Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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Arrakeen
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

Post by Arrakeen »

nibbler wrote: 05 Aug 2022, 12:57
Roy wrote: 05 Aug 2022, 10:29Yes! The church has encouraged women to apply this sort of pressure on the men for a long time. Perhaps the biggest "chip" that the church has in pressuring men to serve missions is that the men will not be considered full marriage material without serving.
A portion of the 5th Sunday lesson I attended was the instructor randomly calling on YW in attendance to ask them how they could help YM to serve a mission. They didn't ask YW how they themselves could prepare to serve a mission, it was specifically how they could help YM to serve a mission.

I think the instructor was fishing for answers similar to what you describe Roy. It was pretty disgusting.
It is interesting how much importance can be placed on being an RM for dating and marriage. In our Sunday lesson one woman said a man isn't really mature until he's served a mission. Which when you think about it, makes absolutely no sense. Billions of men have done just as well not serving a mission.

At BYU they always said non-members were shocked at how mature BYU students were compared to students at other universities, and that this was because of missions. I always thought you know, being two years older than their peers probably makes a difference more than the actual experience of the mission. You would expect a 20 year old to be more mature than an 18 year old. That's just how growing up works. I certainly don't feel much more mature than other people my age, especially when I consider that those I knew in high school who didn't serve missions graduated college a couple years earlier and now make a lot more money than me.

The mission is one of many milestones where the church won't really consider you an adult until you've done it. Men who haven't served missions aren't treated as mature adults capable of relationships. And YSA members aren't treated as adults even if they have careers and mortgages and a 401k because apparently marriage is what actually makes someone a real adult.
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Gerald
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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Wow! Our fifth Sunday lesson came and went with nary a raised eyebrow. The lesson was given by our Ward MIssion Leader, a member of the Elders Quorum, our bishop and a young man in his mid twenties who has not gone on a mission (I think this was purposeful). The focus of our lesson was missionary work in the general sense with no statement about how missions are mandatory for young men. The youth met separately and as I no longer have children in that age group, I don't know what they talked about. I'm constantly amazed at how different ward attack the same topic.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---
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DarkJedi
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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Gerald wrote: 07 Aug 2022, 07:45 Wow! Our fifth Sunday lesson came and went with nary a raised eyebrow. The lesson was given by our Ward MIssion Leader, a member of the Elders Quorum, our bishop and a young man in his mid twenties who has not gone on a mission (I think this was purposeful). The focus of our lesson was missionary work in the general sense with no statement about how missions are mandatory for young men. The youth met separately and as I no longer have children in that age group, I don't know what they talked about. I'm constantly amazed at how different ward attack the same topic.
From what I have gathered, this was more "the church's" intent of the lesson.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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Roy wrote: 05 Aug 2022, 12:12
DarkJedi wrote: 05 Aug 2022, 10:57 I don't think that's being dishonest, and I think that in part because I think my SP is a very honorable person.
I suppose that I should clarify that I find selective disclosure perfectly reasonable. I am all about self marketing and self promotion which requires, at the very least, prioritizing the information about yourself to emphasize. I just also remember the lessons on honesty where it was specifically told to us that to say something that is technically true but is designed to give an erroneous impression in the mind of the hearer is to be dishonest. For a Jedi example, it would not be honest to say that Luke's father died. ;)

I remember another example where similar advice is given. Sometimes missionaries are asked if they have ever done XYZ sins. We were counseled that if we had fully repented then we could truthfully answer that we had never done XYZ sin even when we had. I know that this was common because DW was told the same thing in her mission. When asking my about my past experiences with girlfriends she made sure to clarify that she wanted full disclosure - even for things of which I might have already repented.

However, getting back to the issue of YM being treated as second class citizens if they do not serve for a full two years... We have a culture that perpetuates this. The top leadership know this and they push it. They could put their foot down and say to knock it off and to respect the agency of each YM - similar to what Elder Holland did when he heard that some YW were feeling this pressure. They do not, I believe, because it is tradition and change is hard and also because to continue helps to meet institutional goals. From my vantage point, top church leaders have responded to individual YM that have circumstances that prevent them from doing a full two years by creating service missions (kudos for that) and by recommending that YM in this situation withhold the information that they may have returned home early.
I think there's no question that despite the best efforts of many leaders, families, and individuals, most who returned early have some stigmatism attached (mileage can vary somewhat by locality and people involved but I believe there is always some stigma involved, and sometimes there's a lot). I stand by that there is no dishonesty about saying one has served an honorable mission if such was the case, even if it was not full term. Returning for another reason (not honorable) would be different. I served a mission during the time of 18 month missions (Feb. 1983-Aug. 1984). Male missions were changed back to 24 months just prior to the end of my mission and those out were given a choice. I was out of money (and quite frankly finished) and opted for 18 months. My companion chose to stay (I actually had 2 more short term comps after him). There was a lot of judgement/stigma going on during that time both in the mission and for people back home - those who chose not to stay were "less than" even though we completed our agreed upon term. Our mission president was very good about it and was not part of the judgmentalism and encouraged all of us to do what we thought was right. I was not his biggest fan, but he did that right. For me back home was not a big deal, I was new to the ward I lived in. But interestingly a couple years down the road (after I had moved to another ward) my mission mysteriously disappeared from my membership record. I discovered this because the bishop at the time had us check our membership records for accuracy during tithing settlement (they were all paper at that time, although there were electronic records as well and changes could be made online). I inquired of the bishop why there was no record of the mission. He looked into and found a clerk had changed the record because - you guessed it - it wasn't 24 months. He did work with church HQ to restore it and offered a nominal apology. All that said, I don't usually mention that missions were 18 months when talking about my experience, I just say what everybody else says "On my mission..." I recognize that is slightly different, but again I see no deceit in someone who returned early doing exactly what I do and apparently neither does my SP (who I dearly respect). By the way, the context of the SP's statements was in missionary reports to the high council - he asked early returning missionaries to report to the HC just like those who served full term.

Not to get too far off track here, but my view of Obi Wan's "lie" has evolved over the years, and a few months ago I would have agreed that it was at least a white lie. But the Obi Wan series changed that. Obi Wan did not lie to Luke, he repeated what Anakin/Vader himself said and Obi Wan truly believed. (SPOLIER ALERT)
Darth Vader: Anakin is gone. I am what remains.
Obi Wan (tearfully): I'm sorry Anakin. For all of it.
DV: I am not your failure Obi Wan. You didn't kill Anakin Skywalker. I did. The same way I will destroy you.
OW: Then my friend is truly dead...good bye Darth.
(Luke Skywalker later said "Then my father is truly dead" in his final showdown with Vader.)
Despite my own disaffection from the church and that I don't think church leaders are anything special, if my current SP told me what he tells the early returns I'd take his word for it and do as he says.

One other side point here. I don't think the church specifically designed service missions for those who might otherwise return early because of they knew that was going to happen they'd assign them to service missions to begin with. I think they designed those for people who are mentally or physically handicapped and could not otherwise serve. Those who return early due to mental health (most of those who return early are for that reason) don't necessarily have those same options (in practice at least). There was a time in the last few years where nearly 1/3 of missionaries were returning early for mental health, and it's still a significant percentage today. I believe relaxing some of the rules (family calls especially) have contributed to that improvement.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

Post by Roy »

That's a fair point.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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nibbler
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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If a ward divided the adults and the youth I imagine the adult class would have had a different focus than the class aimed at the youth. Our 5th Sunday lesson was adults and youth combined. I'm glad I got to hear what my youth heard, it gives me a chance to deprogram with them after church.

I'm sure there were some wards out there that took the softer approach but I'm also pretty sure that getting the message of the priesthood responsibility out there was the primary focus of this lesson. It was said during general conference and the 5th Sunday lesson that leaders directed every ward to give, which in and of itself is unusual, started out with a video covering the priesthood responsibility segment of Nelson's conference talk. They wanted every ward to hear it.
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Roy
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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We received the following email from the Stake President with the curious title "My Son Did What at Camp?"
Parents and Bishoprics,
Last week young men throughout the Stake attended the Aaronic Priesthood Camp. Our theme, was “Called to Serve.” In addition to planning fun activities and an abundance of food, our stake young men’s presidency did an excellent job of planning spiritual activities and inspirational devotionals to help your young men prepare to serve full time missions. We felt the Spirit in these activities.
During the last devotional, 7 of our stake Bishops and President XXXX gave inspired counsel to the young men and testified of their own life-changing mission experiences. Many were touched.
In April General Conference, President M. Russel Ballard said:
"As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now call upon you young men—and those young women who desire to serve a mission—to begin right now to talk with your parents about serving a mission. I also invite you to talk with your friends about serving a mission, and if one of your friends is not sure about serving, encourage them to talk with their bishop."
Commit to yourselves and to your Heavenly Father that you will serve a mission and that from this time forward you will strive to keep your hearts, hands, and minds clean and worthy. I invite you to gain a solid testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
I read this quote to the young men and challenged them to accept President Ballard’s invitation in three ways: (a) Be Worthy; (b) Prepare Now; and (c) Commit Now to serve a mission. I then invited all those that accepted that challenge to stand. I was overjoyed as the entire congregation of young men stood in response to an apostle’s challenge.
Please follow up with your young men (if they did not attend, extend the challenge now). Ask them about their experience. Help them be worthy. Help them prepare. Help them keep their commitment to serve. You will be blessed if you follow this counsel. Your young men are needed in this great work, this I know.
With love,
President YYYY
I am concerned that this "theme" of browbeating the young men into committing to missionary service is only just beginning.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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nibbler
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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I can't imagine leaders are actively trying to come up with ways to be manipulative but they're doing an excellent job of accidenting their way into it.

We need to abandon the be worthy rhetoric. It does terrible things to a person's psyche, both child and adult alike. Most people are already their own worst critics without any outside help.

Employing peer pressure to get everyone to stand to commit to serve a mission is pretty bad too. Especially if they hold the youth to that "commitment." "Remember when you stood up at camp?"

Unfortunately I would counsel my kids to avoid camps like that.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

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I would guess all the YM stood as a matter of "groupthink" or peer pressure. What better way to get a leader's attention than to be the one sitting while everybody else stands - and probably not the kind of attention a teenager wants. I find this exercise sad and troubling.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction
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PazamaManX
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Re: Churchwide 5th Sunday lesson on missionary work

Post by PazamaManX »

I feel my blood pressure rising again reading that email.

Teens are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure. Whether it's friends or leaders they look up to, they aren't hard to influence. Teens who go against the current of their community usually take a toll for doing so.

For those who want to serve, this is no doubt inspiring for them. But what about those who don't want to go? How much groundwork is being laid for future emotional difficulties for these young men?

nibbler wrote: 18 Aug 2022, 09:44 I can't imagine leaders are actively trying to come up with ways to be manipulative but they're doing an excellent job of accidenting their way into it.
I would venture to say that they are intentionally trying to be manipulative (recruiting YW to influence them comes to mind). In their minds though, it's just a different name with good intentions.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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