Why The Worst Dating Advice Mormons Give Is:
“Only Marry A Returned Missionary.”

 

Bad dating advice is as common as the flu during the winter. I’ve gotten all sorts of awful dating advice, but one takes the cake above all else. “Only marry an RM.” This the worse dating advice one can give a YSA. Not because serving a mission is bad, in a matter of fact, every able-bodied young man has been commanded to serve a mission! It is dangerous for many reasons, I will focus on three of them.

*Disclaimer, I loved my mission in New England and I highly recommend serving a mission. I learned so much about marriage and family relationships while teaching others about eternal families. President Hinckley taught that serving a mission is also one of the best ways to prepare for a marriage.

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1st. Serving a mission does not signify whether or not you are a good person.

 

I am going to start with the elephant in the room. I will be the first to say it, not all returned missionaries are righteous and upstanding members of the church. One of my own companions has already left the church. And on the flip side, there are some really good guys who are not able to serve missions.

Then you have Sister Missionaries. Unlike the brethren, sisters are not under a prophetic command to serve. When I lived in Charleston SC, I had the chance to teach my coworkers with amazing Sister Missionaries. I know some amazing sisters who have chosen to serve. And I know many amazing sisters who have not served a mission. It is totally an unrealistic requirement to think that a girl needs to serve a mission.

Serving a mission does not signify whether or not you are a good person. How you treat others does. Remember, President Monson did not serve a mission, he is still a pretty good guy right? President Hinckley told the men of the church to prepare and live worthy of the girl they will someday marry, he said:

“She will wish to be married to someone who loves her, who trusts her, who walks beside her, who is her very best friend and companion…She will wish to be married to someone who loves the Lord and seeks to do His will.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

"She will wish to be married to someone who loves her, who trusts her, who walks beside her, who is her very best friend and companion...She will wish to be married to someone who loves the Lord and seeks to do His will." Gordon B. Hinckley

2nd. Spirituality can’t be judged by a title, even RM.

 

When I lived in the Bible Belt everyone I worked with was a non-member. Something that was odd was how often they would ask me to date either their daughter, sister, or best friend. One time I was confused and told them, “I am a Mormon, you’re Baptist?” The reply was “But you love God.” It struck me, they really cared about someone’s spiritual life.

When I moved back to Utah, I realized that often times the “RM” checkbox replaces caring about someone’s spirituality. Spirituality cannot, and should not, be judged by a title, be it RM, Elders Quorum President or Relief Society President.

Personal spirituality and loyalty to God are the most important attribute and characteristic to look for in your future spouse. Everything in your relationship hinges on this one aspect of their character. If they are not loyal to God, covenants will be broken and heartache will follow.

Rather than judging their spiritual strength off the RM checkbox, find out if they are loyal to God. Ask yourself, do they love Him? Even more than me? Do they honor their covenants and promises? Do they Home/Visit Teach? These are the most important questions.

“Do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate. Do not be so concerned about his physical appearance and his bank account that you overlook his more important qualities. Of course, he should be attractive to you, and he should be able to financially provide for you. But, does he have a strong testimony? Does he live the principles of the gospel and magnify his priesthood? Is he active in his ward and stake? Does he love home and family, and will he be a faithful husband and a good father? These are qualities that really matter.”
Ezra Taft Benson

 

“Does he have a strong testimony? Does he live the principles of the gospel and magnify his priesthood? Is he active in his ward and stake? Does he love home and family, and will he be a faithful husband and a good father? These are qualities that really matter.” Ezra Taft Benson

3rd. Serving a mission is not a requirement to be temple worthy.

 

Nowhere in the Temple recommend interview are you going to be asked, “Did you or your spouse serve a full-time mission?” There are many who can’t serve missions who are temple worthy, and there are many returned missionaries who are no longer worthy of a temple recommend. It is far more important to find someone who loves the temple, someone who will keep their covenants than it is to find an RM.

Ask yourself, how do they view the Temple? Do they keep their covenants? Are they worthy of a Temple recommend right now? Dating someone who is not worthy of a temple marriage is dangerous because it can lead to marriage outside of the temple.

“don’t trifle away your happiness by involvement with someone who cannot take you worthily to the temple. Make a decision now that this is the place where you will marry.”
Ezra Taft Benson

"don’t trifle away your happiness by involvement with someone who cannot take you worthily to the temple. Make a decision now that this is the place where you will marry." Ezra Taft Benson

 

Conclusion

Serving or not serving a mission is not nearly as important as how they view God and their covenants.  Marrying the right person is not about marrying someone who has done something, or looks a certain way, or who has money. Marrying the right person is finding someone who you love; who is also worthy and willing to make and keep their covenants!
“the most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person in the right place by the right authority” ~ Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“the most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person in the right place by the right authority” ~ Elder Bruce R. McConkie

25 thoughts on “Why The Worst Dating Advice Mormons Give Is: “Only Marry A Returned Missionary.”

  1. I FOUND THIS REAL INFORMATIVE. THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS.MY MARD WAS ALSO IN THE MANCHESTER WARD

  2. The worst? Seems like your vying for “shock factor”. I rarely comment but couldn’t let this slide.

    There are many many reasons to marry an RM. They have had to live with multiple people they don’t even know. They have to deal with finances. They learn organization. They “usually” have a strong testimony and know lots about the Gospel. They sacrificed their own time and money to teach the Gospel. They know how to work hard.

    Of course there is a “small” percentage of RM who are losers.

    Of course their are people who didn’t go on a mission who are really righteous.

    But…there is a “much higher” percentage of an RM having lots of real world experiences that will strengthen the foundation of the marriage and the home.

    If you want to take a chance on someone down the street that still lives at their Mom’s house that says all these wonderful things to make you believe they are super righteous be my guest.

    If you want your life to start off on a firm foundation go on a mission. Girls and boys.

    If you want your marriage and family to start off on a firm foundation look for RM’s or those who closely resemble the traits of a successful RM.

    Most RM’s have proved themselves on the battlefield!!!

    1. JR from my experience there are many missionaries who go only so they can be a datable “RM” I think how they are CURRENTLY treating their covenants and how they view the Temple are far better indicators than something they did years ago.

      Plus, something to remember, this applies to girls who don’t serve missions also.

    2. JR, thank you for saying what EVERY reasonable person is thinking! Too many people think that if they can come up with an exception to a rule then the rule is wrong. Marrying a returned missionary is great advice even if there are some exceptions to it.

      1. I never said marrying an RM was bad, I am an RM after all. What I am saying is that it is a bad litmus test.

        If I had to choose covenant keeper vs RM as my litmus test. I would pick Covenant keeper every day.

    3. if anything having a partner who served a mission is just a bonus, extra credit, an extra cookie. its not a requirement, and it shouldn’t be expected to be a requirement. just because you didn’t serve a mission doesn’t mean you lack a certain spirituality. this article isn’t bashing marrying RMs. just dont limit your options to only RM’s it can be heartbreaking, and frustrating. Non RM members have also proven themselves on the battlefield

    4. Who cares if they served a mission or not. What matters is if they are willing to love the lord and keep his commandments. This article was a personal observation on the idea that just because you have the accolade “RM” it does not guarantee anything in your marriage. You are looking for people who uphold the values of your faith and while the majority of them may seem to do so…you should still be aware of those who don’t.

    5. Amen!! I’m so tired of all the people trying to discredit valiant behavior. Probably the people who write these articles are the same people who completely change their clothing standards when they’re working out or doing sports. And advice is always given but you make your own choices right or wrong . It is never bad advice to marry a return missionary.

      1. I am not trying to discredit service. It is just not a good litmus test. Being currently worthy is far more important than having gone on a mission.

  3. So true. I was brought up with Returned Missionary….Returned Missionary…Returned Missionary….. ugh. My dad was an RM and one of the most perverted, abusive narcissistic jerks in the world! But my Mom indoctrinated in the “Returned Missionary” cultural influx. And there were signs all over the place in their short dating and short engagement period that the guy was a loser, but she thought she was doing the right thing because A), her self-esteem was low and he was one of the first guys that paid attention to her and B), he was a returned missionary! And they kept up the “marry a returned missionary” with us kids! The phrase wasn’t just “marry in the temple….” it was “marry in the temple to a returned missionary.” What if I married civillay to the right guy who just joined the church? Have to be sealed a year later? It’s that bad? I didn’t ask that question. By the time I was an adult, if that was the situation, they just would have had to deal with it. Now I DID marry an RM, but not because he was an RM. But because he was the right person. I hear about guys who try to meet girls and the girls are nice but then refuse to date him or even stop being nice to them when they find out he didn’t serve a mission. That’s disgusting. These girls really are shallow and need to think deeper. But yes, good people do serve missions. Bad folks do too. Good people also don’t. This whole “RM… RM… RM….” things DRIVES ME CRAZY. Look a little deeper, people. Sure, not all loser RMs are as bad as my dad. I get that. But please, people, think and prayer a little deeper.

  4. Thank you for this message. I have eight sons and a daughter. None of my boys who are old enough have gone on a mission. My number five is planning to go in June (fingers crossed). Two have been married in the temple, and two aren’t active. One of my sons went to BYU-I, and remarked how girls would literally walk away mid sentence when they found out he hadn’t gone on a mission. He found a wonderful girl whose parents were a little concerned he wasn’t an RM, but allowed her to make her own choice. They got married, and two weeks after his 21st Birthday, he was called to the bishopric. Those shallow girls who wouldn’t give him the time of day because of his missionary status missed out on a wonderful man and now a father. I’m glad he found someone who saw past the superficial “rules” set by myopic people. She is an absolutely wonderful wife and mother, and we are very close with her family despite the long distances between us. I couldn’t be prouder!

  5. Baptism does not nullify Agency. Ordination to the Priesthood does not nullify Agency. Serving a mission does not nullify Agency. Receiving inspiration that a certain person would make a good marriage partner does not nullify Agency. Marriage covenants taken in the Temple do not nullify Agency. My point is that even after serving a mission or entering into any of the covenants of worthy progression in the Church, any person can still choose to be a jerk! I joined the Church in my 21st year and didn’t have the opportunity to serve a mission. Thought I planned on serving, my mission call came from the government in the form of a draft notice. But, even a guy like me can choose to keep the covenants and be faithful. We cannot control the Agency of a spouse, or any other person. We can only control our own Agency. The title of RM, Elder, Bishop, or any other means nothing unless we choose to remain true and faithful, and keep the covenants we have made.

  6. In the 70’s when I joined the church at age 19, the Prophet said ” Every young man should serve a mission, AND every LDS woman age 21 that was not involved
    in a steady dating realm … should go to your bishops and ask if he thinks you should go on a mission.”
    People can rationalize all they want with reasons NOT to go on a mission … but remember why you are on this earth ! to prove to Heavenly Father that you love him and help other people find the gospel so they can qualify to go ” back home ” after this life. If you fail to go on a mission when you were counseled by your Prophet to go … you will regret it throughout eternity … you can rationalize all you want, but in the end when you stand before God and He asks you if you helped any of his children to return to him again… it will be much easier to say ” Yes, I helped others go back to you by serving a mission the way the Prophet asked me to do ” . Remember we are a church of missionaries called formally or not YOU are able to help people join and return to the church. I much prefer to be able to say to Heavenly Father after this life … ” I helped your children return to you again by serving as a missionary ” …don’t be a person that makes excuses … be a person of action and do what your Prophet has asked you to do !
    BTW … I have served as a missionary six times ( full-time, Stake and ward missions ) … and now 40 yrs later can still cherish teaching people about the truth of the gospel.

  7. I hope your next article addresses “The most dangerous quote Mormons live by” the very same Bruce R. McConkie “Marry the right person…” quote you included in your post. Now, I love President McConkie, he was a spiritual giant, but for young girls already under pressure to marry, this is very dangerous. Young women in the church are repeatedly told that they have no worth or value until they marry. As the lack of worthy priesthood holders (be they RM or not) dries up in their college singles ward dating pools this quote starts to make single women of a certain age wince every time they hear it. It is very frustrating when single guys in the church put off dating and complain about the women’s lack of initiating the first dates.

    1. Young Women are not told that they are worthless until they are married! That is just wrong and if anyone tells any YW that, they are in grave error.
      And this is not just a “Bruce R. McConkie” quote, this was repeated by multiple prophets as well.

    2. Young Women are not told that they are worthless until they are married! That is just wrong and if anyone tells any YW that they are in grave error. And this is not just a “Bruce R. McConkie” quote, this was repeated by multiple prophets as well.

      1. Actually, yes they are. They may not be told that exactly, but it’s implied. I’m single and I feel worthless because I grew up with the notion I’m not really anything until I’m married. I agree with the article. Being an RM is important, but those other qualities are more important.

        1. No, they are not Sheri. And if they are those leaders are WRONG. Never has the leadership of the Church said or inferred that.

    3. Some women might be made to feel they are excluded from the a ‘family’ orientated church by members and wards, but the church has not come out and said that they ‘have no worth or value until they marry.’

    4. “…marry the right person, in the right place, with the right authority” by Elder McConkie was also backed up by President Hinckley: “Marry the right person in the right place at the right time.” And he said that while he was the prophet. So we know both these sayings are true and of the Lord.

      But they do not only apply to the ladies, so please don’t feel isolated and pressured. Because these words also apply to the guys. And from what you stated, at least a few of the guys in your area seem to be frightened of responsibility and commitment.

      I have no fear of responsibility and commitment. I have asked many…many…many out on dates. And truth be told, I have dated many. A few of the ladies in my area…if my other comment is posted, do not view me as marriage material because a racist bishop refused to send in my papers. He didn’t like Lamanites.

      Personal specific trials to make both of us work harder, it seems.

      I believe it will make us more grateful when these goals are achieved, and we will have the humble awe and thankfulness for our “right person married in the right place at the right time by the right authority”.

  8. After conducting my own comparative religion study and praying, I walked up to two sister missionaries outside the local chapel and asked them how I could go about being baptized, a baptism which occurred three days later.

    I attended all wards in that chapel. I devoured the contents of the library. I learned to use the priesthood in service. I read for twenty minutes a day from each of the standard works. When the highway sign said to slow to 45, I slowed to 45. My non-member family was fully supportive of my plans to go on a mission. I did my own home teaching and helped others with theirs. I was working and saving money and some members even offered to pay for my mission.

    A racist bishop told me that he would not send papers in for me. He didn’t like Lamanites. Shortly after, the stake president called me into a branch presidency. Worthiness was not an issue.

    But socially, I became a pariah. I went to dances, and sometimes I was refused the entire evening. Everybody sang the song of only marry a returned missionary. More than one of those ladies later told me that they wished they had chosen more wisely in their eternal companions.

    But while inaccurately assessing my spirituality, they inadvertently weakened their own.

    While at BYU, some guys who never read past “I Nephi having been born of goodly parents” were declared heroes for their returned missionary status.

    It all requires a sobering closer look.

  9. I went on a mission and married an RM in the temple. After a tumultuous 15 years of marriage he left me and 4 kids. He was addicted to pornography. He had been arrested for shoplifting. We had known each other for 4 years before we were married. I didn’t think I could do better, and after all, how could I go wrong since I was marrying an RM???? fast-forward….He returned after 27 years (excommunicated) and his kids want nothing to do with him. He never paid child support or cared about them, and now he tries to guilt-trip them into taking care of him. I’ve been married to a nice man now for 15 years (not an RM) who loves me, my kids, and my grandkids. We work well together; he’s temple worthy. Marrying an RM guarantees nothing!

  10. Missions are wonderful, character-building experiences when done well, but I would never tell my daughter that she should look only at RMs. I tell her that she must pray and fast about her decision, that she must take a very good look at his character — does he treat his family well? is he kind to people who are not as capable as he is? does he work hard and is he motivated? does he love God? is he temple-worthy? Unfortunately, I have seen FAR too many women my age whose RM husbands have been duds, pure and simple, in so many ways. I’d honestly rather see my daughter marry a truly good non-member than an RM who feels that his greatest spiritual moment is behind him (not that I’m telling her that, because I don’t want her to have to make that choice).

    Also, any woman who has been made to feel like she has nothing to offer because she isn’t married either a) has terrible self-esteem, b) has had some terrible parenting, or c) has had terrible leaders. Let’s be clear, the Church is not an outside agent acting upon us: WE are the Church. We are. Every member is the Church. Some of us administrate the Church in different seasons of our lives, but we all contribute, and we all serve under the direction of the Lord, who speaks to us personally through His Spirit, and collectively through our prophets. What’s cool is that we can have the Spirit speak to us confirming the words of the prophets.

    Anyway. My rant is over.

    1. Hello Elizabeth!

      I joined the Church when I was eighteen, and I was very eager to “catch up” on the spiritual progression I had missed by not having the opportunity of growing up in the Church. I read all of the Sunday lessons (including the teacher’s manuals) for Sunday School and priesthood and all of the associated scriptures. And not only the General Authority quotes, but the original talks the quotes sprung from as well. I read the Book of Mormon through, the Doctrine and Covenants through. The Pearl of Great Price was easy. Then I was tackling the Old and New Testament. I learned to use the priesthood by praying for opportunities to do so. I happily anticipated growing older and growing in experience and increasing my capacity to serve.

      So I was quite puzzled when I started hearing returned missionaries state that their missions were not only the best two years of their lives but their most spiritual.

      I rolled my eyes and said that it was a good thing President Hinckley didn’t think like that. It was their turn to look puzzled. I reminded them that this is the gospel of Eternal Progression, which means that if you stop progressing when you are 19 and 20…then obviously you are doing it wrong.

      So yes, Elizabeth…I agree with you on that point. The best should be yet to come.

      But any confusion any priesthood holder has on that point should be relatively easy to rectify.

      Nothing involved in marrying a non-member is easy to rectify.

      The Second Corinthians scripture about being unequally yoked is no joke. The member will be pulling one direction and the non-member will either be pulling in the wrong direction or just digging in their heels to stop the member’s progress in the direction the member wants and needs to go. Not being of “one heart” is a situation rife with resentments and heartache and sorrow and contention and anger and frustration and sadness and despair and eventual hopelessness.

      Much like marrying an unfaithful RM priesthood holder.

      Thus the solution would be for your daughter to marry a faithful, diligent priesthood holder with a passion for serving and progressing who is full of love (especially for God), and has the goal of getting your daughter (and your daughter getting him) and their eventual children to Celestial Glory. Together.

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