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News » Deep End

Temporary Marriage

Mormom missionaries have an extra-extra-special bond



Gay marriage is alive and well and thriving in the Kingdom of the Saints, though it’s not exactly something Mormon leaders want to acknowledge. As befits its patriarchal theology, male-on-male marriage is a lot more common than holy matrimony of the female-on-female variety. Same-sex marriage is a valuable priesthood perk that is not only universally available to post-pubertal young Mormon men, but is in fact heavily encouraged by the elderly gentlemen who call themselves the Brethren.

I’m referring, of course, to the distinctive Mormon institution of Going on a Mission. Though a mission is a marriage that dare not speak its name, it is, in all respects but one, indistinguishable from the Traditional Marriage so obsessively defended by the Brethren, the traditional marriage that is at the center of Mormon theology and the summum bonum of eternal being. (See the latest directive from the Brethren with regard to legalizing gay marriage, this time a new ballot measure in Hawaii.) The one difference is that traditional marriage of the Mormon variety requires male-on-female exertions necessary to bring celestial spirits down to our planet so that they can get bodies for their progression through eternity.

Despite the Mormon requirement that the manufacture of baby bodies for awaiting spirits is the be-all and end-all of marriage, in Gentile marriages, miniature humans are often just accidental by-products of conjugal relations. Practically speaking, therefore, Mormon mission marriages are no different from both post-mission Mormon marriages and non-Mormon marriages.

If we closely examine a typical mission marriage, we will see that it is pretty much identical to so-called normal marriages, especially if we focus on the initial few months, which is the official span of assigned mission marriages. The Brethren are nothing if not practical, and they know that making two young Mormon elders stay faithful for the entire two-year tenure of their respective missions would be disastrous, so they shuffle “missionary companions” around every few months. This also prevents homicide, as young missionary elders are often heard to say that they would like to kill their missionary “companion.”

At a young age especially, (and now, Mormon elders are younger than ever, given the new dispensation given to 18-year-olds to serve the Lord) two years is also an eternity, which will come soon enough once we take off for Kolob.

Many young couples outside of Zion experiment with a kind of experimental marriage known as living together, the purpose of which is to experience what it’s like to share living quarters up close and personal before tying the fatal knot of legalized marriage. Young male Mormon elders, however, have no choice, and are thrown directly into the fires of Mormon missionary marriage.

And not only are the newlywed elders forced to share cramped quarters, they are forbidden to be outside one another’s company except for the blessed moments when they absent themselves to use the bathroom and/or toilet facilities. (And Lord only knows what other sorts of other mischief the hormone-torn young elders get up to behind the closed bathroom door.) Given the constraints of gay missionary marriage as we know it, the unfortunate elders are deprived of mutual pleasure of make-up sex, which provides relief from the time-honored tensions of marital bliss.

You might think that the Brethren would not want to call attention to the marital nature of same-sex missionary companionship. But when you have a spare moment, go down to Deseret Book in City Creek, and browse the books on how to be a good missionary. Prominent among the promised benefits of missionary work is real-time practice in how to be a good and faithful spouse. Putting up with an obnoxious missionary companion is apparently invaluable preparation for putting up with an eternal wife.
Returned missionaries I’ve consulted with say temple marriage is a breeze compared to missionary marriage. It’s easy to understand. There’s always going to be trouble in a marriage of priesthood equals.

But when you come home and marry a gal, well, she has to bow her head and honor your priesthood.
So, you can see why the gals trying to crash the upcoming priesthood meeting at General Conference make the Brethren nervous in the service. Once you let the sisters hold the priesthood, it will be hard keeping them down on the farm, breeding babies as fast as they can. As for the idea that breeding babies is equal to holding the priesthood, let’s see how many guys would trade places with the gals. 

D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.