I intended to leave my laptop closed this year for a change and see what it's like to, you know, just pay undivided attention. But then the choir didn't move straight into its second number---weird---and President Monson stood up and dropped a bomb.
So I opened up the laptop and missed all of the first session tweeting with folks about the changes.
The initial change (lowering the mission age for young men to 18*) I'm happy about, getting young men in nations with military or other obligations more able to serve a mission. Hopefully this will, for instance, help Korean youth make it through the entire two years.
[*Also of vital importance: President Monson told young men not that 18 was the new expectation but that 18 was a new option and they should struggle and pray and work with their priesthood leaders and search for a spiritual confirmation re when they should leave. I fear this will be turned into social pressure to leave at 18 but hope it will become a spiritual quest experience for young Mormon men. We'll see.]
The second change however, lowering the age for young women to 19, is enormous. Earth-shaking. In thirty years we'll look back at today as enormously important. This will result in many many more young women going on missions, and more elders learning to appreciate and work with sisters. It will change adult-Mormon dating norms. It will change the way men and women leaders work together in the church.
It may result in other changes as well. District Leader and Zone Leader aren't actual priesthood callings. Imagine if those were opened up to sisters. That would change sex culture in the church, for sure. It should help with the retention problems we have with just-out-of-high-school kids.
But the main thing should be the change in how young women view themselves. Missions are no longer for unlucky old maids. They really are an option for everyone. Even though it's not a "priesthood obligation" for young women, this is a clear sign that all young women are invited to seriously consider a mission.
And based on what I saw on Twitter today, they are already making appointments with their bishops.
I can't wait to see what this new world will look like.
another thought on this topic
Great assesment of the missionary age change. I guess my family is weird in that we dropped the "old maid" notion years ago about sister missionary service. I'm sad that people still see it that way. I served and I love my mission still.ReplyDelete
I too am thrilled about this change, for many of the same reasons. However, I take strong issue with your statement that "Missions are no longer for unlucky old maids. They really are an option for everyone."ReplyDelete
Well over 20 years ago I left my boyfriend of three years and served a full-time mission. I was almost 23 years old and was only two semesters away from graduating. I didn't see myself or any one of the wonderful sisters with whom I served as an unlucky old maid. I went and served and then came home and finished school and got married.
Missions have always been an option for everyone who wanted to serve. I applaud those who went before me, those who served with me, and those who went after. Not a single one of them unlucky or an old maid.
I agree completely that missions are not for old maids. I spent my whole mission (and every year since) wishing we had more sisters and I'm thrilled that the stigma is getting shot in the head.
May our kids find it hard to imagine it ever existed.
[Edit: Added link to second post on this topic.]
"So I opened up the laptop and missed all of the first session tweeting with folks about the changes."ReplyDelete
That's terrible, think of all the gems you missed by missing the entire first session. Had I known you were going to be so derailed by the announcement I would have warned you. Denver Snuffer mentioned President Monson was going to "drop a bomb" (as you put it) in this conference a couple weeks ago. Someone should have told you so you would have been better prepared.
I was also wondering about the restructuring of mission leadership. Will mission presidents' wives take a more active role? Will sisters be district and zone leaders? Will there be all female missions, or areas, or districts, or whatever?ReplyDelete
And with a larger number of younger women out there with boys closer to their own age, what of mission romances? That's gonna be an interesting challenge...