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Friday, April 26, 2013

Will Girls Date Him Even Though He Didn't Go on a Mission?

[Dear Readers,

Two weeks ago I ran a column about a girl who was wondering if it was "okay" to marry a guy who isn't a return missionary (Read it HERE).  Today we get to read about this from the guy's point of view.


- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

For certain reasons I didn't go on a mission and it wasn't because I was unworthy.

Now I am at a point where I want to start dating seriously but I feel that me not serving a mission will forever label me as lazy. Even though everybody who knows me says I am a hard worker.

I know I will meet women who will be turned off because of my decision. I think the advice I am looking for is: “is it possible to still be a good member and still have a temple marriage?”

I just hope my self-worth won't be forever tied for not making this decision.

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Like any label that people place on us, we need only worry about the ones that are true.

If people want to mischaracterize us, well, other than living our lives to the contrary (as you say you're doing when it comes to being hard working) . . . that's their problem, not ours.

You DID make a decision, and that was to not go. Good or bad, right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous, justified or not, that's where you're at, and you'll have to own the consequences of that decision, fair or unfair.

Of course someone can be a good, active, Temple-worthy and Temple going member without having served a mission. Heck, President Hunter didn't serve a mission.

However, and let me make this perfectly clear, it is never right to justify our decisions, behavior, action or lack of same by another's yardstick. Saying "I'm not going on a mission because President Hunter (or Steve Young, or anyone else for that matter) didn't is not a right or fair thing to do.

You're a member of a Church where all of us (including you and I) know that young men are expected, even Commanded by God, to serve a worthy and honorable mission when they're the right age if they're at all able. It's a Priesthood Responsibility. The culturally "acceptable" reasons for not serving are much fewer than many young men think. "Because I don't want' to" isn't one of them.

As the father of currently serving missionaries I'd much rather a young man stay at home and get his heart, might, mind and soul right before he leaves; I certainly don't want my son, or any other young man for that matter, saddled with a dud companion.

For whatever reason, that's not what you've chosen to do. If your problem is one of "self-worth", well brother that comes from within, and the only reason that could be suffering is if you're either not certain you made the right decision or failed to repent for making the wrong one (this principle applies to much more in life than just missionary service, by the way).

If you're asking whether or not a large and noticeable percentage of Serious Single Dating Age LDS Women will doubt your quality as a potential husband because you chose not to serve a mission . . . the answer is: yes, they may.

A very large number, possibly.

And they have the right to do so.

While, as I've said often, a mission is no guarantee that a man will be a Great Husband, having served honorably does say something about his character and commitment, and a girl has every right to be discerning and hold to certain standards and expectations when she's looking for a husband.

HOWEVER, and this is the most important point, I think, and it's two-sided:

     1. Women in the Church need to learn (hopefully not the hard way) that simply serving a mission does not mean that a man is either a good man or someone who will make a good Eternal Companion.

     2. In the same way that you can disprove people's assumptions about your being lazy by earnestly working hard, you can prove your worth and worthiness in the way that you live your life and the ways (yes, plural) you serve the Lord. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Church of converts, my brother. Many good and faithful men had neither the timing nor the opportunity to serve a mission.

By their fruits we shall know them; and that, dear brother, is how people will know you.

Happy Dating,

 - Bro Jo

PS:  While I personally would rather see a young man go than not, it's not one of my "rules to marry my daughter"; further, if you saw the comments posted after the column two weeks ago and on our Facebook page, you saw that many more sisters than you may have realized don't seem to care about missionary service as you may have suspected.

My advice to Young Men is:  GO.

My advice to men who missed the opportunity is:  Move On.  Be a Great Guy despite your lack of service.


Anonymous said...

I went on a mission but I feel for the writer. He's going to encounter some girls that won't consider him because he didn't go on a mission. He shouldn't let that bring him down too much because part of it is girls just being a little shallow themselves. While they'll initially doubt him for being worthy husband material, he needs to find women that'll be willing to get to know him on a more closer level instead of basing their decision on blind assumption. I see something similar in my life being Mexican and living in a place with white girls being the majority of girls around here to date. I know many of them will flat out not consider me as husband material because I'm part Mexican. If that's the case then it is them being shallow and not really knowing any better. At the same time I know I'll have a better chance with a girl if she takes the time to know me better. Many guys have dealbreakers that carry a similar weight when it comes to evaluations and judgments that girls make. Try looking for girls that'll be willing to get to know you better and go at a slower pace if required.

Dave Johnston said...


And the thing is, I see no reason to drop "I didn't go on a mission" during "first few dates" conversation.

I mean, if you go up to a girl and ask her out and she responds with "before I say yes, did you go on a mission?" I'd recommend that you'd move on whether you went or not.

- Bro Jo

Amberlie Shaffer said...

I'm just curious. What else besides medical reasons or unworthiness would make it so a young man would not be able to serve a mission?

Dave Johnston said...

Lots of things!

For starters: being unwilling . . . no money . . . not physically fit enough . . .

If a prospective missionary has tattoos that can be seen they have to be photographed, and depending on their location, visibility, or what the tattoo is, that can make a candidate ineligible for service.

Readers, what else can you think of?

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Just a thought here - isn't the upper age on male missionary service still age 25? I had one of my brothers opt not to go until later in his life (not because of any unworthiness but simply personal choice) but he still went and served honorably and well. If you aren't too old yet - go!

Mama Cheese said...

Bro Jo,
You say, "And the thing is, I see no reason to drop 'I didn't go on a mission' during "first few dates" conversation."

This seems like strange advice to me. I can't imagine Cheese going out on a date with anyone she hadn't at least had a few conversations with beforehand. Usually basic information (like a guy's name, age, school, ward, work, and mission) are things that are discovered BEFORE a date.

Seriously, you wouldn't advise a girl to go out with a guy she didn't already know at least a little bit right? Around here, at least, where and when one served a mission is a pretty standard part of any first conversation.

Dave Johnston said...


It can certainly be part of the first few conversations, but it doesn't have to be.

I wouldn't recommend a guy be cryptic or evasive, but remember that Dating is often how we get to know someone.

Especially when we're talking about singles that are a few years older than cheese.

Truth is, MC, that the Church is full of un-marrieds that think you have to know every detail of a person's history . . . hanging out with them all the time . . . memorize their social security code and blood type, before you even consider dating; and I see nothing wrong with a guy walking across a room, introducing himself to a girl and asking her to dinner (or lunch or to go get a cookie - why do I always think of food? - or whatever) even though they barely know each other.

Cheese is still Very Young. So, no, I wouldn't recommend that she go on a long drive with a stranger. But to go grab an ice cream at the Creamery?

I have no problem with that.

She should know his name, but all of that other stuff can be part of that initial conversation.

And maybe in that first conversation missionary service comes up . . . maybe not. (On our side of the Zion Curtain "where did you serve a mission" does not naturally follow "hello, my name is".)

- Bro Jo

Mama Cheese said...

Ah, well, perhaps the definition of a date is where we differ then. I see spontaneously walking across campus for an ice cream as Nondate. And certainly doesn't require great scrutiny of any accompanying friends.

"I'll pick you up at ______ (time) for _____ (activity)" is, on the other hand, definitely Date. And such gentleman callers may look forward to a long-form application and interview with Big Cheese beforehand, including not only all the above information, but also a thorough FBI fingerprint/background check, military-induction-type physical and emotional health examination, phone call to bishop, etc.


Dave Johnston said...


The Jo Boys are disappointed if said 3rd Degree doesn't also come with a display of ready-to-use firearms.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's not just about not serving a mission, but something that is becoming more and more common: coming home early. Maybe they served for a few months, weren't being successful, had anxiety issues or struggles with language or health or companions. So technically they did serve (for a few months months) and though worthy, came home. Maybe they even tried twice. Being labeled an Early Return Missionary might be a worse problem than a Did Not Go. Sometimes it seems that way, anyway. The directive is every worthy young man should prepare to serve a mission. Maybe they did prepare, and serve for a time. If they come home early, there is no hero's welcome, and their partial offering is deemed "not good enough" by many.

Dave Johnston said...

Good points, and a good article worth reading and sharing with others.

Thank you,

- Bro Jo

Dave Johnston said...

To the Anonymous commentator whose comments I have not approved: I invite you to send me an email ( I'd like to discuss your comments, situation and accusations with you.

Bro Jo