Success Stories?

I heard a member of our ward discussing “youth success stories.” He stated that the goal for youth is to “get the boys on missions and the girls married in the temple.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard these life events set as the benchmark for success.

This has always bothered me, though. First of all, why is a woman’s life a success if she is married in the temple? This adds fuel to the “women’s work is to get married and have babies” fire. And why are the goals different for young men and young women? Why not set a goal to have both genders married in the temple, or to have both genders serve a mission? I don’t understand why serving a mission is so important for young men that it becomes the standard for success but it’s not as important for a young woman.

Also, while it is useful and advantageous for leaders to set goals for the youth, we need to be careful about the rhetoric we use to describe the goals. The youth hear us speak like this, and the last thing we want is for someone to feel as though they are “a failure story” if they don’t accomplish our stated goals. There are plenty of active, committed members of the church who chose not to participate in one or both of these events.

6 thoughts on “Success Stories?”

  1. It does seem weird that the goals are different for YM and YW. Why don't we talk about both groups getting married in the temple? As I thought about this post I think that these goals have to do with the fact that some people who are raised in the church leave it when they are a teenager or in young adulthood. It appears that the mentality is that if you can get a person to make significant commitments in the temple they are more likely to stay in the church. Also, it seems that if someone is willing to go on a mission or if they marry someone who is an active member they will be more likely to stay.

  2. I've been thinking that the young woman in an engaged couple determines the wedding venue far more often than the young man. If the young women can be persuaded to want a temple marriage, the young men will follow with minimal extra effort.

  3. Why are we teaching marriage to youth anyways? Shouldn't education, health, recognition of the blessings of the gospel and teaching core values that will help a person avoid temptation be what the youth really need in their time of life transitions. I guess I am a believer that if those things are taught (and lived by teachers, parents, friends) than the greater blessings will follow…

  4. You may be right T-bert. I watched President Beck's recent CES Fireside Devotional. It was interesting that all of the principles she discussed (service, scripture study, etc.) were couched in this "since you're not married yet, you may as well do something useful" framework.

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