HUMOR – I was surprised at the reaction to the recent lowering of the age of service for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: from 19 to 18 years old for men, and from 21 to 19 years old for women.
From what I have read, the general reaction of those who do not belong to the Mormon church is this: “Too young! Much too young! Brainwashing! Cult! Conspiracy! Aliens living on the far off planet of Kolob!” And the reaction of Mormons – or, those who might actually be affected by the change – is this: “Okie dokie. Who’s up for some Jell-O and a round of Bananagrams? ”
Today I will do what thousands of theologians and scientists and anonymous internet commenters have failed to do after centuries of debate: I will finally get to the bottom of this whole religion issue. Right here, right now, in 500 words or less.
That seems unlikely, doesn’t it?
So instead of debating religion today, I thought it would be nice to dispel some myths and ease the minds of those who are overwrought by the lowered age of missionary service.
About ten years ago I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They sent me to New England right around the time that Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts. That made it nice when I knocked on people’s doors – instead of getting the standard, “Get off of my porch, you kooky cultist,” I was greeted with, “Oh, you’re one of Mitt Romney’s people. I like Mitt Romney. Get off of my porch.”
There are two important things to note when considering my personal missionary experience: I chose to be there, and people chose to reject me. It was very much like a high school dance. But above all, no one’s freedom of choice was compromised. There was no compulsion. There was no brainwashing. Sure, I probably annoyed people by knocking on their doors, but I would have been annoying people somewhere anyway.
And there were people who did not reject us. There was a woman who we ran into one evening who was in tears. She was alone and did not want to be. She had been praying for someone to visit her. We spent an hour or two with her. She felt better, we felt better. I never saw her again, but I felt like the time I spent with her benefited both of us. For those who argue that Mormon missionaries are wasting their prime youth years in this type of service, I beg to differ. I have never wondered what my life would be like if I had skipped my missionary service and instead spent a year shopping at Old Navy and trying to choose a major.
One change that will affect those outside of the Mormon church is that young Mormons will probably marry other young Mormons one year earlier than they have previously. What can I say? We Mormons love getting married and having families. The younger missionary age will certainly expedite this process. This will affect people outside of the Mormon church because … no, wait. It will not.
A difference that will be somewhat more noticeable is that there will be an influx of Mormon missionaries in the coming months. There will possibly be more knocking on your door, which can be irritating. However, there might be fewer freshmen at Dixie State College this year. See how the universe keeps its balance?
Now that that is out of the way, who is up for some Jell-O and a round of Bananagrams?
Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
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