5.20.2010

Post Script: Why No Single Bishops

In response to my last post, 'Why No Single Bishops', my friend told me that you have to be a High Priest to be bishop.  No one is a High Priest until he has taken all the temple covenants, including marriage.  I suppose there is a doctrinal reason for this.  Can someone explain it to me?  It seems unnecessary.  Because someone was not lucky enough to find a person to marry, and that excludes him from priesthood powers, is unjust.  Unjust admittance requirements to the priesthood class have been changed before, so we know these rules are not necessarily eternal.  Or, are they?  Please tell me if I'm wrong, and why.

His second point was that most single men over 30 go inactive.  So there is not a large pool from which to choose if they were allowed.  

Maybe they wouldn't all go inactive if they didn't feel so excluded and marginalized.  If the single men felt more significant, and were treated the same way the married men are, I'm guessing there would be more active single men.  It's extremely difficult to be an adult in the real world, treated as an adult 6 days a week, and then go to church on Sunday to be treated as less than.  When you're 35, and married 24-year-olds are shown more respect and given more power than you have, it can rub one raw.  It makes church even more unpleasant and difficult for the singles.

Additionally, if more single men were active, there would be more men for the single women at church, and this could increase the rate of marriage.  It's win-win for everyone to include single men in the high priesthood.  I know church policies are supposed to be written by revelation and not reason.  But, the church is also a cultural institution, out-dated practices like polygamy and institutional racism were eliminated.  Marriage is no longer a given for all adults.  Maybe some real changes are in order to recognize the current conditions of our society.  A repair rather than a temporary band-aid.

Maybe it's sacrilegious of me to say this.  But I think it needs saying out loud by someone.  I'll take back my words if someone can explain the absolute doctrinal necessity of this exclusion.  How does High Priesthood depend on the marriage covenant?  And/or why is High Priesthood necessary for the bishop?     

10 comments:

tkangaroo said...

One of the single guys in my ward was called as a member of the High Council, which means he has to be a high priest. He is now, and fulfills his callings in that body. Which, to me, would make him eligible to be a bishop at some point. Also, I've heard of missionaries in small-populated areas of the church where an Elder has served as bishop or branch president. I think it is not unheard of--I think that culturally it doesn't happen as often.

The family ward I am about to move to was a little surprised when over 5 years ago a single woman was called to be the RS president, but the RS grew and became closer--and they are an amazing group--and the bishop and the ward learned that singles are important. It really is about breaking the cultural stereotypes.

JL said...

No marriage rule to be high priest? So my first post got it right, it's prejudice. I know someone who had a single RS Pres, she said she was awesome and everyone loved her.

barefootwanderer said...

You do not have to be married to be a High Priest.

You do have to be a High Priest to be a Bishop - unless you are an actual direct descendant of the Levitical Priests from the time of Moses. - The calling of Bishop has great significance in the Aaronic Priesthood, but to be able to hold those keys as a non-Levite, you need to be a High Priest.

A councilor to the Bishop does not need to be married and can still be an Elder, but that is very rarely done any more.

To your original question, am no positive, but I believe a Bishop does have to be married - or have been married (Widower). The reason is fairly simple. To be a Bishop, you need to have received all earthly ordinances available. Being sealed is one of those ordinances.

barefootwanderer said...

Let me clarify a bit.

As a Bishop, if you are counciling, interviewing and instructing the members of your Ward on being sealed (or any other ordinance) You need to have had those ordinances yourself.

JL said...

So, you don't have to be married to be a high priest. That's good. And we think it is a rule that you have to have been married to be a bishop. What about divorcees? I understand how that would be helpful for them to go through the ordinances themselves, but I don't see that it's necessary. They can have married counselors. And, the bishop is supposed to advise me on living the gospel but most have not been single in their 30s. It's a very different practice to be mormon and single. Maybe it is not the same but I remain unconvinced.

I am surprised more people have not had anything to say about this.

i i eee said...

I think barefootwanderer makes a good point about the ordinances.

I think it's unrealistic to expect a bishop to understand all the complications and complexities of a life different from his own.

I'd be curious to know exactly what you think a single bishop can do better than a married one. A single bishop might be more sensitive to a single member's plight? I agree that a lot of single people feel like outcasts in the Church, and it is something that needs to be addressed more often. But I don't think it takes a single bishop to do it.

Also, the single members that I know who thrive in family wards are the ones who don't take offense so easily. Because people (married and single alike) are not immune to never saying stupid and somewhat insulting things from time to time (like your bishop grouping you with YA). There are a few bad apples sure, but I think most people in the Church don't have any bad intentions. Your bishop's remark shows some insensitivity and some ignorance on his part, but there's always going to be something to get upset about. I highly doubt a single bishop would be completely void of insensitivity.

barefootwanderer said...

I have one more comment. There are two "Commandments" given to men that are not given to women in the same way.

#1. Every young man is to go on a mission. This is not a good suggestion as in the case of a young woman, it is a commandment. You are to prepare yourself, and go. Whether you want to or not.

#2. Much like #1, men are given the express admonition to find a wife and get married. If a male does not make his best effort to accomplish this while in this life, his eternal progress may be limited. This is not the case for women.

A single male has not fulfilled the requirements to be ready to serve as a Bishop. If he is single, he has not followed what the Lord has asked of him (yet), so he has more to do before he is ready to be a Bishop.

esodhiambo said...

I have known a few single bishopric members and the missionaries who serve as bishops do so out of an explicit lack of local leadership.

Not having been a bishop, I guess I can't say for sure, but wouldn't it be hard/uncomfortable/inappropriate to be put in the position of counseling or interviewing for worthiness a member of the congregation in whom you had a romantic interest? Or what if you, a single woman in the congregation, felt your single bishop was coming on to you (whether or not he really was)--wouldn't that be creepy?

I think our families and personal lives should be more important and time consuming than our callings. I can easily see a situation in which a single man serving as bishop felt that he did not have the time or energy to date. I don't think many stake presidents would want to put a man off dating and marrying for the five years that is the normal bishop stint.

Stephen said...

esodhiambo has it right, there are single bishops, just not very many.

Paul wrote that bishops should be married, though obviously many churches ignore Paul and the New Testament there.

JL said...

Thank you for all your comments. That what I was looking for. So now I know there is no official rule banning it, only the counsel of Paul.

In response: I don't think a single bishop would be better, I just don't see how he would necessarily be worse.

It would be awesome to have a single bishop ask me out. There's a time and a place for everything. If he felt a conflict of interest in interviewing someone, he could have someone else do it.

It wasn't that my feelings were hurt by being called 'young'. I'm not easily offended. It's what that tells me about how he thinks. He said he thinks of me,a 34 year old as a youth. He is probably younger than I am. This makes me hesitant to seek his counsel because I don't think he can see me beyond the 'young single' label. I don't think he will take me seriously.