At a gathering of friends this week—two active Mormons, two unaffiliated, and Social-Mormon/pagan George and me—the discussion turned to the recent concern of Church leaders for unmarried young Mormon men. No one questioned the concern of Church leaders for this social trend. No organization wants to be in the position of the Shakers, a religion that disavowed marriage and reproduction and has dwindled to three elderly members. But the question was raised—why are young men not inclined to marry?
Our discussion turned to families we know who have single and even married kids and grandkids still living in the parents’ home because they can’t afford to get out on their own. Lawra mentioned that a clerk position recently posted for Davis County drew over 200 applicants, some of them with law degrees—for a $10 an hour job.
“What is the Church doing about the problem?” Non-affiliated Nan asked. Tough question. Besides upbraiding the young men in General Conference and reorganizing singles wards, we couldn’t think of much.
Upon reflection, it occurs to me that Church leaders would be in a better position to lead if they researched the reasons for young men’s apparent reluctance to take on the challenges of marriage and family life. If a major cause is the lack of opportunities for young people to get jobs paying enough for them to pay off student loans and feed and shelter a family—then public spankings and organizing more Meet-and-Mingle opportunities won’t help much.
Church leaders need to find and focus on the root cause of this problem. If limited economic opportunities for young people are the real threat to marriage and family values, opposition to same-sex marriage may be distracting the Church from the larger picture.