The Mormon Bachelor: Searching For Eternal Love
The single adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a diverse group of individuals. They face life’s challenges the same as married members of the LDS Church, with one of the main differences being that they often face those challenges alone.
In an address delivered on 22 September 1996 at the Salt Lake Tabernacle titled “A Conversation with Single Adults,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ, made these remarks:
You are a diverse group. I understand that all of you are over 30. In a sense that is the only thing you have in common, other than your membership in the Lord’s Church.
Some of you have never married. Some of you have been married and been divorced, some with children and some without. Many of you are struggling to support your children. You have come to know that it is a harsh and cruel world out there. You long for help. You need help.
Others of you are widows or widowers for whom loneliness is an unrelenting and constant experience.
Though you are so diverse in your backgrounds, we have put a badge on you as if you were all alike. That badge reads S-I-N-G-L-E-S. I do not like that. I do not like to categorize people. We are all individuals living together, hopefully with respect for one another, notwithstanding some of our personal situations.
Many single adults long for someone whom they can share their life with. They yearn for that special someone who will help ease the day-to-day burdens of life. However, they find themselves faced with a small conundrum as to where to find such a person. The person that they are seeking as a companion will not only be their companion for as long as this earthly life shall last, but someone whom they can take the Sacred House of the Lord – the Holy Temple - and be sealed together as husband and wife for all time and eternity. In the course of their earnest search, they are often faced with feelings of doubt, worry, fear, and anxiety.
In his remarks, President Hinckley went on to say:
All of you presumably are without marriage partners. Many of you wish you were married. You think this would be the answer to all your problems. While a happy marriage should be the goal of every normal Latter-day Saint, let me assure you that for many who are married, life is miserable and filled with fears and anxiety. The most burdensome responsibility I have is to make judgments on applications for cancellation of temple sealings following civil divorce. Each case is considered on its individual merits. I pray for wisdom, for the direction of the Lord in dealing with sacred covenants made in the most hallowed surroundings and of an eternal nature.
The circumstances behind the divorce and behind the request for cancellation of a temple sealing contain a litany of selfishness, of greed, of behavior at times even sadistic in its nature, of abuse and heartache and tragedy.
I say that only to remind you that there are those who are married whose lives are extremely unhappy, and that you who are single and experience much of deep and consuming worry are not alone in your feelings.
So, where do single adults of the LDS Church turn in their quest for an eternal companion? Some may turn to the Singles Wards (local congregations with an emphasis on focus on single adults) in their areas. Still others may take an interest in reality TV shows such as “The Mormon Bachelor / Bachelorette” series to find their soul mate. The latter, however, may not turn out to be as profitable or beneficial as the former.
About two years ago, Erin Elton and her roommate, Aubrey Laidlaw, both being older than the average Latter-day Saint single, became frustrated with their dating lives. Laidlaw even auditioned for a spot on the popular ABC reality TV show “The Bachelor” but didn’t get it. The two friends then realized that even if they managed to get a spot on the show, it would not necessarily lead them to the eternal temple marriage which they both desired. That is when they came up with the idea to create a Mormon bachelor/bachelorette series.
The fourth season of the online show was scheduled to open with dental student Kent Tuttle, but he has already found his true love and has resigned from the show. According to his blog, he met 25-year-old Carlie Butler, also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, near Venice Beach while in Los Angeles for the filming of “The Mormon Bachelor. Tuttle said that she immediately “left an impression.” 
Tuttle contacted Butler on Twitter and the two soon became friends leaving him faced with a small conundrum, should he pursue the woman who he said “has so much of what I am looking for in a girl” or should he keep his commitment to “The Mormon Bachelor”?  He fasted, prayed, and pondered about his decision and chose the former. Tuttle later said, “If it weren’t for the show, I wouldn’t have met Carlie in the first place. Yet the biggest reason the show would get credit is because through the process of preparing I was transformed into a better man. I will forever be indebted to ‘The Mormon Bachelor’ for how it transformed me in my brain and in my heart.” 
“The Mormon Bachelor” claims that happy endings can result from reality television. Thus far their success rate is one out of three. Aubrey Laidlaw, one of the producers of the show, volunteered to be the first bachelorette on “The Mormon Bachelor” (she was 28 at the time), and after 30 dates with 22 suitors, she ended up choosing 30-year-old Matt Laidlaw. The couple was married on 19 March 2011 and is still together. Since Aubrey, two other singles have starred in Laidlaw and Elton’s series: Season 2 bachelor Buck Rick, who is no longer together with the woman he met during filming, and Season 3 bachelorette Ashley Chapman, who didn’t pair off with anyone when the show ended. 
Concerning the girls that are interviewed for the show, Elton told Deseret News, “A lot of the girls we’ve interviewed have been different. Some have served missions, some haven’t, and others have very serious careers and so on.”  Paul Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor of the Huffington Post wrote in February:
Ultimately, most people on religious dating sites are looking for the same thing as non-religious dating sites -– find someone whom they can love with their whole heart, mind and spirit and hope that having the same religion will increase the chances of success. 
Elton told Deseret News that the main goal of the program is to help people find true love. “The Mormon Bachelor” will continue forward with its fourth season. The website has announced a new Mormon Bachelor, Chris Barbour, who is a pre-dental student. The show is scheduled to air on 5 July 2012.
Returning to President Hinckley’s message to the single adults of The Church of Jesus Christ titled “A Conversation with Single Adults,” he further commented:
Men and women such as you have great talents and can add immeasurably to the quality of the teaching and leadership in almost any ward in the Church. It is a general Church responsibility to remind bishops and other Church officers to give each member a warm welcome and to make use of his or her talents.
For when all is said and done, we should not be classified as married or single but as members of the Church, each worthy of the same attention, the same care, the same opportunities to be of service.
We are all individuals, men and women, sons and daughters of God, not a mass of “look-alikes” or “do-alikes.” All of us are very much alike in our capacity to think, to reason, to be miserable, if you please; in our need to be happy, to love and be loved. We are subject to the same pains, the same sensitivities, the same emotions.
Never forget that there is something of divinity in each of you. You are a son or daughter of God, and you have a wonderful inheritance. I hope you will never belittle or demean yourself.
The following words which appeared in the newspaper column “Dear Abby” some years ago offer some good counsel to both single men and single women who are in search of their eternal mate:
The key to being popular with both sexes is: Be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. If you can’t be beautiful (or handsome), be well-groomed, tastefully attired, conscious of your posture, and keep a smile on your face.
Be clean in body and mind. If you’re not a ‘brain,’ try harder. If you’re not a great athlete, be a good sport. Try to be a standout in something. If you can’t dance or sing, learn to play an instrument.
Think for yourself, but respect the rules. Be generous with kind words and affectionate gestures, but save the heavy artillery. … You’ll be glad you did” (reprinted in Chicago Tribune, 17 March 1991, 6).
There is no place in the life of anyone to be arrogant and egotistical, and that especially applies to single adults (bachelors and bachelorettes) who are searching for their eternal mate. Perhaps, one final word of counsel is in order, as recorded in the words of modern day revelation in (Doctrine and Covenants) D&C 112:10:
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.