[Disclaimer: Let me make this clear, this is not a list of demands. I am not creating a petition to change core principles of the LDS doctrine. I do not feel oppressed or upset at the Church in any way. (And I don't want to be excommunicated.) This is simply a list of ideas that I believe would allow the LDS Church to progress in the world without being of it.]
I thought about starting this blog with some intro about how crazy it was in 2012 when President Monson changed the age limitations regarding missionaries. I was going to mention how the policy change caused a flood of new missionaries to enter into the mission field, including female missionaries that might not have gone if they had to wait until age 21. Then I probably would have given some testimony about how that example shows that revelation still exists in the world and how policies can be changed to allow the work of God to go forth. Then I probably would have started crying. And then I might have lost my train of thought and started rambling on about nonsense in a seemingly foreign tongue for the next 15 minutes before I closed with an “amen”. Luckily for you, I decided to save that for Testimony meeting this Sunday and just get straight to my list.
So, without further delay, here is my list of unlikely announcements that I wish the Prophet would make at General Conference:
Sister missionaries no longer have to arbitrarily wait until age 19 to leave on a mission.
It never bothered me before that women had to wait longer than men to leave on their missions. Growing up in the church, I always thought it was commonly (even if inaccurately) understood that there were two major reasons why sisters had to wait until age 21: First, sisters weren’t obligated to go on missions and the extra time subtly encouraged sisters to get married to returned missionaries and start families earlier, and second, the church authorities didn’t want Elders and Sisters to be the same age in the mission field which might increase the likelihood of them possibly “hooking up” before their mission ended.
However, the new age limits for Elders and Sisters (18 and 19 respectively) completely shattered that conventional thinking. So why are sisters still required to wait an extra year before they leave on their missions? It’s obviously not a matter of maturity. It’s common knowledge that women mature much earlier than men (some studies say as much as 11 years earlier).
Rather than speculate the logic behind the current age restrictions, let me give you a few reasons why I believe that sisters should leave at 18:
- Gender equality. If there’s no reason to keep women back, then don’t.
- Schooling. In a situation where a sister leaves at 19 (assuming a complete year after high school graduation), one result is she might get some school in before she leaves. However, that creates a year and a half gap in the middle of her studies. This happened to me and it wasn’t the worst thing, but it wasn’t exactly preferable either. (Calculus is not like riding a bike.) If the sister chooses to wait until after her mission to start school then she won’t be starting until she is almost 21 which makes it a three year gap since she last stepped into a classroom.
- More missionaries. If you think that a lot of sisters are going on missions now, imagine if you just completely cut out the extra year of them getting snatched up by returned missionaries at the Wilk. Actually, that’s a great segue to my next point.
- Reduced teen marriages and pregnancies. Yes, I just said earlier in my post that women mature earlier than men, but that doesn’t mean that they are ready to get married and start having babies by age 18. I already know I’m going to offend a lot of people by saying that so I will just leave it with this:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have made it possible for scientists to watch the rate at which the PFC matures, and have discovered the male brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25. Meanwhile, women experience a maturity rate of 21 years-old.
Sisters have the option to meet with RS Presidents for their worthiness interviews
I can’t imagine how awkward it would be to disclose any of my personal worthiness issues to a member of the opposite sex, let alone all of them. I’ve been married long enough to know this: men don’t understand women. So why aren’t we allowing women to exercise the priesthood to perform the tasks that men just can’t do.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, that sounds like apostasy to me. Are you saying that women should have the Priesthood? I thought you said you didn’t want to be excommunicated?!”(See disclaimer at top of page)
Ok, before you start throwing stones at me, think back to what Elder Oaks said in the last General Conference. Women already have the Priesthood. Here is his quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith,
While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, it has not been conferred upon them, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority… A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.
Doesn’t it make sense that a women should have the option to meet with the RS president for her worthiness and temple recommend interviews? Even if the RS President still had to just report back to the bishop who ultimately signed the paper, I can’t imagine that this wouldn’t be like a million times more comfortable for everyone.
The Church block is only two and a half hours long
Admittedly, this is a selfish request. But three hours with a 16 month-old is brutal. She’s still too young for nursery and she’s way too old to sit still. Instead, my wife and I take turns running around the halls for three hours. Reducing that by thirty minutes would be extremely helpful. Here’s what I could consider to be a realistic block schedule:
- Sacrament Mtg: 55 minutes. We can reduce 5 minutes if we just forego the intermittent hymn (10 minutes the hymn happens to be all verses of If You Could Hie to Kolob). We can also shave off another five minutes by reducing each adult speaker’s talk assignment from ten minutes to seven and a half.
- Sunday School: 45 minutes. (Which actually makes it closer to 20 minutes by the time everyone strolls in after chatting in the hall after Sacrament meeting.)
- Priesthood/RS: 45 minutes. I don’t know about RS, but every Ward I have ever attended spends about 15 minutes in Priesthood meeting going over announcements and then another 5-10 minutes in the quorum rehashing those same announcements. We could save twenty minutes by sending out a ward email with announcements and getting straight to the lesson. Coincidentally, my ward does both meeting announcements and an email which leads me to wonder, “why are we wasting so much time with announcements?”
- That still leaves an extra five minutes for baby blessings, confirmations, and windy high council speakers.
And finally, the obligatory wishful-thinking announcement:
Chocolate milk in the drinking fountains, Twinkies instead of bread for Sacrament, and padded seats for everyone.
What are some (preferably non-blasphemous) announcements that you wish you would hear in General Conference next week? Post them in the comments below.