Encouraging Missions

October 17, 2013

For years, young women have encouraged young men to serve missions.  With the recent reduction in mission ages, many more women are now serving missions.  I was talking to my next door neighbor last week.  Her son is a senior in high school, and will turn 18 shortly.  He is planning to put in his papers soon, and has a very attractive girlfriend.  Afraid that she won’t wait 2 years, he is encouraging her to go on a mission as well.  She doesn’t want to serve a mission.  It got me wondering how many young men are now encouraging young women to serve missions.  I suspect this is an unintended consequence of President Monson’s recent announcement.  What percent of women do you think are serving because of pressure from their boyfriends?  What do you make of this development?

10 Responses to Encouraging Missions

  1. Hedgehog on October 17, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    I don’t know about boyfriends, but I was at a family event this last weekend, and one of the things that came up in discussions with my sisters-in-law was whether my nieces, now nearing that age, had a mission in their plans for the future. Some family members seemed keen to push the idea.
    Personally I think the choice to serve a mission or not should be left to the individual. And I think we can apply to much pressure.

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  2. ji on October 17, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    Yep. Young men have a duty; young women have an opportunity. We need to be careful in that encouraging the opportunity we don’t turn it into an expectation.

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  3. hawkgrrrl on October 17, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    That’s an interesting twist. Trying to get a girl to stay faithful to him by putting her in a convent, I mean on a mission. Well, of course that could totally backfire. She’s not really in a convent. She might end up marrying an investigator or fellow missionary later. That lad’s in for some disappointment if he thinks he’s putting her on a shelf to stay just the same for him for two years.

    I guess my own view having served a mission has always been that it’s the best course for everyone, but in reality, maybe that’s not so. It sure as hell beats getting married as a teenager, and now that the mission age is younger, most girls really could go without too much disruption in life. Lowering the mission age for the girls has two great potential outcomes: 1) more women will serve, creating more equality all around (women and men who are spiritual equals and have worked with missionaries of both sex in council and set a pattern they can follow for life in church service), and 2) if the women don’t go, it’s more likely they will finish their degrees than it was before in the go-at-21, but boys return at 21 system.

    The other issue that I think needs to be addressed is that 18 is an option for boys. They can still go at 19 or later if needed. This notion of them having something wrong with them if they don’t go immediately after high school doesn’t take into account differences in temperament and circumstance. It took about two weeks before the new norm in the US became 18.

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  4. Hedgehog on October 17, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    The age is another problem for girls in Britain. Because of the way our education system functions, boys had previously already had pemission to leave at 18. I know the girls serve for a shorter length of time, but there will still be some who, waiting for their 19th birthday, wouldn’t then get back in time to begin University for nearly a year, and my fear is this could further deter girls going to university in this country. Having said that, because there are so many missionaries going out at the moment, there are boys putting in applications, but who are getting a delayed start date after they finish school (November as opposed to July, August or September) that will have the same effect, unless they are then granted permission to finish their missions 1 or 2 months short of the 2 years (which I understand is also possible).

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  5. Stan on October 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    My daughter’s boyfriend left on a mission in July. She left on her mission two weeks ago. While I’m sure that putting her “on ice” while he was gone was a consideration, I’m confident that she had many other reasons why she wanted to go. I’m so glad that she did too.

    I think there are other more relevant sources of pressure for young women to go on missions. Just the simple question of “Oh, are you planning on going on a mission?” can be interpreted as pressure to go.

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  6. Jack Hughes on October 17, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    I’m also concerned that 18 has become the new 19. One very pushy YM president in our stake has reconfigured the YM program in his ward into a sort of intense pre-MTC, Preach My Gospel bootcamp. For the most part, the buy-in seems to be there with the parents, but I’m not so sure about the boys. All of this gung-ho buildup will probably alienate some the kids who are on the fence.

    We need to treat these young folks as the legal adults they are and let them make their own decisions about if (and when) a mission is right for them.

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  7. NewlyHousewife on October 18, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    I don’t see the boyfriend putting on as much pressure as her friends. But it all depends on her self-esteem. Does she think her boyfriend is the only guy in the whole wide world who would want to marry her? If so, she’ll probably go. If not, she’ll probably dump his a*$.

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  8. Martin on October 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    “This notion of them having something wrong with them if they don’t go immediately after high school doesn’t take into account differences in temperament and circumstance. It took about two weeks before the new norm in the US became 18.”

    Is this true? The thinking in my area seems more like “If you’re going to attend BYU or BYUI, should should probably get a year of school in first, but if you’re not, maybe you should go before you’re no longer worthy.”

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  9. Steve on October 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    “Yep. Young men have a duty; young women have an opportunity. We need to be careful in that encouraging the opportunity we don’t turn it into an expectation.”

    The entire leadership of the LDS church presses the issue of all worthy males between 18 and 25 serving missions to the extent that it seems as if it were a duty. Although, you can be a male member in good standing without serving a mission.

    What would be technically or inherently wrong in the same amount of pressure building on women to serve missions?

    Of course I would be in favor of the church and the local leaderships reducing the amount of emphasis they place on having young men serve missions altogether. Many young men who don’t or can’t go on missions (for issues related to health or worthiness) often feel like such outcasts for not going on missions. At least women aren’t treated as second class for not serving missions. They are looked at roughly the same whether they went or not.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on October 19, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    I agree with Steve that the difference in push seems inappropriate. Both should be encouraged but not required to the point that those who don’t go are pariahs or assumed to be somehow unfit.

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