Letter to LDS Singles

*This was written by a friend of mine who wanted to get this message out. --JL

To Whom It May Concern:                                                                               June 28, 2011

 The inactivity within the Church for singles over thirty is at least over 80%.  It’s unreal. It’s surreal. It’s tragic. And it is largely invisible.  Without a doubt, I am convinced that this is the largest problem the Church faces today. It is a legitimate crisis.  If you have come to believe otherwise, then you have been acclimated and blind to the biggest problem in the Church today. The problem with age thirty-plus singles inactivity affects every other program in the Church.  It touches missionary work, temple work, Home and Visiting Teaching, the ability for wards to fill callings, and the list goes on.

I think I have a solution to the singles problem for people over age thirty in the Church. In my experience, I have both seen and heard many people complain about the Mid-Singles Program (and for obvious reason.)  It seems painfully obvious to me that no matter how many problems exist in the program, there remains one problem which, if fixed, would make major improvements to the program as a whole and, hence, people’s lives.

Here it is: If we found a way to get small numbers of singles together on a regular basis to have actual fun, while simultaneously allowing them to meet new people on a constant basis, then we will have done something.

The reason the standard activities are non-effective is because they are geared toward large numbers of people. No sane person would ever go on a first or second date to a Church dance or Fireside. Ever. They are anti-social, confusing, usually embarrassing, and usually no fun. And most importantly, they are no place to meet or get to know anyone. Yet, this is really all the Church offers at this point for singles over thirty. Those activities do not provide an atmosphere conducive to finding an eternal companion.

THE STAKE ROTATION SYSTEM:  Let’s use my city as a template. For example, there are some sixteen stakes throughout the Denver, Colorado region right now. What if each of these stakes was to be paired off to have activities with another stake in the same region for three months? Then three months later, each stake could switch and pair off with another stake in the same region for another two to three months. This process could be repeated throughout the region until all stakes have spent time with each other. For Denver, on the three month model, everyone in the region would have the opportunity to meet every other single in the region within a two year period. Then, hopefully, the number of singles would shrink for the right reasons, for once.

Granted, the corresponding stakes would have to communicate with each other in order to plan activities, (and get permission from whomever), but the advantages are clear:  

1)      The numbers would be smaller by far. I believe that 20-25 people are a perfect number.  There is real potential for good conversation, along with the ability to get to know someone.
2)      Anyone who went would be meeting people they already knew from their own stake, as well as new people. A perfect mix!
3)       Because the stakes would be paired off for two-three months, anyone who was interested in someone would have the opportunity of meeting them two or three more times…even if the two stakes met only once per month (three activities.) Who can’t get a phone number in that amount of time?
4)      Because the groups are small, they would have more freedom to do things that actually foster good conversation (i.e. game nights, hikes, restaurants, etc….)

*Number four is important. People need something to get them talking…something that makes them be their fun self. Dances usually don’t do it. Firesides never did it. (How could one person talking while a hundred others sit and listen ever be anything remotely social? And don’t give me that bit about meeting in the foyer afterward! The very definition of lame.)  And, honestly, volleyball barely works either, say what you will.  I swear, if all we did was game nights with this rotating stake idea, we would improve the collective situation 1000%.  Believe me; I have seen evidence of this so many times at game nights with less than twenty-five people.

And now for the rest of the story. I pitched this idea in a letter to Church leaders in 2007.  One of the Seventy called me about it several months later. He seemed to like it a lot and mentioned that they might try it in Boston as a test city. Obviously, I was very excited.

The General Authority also told me that the Brethren had some reservations about it because they preferred activities be held in Church buildings as opposed to people’s houses.  That way they could have more control over potential mishaps like stalkers, immorality, and whatnot.  I sent him another letter disagreeing with that idea. I told him that I personally felt that there was more control in a home because stalkers can’t really do their thing, and as far as immorality goes, people tend to leave the party before anything like that happens. But I could be wrong. Anyway, that was the last time we spoke.

Nothing ever came of my idea.  There was no test in Boston and I have not heard from them again.

I know personally that the Brethren care a great deal. They are running a worldwide Church, however, and singles are just one element of what they are called to manage.  But there remains a palpable gulf between them and the singles. And the wheels of change seem to be a bit gummed up. Somehow, the communication lines between Church leadership and the singles in the Church remain a bit inoperable.  The result feels as if we, the singles, have no real representation within the Church at all. Yes, we have plenty of people to tell us that they care, and we believe that they do. And we all know that, yes, if we do not find a spouse in the world, we will find one in the next. Still, some of us cannot help but look over the situation and think, “Yeah, but does it really have to be as bad as that? Can’t we at least make some sort of collective attempt at fixing the problem now (in this life), so at least some of us might enjoy the fruits of marriage in this life? Isn’t it logical to believe that if the program got better, then maybe some of the inactive singles might come back, thereby improving the program just by adding to our selection of potential mates?”

 It is for this reason that I ask each reader who agrees with me on this, to please pitch it to everyone who will listen. Everyone in the Church should be aware of both the problem and its potential solution (s). Once we have a collective conversation, something might just get done. We, the active singles, must stop being ashamed of ourselves. We have to make our local leaders and the members of our wards recognize us as a force to be reckoned with… that we are neither an embarrassment nor a tragedy, and that we will not allow ourselves to be disenfranchised. In fact, those of us who are active remain some of the most devout people in the Church. Our call to worthiness is a higher one than those who are married. We work, raise kids, and perform the business of life, without the blessings of a spouse. We deserve to be respected and heard.  If we are expected to be married eternally in order for us to fulfill our desired destiny, then we deserve a functional means to bring that to pass. 

Please, stop being scared. Open your mouth. You will not get excommunicated for telling the truth in a respectful way to the very people who claim to care and who have the means to help make good changes. You will not go to hell for stating the obvious in an effort to help the Church retain its members and help them get married.  Let’s not let another generation of single Mormons suffer this deplorable situation. Finally, if you believe that the idea I have shared with you might make a difference, please give it a try. Present it to local leaders, and do what you can.

Thank you and Godspeed,

Jess Lang



I feel better today. Not for any good reason.  Nothing has changed. I'm still in the exact same circumstances as yesterday.  My bi-polar mood switch flipped in the night. I actually smiled at people today. And I got my grades submitted on time. Yay, me.  

This has been the pattern for the last two years. Under the extreme duress of my dire circumstances, I'm taken to the very edge of the precipice of emotional pain. I beg God to kill me in my prayers, to spare me from living with myself. That goes on for a few days or weeks until I reach the point where I can no longer take it, when I feel myself begin to break. And then my brain switches back to normal. I'm very grateful this one only lasted 4 days. 

Whatever happens to me, is whatever.  I'm going to try to enjoy this time off to work on the book.


I'm not doing well. I hung in through the end of the semester and hoped and prayed for the best. I hoped that I would get summer classes or that my lawsuit would settle in time. Neither of those things have happened. There's no more unemployment. There's nothing.  I'm scared. 

I may have to move back to Florida to live with my parents. The shame of that makes me want to vomit.  I probably won't be able to ever move back to NYC if I leave.  And I certainly won't be able to find another rent controlled 2 bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood that's 10 minutes from Times Square.   There is nothing for me in Florida. There are exponentially more jobs here. Ditto with the men. I have friends and a life here. And I have the dignity of living in my own apartment.    

The problem is that I was an achiever. All my self-esteem was based on my achievement. I went to a nerdy magnet school. I got a scholarship to go to an exclusive liberal arts college. I got a fellowship to get an M.A. in an extremely difficult field. And then I got into one of the Top 25 PhD programs in my field. And then I went mad and dropped out. It's been 5 years and I've done nothing but flail about and hang on by my fingernails to my sad existence.  That I've become this loser who can't even support myself is almost unbearable.  Add to that the fact that I can't find someone who wants to love me and marry me and the self-loathing grows. 

It makes me hate myself with a violent loathing.  So it's harder to fight for myself.  I'm in this weird vortex where I know I desperately need to do something to fix my life while at the same time I feel that I don't deserve any better and there is no point in trying.  I don't understand how or why I could have let this happen.  I worked so hard in my 20s to have an academic career.  I made a lot of sacrifices.  But I believed in myself.  I loved what I was doing.  And I wore myself out. Then it all went to hell in 04/05.       

I've been crying for 4 days.  The bishop called me last night to check in. I told him how I am doing. That I feel like I'm just waiting for death. He sent my home teacher's over to give me a blessing.  Bless their hearts but they are both young, so it was a short prayer. It didn't even make me cry. Which is surprising considering the free flow of tears this weekend.

I also know I'm responsible.  I haven't been going to church this spring. The last few times I went it made me feel horrible. So I haven't wanted to put myself through the hassle only to come home in tears. I've been feeling resentful toward the church, which is bad.  I've let Satan in and given him a strong hold on my heart.  That is not going to serve me well, especially with my temporal predicament. I don't deserve the miracle that I need from the Lord.  Which is why my faith is so low, which is why I feel so hopeless, which is why I am so disgusted with myself, which is why I can't find the motivation to pull myself out of this, which is why I'm not bothering to go to church, which makes me feel undeserving . . .  and down the vortex I go . . . I don't think I have to strength to fight it this time.  I need some glimmer of hope and I can't find it. 


On and On Again

So. My life won't be changing any time in the next year.  
 Of the 3 schools I applied to:

PhD 1 said No.
PhD 2 said Yes, but it was too late for funding. There's no way I can go to graduate school in London without funding.  The reason there was no money left for me?  They said something went terribly wrong on their end and they don't know why they didn't review my application until April. 

MSW: Big FAT No that I just got today.  After paying their criminal $125 application fee, which, if you ask me, that amount of money ought to guarantee acceptance. I was also subjected to a 2 hour group interview that was TORTURE. Sitting in a circle with a social worker and a bunch of college senior girls, all competing to have the best answers to the same questions.  Such questions as: What would you do if you had a formerly homeless client who cooked you your favorite meal. I said I would eat it, that it was too rude not to.  All the simpering mealy mouthed girls said they would be as nice as they could but turn it down.  Yeah, good luck with that. 

I don't know what to do. I can't go on living my crap life this way.  Yesterday was a great day because I got to buy groceries, like I actually spent $80 on food that I want to eat. It's been 12 months since I was able to do that.  But the semester ends soon and I'll be back to eating church storehouse food.  Last month I had to duct tape my front bumper back on to my car.  Which officially moves me down one socio-economic level.  I had to stop volunteering at the zoo because the toll costs $8 and it takes too much gas to get there.   AND, I have to go to a hearing to have the unemployment I collected last year revoked.  Unless I get a lawyer for that. I already have two lawyers for my other crap. How am I supposed to hire another one? 

 Yes, things could be worse. Much worse. I am very blessed to have my physical health, to have my apartment and my friends and my family that has been helping me out a lot this year.  And extremely lucky to have a car that still runs. 

But. REALLY?  When will this end?  It's not like I'm not trying. I've already given up on ever getting married and I've definitely let go of the fantasy of having children.  It doesn't seem like it's too much to ask that I have enough of a successful career that I can support myself and my basic needs. That's all I want. I don't want to have to keep praying every month that my rent check won't bounce. And that my landlord has a soft heart towards me so I don't get evicted.  Clearly, I am doing something very wrong. I just wish I knew how to fix things.