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It’s funny you should mention atheism as a potentially motivating factor in the perusal of a soul mate and the break-up of marriages. I had a professor in college who was found of quoting that atheists couples where the lest likely to get divorced, I don’t know where he got this statistic but I think the underlying logic was that if you think your just going to cease to exist when you die then your going to be extremely motivated not to waste time in life, will only marry if your pretty sure you’ve found the right person and will work hard to make it work so as not to waist precious time in an unhappy marriage.

Mormons of course are very marriage centric, in fact we went a little overboard about it in the 19th century and many of the men couldn’t stop at just one. One of the things for which Mormons are most consistently praised by those both within and without of the faith is the emphasis on marriage (though the Churchs negative position on gay marriage is not so universally approved of). Marriage is taught in Mormon theology to be potentially eternal, and while the general divorce rate among Mormons is suppose to be only slightly below the national average, the divorce rate among temple marriages is reportedly quite low.

It’s interesting to learn that marriage post ‘The Millennium’ seems to be an open question among Jehovah’s Witnesses, one wonders what purpose it would serve among those of the earthly resurrection, companionship I suppose, a similitude of Christ and his Church maybe? I mean after Christ’s resurrection would there still be children to be born? The ‘ideal’ of eternal procreation is a big deal in Mormondom. I suppose this could be the stuff of many a late night theological speculation among your co-faithful, I can assure you Mormons have plenty of areas of such late night theorizing. Anyway my grandmother loved Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I’ve theorized about that one myself, when I encounter that work I always feel that there’s something ‘transcendent’ about it that I’m just not quite getting.

Anyway I thought I’d take a moment to mention an article I recently read in the non-Church sanctioned Mormon publication Sunstone. They have a regular column about the early 20th century Apostle James E. Talmage, a very important player in the systematizing of LDS theology into more-or-less its present form. Anyway in a recent edition of said column they address Elder Talmages few mentions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in his journals, the most memorable line of which is this: “Such doctrines as Pastor Russell proclaims to the world are dangerous in that they embody enough truth to be attractive combined with error in toxic amounts.” I mentioned this just because I think its interesting, and that statement pretty much summarizes every religions opinion of every other religion doesn’t it? Anyway the article also includes Elder Talmage’s relating in 1914 the account of a former LDS missionary of his acquaintance who had meet with Charles Taze Russell in 1901 and to quote again from his journals:

“Brother Richards states that he and Elder William E. Pugh were missionaries in Pennsylvania in the late autumn of 1901, and that they met both the Pastor and his wife from whom, however, he had been separated on the wife’s complaint. Both Mr. and Mrs. Russell stated that they had read the ’Mormon publications’, and believed they had in their separate possession all important books published by the Church.”

Now as I understand it Mr. Russell was kind of a systematizer of religious beliefs himself, and had done a lot of his earlier studying among the Seventh-day Adventists, from which he no doubt gained some religious insight. Given this, and frequent surface comparisons between Mormons and JW’s on matters such as both having a lay clergy and rejecting the trinity, do you think there may have been any Mormon influence on his thinking? I’m not saying this to be rude, just curious about an insiders perspective.
Anyway I’ll know when you respond whether I should have written this so late at night.

tom sheepandgoats

I don't care, Nate, if you wake yourself middle of the night to write. A comment from you is always welcome.

I wouldn't go so far as to say marriage post-Millenium is an open question among JWs. I've speculated about it here, but I've never seen it anywhere else. But there is general acceptance, even if not specific, that people will be much different then than now. There are even said to be "new scrolls" to be opened during that time. Who knows what they will contain?

Regarding those similarities you've mentioned, I don't think it's a matter of Mormons influencing JWs or vice versa, but rather both groups not falling for some pretty obvious fallacies.


As a single woman I really shouldn't comment on this topic... but I'm me AND I did say "woman" so I have something to say...

Firstly, thank you for a very interesting blog. I'm so pleased that I'm not the only one that finds that quote from "Love Story" - 'Love means never having to say you're sorry' idiotic. (It reminds me of a older couple my mother studied with. The husband said "you know when I knew my wife was coming into the truth? When after 40 years of marriage she apologised for the first time". Now I don't know if that was literally true or not, I pressed him on it and he insisted it was, but the point is, Love means being willing to recognise your faults and make amends, as imperfect people, I don't know if any healthy relationship can survive without ever saying (or at least communicating) that you are sorry for a mistake)

Anyhoo... that's not what I wanted to comment about really (is there a word limit because I'm probably near it), I just wanted to comment on "divorce in the truth". It is indeed sad that seperation and divorce seem increasingly common in our ranks but its hardly surprising. As you said my generation was the last to have SOME in it that had parents that stayed married; at least we know or have a conception of the model; that's over now. Few marriages survive this system and ours although better, are also casualties. There is a rumour of new help for families (marriages) on the way for JWs through our organisation but I'll not repeat it until it is official in any case, I do believe like you said, that present atmosphere of the disposibility of marriage is contributing to its downfall. That coupled (no pun intended) with the fact that people simply don't have the basic relationship tools to handle relationships and child rearing. Speaking of which the idea you mentioned about "Soulmates" doesn't help. How many soulmates are out there for me? Compatible on physically, spiritually, emotionally... hundreds? thousands I'd say: certainly not one. If you meet one (of the many) I believe you forfeit the others, you "forsake them" EVEN if they would have been more suitble. You build a strategy and come to peace with your choice. You move seats on the bus if need be when you feel that "lightening bolt" that occassionally happens when you (YOU not cupid) hear an innner voice that says "this one stupid!".

So yes, I look around the kingdom hall and remember when we DID used to say "Jehovah's Witnesses don't get divorced" and recognise now all we can say is "JW don't support unscriptural divorce". As you pointed out, in the present system of things, that still makes us a rarity.

tom sheepandgoats

Your story of the older couple is the perfect antidote to "Love Story." Thanks very much for that.

Our people tend to marry early, after the "bloom of youth" is past, of course, but only by minutes. Thus, personalities are not yet fully formed. Sexual attraction becomes the factor that trumps everything else, and other factors....the soulmate ones, if you will, only come into focus later.

I don't see much of a solution for it. The present world is intent upon seeing that people focus on sex from childhood onward. Occassionally I take refuge in books of the previous century or so. Dickens, and whatnot, in which characters routinely waited to marry, often chose not to, and in any case, did not marry until they were able to lay down a firm foundation for its success.

We don't do that too much anymore. We spot an attractive sister in the congregation, and marriage is only a matter of (not too much) time.

Thanks also for the kind words about the blog. I appreciate your site, as well. It represents a lot of work, for sure. There's a place for it. Why should the internet, spiritually speaking, be ceded to soreheads and malcontents?

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