Eschatology of Anticipation

As I said earlier, I have read somewhere that about ninety percent of the LDS single adults (not young single adults) are less active.  I have also seen rosters in several wards, and that figure roughly matches the presentation on the rosters.  So it seems to me that, much as we might like to think otherwise, the “normal” state for LDS single adults is that of inactivity.  Why, then, are there ten percent or so that are active?  How do they “do it?” I do not claim to know the answer to this, so I write simply from anecdote.

It seems to me that LDS thought tends to present the life of adult members who are not in nuclear families as one of anticipation.   We say that “at some point” they will have “all the blessings.”  The extreme logical end of this sort of a promise is eschatological: you may expect a spouse “in the resurrection,” but there is no promise that it will be someone you know.   For those who are married outside the covenant, or to spouses who have decided to curtail their participation in the covenant, the limiting prospect is eternal life with a different spouse.

If you think about these ideas from the perspective of those to whom these statements are made, the prospect is not very jolly when compared to peers with more traditional families.  Eternal life, which is already rather hard to envision in concrete terms, is even more remote for single adults.  For married members, the situation is downright disturbing.  One might continue to hope and pray that things will go otherwise, but out in the unquiet darkness lies the possibility that in order to achieve eschatological happiness it will be necessary to leave behind another rich and treasured source of authentic happiness.

So now, what I wonder is this: among those active single Latter-day Saints who self-identify as “happy,” have they somehow rejected or transcended this eschatology of anticipation?  And if so, what elements have they rejected?  Or how have they transcended it?  I ask this because I personally cannot say that those eschatological promises of anticipated family intimacy strike me as completely comforting.

POSTSCRIPT:  There is, of course, nothing rigorous about my musings.  Single adults who are inactive are probably so for many reasons, none of which require the sort of theological introspection I have outline here.  In addition, I might also note that the gentlemen may be less aware of this sort of thing than are the ladies.  It seems to me that these topics are discussed more openly in the 3rd hour, that is, in priesthood quorums and in RS.  Since the quorums are far less likely to have regularly attending members who are in other than traditional families, these topics and the distress they engender are correspondingly less likely to arise

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Mormon Archipelago

November 2009
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