Sit down, folks. We need to chat.
I don't consider this to be a Mormon Blog, but today I am going to be discussing a vastly Mormon concept. Although I'm pretty sure 100% of my readers are LDS, let me define this crucial term for anyone who may be confused.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are taught that every individual is capable of praying to God and receiving personal revelation through the Holy Spirit. It is through revelation that we are able to gain knowledge and understanding about things of God, or receive guidance about personal decisions and choices. We believe God has anointed prophets to receive revelation for the world, but that each person also has the capability and right to ask for personal confirmation that the things the prophets have spoken are true. We believe that we are only able to receive revelation for ourselves unless we have been specifically called and set apart to also receive revelation for others (i.e. called as an ecclesiastical leader to others).
Growing up in the church I was taught to pray always, and to include God in decisions I make, however, I was also taught that revelation I received was for me; others must also ask of God in order to be given answers for themselves.
Okay. Term defined and explained. Onward!
In my Social Psychology class at BYUH we studied a section on cults and manipulation. My professor, Dr. Timothy used one lesson to outline a list of red flags to look out for in people we date. The final entry he wrote in capital letters across the whiteboard: "THEY TELL YOU 'GOD SAID YOU HAVE TO MARRY ME'!"
He then told us sternly, "If anyone ever tells you this, you run. Turn around and book it in the opposite direction."
I didn't stand up and slow clap it out that day in class, but inside my mind I totally did. This was something that I knew was true and didn't even feel anyone would ever question. Unfortunately, I have now seen dozens of people use this key form of manipulation and others listen to it.
SO, LET US TALK.
Saying that God told you that someone else has to marry you is a douche of a move. Every person in this world has their own agency. We are given commandments, but we can always choose whether we follow them or not. There will be consequences for good or for bad, but we still are given a choice. Therefore, I do not believe God will ever tell someone (*booming voice*) "YOU MUST MARRY HIM!" Instead, He will confirm if marrying someone is a good move, or confirm that we need to get to ello out of Dodge. Our choice remains.
Secondly, who died and anointed you supreme leader of inspiration, Kemosabe? Chances are, no one did. Say you have prayed about someone and decided that they would be a good marital companion for you. That's great! Unfortunately, it takes two to make a marriage, and therefore, only half of the process has been completed.
Trying to take religion out of this example is hard, as it is a concept that relies on a belief in a deity who cares about our wellbeing, but I am going to try.
Timmy and Kimmy are dating. They love each other very much and are beginning to discuss marriage. Kimmy comes to Timmy one day and says, "it is settled. You must marry me. I contacted the President of the United States and he officially stated that you, Timmy Grindledore must marry me Kimmy Dumblewald."
What should Timmy do? Should he believe that Kimmy is correct, and go start working on wedding plans?
Realistically, the POTUS probably doesn't know Kimmy and Timmy inside and out and know if their relationship will work, so the analogy is mildly flawed, however, what about the fact that Kimmy sought help from an outside source and used that discussion to decide once and for all that a marriage was to be had? Shouldn't Timmy have a say in things? The way she brought it to Timmy was incredibly manipulative because she attempted to use a higher power and authority to dictate the behavior and choices of a man she says to love.
*BUZZER NOISE* EHHHHHHHHH. That's a red flag there, Timmy.
When Peter first got home from his mission in Japan there was a time where we dated long distance. I was in Hawaii and he was in Seattle, and so our main form of communication was through Skype, text, and phone calls. One morning I got a text from Peter. It said,
"When I pray about marrying you, I feel like it is a good thing. I hope that when you pray about it, you feel the same :). I love you."
A sassy Greek muse chorus sang out hallelujah in my head.
I felt confident that Peter was not going to try and assert his will over mine. While he made it clear that he had hopes to marry me, he also let me know that my own revelation was important. Ten points to Gryffindor!*
Anyway, please stop being douches to people you want to date or marry. It's not cool and it makes baby Jesus cry. Manipulation has no place in a marriage, so if you see signs of manipulation from those you are dating, run away fast. It is much better to be single than to be in an unhappy marriage. At least that's what I can tell from the 9 couples I know (who are my age) who have already faced a divorce. Know that you have a say in your relationships. No one can force you into anything that you don't want, and likewise, you have no right to force them.
Be excellent, dudes.
*in reading this to Peter he felt he deserved much more than 10 points. I think that if Harry and Ron can receive 5 points after conquering a troll and Harry and Hermione can lose 50 points (each) for being out of bed past dark, the point system is pretty much based on the mood of the professor or prefect, sooooooo, it could be debated either way.