We received this question from Sophie:
I have read parts of the “Book of Mormon”, usually while traveling. I was much inspired by it and am planning to read more in the future.
My question is:
I have concerns about being part of the Mormon community. I am a 45 year old divorced woman. My family is staunchly Catholic. How does one like me fit into the Mormon community? I am too old to marry and too old to have children, and as it seems all revolves around family life, I would be pretty much an outcast. I already am dealing with issues of loneliness and isolation, hence my concerns. From what I have read, a single woman can not ever attain the ultimate high point in heaven.
Answer by Karen*
Thank you for visiting Mormon Women: Who We Are, and for asking these important questions. We appreciate your candor and sensitive heart at this season of your life. Your reaching out and honest inquiry speaks volumes about who you are, and we express respect and appreciation for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts. We hope that you can feel even through this site that you are not alone. This site exists in part to help people know and feel that reality. You have people already who care about you and what you are going through.
Following are some of my candid thoughts. We hope other Church members will share their thoughts about your valid questions in the comment section.
I am 53 and raising my two girls alone, separated and close to filing for divorce. I am a Catholic convert, coming from a traditional Italian-Catholic background, and am very active in the Church of Jesus Christ. The gospel is my lifeline. The Savior is my friend and assists me in raising my two teenage daughters, working, and making my way successfully through mortality.
I admire your willingness to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. By all means, continue reading the Book of Mormon and the Lord will lead you step by step on your journey, revealing things that themselves will lessen and heal some of the deep and trenchant feelings that come in the wake of divorce–and all that preceded it. I love that testament of Christ and am amazed at how the Lord speaks to me about motherhood, about struggle, about faith, through its pages.
As to the core of your question, it’s true that the Savior’s teachings include the ideal for all to eventually be happily married and exalted–whether in this life or the next. But if you were to walk into Sunday meetings, you would see a wide variety of family situations: two-parent families, couples without children, people who are divorced or never married, families with only part of the family who attends church…. There are probably seven or eight single-parent, separated, or divorced couples in my own ward or congregation. You are not or would not be an outcast! Everyone has been single at one point in their life and will be single again–whether through death of a spouse or any other reason.
In the ideal ward [congregation], you would be warmly accepted and you’d be made to feel like you’ve arrived home, at a place where you are safe and can grow and heal and find your place in the kingdom as a daughter of God. You’d have women to visit you regularly and laugh with you, cry with you; you’d have home teachers (a companionship of two men or a man and a young man) to visit every month and help and serve you. You’d also have opportunities to serve as you were ready and able to do so. I have many close friends in the Church whom I know to be the “forever” kind and who were divinely placed in my life. I also have a great ward family as a whole.
This isn’t to say that all congregations are ideal–we are all human. The Church is there to perfect us. Some people might not know or understand your circumstances. Whether in the Church or out of the Church, some people make judgments. I would hope you wouldn’t worry about that happening–because sometimes that can be self-fulfilling. I think you can go in confidently. (At the right time, if you wanted to visit a congregation, we could help connect you with someone so you wouldn’t be alone right from the start.)
I know that the Lord knows your needs and circumstances, and I would testify to you that there will be those in that congregation whose lives you specifically can bless, and those who will be placed there for you by an omniscient and loving Father in Heaven. There may be times when your needs may seem unaddressed or overlooked in a class or sermon, but I have found on those occasions, that the Spirit more than compensates and shares things in between the lines that address those and that speak to those things. Church leaders teach us and members do strive to be sensitive, though, to the diversity of our membership and the needs of individuals. [We include some quotes and links below that we hope can demonstrate that reality.]
As far as reaching the highest degree of glory, the plan includes possibilities for marriage after this life, and increase in posterity then as well. We can explain this further, but our teachings include the recognition that, for one reason or another, not everyone will be married in this life. For some, that opportunity for marriage will come here; for some it will come after this life. God is wonderfully fair and perfect in His plan for each of us. We are taught that no one who is faithful to God and keeps her/his covenants will be denied any blessing, including a worthy spouse and opportunity for eternal marriage and family, whether that comes in this life or in the next.
I would like you to know that I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ really has been restored to the earth. My conversion story can be found here. There’s a single video short version, and a two-part, 10-minute each, longer version, if you care to see how I entered the Church and came from Catholicism to find the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness. I’ll send up prayers for you and wish you the best in your continued journey. Stay in touch with those on the site and feel free to contact me personally at any time.
Your Sister in Christ, Karen
*Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” reflect the thoughts and perspectives of the administrators at Mormon Women. Although we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org.
For more on this topic, please see the following quotes and links that we thought might be helpful:
From Church leaders:
To you who are divorced, please know that we do not look down upon you as failures because a marriage failed. In many, perhaps in most cases, you were not responsible for that failure. Furthermore, ours is the obligation not to condemn, but to forgive and to forget, to lift and to help. In your hours of desolation turn to the Lord, who said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28, 30.)
The Lord will not deny you nor turn you away. The answers to your prayers may not be dramatic; they may not be readily understood or even appreciated. But the time will come when you will know that you have been blessed. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To Single Adults,” Ensign, Jun 1989, 72)
No one should feel isolated because he or she is single. We want all to feel that they belong to the Church in the context of Paul’s message to the Ephesians: “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). We belong not only to the Lord’s Church but also to each other. (President James E. Faust, “Welcoming Every Single One“)
From Church members — sharing their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives (all of these articles were found on lds.org; many more can be found by searching on relevant topics)
No Longer a Husband (this obviously reflects thoughts from men, but the principles are relavant to men and women)
More links and information can be found under this lds.org topical index entry: Single Members of the Church