New Church for Single Mormons Offers Fun, Sexually Tense Times

In Crystal City, a town just outside Washington, D.C. whose name makes it sound very magical and castle-filled, the marriage-centric Mormons have opened the nation's first singles-only worship place. It sounds really stressful.

Called the 23rd Street chapel, the new worship center is described by the Washington Post as "the only worship space in the country devoted solely to unmarried people in their 20s, 30s and 40s," and "the only one in the country devoted exclusively to adult singles worship." Its purpose is to help congregants mix, mingle, and get married as soon as possible, in keeping with the Mormon tradition. The church's 800 or so members get together for romantic games of table tennis, romantic Bible study sessions, romantic normalcy, and other fun activities—plus worship services. And unlike Utah-based Mormons, 23rders are not prohibited by state law from acting sexy, which probably helps them signal their interest to prospective mates.

Sounds like fun! Yet there are a few drawbacks. For example, sometimes congregants end up competing with friends for partners (the Post article seems to suggest "romantic" partners, but maybe table-tennis partners as well), which produces drama and awkwardness. Also, "the concentration of so many single men and women produces sexual tension that their faith forbids them to act upon," because of the Mormon ban on premarital sex. Of course, they can alleviate this tension by getting married ASAP, which also permits them to hold church leadership positions and stop worrying about the afterlife so much. But is rushing into marriage a good thing? Some congregants express their doubts:

"I say marriage isn't that great. I've done it. I say marriage is not the most important thing in this life, and some of us will not get married," said the woman, who wasn't comfortable being publicly identified as a marriage skeptic.

Wait: marriage doesn't solve every problem in life? What about the problems in the afterlife? Not sure about that second question, so maybe it's best to keep on being tense and doing your thing, Mormons.

[Washington Post, image by ImNotQuiteJack via Creative Commons.]