I Love Gellies

Mormonism, Evangelicism and Chaos Theory

An open letter to CES leaders

Dear CES Leader,

I have some questions about the Church Education System and Institute.

My introduction to this is the fact ALL young adults aged 18-30 are encouraged to go to Institute, single and married. Many church leaders seem willing to push single people to go to Institute, while they are unwilling to push married people, or married people with children.

I was recently informed that one of the purposes of Institute should be to help parents be better mothers and fathers. So does that mean that Mormon leaders only think single people need the help being better mothers and fathers, that CES is so apt at providing?

Or is it really just a Utah-ism, one goes to Institute to find someone to date and marry, and eventually become a father or mother. If it is, does that mean that those of us outside of Utah, or with few CES aged members are exempting for going for this reason. Cuz, I mean, I personally think it’d be weird to have a 28 y/o RM pick up on a 19 y/o freshman.

And what about us Institute graduates, or BYU graduates who arguably have had “better” institute classes because we studied for tests in addition to actually doing the reading? Are we automatically exempt? Can we just close our ears during 40 minute guilt-trips about attending institute?

In the end, One’s life will always be enriched if one studies the scriptures. Institute can be an amazing reason and resource for doing this. It provides support, accountability, and a sounding board. You can even be lucky enough to get Graduate level institute classes.

But all I’m asking for is a little more guidance and a little less jelliness. We can non-judgementally expect High Schoolers to complete all 4 years of Seminary. We can expect all College age kids (18-25) to complete 4 years of Institute (14 religion credit hours). After that, anything else is icing on the cake. You’ll learn more, get to teach more, and be better prepared for serving in the Church.

If you’re going to tell all “single people” they need to go to institute until age 30, you need to tell all “married people” too. There’s nothing in the sealing ceremony that obviates the “supposed” need for institute.


August 31, 2009 - Posted by | Religion


  1. I once went to Institute. My LDS coworker described it as a Bible study that she thought I might enjoy (I hadn’t delved much into LDS theology yet at that point in my life). Needless to say, I was a little confused when the class launched into a discussion of Adam and Eve from the Book of Moses.

    Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because after class it was time for treats, which I have since been informed is more accurately called “Take a Cookie, Have a Lookie.” I had all sorts of prospective new friends approach me to find out which ward I normally attended, but when I answered, “The Methodist one,” all those nice young men suddenly had better things to do. So it appears that even here in DC, Institute seems to have a pretty clear dual purpose.

    Although to be fair, the DC singles wards have a pretty high population of BYU grads fresh out of Utah.

    Comment by Whitney | September 17, 2009 | Reply

    • Whitney,
      While I certainly think it’s abhorrent that they they wouldn’t be a friend solely because “you weren’t the right religion”, I can understand not wanting to focus too much time on someone outside of one’s respective faith. Think of it this way, you dodged a lot of bullets.

      BTW, I’m thinking of finding my way to DC soon, is it alright if I email you and discuss DC geography a bit?

      Comment by psychochemiker | September 21, 2009 | Reply

  2. LOL Whitney!

    When I went to Institute after high school, I wound up not telling the class I was a non-member for the first few weeks. We had a substitute teacher one day who wanted to go around the room and ask everyone what ward they were from. I think I actually said, “The Presbyterian one.”

    Great minds…

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers | September 19, 2009 | Reply

  3. Oh don’t worry, one of those handsome Colonial First men eventually decided I was worth the trouble, which was great until he summarily crushed my heart under his well-shod heel. So I learned my lesson :).

    Anyway, yeah, my email address is on my Blogger profile…feel free to contact me!

    Comment by Whitney | September 21, 2009 | Reply

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