Has anyone ever known a Ward Bishop who was unmarried? Is it some unofficial standard or an written rule? Because there is definitely marriage discrimination happening. I have never encountered a bishop who was single. Nor have I ever seen a single in the Bishopric, except for the ward clerk, of course. They like sticking single men with that job.
I complained to my mother about this, because it's unfair. She said she understood it. Because bishops have access to vulnerable people and know everyone's private affairs. She wouldn't trust a single man in that position. Also, there are so many experiences of marriage that he couldn't understand. At first I nodded, it made sense. Then, as I thought about it, the less sense it made and I got annoyed.
First of all, a single man is no more likely to sin with a vulnerable ward member than is a married man. The married bishops have the same access and opportunity for sin as does a single man. The inferences made by my mother and most others are obvious: A righteous single man is not sexually satisfied, so, therefore, he is more likely to commit a sexual sin with a member. Ummm, want to take a guess as to how many bishops are sexually satisfied? I guarantee it is not 100%. Regardless, one's personal sexual frustration has nothing to do with whether or not one decides to sin. The rain falls on marrieds and singles alike. Temptation is there for all us. Marriage doesn't give you a pass. And, human beings can control their libidos, even the unsatisfied ones. This ability separates us from the animals.
The times I have been tempted to sin sexually, had nothing to do with my level of physical frustration. Usually, it's the opportunity which creates the temptation. Both a single or a married bishop would have the same opportunities. In fact, the single bishop might have fewer because people would be less trusting. Besides, giving a man opportunity does not mean he will automatically sin, even one who is sexually frustrated. Men are not animals, it's insulting to infer such. Neither is it fair to say a single man would be more tempted than a married man given the same opportunities. Single men have plenty of opportunity outside the church, and one who is worthy to be bishop, certainly knows how to resist sexual temptation. If anything, a married man is less practiced at 'just saying no', and therefore, more vulnerable.
Point #2. True, single men cannot understand all the experiences of married adults. It is also true that a married man cannot understand all the experiences of married women. True again that a married man cannot understand the lives of single men or women. I don't see why one group, married men, should be privileged to have a bishop who can relate to them above all others. That is unfair. Unfair, and one more inequality plaguing the singles. So what? Why does it make any difference? Well.
For example, my new bishop made condescending remarks to me because of my single status. One day, he called me a 'young adult', despite my being his age or possibly older. When I asked him not to call me 'young', he said it didn't mean anything, he "thinks of all of you as 'young adults'." Yes, exactly. You believe we're not real grown-ups because we're not married. As if my life experiences don't count as much as yours. He has said other things too that a single man would neither say nor think. This won't shake my faith, but it makes me uncomfortable to be around him. This puts me at a spiritual disadvantage. I am disinclined to seek his counsel or help when needed, because I don't believe he can really see me. Unfair.
Some of you may be thinking, 'All bishops are blessed with the priesthood and the guidance of the spirit in their stewardship over their members, so a married bishop can be just as much a shepherd for the singles as the marrieds. Because the spirit makes it so. Ok, then. If that is true, given that logic, then a single man can be just as much a shepherd as can a married man. If you believe in the priesthood, then you should believe that an unmarried bishop will have the same guidance as the others.
Talk to a single man at church, a real conversation, and you'll see how impressively strong and faithful they can be. It's hard out here for a single. We have to be as unwavering as a concrete block wall. It is time for bishop marital status discrimination to end.
Discuss. Would you be averse to an unmarried bishop? Why? Do you think it makes a difference?