Friday, February 10, 2012


I was just thinking back on a recent post about agency, where I called out the fact that someone had placed not attending BYU in a list of other signs of apostasy, such as not going on a mission, not going to the temple, or not attending church. I started wondering if keeping the mission in that list is problematic.

I was reading somewhere just barely and unfortunately forgot where, so I'm negligently plagiarizing here, about issues with boys who don't go on missions. What they were writing specifically about was those for whom the bar has been raised too high and are not allowed to go. The unfortunate side effect for some of these boys is to become estranged from the church, especially when the rules changed, and they saw that they were disqualified from going where others who had done the same things or worse just a few years previously were allowed to go. It's been a few years since those rules changed (at least to my knowledge), so I don't know that the changing standard rears its ugly head as often. Surely there are enough differences among zealous local leaders who may disallow someone that another lay leader might have let through that there are still some discrepancies there. As much as we do standardize, there is plenty left to the whim of poorly trained local leaders, especially those who didn't go to BYU, but even more so those who did go to BYU.

Another group, of course, is those who choose not to go for whatever reason. I was talking with a brother who I home taught in one of my first visits with him. I asked him either where he went on his mission or if he had. He hadn't. The silence was uncomfortable for a second as I wasn't sure how to respond. I really wasn't judging him and still don't. It just took me by surprise, and I wasn't sure what to follow that up with. I still don't know why he didn't go but figure if at some point it is important, I will find out. Maybe he chose not to. Maybe he had a medical issue and wanted to but couldn't. He's a great guy and active member of the church with whom I've had some pretty deep gospel discussions, which is the way I think of him. More than anything, I wonder how it feels for him to have to deal with that question for the rest of his life no matter the reason for not going.

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