LDS Relief Society Announces “Raise the Bar” Program
Hyrum Sanborne, Deseret News
July 7, 2008
In a letter to be read to local congregations on Sunday, the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced what they are calling the “Raise the Bar Again” program. Aimed at prospective husbands for the women of the Church and developed in conjunction with the Young Women’s and Young Single Adult programs, this new standard aims to raise the quality of husbands and prospective husbands for the women of the Church.
“Based on the success of the Raise the Bar program for missionaries, the women of the Church have been inspired to raise the bar for those men who would seek them as wives,” said Julie Bangerter Beck, President of the Relief Society. “For so many years, our young women and young single adults have had to settle when it came time to choose a husband. But not anymore. As we’ve seen, the holy calling of “missionary” requires a certain quality of man. How much more holy is that calling of “Husband”? Is there any comparison? We think not.”
The new program, which will be phased in over a six month period and will be taught extensively in Laurel classes and Young Single Adult Relief Societies, outlines minimum standards for physical, social, mental and spiritual qualities that should be attained by a potential husband.
Physical requirements will include a reasonable body mass index (<25), a dental and physical checkup, and low incidence of acne. Social standards help the women avoid any eternal companions that suffer from depression (especially bi-polar), ADD, or Asperger’s syndrome. Potential husbands should also receive a doctor’s certification regarding fertility and sperm count, and present this “Proof of Posterity” along with the engagement ring before any proposals can be accepted.
The Mental standards of the program are more flexible. Potential husbands will have to demonstrate their mental capabilities with a minimum GED or high school diploma, with a 2 year degree as the recommended standard.
The strictest standards are implemented for worthiness qualifications. “For years, we have left it up to the single women themselves to determine their potential mate’s suitability. Not so anymore,” clarifies Sister Beck. “Young men who haven’t kept up to the standard will no longer be issued Temple Recommends for sealings. We’re putting them on notice: the single women of the Church are sick of damaged goods.” Additionally, problems with pornography (including Victoria’s Secret catalogs, Bikini Cuts in Sandy, or the Jessica Alba movie “Into the Blue”) will disqualify a potential husband from consideration.
This new “Raise the Bar Again” standard replaces the current three-phase recommendation of Eagle Scout/ Returned Missionary/ Seminary Graduate. Over two years in development, earlier versions included standards for politics, humor and scrapbooking, but these were dropped as being impractical or odious. Surveys also showed that women didn’t necessarily want to scrapbook with their husbands, and most women are oblivious to the low quality of their potential husband’s humor during the courtship.
Some single men in the Church have expressed concern regarding the difficulty of meeting the new standards. “If the Lord has set this standard for a two-year servant, than how much more important is it that we, the women of the Church, likewise have standards for our eternal servants and companions?” clarified Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women’s President. “If the Lord doesn’t want them, then why should we?” Brittaneie B. Young, Laurel class president of the Orem 3rd Ward, was initially reluctant to consider rejecting potential future mates outright based on these standards. “At first, I didn’t like the idea that I shouldn’t marry someone based on whether or not they suffer from depression. But then my Mom explained that these new standards didn’t mean that these men shouldn’t ever get married. It just meant that they shouldn’t marry me.”
While there was no official response from the Young Men of the Church, Presiding Bishop Richard C. Edgley did hint at a commensurate “Raise the Bar” program in the works for potential wives. “While I can’t go into specifics, we’ve talked to the young men and I will say it may behoove certain young ladies to invest in a pair of jogging shoes and a thesaurus. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a silicone shortage in Utah within the next five years.”