Note from the blog owner: Taylor is a new contributor to the blog.  This is his first post.  

The growing dating/marriage crisis within the LDS church is no secret; church leaders have been trying to figure out what to do about it, the single women and men in the church are suffering because of it, and even secular sociologists have taken notice (for example see ). No longer are LDS women being deprived of marriage solely because LDS men are “slacking” in their duty to find a wife and have a family; the solution is no longer as simple as exhorting more LDS men to marry. It is much more insidious yet mundane – it is a simple math problem.

Currently within the LDS church, there are more than 3 single women for every 2 single men. This means that if every single LDS man married a single LDS woman, there would be 1/3rd of the single LDS women left over. One third. Let that sink in for a moment.

This is actually a very predictable consequence within any conservative institutionalized group which encourages members to marry within the group and have large families. When there’s a positive birth rate there will be slightly more 19 yr olds than 20 yr olds, slightly more 24 yr olds than 25 yrs olds, etc. Historically (perhaps even biologically), women on average tend to marry older men and men on average tend to marry younger women; the gap is usually about 4 years. Therefore a 24 yr old man is statistically more likely to marry a 20 yr old woman compared with a woman his own age, and a 23 yr old woman is statistically more likely to marry a 27 yr old man than a man her own age. The result? If a woman hasn’t married by the age of approximately 25-30, her prospects of finding a husband are disproportionately lower compared with the odds that a man the same age will be able to find a wife. 

Bottom line: for a moment, let’s ignore the trend that more LDS men leave the church in adulthood than women; let’s ignore that more LDS men marry outside the church than women, that on average more LDS men delay marriage than women, the possibility that LDS men on average are “less valiant” as a group than LDS women, or any other potential contributing factors – even if we set aside all of that, we can STILL expect to see this disparity between single men and women due to simple math and economics.

This dating/marriage crisis within the LDS church has reached the point of being essentially irreversible. This is why more and more leaders are promising faithful women that even if they don’t have an opportunity to be a wife/mother in this life, they can still lead a happy and productive life and look forward to having those opportunities in the next. While somewhat true, this is a very inadequate “solution” to the people affected so deeply.

Interestingly, another conservative group that noticed a similar trend (Hasidic Judaism) handled it with arranged marriages, and having men and women marry peers of their same age (20 yr old men marry 20 yr old women, 24 yr old men marry 24 yr old women, etc.). This could be a viable solution moving forward if it were institutionally enforced – for future marriage/family relationships; however, in the meantime, there is a huge group of single women that would still not have their needs taken care of. If only there was another option….

The elephant in the room is that there is a solution that doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination considering the historical precedents and doctrinal foundations of Mormonism/LDS theology. What if all single women in the church were to have their marriage prospects immediately expanded to include not just the single LDS men, but also the faithful, married LDS men? Voluntary associations between consenting adults such as this could certainly provide the opportunities for marriage and child bearing that are desired by so many LDS women, who will statistically never have such opportunities otherwise.

I would not encourage the LDS leadership to get involved in arranging marriages etc. as sometimes happened in the early days – too easy to exercise unrighteous dominion and violate agency. However, to remove the severe penalties currently enforced (note: LDS people choose to practice polygyny today are immediately excommunicated as a rule according to the policy in Handbook 1) and allow the biblical principles (ironically, those restored and practiced by Joseph Smith himself) including polygyny to again be accepted by the church, this would result in a grand reunion between the mainstream LDS church and so many fundamentalist break off groups. It would provide the opportunity for people to live according to God’s inspiration and revelation in their marital relationships, a climate which has been absent since 1890. Removing the stigma against polygyny – by removing the extreme penalties enforced by LDS policy currently in place – would be a huge step in the right direction for all of Mormonism/Restorationism.

17 thoughts on “Dateonomics

  1. The Time article you linked to says, “According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of self-described atheists are men. Statistically speaking, an atheist meeting may be one of the best places for single women to meet available men.” This is really sad!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay I just finished reading that lengthy but worthwhile Time article. That’s amazing the culture that is created when there is a shortage of men! The vanity and competition among the women; the high rates of plastic surgery and anorexia; the vast amounts of money spent on cosmetics! Interesting that if polygamy was allowed, the culture would be completely different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Orson Pratt wrote extensively about the societal problems in a strict monogamist society (a product of Roman culture) vs. the problems you find in a polygamist society (not necessarily that all people practice polygamy, just that it’s a socially acceptable way of life for those who choose it or as a consequence for certain behaviors). If you’ve not read it before, it’s a fascinating and worthwhile read (free online at ). Chapter 8 (page 203) is where Orson gets into the Roman influence on marriage traditions within Christianity, so if you want to “cut to the chase” that’s a great place to start 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and I attended BYU, singles wards in California and Pennsylvania, and the recently served in a YSA ward—he was Bishop. In all our experiences we had equal numbers men and women. Several couples married but many never diss. The men had trouble getting any kind of steady job and many of the women were 50-100+ lbs. overweight. Many of both genders were quite homely in appearance and had poorer grooming habits. I guarantee you of the married men. Would marry these sisters if plural marriage had become sanctioned again. Both genders wanted the same 20% of the good looking, motivated, hard working, well rounded available people—they married each other. The other 80% are not marriage material. So I completely disagree with your premise about polygamy being good for women. Especially because an eternity with a part time husband seems very sad and lonely. He’s never lonely, but each wife certainly is. No, it seems polygamy is good for men, but a terrible unfairness for women. Maybe if they aren’t that into the husband it’s easier to have him around only part time. But if a women is deeply in love with him it would be cruelly heartbreaking to be alone at night so often.


    1. Hi Lily,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that many LDS singles may not be “marriage material” (which is it’s own, different problem); but in my experience as a former member and visitor of dozens of singles wards all over the USA, it would be inaccurate and unfair to characterize 80% of them as such. I would also respectfully disagree that the gender balance is 50/50, though it’s possible this has been your personal experience/observation.

      More to the point: if you don’t believe it would be right for you to live in a plural marriage, then I believe that God will never force you to live it. Neither would I, nor should anyone else. And I would defend your right to choose the marriage/lifestyle you believe is right just as fiercely as I would defend anyone else’s right to engage in consensual, voluntary associations. We must all live according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all others the same privilege.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eloquent response. As to loneliness, I’d dare say many women who are involuntarily single, or childless are terribly lonely, especially in old age.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’ll notice the further you explore this topic an overwhelmingly obvious lack of care or empathy for those women, and the entire focus being on whether the already married woman is getting everything she desires, even if that desire is based in flesh, or sin.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s