On Exclusively Marrying Missionaries

Though it’s not any kind of official rule, there is a popular strain of thought among many Latter-day Saints that girls should only marry a returned missionary.  I’ve seen this written as a laudable “goal” in some publications, and have heard it taught to young women in church many times, as well as hearing it as an earnest objective from many young women themselves.

Now, at first, this is a good goal that makes sense.  After all, if we want to help the happiness and stability of our children’s marriages–and the homes in which their children will be raised–nothing could make more sense than encouraging girls to seek out the worthiest, most reliably active young men to marry.  Certainly, we’ve all seen the heartache and damage caused when women “unequally yoke” themselves to men whose choices might make them regret their own choices, and which hamper the faithfulness of both wife and children. 

However, as with the assumption that some have that being sealed in the temple is a guarantee of salvation or exaltation, this goal is ultimately wrong, as it focuses faith on titles, stations, and past actions, rather than on the Savior and the doctrines of the gospel themselves.  Yes, a returned missionary is surely more likely to be a faithful, stable mate (at least in terms of church activity) than a man who isn’t, but making that a standard is dangerous in that it trains young women to look for outward, past symbols of faithfulness (or just activity, which is not necessarily the same as faithfulness), instead of a deep, personal, ongoing devotion to discipleship. 

In short, telling young women to only consider returned missionaries for marriage is Pharisaic, and denies the reality of the Atonement.  Of course, not being an RM myself, I’m surely biased here, but that only means that my point should be taken with a grain of salt, not discarded.

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Book of Moses Commentary Part V: What I Wish To Tell the Young Women of the Church

Moses 8:13-15 reads: “And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.  And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.  And the Lord said  unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves…”

This could have been written today.  The daughters of the sons of God were fair?  No kidding.  Everywhere I’ve seen, the local LDS young women tend to be among the most beautiful, the most talented, and the most wonderful girls there.  The sons of men wanted them?  Of course they did.  And still do.  Who wouldn’t?  Any guy in his right mind would want to be married to a Mormon girl.  And those fair daughters sold themselves into marriage with the sons of men?  I see it all the time.

I don’t know why so many Mormon girls marry non-Mormons, but I do know one thing: those guys may be perfectly fine, might even be really great guys, but when these poor girls become mothers and older women and see the priesthood and temple blessings they and their family are missing out on, and see the lack of unity their relationship has to deal with, it hurts them.  I’ve never known an LDS woman who married outside the church and never regretted it. 

So here’s what I wish to tell the young women of the church: don’t sell yourself short.  Don’t settle for anything less than a temple marriage.  And don’t be tempted by anyone outside of that goal who might want you for himself.  There absolutely will be many, many boys and young men who will want to be with you, and many of them will be good guys.  But they won’t be the right guys.  Your eternal happiness is worth holding out for the very best man.  It was true in Noah’s time, and it’s still true today.