Q. Who can go to the temple for the wedding ceremony, and what do they wear?

A. Only persons who have a current temple recommend and have received their own endowments can attend the ceremony. It is nice to write an informal invitation two weeks ahead to those you would like to attend the ceremony. Be sure to tell them the time. Usually they wear their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Only close friends, family, perhaps the bishopric, and home teachers are likely to be included. It is nice to ask all who attend the ceremony to the wedding breakfast, if the breakfast immediately follows the ceremony.

Q. My parents cannot get a temple recommend. What is the best way to handle this?

A. Your parents may drive you to the ceremony and wait on the temple grounds for you. If they are not members of the Church, a pre-wedding occasion (dinner, meeting in the ward or your home) could be planned where your bishop or branch president explains what the temple ceremony is and builds a good feeling and understanding in the hearts of your parents. This is usually a difficult time for parents. Show them the special love, appreciation, and great understanding that they deserve. They have raised you and have looked forward to this day also.

Q. What time of day do we get married in the temple?

A. This depends on several things: (1) whether or not you first go through a regular temple session, (2) the regulations of the temple you will be married in, and (3) your personal preference.

It is wise to keep in mind that the sweetness and sanctity of the temple represent the spirit that you’d like to carry with you when you leave the temple. Some couples have married early in the morning (kind of getting it out of the way) primarily so they can have the rest of the day to prepare for the reception. The reception may then become the big part of the wedding, rather than the sacred temple ceremony. Obviously an early-morning wedding is appropriate, but it should be planned as the major event of the day. Plan your wedding and reception so that they are the most memorable experience possible and are pleasing before God.