As I was walking around Nauvoo, idly daydreaming about the area, I thought that it might be a cool place to go on a mission. I entertained this thought for a while, but then a question interrupted my reverie: could I serve a church mission as an older single man?
In all of my time in the church, I’ve never, as far as I know, seen an older, single man serving a mission alone. I know women can be companions and serve together, and, of course, couples can serve together, but can men serve in the same way?
After a brief internet search I found the missionary handbook. Appendix A is called “Guidelines for Couples and Senior Sisters.” The body text makes it pretty clear that only couples or sisters can serve missions. I’m sure there’s a reason for that somewhere, but I have no idea what the reason is. To me it would make sense to send older men on missions, particularly to areas where they need more priesthood.
Regardless of the reason, it was an interesting experience. Let me preface my comments about this by saying that I try to be widely read on a lot of topics, and I often read opposing viewpoints on things because frequently both sides have some legitimate (or at least legitimate-sounding) points. In that spirit, I follow some of the Mormon Feminists online.
The reason I thought of them is because I was contemplating a situation in which I was part of a group where I wouldn’t be allowed to serve in the way that I wanted (they would call it being marginalized), and it kind of bugged me. It’s not a situation that I’m used to, since I’m a straight, white, male. I once jokingly called myself “Captain McPrivilege” in a class when discussing modern sociology. So while I’m not whole-heartedly endorsing the Mormon Feminist message and movement, I think I can see maybe a little bit better where they’re coming from. It can be a difficult pill to swallow if you want to serve, but are told that you can only serve in a particular way.
I’m not interpreting this as a call to action, or even a call to agreement. Perhaps there can be such a thing as a call to understanding? Or a call to compassion? That’s something I could definitely get behind.