***This post was originally published in May 2014, shortly after a blog post titled “Why I took “Returned Missionary” off my checklist” went viral in the LDS community.***
I would highly recommend reading this post, since she has a lot of excellent points.
First of all, I am so glad that someone FINALLY wrote a blog post on this subject that is going semi-viral in the Mormon community. I remember young women’s lessons on eternal marriage where we wrote down qualities we wanted our future companions to have, making my checklist of “MUST HAVE” qualities and proudly putting “Returned Missionary” right at the very top, along with everyone else in my class. I remember being applauded by my YW leaders for my high standards and reminded not to stray on that quality. I left for college with this set standard in mind, vowing to date only RMs.
It didn’t take long for me to realize two things:
1) The title “RM” does not automatically make a man a good man, a temple worthy man, a kind man, or a Christ-like man. I realized that many missionaries went out dishonestly. I think we all know of at least one young man we KNOW was not worthy to go (because there are some things you just can’t fully repent of in 2 weeks), but who went to keep up appearances and gain leverage in dating. Along with that, many men who served missions worthily came back and immediately fell out of their good habits, thinking of the mission as the last step in securing themselves as “husband material”, rather than the first step.
2) Lacking the title “RM” does not automatically mean a man is not a good man, a temple worthy man, a kind man, or a Christ-like man.
Many of my best friends have been men who did not serve missions. Some did not serve because of mental or health reasons, some did not serve because they were converted to the church later on in life, some did not serve because their testimony wasn’t strong enough at the time, and some did not serve because of *gasp* WORTHINESS ISSUES.
This is what I want to focus on today. I think Ari wrote a fantastic post… but no one can be expected to cover every aspect of a subject in one blog post. It would be too long for anyone to want to read it. So, I have something to add. I felt that her blog post focused on those who could not serve because of circumstances out of their control. I want to talk about boys who could not serve missions as a direct result of poor choices.
I have several very close friends who were not able to serve missions because of worthiness issues. These are some of the best men I know. They are kind, they serve others, they attend church regularly to grow and develop their testimonies – not just to keep up appearances, they are temple-worthy and many of them are working towards getting their standard temple recommend, they are good men, and they are Christ-like men.
As I’ve talked to these friends about their experiences, I have been absolutely disgusted at the way they have been treated, particularly in the YSA dating arena. Girls will ask them whether or not they served a mission and when they get a “no” will either 1) snub them completely and explain that they can’t date them – sometimes can’t even hangout with them. 2) Quickly ask them WHY they did not serve – hoping that it was for a medical reason. First of all, NOT YOUR BUSINESS… especially if you just met the guy, second of all, does it really matter why someone made a choice they made 2 or 3 years ago when they were a different person …..THEN snub them when it was not a reason out of their control.
Seriously. As a friend to these guys I can tell you that you are missing out on some incredible, honest, real guys who have every spiritual quality you could ever ask for in a spouse. You are not only missing out, but also hurting people in the process. I have watched as these awesome young men dealt with missions coming up as the topic of conversation. I have seen them try to stay strong as people passed judgement and looked at them like they were broken because they were missing the title of RM. I have cringed as girls have given them the cold shoulder, or returned missionaries have raised their disapproving eyebrows as they continued to talk about how every girl should look for an RM because they don’t think anyone could be a real man without having the experiences one has on a mission (and I will admit… I have gotten pretty sassy with those people as I pointed out why I thought they were out of line).
I am sick of seeing my friends, especially those who have fully repented and turned into wonderful men , be rejected by society and specifically girls they are trying to date, simply because of who they were several years ago. (Though those who have not yet repented should also be loved, not snubbed – “loved, not snubbed” isn’t that a good cheesy line to remember??? let’s keep that in mind as we go throughout life… everyone should be “loved, not snubbed.”)
Let’s switch gears for a minute and talk about the Atonement. I have been flabbergasted for years now at how people can claim to have faith in the Atonement, and not give a great guy who didn’t serve a mission a chance. Faith in the Atonement and its healing and changing power means faith in it’s ability to work for EVERYONE, not just faith to see it work in your own life. It means faith in its ability to change a person, even a person who has dealt with a huge hurdle of a sin, even a person who was at one point not worthy to serve a mission.
To all the RMs out there, please be careful to not use your title as a pedestal to look down on others from.
To all my fellow single ladies, give the guys a shot. When deciding whether or not to date a guy, look at who he is now, not who he was when he was 18 or 19. Look at his current actions, not his past mistakes. Look at who he is striving to become, not who he is pretending to be. See him as the Savior would, and pray for guidance when dating any man – because no title or experience is guaranteed to make someone Christ-like.
To all you wonderful guys who didn’t serve missions, particularly because of worthiness issues… thank you for being honest. I’m sorry if I ever snubbed instead of loved, and I hope you don’t let the judgement of others discourage you. Keep chuggin’, you’re great. 🙂
**Originally posted on tianamariec.blogspot.com on May 21, 2014