Marriageable, mature men should not delay marriage because they have not found "Miss Perfect." And marriageable women should not delay marriage because of career goals, educational desires or unwillingness to change their lives, said Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve.
However, marriage "just to be married" should be avoided, he commented, as he addressed a satellite fireside for single adults on Aug. 30. "Marriage should be based on love and shared values."Janette C. Hales, Young Women general president, also spoke at the telecast, which originated in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency presided at the fireside, with President Monson conducting the meeting.
In his address, Elder Ashton said that single adult members of the Church should "live with purpose each day" and fill their lives "with service, education, personality development, love for all, and other such meaningful traits. . . . You are being unfair if you call yourself a failure because a proper marriage is not possible.
"Do not indulge yourself, at any marriageable age, in the waiting game when there is so much in life to do. Bring additional self-fulfillment, personal development, and self-respect through worthy associations and services.
"Maintain your perspective while making marriage a righteous goal in your life. Count what you do have. Not what you don't have," he admonished.
Speaking candidly, Elder Ashton said: "I want to go on record tonight as saying that one of the areas of life that is most difficult for me to be patient with is a group of marriageable, mature men who delay, postpone, and neglect this important phase of life and eternity.
"To marriageable, mature men, I call them unto repentance. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance. Believe us when we tell you there is someone for you and God will help you find her.
"I have little patience for a marriageable, mature man who hasn't found `Miss Perfect.' I suggest these men are not quite themselves `Mr. Perfect.' I suggest that any of these men who sincerely desire a happy, fulfilling, worthy life view themselves and single women more realistically."
He said that there may be excuses and a failure to make the commitment to a worthy lady, "but frankly it is hard to find reasons for indefinite delay and an unwillingness to adapt, adjust, and grow by participating in an eternal partnership."
To the single sisters, he said they must also strive to find a worthy mate. "Now, for those listening tonight who are thinking, `This is the same old thing the Brethren always say to singles,' I remind you of the words of Amulek: `I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know.' (Alma 10:6.)
"Brethren and sisters, we love you, and we desire your welfare. That's why we persist in teaching you the Lord's way. It is your choice if you will have ears to hear our words. I pray you will seek your Heavenly Father's guidance that you might know, then do what is right for you."
Elder Ashton spoke about the importance of being a quality person, which includes many worthy traits and characteristics such as:
First, to take pride in oneself and take satisfaction in being well-groomed, to work toward high standards and goals to serve others, to practice self-discipline, and to not compromise standards or beliefs.
Second, to have integrity and be worthy of the highest trust.
Third, to not be offended and not be petty.
Fourth, to develop the capacity to love and be lovable.
Fifth, to not murmur, find fault, criticize, belittle or nag.
Sixth, to have real faith. With true faith we will increase our meaningful relationships with God, he said.
"All of us," he said, "must live with proper priorities and purposes. Don't be harsh in your self-appraisal. Rather measure yourself by whether or not you are living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"While we are striving for quality conduct in our lives, we must ever realize that being single will never be as painful as being married to the wrong person with wrong and selfish standards," Elder Ashton said.
"To be in control of your life, to be a success regardless of your situation as a single, I recommend you come to know your Father in Heaven. Come to love Him. Always remember that He loves you and will give you guidance and support if you will but give Him the chance. Include God in your decision making. Include God in your heartaches and heartbreaks. Include Him when you take inventory of your personal worth."
Pres. Hales, a widow, told the singles she could relate to their frustration and occasional anger.
"Who gave the false notion that single people have twice as much time if they have to do everything for themselves?" she asked.
She noted that 35 percent of the adults in the Church are single and "we shouldn't feel different."
As a basis for her talk, Pres. Hales used an interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan, wherein the Samaritan was the Savior. "It was He who was unaccepted, even despised by the Jewish people. We then are the wounded. He picks us up and ministers to our wounds and then He takes us to an inn. He lingers long enough to be sure there are others to assume our care.
"He compensates the host for his effort; and then my favorite words: `Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.'
"In other words, whatever it takes to help those in need is not too much and He will repay the debt. Many of us have had a time in our lives when we felt stripped of our security, left alone, wounded. Many too can testify that in times of devastation, they feel surprisingly supported, even suspended in love."
She said the inn is "a wonderful symbol. It is a temporary place - a place of transition." The inn, she explained, is a caring environment where healing can take place. "This is a time when we are open to new spiritual insights.
"Staying in the inn is necessary at times, but much of our learning takes place as we move on and try to move closer to our Heavenly Father.
"As we move on with our lives," Pres. Hales continued, "we must learn to see ourselves honestly and be aware of obstacles. We can't always progress according to the expectations of others. Occasionally this means slowing down to be sure our footing is secure and even eliminate a little baggage. Carrying old hurts or disappointments may keep us from our destination.
"As we work to move forward and strengthen our lives, may we each in our own way become innkeepers - willing and able to do the work of the Master."
Elder James E. Faust and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Charles Didier of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy also attended the fireside, as did the Relief Society general presidency and Young Women general presidency.
The fireside included several video presentations, one with Chieko N. Okazaki, first counselor in the Relief Society, who was recently widowed. She was moderator of a panel discussion featuring five single members. Another video presentation included a series of cameos of three single members of different circumstances serving in the Church and in the community.
The Mormon Youth Chorus, with Robert C. Bowden conducting and Bonnie Goodliffe at the organ, provided music for the fireside. The chorus provided a touching musical number, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," at the conclusion of the meeting.