“Lesson 24: Single Adult Church Members,” The Eternal Family Teacher Manual (2015)
“Lesson 24,” Teacher Manual
The gospel of Jesus Christ emphasizes the eternal blessings obtained through marriage and family relationships. Yet many members of the Church find themselves in circumstances where they do not currently have the opportunity for marriage and family. This lesson emphasizes that Church members who are single make significant contributions to the Lord’s kingdom. While the blessings of marriage and family are sometimes delayed, they are never denied to those who righteously keep their covenants with God.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Conversation with Single Adults,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 58–63.
Spencer J. Condie, “Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 16–18.
Invite students to share some of the challenges that single members of the Church may experience when participating in a ward or branch where many members are married and have children. (Single Church members could feel discouraged, isolated, and left out of meetings and classes that teach about marriage and family.)
How do you think other Church members can help single adults feel included and valued in Church meetings and activities?
Display the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95), and ask a student to read it aloud:
“The Church is for all members. … All of us, single or married, have individual identities and needs, among which is the desire to be seen as a worthwhile individual child of God. …
“This is the church of Jesus Christ, not the church of marrieds or singles or any other group or individual” (“The Church Is for All People,” Ensign, June 1989, 76).
Explain that the Apostle Paul compared the Church to a human body and individual Church members to parts of the body. Invite a few students to take turns reading 1 Corinthians 12:12–20 aloud, while the rest of the class looks for how Paul compared parts of the physical body to members of the Church.
What challenges would we face if one or more parts of our bodies were missing?
What principle does Paul’s analogy teach us about the Church and its members? (Students may identify several important principles. Make sure the following principle is emphasized: Every member of the Church has value and can make an important contribution to the Church.)
What contributions have you seen single members of your ward or branch make to the Church?
Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 12:25–27. Invite the class to look for what Church members can do to become unified.
What can all Church members, married or single, do to help each other feel unified with other members of the ward or branch?
Display and read the following statement from Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“We all belong to a community of Saints, we all need each other, and we are all working toward the same goal. Any one of us could isolate ourselves from [our ward or branch] family on the basis of our differences. But we must not shut ourselves out or isolate ourselves from opportunities because of the differences we perceive in ourselves. Instead, let us share our gifts and talents with others, bringing brightness of hope and joy to them, and in so doing lift our own spirits” (“Belonging to a Ward Family,” Ensign, Mar. 1996, 16).
How have your efforts to accept callings and participate in your ward or branch helped you to feel more unified with other members?
Display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“Those who are single should desire a temple marriage and exert priority efforts to obtain it. Youth and young singles should resist the politically correct but eternally false concept that discredits the importance of marrying and having children” (“Desire,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 45).
Why do you think some single members may feel discouraged when they ponder the doctrine that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children”? (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).
Explain that although marriage and family are the ideal, many single adult Church members are unsure whether they will ever marry. Those who are divorced or widowed may wonder whether they will marry again.
Read aloud the following statement from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask students to look for what the Savior has done to make eternal blessings possible for those who do not have the blessings of marriage and family:
“To declare the fundamental truths relative to marriage and family is not to overlook or diminish the sacrifices and successes of those for whom the ideal is not a present reality. Some of you are denied the blessing of marriage for reasons including a lack of viable prospects, same-sex attraction, physical or mental impairments, or simply a fear of failure that, for the moment at least, overshadows faith. Or you may have married, but that marriage ended, and you are left to manage alone what two together can barely sustain. Some of you who are married cannot bear children despite overwhelming desires and pleading prayers.
“… With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children” (“Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 52).
What doctrine does Elder Christofferson teach about who will receive God’s greatest blessings? (Write the following doctrine on the board: The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for each of us to ultimately receive all of our Father in Heaven’s promised blessings.)
What must a person do to obtain the hope described in this doctrine?
Display the following assurance given by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), and ask a student to read it aloud:
“We promise you that insofar as eternity is concerned, no soul will be deprived of rich and high and eternal blessings for anything which that person could not help, that the Lord never fails in his promises, and that every righteous person will receive eventually all to which the person is entitled and which he or she has not forfeited through any fault of his or her own” (“The Importance of Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Oct. 1979, 5).
Testify that while God’s blessings are sometimes delayed, they are never denied in the eternities to those who seek to live righteously.
Ask students to consider the examples of Abraham and Sarah, who received promises from God regarding their family that were delayed or unfulfilled during their mortal lives (see Genesis 13:14–17; 15:4–7; 17:1–8, 15–16). Remind students that, like Abraham and Sarah, our faith will sometimes be tested by promises that are delayed or unfulfilled in mortality.
Ask a student to read Hebrews 11:1, 6 aloud, while the class looks for a definition of faith.
What do these verses teach about the meaning of faith? (Remind students to look at verse 1, footnote b, which states that substance can also mean assurance, basis, or foundation. Remember to help students develop personal scripture study skills by referring to study tools during class.)
What is meant by the phrase “evidence of things not seen”? (Faith is an assurance or testimony of unseen realities. This assurance of things hoped for and things unseen comes only when we act upon and obey the principles of the gospel—especially when it is difficult to do so. Faith is the obedient action that results in the spiritual gift of testimony. It is believing and trusting in the Lord enough to obey Him without first seeing the end result.)
Invite a few students to take turns reading from Hebrews 11:8–13, 16 aloud, while the rest of the class looks for how Abraham and Sarah exercised faith during difficult circumstances. Suggest to the class that they might underline words and phrases showing how Abraham and Sarah exercised faith.
Verse 13 says that although Abraham, Sarah, and many others died without “having received the promises,” they saw the promises “afar off” and had faith in God’s ability to fulfill these promises. How could the example of these ancient Saints help modern Saints whose faith is challenged because they do not receive promised blessings in mortality? (We all must learn the need to exercise faith and obey the Lord’s commandments even when the blessings we hope for do not seem to come when we desire them.)
What do you think it means that these ancient Saints lived as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”? (They knew that mortal life was temporary and that this world was not their permanent home.)
Display the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest” (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 38).
How can knowing that no blessing will be denied to the faithful help Church members who feel sadness or despair because they are not married or do not have children?
Can you think of a time when you felt discouraged but chose to act in faith and move forward in your life anyway?
If time permits, share the following counsel from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
“If you are just marking time waiting for a marriage prospect, stop waiting. You may never have the opportunity for a suitable marriage in this life, so stop waiting and start moving. Prepare yourself for life—even a single life—by education, experience, and planning. Don’t wait for happiness to be thrust upon you. Seek it out in service and learning. Make a life for yourself. And trust in the Lord” (“Dating versus Hanging Out,” Ensign, June 2006, 14).
Encourage students to consider what they can do to increase their faith in Jesus Christ and trust in His ability to bring about the fulfillment of promised blessings.