LDS women are counseled not to marry outside the covenant, but wouldn’t it be better to marry a good man outside the covenant and raise good kids in the Gospel than to wait around for a temple marriage that may never be presented to her, especially with the temple worthy male to female ratio being so steeply divided (100 to 150 respectively)?
Thank you for this excellent question, and I will attempt to provide you with principles that will allow (as Joseph Smith said) to govern yourself with regards to the counsel to marry within the covenant. We will come back to these principles also with scriptures that are important to read.
First principle, this counsel is not gender specific as this counsel to not marry outside of the covenant is for both men and women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The second principle, is that Heavenly Father is the person who will guide and direct His covenant people through the Holy Ghost. He knows the end from the beginning, therefore He knows all of His sons and all of His daughters (their hearts and desires) and knows what is best for His children in the long run (even if we do not see it ourselves). We have a choice to follow our own hearts or to accept His counsel.
The final principle, more a question, how do we as Latter-day Saints help the youth (young men) stay converted to the gospel? With the number of young men and women removing themselves from the Church, this ratio would be significantly better.
The first principle has been around since the Old Testament. The children of God were counseled, commanded, and covenanted with the Lord that they would marry within the covenant. King Solomon who was considered one of the wisest man on earth during his time, and although wise he forsook the counsel and married outside of Israel. His decision resulted in the following that displeased the Lord:
1) Solomon’s wives turned the heart of Solomon away from the Lord
2) He began to worship other Gods than the Lord
3) He built places of worship for these Gods doing evil in the sight of the Lord
A question then we have to ask ourselves if considering marrying outside the covenant is, “Are we truly strong enough to remain true and faithful should we be tempted like Solomon to do things that are evil in the sight of the Lord to please our spouse? Another question and statistic we will want to be aware of is how many divorces are a result of religion, different religions? What happens when kids are introduced and parents want their children to be raised in the religion they grew up in, or no religion at all? How will this affect the offspring brought into this relationship? And the obvious question, why did God give such counsel, command, and covenant knowing that some of his daughters may remain single in this life?
Although in scripture, and modern times, we have also received the same counsel the scriptures highlight some times when the command was in contradiction to the previous command. I personally do not believe any command is in contradiction; however, our limited knowledge and understanding of true principles cause things to appear a contradiction when they are complimentary. Let’s review the life of Esther. Esther would have been under this same command and covenant to marry one from Israel (or one who believed in the covenant of Abraham).
Esther was though given to the King who was not an Israelite, and through this relationship Israel was spared from an awful ending, which fulfilled a covenant made to Abraham also. What situations in our modern day might reflect a similar circumstance with Esther (not to say of saving LDS), but that God is able to see something in the future that will benefit his sons and daughters?
A honest question we have to ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to accept whatever God’s will is should we be provided an opportunity to marry outside of the covenant”? If a sister (brother) begins dating someone and they think they are a good person, will they accept an answer from God in the negative? Do we place our trust in the knowledge God has of this individual even though to us they seem like a perfect candidate for marriage (save covenant marriage)?
This covenant appears to also be lenient for women, rather than man who hold the priesthood. It is the responsibility of a priesthood holder to marry in the covenant and to raise a righteous posterity with his helpmeet. This is almost impossible with men as women generally are the primary nurtures of the home. Who will be teaching the children? With women, they still are the primary nurtures of the home even though their husband might not be a member. One of our apostles, Elder David A. Bednar, his mother married a non-member, but was such a man that everyone thought he was a member. I will not claim to know the revelation his mother received or did not receive, but eventually Elder Bednar’s father joined the Church, and Elder Bednar in his youth was never prohibited from the Church and its teachings.
In this circumstance though, even if God nods his approval (and hopefully this is his true approval and not an approval similar to Joseph Smith and the lost manuscripts) then we are following the first great commandment, which trumps (so to speak) all other commandments and counsel.
How would you suggest making sure our young men do not leave the Church so this ratio statistic (if correct) you have provided is a more equal ratio? The Church is trying to help us to raise righteous posterity, and yet we still have young men leaving the Church.
With this said, I think this provides sufficient light for you to make a personal choice. I know I have, and my counsel to my children is to honor the commands and counsel we have received, and to put the Lord first in their lives. I also think there is a difference between a young woman who is searching for a worthy priesthood holder, and then the Lord places a non-member in their path, in comparison with a young woman (or even older sisters) who rejects the counsel and says I am going to find love where ever love takes me — God is wrong — there are good men who aren’t members of the Church and I am going to find one.