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Yes.

I would neither encourage nor discourage. I would support either way.

There's another article about a reporter accompanyng two sisters for a day here.

Good question! Especially since it's a trick one. Either yes or no is going to create controversy.

I think the two best answers are going to be
1. Depends on the girl
2. Depends on what the Lord says.

Having said that, I would have to say my answer would be no.

Despite frequent statements from the brethren to the contrary, social expectations for girls to go on missions is skyrocketing. Over half of the girls in my last BYU singles ward were RM's. The non-RM girls felt increasingly like they were less obedient/less spiritual for not going. Oddly enough, there's also a strange sort of feminist current flowing through missionary work - as if it's some sort of male privilege that all quality girls ought to take advantage of.

I think all of this is unnecessary and unfortunate. Because of all these issues, the decision of whether or not to go on a mission is an issue that many girls struggle with. And one, unfortunately, that they feel they have to justify if they decide not to go. Girls no longer need to feel that they need to go in order to go; they now need to feel that they shouldn't go in order to stay.

I just don't think that's the vision of the church.

We are encouraging our daughter to go.

I think I would highlight all the benefits, encourage her do what she wanted, then hope that she would go.

My wife is an RM (Hong Kong) and it has been awesome to be able to relate on that level. Moreover, she got many of the same benefits that I did (and others that I did not) from serving. I think our relationship is better because of it.

It also is an excellent way to keep a daughter from marrying at a ridiculous age.

Elder Ballard's talk at General Conference directly addressed Eric Russell's point about rising social expectations:

Similarly, with reference to young women, the President said: "There has been some misunderstanding of earlier counsel regarding single sisters serving as missionaries. We need some young women. They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders cannot. But it should be kept in mind that young sisters are not under obligation to go on missions. They should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men, but some will wish to go" ("To the Bishops of the Church," 27).

That said, I would love for my daughters to have the opportunity to serve a full-time mission. Of course, that's how I met my wife, so I'm a bit biased -- perhaps my motives are suspect.

Bryce, I interpreted Elder Ballard's comment in precisely the opposite way: the "misinterpreted earlier counsel" was a talk given a few years ago discouraging young women from serving missions. Despite the anecdotal comments here about rising expectations, it's my understanding that the number of sister missionaries has plummeted in the intervening years. I interpreted E. Ballard to be saying, "We *do* want *some* (that is, more) sisters--don't keep them all home."

Here's the a link to the talk I referenced above:

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/conferences/97_oct/hinckley_thoughts.htm

I have a daughter. Unless there is something about her personally that would make a mission problematic, I hope that she will go on one.

Not having the "duty" really makes it a labor of love.

In the Church, we have lost or abandoned many of the consecrating practices that were prevalent at the time of the Restoration: literal gathering, having all things in common, and experiencing severe persecution. In small measures, the LDS Mission still allows you to experience these things. It is also in itself one of the consecrating practices we have not abandoned.

I would support my daughter if she decided to serve a mission, but I would not encourage her to make such a decision.

Daughter (or Son) would be encouraged to learn the Lord's will and act accordingly. It is discouraging that answers to most of life's questions (including mine) are based on the "arm of flesh" rather than "Learn the Lord's Will"

My wife was told by an obnoxious sister RM roommate that "some sisters do more harm than good" that led her not to go on a mission.

As a former Mormon and never-missionary, I (as you might guess) would not encourage my son or daughter to go. However, my disposition could change if the religous organization they were working with had a service mission. Additionally, I think that with the 'raising the bar' trend of the past two years, that the church could have some purely service missions for those not 'qualified' for the regular Mormon mission.

Apart from Darren's interesting perspective, it seems there are two camps: "definitely would encourage" and "won't encourage but won't discourage either." Just for the record, I'm in the second camp. Also just for the recorrd, I posted the article and question because they are interesting, not because I have a secret agenda or criticism to launch.

It occurs to me that as with working outside the home, the sisters are in a no-win situation here, being open to criticism from some people whether they go or not. For Mormon men, the directive is clear: go on a mission, get a job. While the official counsel is the choice is up to the women themselves, in actual practice Mormons develop opinions about whether women should work or should serve missions, and project thier approval or disapproval onto women who do or don't.

I know many LDS women are touchy on the first issue; it would be unfair if the mission decision also became a no-win guilt inducer for women. I think women who serve deserve gratitude and recognition for their fine service, but that should be no reflection on women who choose not to go or who marry before they are eligible to serve.

I will treat my daughter and sons the same. It will be their choice. I won't be a 'you must serve a mission' mum. I hate the stigma attached to those men who choose not to seve a mission for whatever reason. Like they're less marriable (real word??)or something. Serving a mission doesn't automatically make you a good person. My husband will tell you of the numerous 'black' elders in his mission. I don't think either sex should be guilted into serving a mission.

some sisters do more harm than good

Really this should be simple restated as saying "some missionaries do more harm than good."

Darren, the church does have service missions. For those who do not qualify (or have a desire - I think) for regular missionary service, there are opportunities to serve full or part time. One just needs to talk to the Stake Pres.

Dave - now, I served in France as well, but I have to believe that your mission was valuble enough that you would encourage your children to serve...or at least encourage them to want to serve.

JS, I was speaking in the context of encouraging (or not) daughters to serve missions, although following after Darren's comment that might not have been clear.

i agree w/ darren. i wouldn't encourage my sons or daughters to go, although if they decided to i'd support them.

I will encourage my daughters to consider going on missions, and not just as an afterthought once they reach the age of 21. I agree with Jonathan that it's a great way of helping them think about more than marriage right out of high school. My wife deliberately put off serious relationships so that she could serve a mission.

I know that it helped me to take the gospel more seriously imagining that I would one day be a missionary. I'd be thrilled if my daughters learned gospel principles with an eye towards using their knowledge as not only mothers but full-time missionaries too (and whatever other roles they fulfill).

J. Stapley - Working the Bishop's storehouse doesn't quite match up to the level of service that I was referring to. I was thinking along the lines of working in S. Africa on AIDS relief. Sorry for being unclear.

Well, certain articles in Time magazine to the contrary, the Church does not have a bottomless bank account. The Church has limited funds and therefore, must prioritize.

I like the idea Darren is proposing. But it's already fairly expensive to support the missionaries already in the field. Adding a large humanitarian component on the scale I think Darren is thinking of, might just be cost-prohibitive.

I believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks said that the church must devote the most resources to the services only it can provide. Other humanitarian groups are capable of fighting AIDS, distributing food, and cleaning up oil spills. But only the LDS Church has the Priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances (according to LDS doctrine). So the bulk of the money is devoted to religious stuff.

That said, I do think that the LDS Church has been experiencing a growing humanitarian emphasis over the past couple decades. I personally wouldn't mind seeing more of that.

At present, I think definite improvements could be made in our humanitarian efforts. The whole thing seems a little disorganized compared to other programs in the church. So while I'm doubtful that the church would be able to implement a program on the scale Darren is suggesting, I think his suggestion opens up an interesting avenue for improving an existing church effort.

Hi folks - I'm very sorry to post an off-topic comment, but I'm completely out of my element in LDS circles and I'm not even sure where to begin looking.

So - up front: I am not a Mormon. I'm a protestant seminary student, but I need to learn more about Mormon beliefs, and I'd really like to get it from the horses mouth, so to speak. And hopefully, someone who reads this can help me.

Basically, I am looking for a book(s) on Mormon theology (specifically, what Mormons believe about God, Christ, salvation, etc) - I NOT all that interested in the history of the Mormon church (which seems to be what most of the books out there focus on).

I would really like to find something that Mormon's themselves would point to as "yes! that says well who we are!" I've already done some searching on Amazon, and I'm having a difficult time figuring out what's considered "orthodox" in LDS circles.

So if you have any suggestions or pointers, I would appreciate it greatly! You can email me w/ info...

Thanks much,
Christian

Christian, I'll start a new thread and see if we can't generate some book suggestions for you.

Seth, I agree that the church must prioritize funds, but the first thing that popped into my head was the half billion dollars they are going to blow in downtown SLC. I just can't see this as being a higher priority to God when people are dying and suffering the world over due to the lack of a low-cost vaccine.

I'm 21, not currently married or dating, and have often been asked by members and non-members alike whether or not I'm going to serve a mission.

I've decided not to. I'm sure it's a valuable experience, and it's a wonderful service, but it's not for everyone. If my parents had encouraged me to go, I think that at this point I would be feeling miserable and guilty for letting them down, feeling that it's not the right path for me to take, and honestly not wanting to go.

At the same time, it's different for every woman -- some girls I know have really benefitted from missions. So I figure it'd be hard to suggest that encouraging or just supporting is the better option, because it's going to really depend on the girl.

Good for you, Arwyn. Don't let any of those kind, loving ward members lob any guilt bombs your way, either.

First and foremost, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is the Lord's church. He is at our head and guides the Prophet and his councelors in what He wants done, in His own time and His own way. Although we may not always understand His order of things, it is by our faith that we do not criticize our leaders for this. As lay members, we are not privy to all the information that the Elders have, nor the revelations related to them.

The Church does an amazing amount of humanitarian work, often being the first ones in desolated areas with food, water and clothing. On the homefront there are also many who benefit from the Bishop's storehouse and other church humanitarian programs.

In Africa, there is an overwhelming need for help, but it is not necessarily the Church's responsibility to "save" everyone, especially not from the consequences of their actions, etc. The call for a vaccine is a desire to treat the symptoms of a problem, like the demand for the rights to abortion, free rehab programs, etc. The simplest and most effective (also cost-effective) solution would be to address the problem and educate the people so that they can understand their actions and the consequences that follow. This is missionary work. Abstinence is the only way to seek a solution to the problem of AIDS. In Ethiopia (I think that's where it is) abstinence is enforced by government regulations and reenforced by educating the public. Because of the preventative measures, Ethiopia has nearly erradicated their AIDS epidemic. The Church has missionaries out there to teach the word of God, but they also teach morality, chastity and a better way of living.

When the tribal belief to cleanse yourself of AIDS is to find a young virgin and rape her, how can the Church combat that level of moral degredation and sin by buying them a "low cost" vaccine that may, or may not work since there is no cure for AIDS or any other virus?

Later this year I will be leaving on a mission. In January, my brother will also be going. I've grown up in a family that it was understood that boys will go because they aren't only asked and expected to go, but it is a commandment of God. Even so, it is still his choice and no one will love or respect him any less if he does not go.

I have never been particularly discouraged to go on a mission. I have been supported in all of my church callings and everything else in life. I've grown up with a father who served in England and a grandfather who had amazing missionary experiences while being drafted in the Korean War. I literally blindsided my entire family with my decision to go, but there has never been a moment that they have not enthusiastically supported me.

I think, personally, that if you raise your children in a loving, supportive environment where certain expectations (i.e. church attendance, family prayer, FHE, etc) are made clear, then you are able to give your daughters the freedom to decide, with her Heavenly Father, what things she needs to accomplish under no other pressures than the love that she has developed for Him through the example of her parents. Thanks.

L., it sounds like an exciting time for your family. Best of luck preparing for an exciting challenge, wherever you are called to serve.

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