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
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
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
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