Photo illustration by Matthew Reier
Do young men have to serve a mission as soon as they turn 18? And are young women more strongly encouraged to serve a mission now that they can go at 19?
When President Thomas S. Monson announced the change in the age of eligibility for missionary service, he said, “I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.”1 Consider your physical and emotional health, financial preparation, and spiritual preparation. You can counsel with parents and priesthood leaders about these things when deciding about the right time to serve.
Regarding young women, President Monson said, “Young women … are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.”2
Thomas S. Monson, “Welcome to Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 4–5.
Thomas S. Monson, “Welcome to Conference,” 5.
What can I do if I’m pressured to break Church standards by other youth who are also active Church members? I don’t want to appear self-righteous or judgmental.
Have the courage to stand up for Church standards, even if the pressure is coming from other Latter-day Saint youth who know the standards and who might think you’re acting self-righteously. Which holds the greater risk: disobeying the Lord’s commandments or looking like a goodie-goodie to some of your peers? (Now, if they’re pressuring you to do something that makes you feel personally uncomfortable or that violates a standard set by your family rather than the Church, you can still stand up for yourself by simply saying that you prefer not to do it and asking them to respect your feelings.)
Of course, you should try to handle the situation tactfully. As the prophet Alma told his missionary son Shiblon, “Use boldness, but not overbearance” (Alma 38:12). There’s no need for harsh condemnation or a condescending attitude. You can just matter-of-factly let people know what standards you have chosen to live by. And if active Church members are asking you to violate clear-cut Church standards, remember what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Be a friend to all, but never compromise your standards.”1