Missionaries... What If They Don't Want To Go?

Posted by: Andee / Category: , , ,

I just read a thread on PostMormon.org from a woman who has a nephew that is reluctantly going on a mission. I didn't exactly ask permission to share the story, but I am leaving all names and identifying information out of the post. I hope it's okay.

The mission isn't something that he dreamed of doing, it's something that his family and church buddies have thrown at him.

What happens if a young man of 19 doesn't want to go on a mission?

What would his believing mother and father say/think? If you assume that they would understand his decision not to serve the Lord, you would assume wrong in a lot of cases.

This guy suffers from anxiety, and that has kept him from many things in his lifetime... why pressure the kid to do something like this if he isn't committed?

Everyone that has been a member or is currently a member of the Mormon church knows how much pressure there is for all young men to serve a mission. Most of the time, they have been taught that it is their duty to do this, and if they don't they will regret it for the rest of their life. This, of course, means that if the young man didn't want to go, and something bad happened in his life, many (not all) members would say/think, "If only you had served your mission..."

The pressure to serve a mission in the LDS Church isn't really helping anyone. Sure, I know that the whole purpose of sending missionaries into the world is to convert people, but how good are these guys going to be at converting people if they don't feel the church is true in their own heart? It would cause TONS of emotional turmoil in their heads... they would feel bad in their soul for converting people to a church that demands so much of them (time, money) if they didn't really believe it themselves.

Sometimes the parents of these young men don't even give the guy a choice. You go on a mission. You go. There is no debate, no question, no other plans. It's a part of life, like graduating high school or learning to ride a bike. It just happens.

I wonder if some of the pressure that comes from the parents (and other family members... especially grandparents) push this on their kids because they are concerned what the other ward members would think about *them.* Would all the relief society ladies be gossiping about Sister Susie's son not going to the MTC? Of course they would! Would the grandparents who devoted their entire lives to the church be disappointed and heartbroken if their grandson didn't take the opportunity to go on his mission? Of course they would!

This isn't fair to the person who actually HAS to go. I know many missionaries get excited to go on their mission... but not all of them... and how could they really even know if they wanted to go if they never entertained the thought of not going?

What about this guy's attempts to marry a good LDS girl if he didn't go on his mission? Girls are TRAINED (I speak from experience) to not marry a boy unless he went on his mission. Could you imagine if the response to a marriage proposal depended solely on what you did for two years of your life? Does that two years make you a better person and more lovable? Does it mean that you wouldn't be an excellent husband and father?

The church plays up the idea of waiting for a return missionary in the field as a very romantic and loving thing. Girlfriends waiting for their return missionaries do things like use online avatars and icons like this:

Sometimes (happens more than you would think) the girl waiting for her boyfriend finds an LDS guy who has already completed his mission... sometimes that is the only criteria for a young women (I have seen it!). Return missionary? Check. Pretty engagement ring and promises of eternal happiness? Check.


It's kind of messed up if you ask me.



  1. [kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] Says:

    Yeah, if I had felt like I had a real choice and wouldn't have been judged for not going, I doubt I would have gone.

    I'm certain that's the case for a very large percentage of missionaries.