When my friend told her father that she was seriously considering marrying a young man who didn’t serve a mission, his jaw dropped. Her father harbored some justified concerns about this young man she had fallen in love with. But in this case (like in many other cases), he had changed his ways and was ready for an eternal commitment to the Lord—and to her. This example is just one of many where that old stigma catches up with us: the assumption that “non-RM” young men may be less worthy or ready for the blessings of a temple marriage.
Circumstances change. War happens. Money evaporates. Testimonies waver. Too many young men feel worried or judged because they didn’t serve when they had a chance. Many have rededicated themselves to the Lord and are ready for an eternal connection. Do we hold The List from Young Women up to their nose and say, “This is my standard and what I want. You don’t measure up”?
And how are the non-RMs to cope throughout the rest of their lives if this “unworthiness” stigma is constantly attached to them? What is a single, thirty-something non-RM to do when his date asks him where he served his mission? Of course, it’s completely understandable that mid-single women try to find a worthy RM to marry, but how can a non-RM change his answer 15 years after the fact? You’re not the same person you were 15 years ago, and neither is he. Just because he didn’t serve a mission then doesn’t mean he continues to pass on opportunities to serve in the Church now.
The decision to seriously date a young man is always filled with fear as well as hope. Whether or not he served a mission always plays an important factor. But it doesn’t seem fair to judge anyone on one single item of his or her personal history. Many priesthood holders who serve missions eventually distance themselves from the Church, and many men who didn’t serve can be wonderful, strong members of the Church (my own bishop comes to mind).
Let me clarify: I do not mean to single out RMs or non-RMs, or those who do or don’t date them, for good or bad in this post. I’m merely hoping to point out that both types of worthy priesthood holders can be excellent companions for this life and for eternity. But how do we as a culture reprogram our minds to disregard the non-RM stereotype?
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