Comments about ‘Ask Angela: He didn't serve a mission, does that mean I shouldn't marry him?’

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Published: Saturday, June 8 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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G L W8

It's hard for anyone outside a relationship to give advice to those that are in one--and that includes your mother, Angela, and me. If you're asking yourself the right kinds of questions (Angela has suggested some good ones), you'll know what to do.
The unspoken concern here is: will Mom accept the marriage if that's what you decide to do. Most parents will, and most will support children if the child finds out (too late) that the marriage was a mistake. If those are part of your concerns, read the 122nd Section of the D & C & remember that life throws us challenging experiences for our own good. This won't be the last, and probably not the worst, challenge you'll have. But if you're committed to family, faith, and the Lord, you'll be alright.
(Incidentally, many don't graduate from college, don't get their Eagle Scout, don't quarterback their high school football team--and they turn out just fine!)

Dave M
Louisville, KY

Good advice.

Woods Cross, UT

I had a friend, who served a mission, was an AP, came home, got into law school, started a law practice, embezzled money from a pension fund, ended up on drugs and died from an overdose. True story. He was married (temple marriage) with four children at the time of his death. Should his wife not have married him because he was a RM?


It seems like a key is why he didn't serve a mission. If it's because he thought the "rule" didn't apply to him for some reason, then that would be cause for concern - which other rules also won't apply in the future? Those who view duties and commandments as a buffet from which they may pick and choose can be highly unpredictable.

If it's because of a medical reason, that's different.

Harwich, MA

Most young men that go in a mission don't "Love the Lord". They go because they turned 18/19 and it seemed like the right thing to do.
I'd feel badly for any young woman that married half the elders in my mission. Work with what you know. If you have any understanding and connection with your feelings you'll know what to do. This isn't a question for someone else, follow your heart.


Typical judgemental attitude of Utah Mormons who don't properly understand Gospel principles and just go along with the Church because it's a part of their culture. I joined the Church at 28 and despite my strong desire to serve a mission my bishops and stake president have consistently told me that I'm too old. Is that my fault? No. But if I was out in Utah I sure as heck would get judged for it.

If a woman would throw away a good man because of past choices he has made, no matter how much he loves the Gospel and The Lord, SHE is not good enough for HIM. End of story. I have been blessed to find someone who doesn't care about my lack of missionary service, and appreciates the member missionary work I do every day. I hope our children serve missions, and I will strongly encourage them to do so from the day they are baptized onward.

Mesa, AZ

Missionary service is not necessarily the good housekeeping stamp of approval. There are many who serve, even in the raise the bar era, who due to their own personality, work ethic, or level of devotion to the work, do not return with honor. My mission president once spoke to our mission conference in an address he called, RMs -- A to Z, meaning returned missionaries return home after their mission at all levels of spirituality, commitment, and yes, testimony. He was seeking to help us improve our perspective of what kind of missionary we wanted to return home as.

True that missionary service is one of life's refining fires, but I also know many great and honorable men who did not serve for whatever reason, lack of desire, lack of family support, lack of testimony, but now serve in the Church with unfailing devotion.

Just because he doesn't have The RM stamp of approval doesn't disqualify him from being an excellent choice for eternal companion!

Clearfield, UT

My brother-in-laws did not serve a mission. He has served as a Bishop, High council and principal of a major high school. He has a son and grandchildren that served and are serving missions. Enough said.

one old man
Ogden, UT

This reminds me of something profound that Gordon B. Hinkley once said to the young men in a conference priesthood meeting. I have to paraphrase, but it went something like this: "Young men, be sure you are worthy of our young women. After all, when a young woman marries one of you, she's taking a TERRIBLE chance!"

He was right. I've lost track of the number of shattered marriages I've known in which the young man was a returned missionary.

Fern RL

I agree with what Angela says, but I might add that it might be more important to know why he didn't serve a mission than the fact that he didn't. It also might matter as to how open he is to discussing his past. These are still matters that might be more important to you than to anyone else, including your mother. The main thing is that marriage is about more than being in love. Communication matters a lot, usually more to females than males. I have also been on the side of being so much "in love" that I couldn't think clearly. Only when I caught my reflection in a glass door unexpectedly, did I see that I wasn't really happy.

Look into it more in terms of your total relationship; and, as Angela says, make it a matter of prayer and choose for yourself.

Richland, WA

I served a mission, But my wife did not. Why should the reverse be any different?
There are a number of reasons why someone did not serve a mission as a young man. In some cases it involved military service, or health matters, or other things. The important thing is how committed your prospective spouse is to you and to the Lord. If you look at the bios of general authorities, you will find that it is not unusual that one did not serve a mission as a youth, and their first time as a full time missionary was as a mission president, after service as a bishop and stake president. One of the great things about the gospel is that Christ is eternally willing to give us new opportunities to repent and rededicate ourselves to him. Eternally condemning someone for what they didn't do years ago is not what Christ calls us to do.


Although the mother obviously wants the best man for her daughter, she's using set-in-stone criteria to determine his worthiness; however, she isn't the one marrying him. What really jumped out at me was the writer's comment that the man she loves and wants to marry also deeply loves the Lord. So then, why didn't he serve a mission? My thought is that maybe he loved the Lord enough to be honest and recognize that a traditional two-year mission wasn't the best way that he could serve. Maybe it was because of his love for the Savior that he didn't go. I've known many missionaries over the 30+ years since my conversion. Among them, there were some who had a strong testimony of the Church, but they never felt comfortable as missionaries and were ineffectual. Then, there were others who were smooth and silky in their delivery, met all their goals and appeared very effectual, but secretly had no love for the people or the work. If her man stayed home for the right reasons, his was the better choice. Either way, what he feels now matters most.

In Utah but not of Utah
Draper, UT

"Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge ye shall be judged"
Just a little reminder for Mom, of a scripture she seems to have conveniently forgotten.
If the local Priesthood Authorities, (Bishop, Stake President) deem him temple worthy. who is Mommy to say otherwise. Even if your boyfriend did something in the past that prevented him from serving, isn't repentance a wonderful blessing we all need throughout our lives.

The decision to marry or not marry your boyfriend should NOT be based on whether he served a mission. I know several RM's that have been married in the temple who have done terrible things to their wives and children. I also know several that did not serve that are wonderful husbands, fathers and some of them are bishops.

Decide to marry or not based on who is is now and how he treats you.

Salt Lake City, UT

My daughter did marry the "returned missionary" who later got into porn wanted nothing to do with the church. Better men out there who have not served missions. Yes, there are things that one can only learn while serving a mission but don't discount those who don't go who learn things a different way but still serve their Father in Heaven with everything they've got.


I too, was raised by parents who thought RM's were the only appropriate marraige material.

But missions are not for everybody, just as military service is not for everybody. Sometimes missions can cause physical and spiritual damage. There are great young men who would make great husbands and are great husbands, but who didn't fulfill a church mission. I believe we lose many young men to church inactivity around missionary age because church becomes a place of constant pressure to serve a mission-- or constant judgement because they didn't go. Church needs to be more than a factory which just makes cookie-cutter people. Diversity is healthy.


There are plenty of scriptural references addressing the situation. Old testament Moses (in the specifications portion of the tabernacle) was specifically told to accept stuff only from those who gave with a willing heart. Christ talked about those who "served" in the public eye. King Benjamin put it all together beautifully as he addressed the issue of matching up service needs with resources.

One of my own kids about fell of the too old mark before he was ready. Another never went. Another just couldn't wait. They all have wonderful families of their own now.

Is your Mom speaking 100% from her love for you, or is she one who wrinkles her nose at a smoker who steps into the chapel? Everyone is struggling with something: some struggles are not quite as obvious as others.

Want to try something that may appease your Mom and test her concerns? Follow the advice I gave to missionaries returning home: don't go find a wife (or husband), search for your Senior Mission companion instead. See if he is willing to plan that with you. Include your spiritual ears in the conversation.

Provo, UT


Your judgment of Utah Mormons is as bad the judgment of those that don't serve missions. Please don't clump us all into that category. In my time spent living outside of Utah I have met plenty of other members with that same non-acceptance of non-RMs. With that said, it is a problem in the church, but I have seen a lot of improvement in attitudes toward this issue.

Salt Lake City, UT

Not all RMs are marriage material, not all non-RMs aren't. The most obvious example of someone worthy who didn't serve a mission is President Monson.

Considering that Utah LDS singles aged 20-40 are something like 3:2 women and not all of those men served missions... there's gonna be a lot of lonely sisters if they're all expecting to marry RMs.

Bruce Christensen

No one in the First Presidency serve a mission in his youth. End of conversation.

Los Angeles, CA

Why did you start dating him in the first place? Did you not foresee that this day might come? In my opinion, the fact that you are even asking the question makes you unworthy of him.

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