Y'all who know me IRL (that's 'In Real Life' for you non-Internet geeks) will not be surprised to see this post. This is a big, fat, issue for our demographic and gender and I would be remiss if I didn't bring it up. Ready? Dating outside the faith. Duhn duhn DUHHHHHHNNNNN!
We here at 'Plight of the Religious Dater' like to be well-rounded in our views and I think we owe it to our plight, as it were, to present this side of the argument. Here's the scenario. You are a little bit older (aka late 20's, even early 30's) and as happens in Mormondom and even the secular world, the ratio of single women to single men increases. It's scary. Really scary. As you tootle along in your life, you meet a really nice guy that happens to be funny, attractive and basically has his act together. The catch? Can you guess?
He's not Mormon. Dangit!
For some religions, this is not a big deal. Interfaith dating happens all the time. But for some, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and even Catholics, it's an issue. And it certainly is for Mormons, too. We teach that in order to reach the highest echelons of heaven, we must be married to another Mormon in the temple. It's taught from a young age and reinforced in the Young Single Adult scene. So for a lot of people, breaking out of this by dating a non-Mormon isn't just that, it's shunning your beliefs, God, and even your family. That's a lot of pressure.
But then, what do you do? This fantastic, non-Mormon fella expresses an interest in dating you. 'Decline' is the advice most would give. Why date someone if you know they won't be able to marry in the temple? Best to only date other Mormons, even though the pickings are painfully slim. And even if you never marry and spend your mortal life single and take on the role of super cool, favorite aunt, you'll know you did the right thing by refusing to marry outside the temple. And don't worry, there's certainly an attractive, righteous man waiting for you after you die. *crickets* I don't say that to be sarcastic or bitter, truly. However, this is the attitude you will encounter for the most part in the church, usually from married people. Better to date, and then marry, in the church or not at all.
But what if there was another course of action? Say you go on a date with this spectacular guy. You have a good time and you go out again. He's fine with your religion but makes it clear that while he respects you, he has no interest in joining. You begin to date, you realize you are very compatible and soon fall in love. Eventually, after a reasonable time of courtship, you decide to marry. Things aren't always perfect; you're both human and occasionally you argue. Sometimes you even aruge about religion, too. But when all is said and done, you love and respect each other. Eventually you have a family and are able to enjoy the fullness of the human experience.
I guess my question is this; do you give up that last scenario for the hope of something that might never happen? For some people, yes, absolutely. For some, no way. Ultimately, what you decide is between you and God.
There's a lot more I could say here, about how this situation is actually easier for women (in my experience) and how some of the attitudes that surround this issue can be quite damaging. I've had personal experience with this (in case that wasn't obvious) and perhaps I'll share some of them another day. So, what do you think about all this?