Pairing Off: Remember the worth of souls

Published: Thursday, June 23 2011 6:00 a.m. MDT

You spent last night hanging out with a few high school friends. Some of them brought spouses or significant others along, which is getting to be the norm these days. Not that you necessarily mind. Most of them have pretty good taste, and their significant others provide a reasonably good time. Still, you are starting to feel like a bit of a solo minority, and you occasionally cross your fingers that you won't be the last one to marry or remain single indefinitely.

Next time you talk on the phone with one of your married friends, she pays you a complisult (part compliment, part insult). ¨My husband said you were really cool. He couldn't understand why you're not married yet.¨

We'll skip the part where you either fake a thank you, or where you smack back with, "And what did you tell him was wrong with me?" and head straight into a discussion of the flawed mentality that leads to comments like this and the deeper truth that we so often forget.

The idea that there has to be a reason for your being single, other than simply having decided not to marry any one of the people you've yet encountered in your short life, is affronting because it blames you for your singleness. Here are some of the faults it implies:

Your priorities are all wrong. You're so caught up in your career, your education, your hobbies, having a good time, traveling, etc., that you haven't prioritized dating. Or you're so selfish that you never bother to put another person before your other pastimes.

You're unattractive. You've got a nice personality, and you're a good person and all. But you're like tender-eyed older sister Leah from Genesis. When given a choice between you and beautiful Rachel, Jacob would work rather work an extra seven years. 

You´re a sinner, and you won´t be ready to get married until you fix yourself.

These explanations all have one inherent flaw: They imply that marriage is a reward for attaining some requisite level of personal value. And all these false ideas can be combated with two truths.

First: Marriage is decision, another step along the path to exaltation. The fact that you haven't done it simply means you have decided not to commit your eternity to any one person you've come across so far. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Second: Your value is intrinsic and unchangeable. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 doesn't contain a conditional clause. It's not "Remember the worth of 'married' souls is great in the sight of God." No. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." Christ's sacrifice for you isn't contingent on your dating status. Your ability to serve and emulate the example of our Savior isn't conditional upon marriage. The only thing marriage changes is the setting.

Now, I'm not saying that you should doff all concerns about getting married. Though with all the religious, cultural, social, not to mention biological, pressure to find a mate, I highly doubt you're not working on it. I have encountered very few singles who are not actively trying to meet new people in order to find a spouse, much less those who are consciously postponing marriage in favor of other pursuits.

Of course you should follow the spiritual counsel to marry. Just don't feel like you're less valuable if you haven't done it yet. Remember Alma's admonition to "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct you for good." As you take your dating concerns to the Lord and honestly follow his guidance, you can be certain that your dating choices have his divine approval. After all, your worth in the Lord's eyes is the only thing that ultimately matters.

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