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.