Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Young Men Leave, and Other Statistics

December 15th, 2011 by Man SL

Here’s a fairly comprehensive statistical look at the Saints in America.

One point that jumped out at me is that its young men, not young women, who are most at danger from leaving the Church. To the sorrow of feminists who really were hoping for more female apostasy as a weapon in their struggle. And to the sorrow of parents, who worry that their sons will get lost and their daughters will have trouble finding a suitable husband.

Comments (8)
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December 15th, 2011 11:34:19

John Mansfield
December 15, 2011

More particularly, it’s the young men in Utah. In the rest of U.S., there’s not much difference. I would guess that this is something Church leaders have known about for a while and a factor in recent counsel from Monson, Scott, and Oaks that young men should be mindful of marriage.

There will be many web sites over the next week touting the youthening of apostates as evidence that “See, man, the internet changes everything.” (Actually the noun of address will be “dude,” reflecting the youthful outlook of the addressors.)

S.P. Bailey
December 15, 2011

The internet does have something to do with it, no? Certainly p orn, video games, and the other electronic trappings of extended adolescence appeal much more to the natural man than preaching the gospel two-by-two.

December 15, 2011

Missions are wonderful things and I hope every young man will prepare to serve one.

But I know they won’t.

I wonder if there is more we should be doing to fellowship young men who, for whatever reason, do not go on a mission? I disagree with their choice, when voluntary, but should they not still be made welcome?

S.P. Bailey
December 15, 2011

They should be made welcome. It is not an easy problem though. The mission can function as a rite of passage to full Mormon manhood. Also, I understood as a nineteen year old that the most desirable (to me anyway) Mormon girls wouldn’t consider me marriage material if I did not honorably serve a mission. I was duly motivated, and I hope my daughters have similar standards. How do we make men who didn’t serve welcome without undermining such standards?

December 15, 2011

“How do we make men who didn’t serve welcome without undermining such standards?”

Indeed. I do not know the answer.

And my original point, as should now be clear, was that the higher dropout rate among men may reflect the expectation of serving a mission that the women are not confronted with.

December 15, 2011

I was a casualty of the thinking that there were no exceptions to “every young man should serve a mission”. Of course there were and are exceptions, and I mean exceptions/exemptions other than worthiness issues. (Not that a lack of worthiness kept many from going anyway back then.) But it’s only been since 2002 that it’s been permissible (though that’s not the right word) to even voice the exceptions, let alone for a young man (or his parents) to admit that he fell under one of the exceptions.

Most of the exceptions/exemptions from a full-time two year proselyting mission still allow a “church service while living at home” kind of mission.

It would seem to me that “health issues” is one of the valid exceptions that would be easy to “admit to.” In my case, Asperger’s Syndrome wasn’t even known at the time I submited my papers. And such emotional/social handicaps are harder to discuss face-to-face.

Plus, too many Mormons can be pretty-dang nosey with their “Why aren’t you on a mission?” and “Why aren’t you married?” types of questions, often asked in a contemptuous tone of voice.

One of the biggest reasons, and probably still not culturally acceptable to admit to is not having a testimony. Yes, many non-mission-serving young men believe the church is true, but their level of belief doesn’t rise to a testimony, i.e., it does not have sufficient roots to have effected a conversion, and have motiving properties to bust one’s hump for two years.

I don’t know what official guidance is given to bishops and SPs to judge whether a young man has a sufficient testimony for a full-time proselyting mission. I would guess that it doesn’t have to rise to an “I know…” level.

But there are two major degrees of “I believe…” One which is merely intellectual/mental, and one which gives impetus to change and action and at least some degree of committment. If I were a bishop, I would not sign the mission papers of a young man unless he had at least the latter level.

The bottom line is that the main focus should not be on 16 to 18 year-olds to get them to prepare for a mission, or to “sell” a 19 year-old on signing on the dotted line. The focus has to start as soon as they are old enough to pay attention (for however short a time) in Family Home Evening.

IMO, in the vast majority of cases, Bishops and YM presidents will never be able to help a 16 year-old get a testimony if his parents have never brought the Spirit into their Family Home Evenings.

The “problem” is not with what the church is doing with Young Men, it’s with what the parents are doing with their children.

Adam G.
December 16, 2011

some justice in that. But I really had no testimony until right before my mission, and it was the mission hard sell that was my impetus for working on it.

December 16, 2011

Adam, granted, but too many parents abdicate the religious upbringing of their children, hoping that the late-teen “hard sell” will save the children. In too many cases, it doesn’t. I would hope that the teen-age hard sell would be the last line of defense, not the primary line.

If the hard-sell motivated you to obtain a testimony, great. But, my understanding is that the hard-sell usually just gets (got) the 19 year-old to sign the missionary contract and get on the airplane without a testimony.

Perhaps the bigger problem is that parents see religious instruction of children as a church thing and not a home/family thing.

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