Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a letter

Dear Elder,

I know you are back from your mission, many of you have been back for some time, and for those of you who have not yet left--I am writing to you on behalf of the ladies who have waited patiently to marry someone like you.

First of all, I want you to know why it's significant that many of us would like to marry men that have served missions. Most importantly, you have been asked to serve by divine revelation to the prophets, who are messengers of our Heavenly Father. You are literally commissioned by God the Father to do so. To not is a huge sign of open rebellion. I understand there are various reasons why some of you can't go or must come home early, so if that is the case, please understand that such outstanding circumstances beyond your control don't penalize you. I am talking frankly about those who have the opportunity and means to serve, and willfully choose not to go. Not only is it a task requested of you by the Lord, it is also a growing experience that is arguably impossible to replace. Think of the souls you could have saved, but chose, for whatever reason, be it school, career, a girl, or mere selfish indulgence, to let wait longer, or miss their chance to hear the truth in this life. Try to imagine the spirit(s) that you may have made a promise to find in the pre-mortal life, that you have let down. I have not been on a mission, so I am carefully treading dangerous waters. However, while I have not served a full time mission for the Church, I have dated many gentlemen who have. I know so many young men that both have, and have not served missions. In fact, every guy I have ever dated has been a return missionary, except one. That one told me he didn't see the problem with premarital sex. Try not to misunderstand, I am not saying that's the viewpoint of every man who didn't serve a mission and it may be the viewpoint of many who have,  and I absolutely do not, in any way think boys that don't serve missions are bad people-but I say with honest conviction that there was a difference. Its not something entirely easy to explain, but it was different.

At this time, I would like to present you with a question: for those of you young men that did make the choice to serve a faithful, honest mission, can you remember why? Why did you serve a mission? Did you serve because your parents wanted you to? Was it because your surrounding community expected you to? Or was it because you had a desire to be obedient? Maybe you didn't want to go, but you wanted to obey the council of the prophets. Just think.

This next part, I hesitate to write. I don't mean to get on a high horse, and it is not my intention to persecute, demean, or belittle any of God's children. Upon recent reflection and conversations with close girl friends, I am utterly in awe at the way women are treated by some of you returned missionaries. I understand that women can treat men poorly, and that although we are not all victims, my heart is broken again and again to hear and experience the mistreatment of people. In a society so twisted, so confused, I would hope that Church members could find solace in each other. I wish now, to speak to the trusting girl that is taken advantage of by men who have returned from missions. In particular, I reach out to the naive girl who went to institute one night and met a cute boy there that taught seminary every morning, worked at the MTC, and got back from his mission a couple years previous. He asked her if he could take her on a date. She graciously, trustingly, accepted his offer. This is a girl that in the many years I have known her, has always tried her hardest to be temple worthy, to follow the commandments, who is far from perfect, but has kept herself chaste and virtuous. Simply minutes after he picked her up and started driving, he began expressing how attractive and sexy he thought she was. She started to feel uncomfortable, but despite her best efforts to change the subject, he was not interested in discussing anything but her body. He drove out a way to a lake and stopped the car. The girl grew very nervous and started to feel uneasy. The boy reached across the seats to put his hands all over her, kissing where his mouth could reach. Struggling to get free, pleading for him to stop, she finally managed to get her seat belt off and got out of the car, where she immediately started walking home. Gropey McGee followed her and tried to coax her back into his vehicle, apologizing, promising it wouldn't happen again and that he would just take her home. Knowing she shouldn't trust him, but with no service and it being the dead of winter, she went against her better judgement and walked towards the car. He came up behind her and started kissing her neck, trying to put his hands in places he shouldn't. She tried to stop him, but he was stronger than her and physically held her against the car. By a miracle she managed to get away and get home with all her clothes intact.

I honestly don't understand how a girl in Provo, Utah--Mormon capital of the universe, can't trust an RM to protect her. I have two older sisters that are still in the dating world, and a younger sister that just turned 16, (legal Mormon dating age.) If the aforementioned man had tried something like that on one of my sisters, excuse my French, I would have snapped off his cajones and boiled them in motor oil. If we, as ladies, cannot trust you men that dedicated two years of your lives, serving others, who can we trust? How is it possible to have been so incredibly selfless for two years, and come back and be so indescribably selfish? This is a real, honest to goodness question. How does a man go from teaching families and individuals about the plan of happiness, and then attempt to destroy a woman's virtue? I am careful in trying not to lump all returned missionaries in this group of self destructive men (and women,) I am just trying to understand why the majority of first dates that I myself, as well as many of my friends have been on, are.

Life is hard. The world is full of evil. We all face challenges and adversity every day. I personally, make a habit of totaling cars. But let's focus specifically on dating. Where, in a world of prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, and even with gay marriage, can the women who are striving to make it to the temple, turn to be protected? Who can we trust? Who do we want to love? Someone that will take us to the temple. Whether anyone agrees with my stance on serving a mission or not, any devout, faithful, converted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that believes in the plan of happiness wants to be married in the temple.

The purpose of this letter is not to point fingers and degrade. It is to plead. I am literally begging you young men of the Church to remember who you were on your mission. Remember the spirit that you taught by and felt. Remember that each girl you meet is a daughter of God that deserves to be loved and treated with respect and dignity. I do my best to encourage those around me, men and women, to be their best. I know this may seem one sided, and I know we as girls are neither perfect, nor are we entirely victims--after all, this is a relatively feministic society--but my plea to the girls is for another time. Elder Holland gave a talk to BYU called "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments." The following passage that I wish to share namely addresses sex, but I feel it may be applicable also in dating and courtship:


Indeed, most tragically, it is the young woman who is most often the victim, it is the young woman who most often suffers the greater pain, it is the young woman who most often feels used and abused and terribly unclean. And for that imposed uncleanliness a man will pay, as surely as the sun sets and rivers run to the sea.

Be the kind of man you want your son to be. Treat women the way you want your daughter to be treated. I understand that mission life must be different than college life, but why wouldn't you want to have the spirit to be with you now when you take girls on dates, the way it was when you wore a name tag? Dating is where a lot of temptation comes in to play. Nights cuddling with your girlfriend on the couch are when the adversary will turn the heat up, just a little hotter. It is when you are most vulnerable that he strikes the hardest, and I know you rarely have your heart more exposed than when you are with someone you love. So fight to be the man you became on your mission. Fight to be the protector. Always be worthy of your priesthood--because we need you. We can't make it to exhalation without you, and being the ones who get to hold the priesthood, we look to you to take care of our spirit as well as protect our bodies. The women are literally trusting you with our souls when we say yes to that date. Yes, I recognize that we must equally be respecting and that you need to trust us, but I don't want to have to worry if every guy that takes me out is too strong for me to get away from.

54 comments:

G Dixon said...

Olivia........ Your words offer strength to others.. I know that your Mm was raised so very well by your grandmother Mary and that she too had the same teachings as did her brothers and sisters. But you have stepped upto the plate, expressed your feelings oh truth to those that dare defy the teachings of God. I APPLAUD YOU and I applaud the teachings your wonderful mother has instilled upon your life.

RG said...

That's RG

grandmadavey said...

Olivia, I am so proud of you for stepping up and speaking out. You have wonderful parents who must be just bursting with pride to know what kind of a young woman you are. No young woman should have to lower her standards to make a young man happy. Keep the faith and stand strong for yourself and for others. (Dale and Tyler Jordan's mom)

Anonymous said...

It's abominable what happened to that poor girl. And Elder Holland is very correct in the fact that a man will pay for his wrongs against women--more so for a man who has been blessed with greater knowledge of what is right and what is expected from him by the Lord. My heart goes out to that girl and to the many others in her position. (And I'll echo what you said about understanding it's not all a one way street.)

The only point I'll disagree with in this post is the part about boys who didn't serve a mission. Yes, it's something all men should aspire to. Yes, it's a sacred and divine calling that will change eternal lives and families. Yes, it is sacred and important and an opportunity that as many can partake of, should. However, there are some for whom their testimony is not strong enough to carry them into the mission field. Church leaders have even expressed that boys approaching missionary service who would not serve for the right reasons should refrain. For some, it may be a delay and they'll serve at a later date. For others, they may not serve a mission at 18 or 19 or ever. As seen from your post, being a RM isn't a guarantee of a righteous heart. And not being an RM doesn't preclude a man from being a valiant and powerful vessel of righteous, priesthood power.

While I know your intention was never (and likely never would be) to insinuate that men who haven't served missions aren't worthy, I still felt like I should add my voice on their behalf. Some of those men carry a lifelong burden of regret and labor under a weight of guilt that keeps them from seeing their potential in the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Atonement is for everyone and its grace covers all those who would believe on Jesus' name and take His yolk upon them. As their brethren and sisters, we should love these men and value them as much as we do those who have served missions. Again, I don't think you meant any of those boys disrespect. And I'll also add the caveat that some men who serve missions don't serve them because of selfishness and sin. But not all of them. Some aren't ready. Some are scared. Some come late to greater understanding.

And because I want you to understand that I appreciate and admire your post, I think it was well said and certainly important. I applaud your bravery, courage, and heart. Keep sharing that and keep spreading your light.

Amber Lynae said...

A beautiful post with an important message. However, I think that the Anonymous commenter has an important point. I wanted to point out that all those who serve missions may not have served righteously. I would desire that all men, especially those who partake of the sacrament every Sunday proclaiming to take upon them the name of Christ, would remember to respect each daughter of God. I would request the same from each Sister for the Son's of God.

I feel like you were trying to say that a faithful mission should be able to be an indication to a young woman that a man will be a worthy suitor. Un fortunately, there are wolves in sheep's clothing everywhere. Valiance is not a guarenteed virtue in an RM and is in many who have not served.

I am so sorry to hear about your friends experience. It is very disheartening that a young man who appeared to be on the right track was so far off.

Anonymous said...

This is horrendous. You don't think that maybe, just maybe, spending two years in the field might make young people come back quite hornier than before? Maybe that this is the reason that RMs tend to marry within mere months of their returns?? Do you really think your mere anecdotal evidence of a few horny, pretty rude dudes is indicative of the fact that if a young man does not go on a mission, he will forever be a sex-crazed, fundamentally immoral, worthless piece of shit? Do you really think that spending two years isolated from normal personal contact is a "growing" experience for every male ever? To think any of these things is absurd. Certainly, missionary work is a great choice for personal and spiritual development for some, but many people are neither emotionally or socially built to endure religious door-to-door salesmanship. We should not shame those who decide not to go on missions because of these social and emotional differences, nor should we shame those who return early for the same reasons. Lord knows that no matter what, these differences will be wrongly perceived as spiritual failings by the individual's community; they already undergo enough shame as it is because of this kind of horrible, reductionist and sexist way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing. These young men were not in fact better men when they were on their missions. They were in a highly controlled environment then, constantly bombarded with only one signal of how to behave and think, and so they were obedient. Back in the real world, they are essentially free to act however they please. A mission does not make a man, or at least, a good one, in every case. In addition, we were encouraged to get married after our we got home from our missions. The sexual foul play by RM's is common because its what were told is the next correct step.

guest said...

Missions do not teach integrity or self discipline necessarily. What they consistently do is teach obedience. But once the authority of a mission pres, zone leader, ect is removed, what is the average-joe return missionary to do? Who is he to be directly obedient too? I am not surprised to see rm's who are not worthy of the priesthood title they carry.

also, I think its a bit dramatic to say that women "are literally trusting (men) with our souls when we say yes to that date". Don't let what some guy does or says to you affect the state of your soul: it doesn't. Nothing can affect the state of your soul but you.

Anonymous said...

I think you have some good underlying points about how women should feel safe around men and not have to worry about sexual assault and other issues. However, I take issue with a few of your thoughts.

For one thing, it's not your place to judge young men who choose not to serve missions. Do you follow every single commandment with exactness? I can tell you now that you don't, because no one is perfect. How can you even know when a young man chose not to go for a good reason or a supposedly bad one? Often these matters (mental and physical health issues as well as other circumstances) remain private. We can't point at someone and say we know why they do what they do. So let's refrain from casting stones.

Also, though it would be nice to say that any man who served a mission is trustworthy, that's simply not true. Outward obedience is rarely a useful indicator of a person's inward thoughts, feelings, and desires. Just as I know lots of non-RMs who are trustworthy, kind, and obedient, I also know lots of RMs who seem to be the opposite of those traits. It's never black-and-white.

The story you shared about that girl and her unfortunate experience with an RM was certainly disturbing. I am so sorry that happened to her. I hope you asked her permission before sharing such a traumatic experience on a public blog. I agree that things like that should NEVER happen. Yet that man had NO power to steal her virtue. Virtue is the possession of high morals. It is strength of character. It is in no way lost when a man or woman falls victim to sexual assault.

Gay marriage poses no threat to a woman's ability to marry in the temple. Men who marry other men most likely were never planning on marrying women, so it's not like it's taking an fish from the pond.

Finally, not every woman wants or needs a man to protect her. Some want that, and that's fine and dandy, but I want to be a partner with my husband if I ever get married. I want to feel like we make equal contributions and take care of each other equally.

So while I appreciate your intent to some degree, I hope that in the future you will be more thoughtful of other people and their different situations before making statements like this.

Reg said...

^^amen. Perfect response. Esp. that strength of character is in no way lost after sexual assault.

Michelle Glauser said...

No wonder dating as a Mormon is so freaking hard . . . people think they're either

1. finding someone responsible for their very souls or
2. pressured to be responsible for someone else's soul.

I think that that idea disrespects the agency we've been given. Hopefully you can see what I mean since I'm not really sure how to explain it.

Good luck with dating to everyone--it's a tough world out there and I empathize with you.

Andrew Ransom said...

Do you realize how ridiculously offensive it is to put gay marriage on par with prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers? Why the hell would you ever compare a loving couple to people who sell drugs, people who sell women? That's disgusting. Gay marriage isn't a threat to yours, or any woman's, dating ability. Come on.

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to keep our opinions to ourselves here. This is her blog, she can write what she wants. If you don't agree, don't read it. Easy :)

Anonymous said...

False. It's the internet. As soon as it's online, it's public and fair game. If people want the right to post harmful and offensive ideas online, they need to know other people have the right to call them out on it.

guest said...

To either agree or disagree would require we read the piece. Of course she can write whatever she wants, as can the commenters.

HeatherB said...

I don't even know where to begin. First off why are you shaming these men for not serving? Why is it your place to do so? Then to imply that men who haven't served have loose morals simply because one guy that you dated who didn't serve did is horrible. It may be different to you, but not going on a mission doesn't mean that those men aren't decent and honorable, it doesn't mean that men who convert are lesser, it doesn't mean that people who do some growing up a little to late are lesser, that people who had a past that prevented them but have taken care of that are lesser, for whatever reason they didn't serve then doesn't make them a lesser person now.

As to your friend's experiance. It is horrible, but serves as an important lesson that being a RM is not an indicator of what kind person someone will be. Being a RM doesn't make a good guy any more than not being a RM makes a bad guy.

Also, I wasn't taken the Temple, I went to the Temple with my now husband. I protect him as much as he protects me. He holds my soul as much as I hold his.

As a final note, you shouldn't feel fear when you go out with a guy, but as long as we live in a world were being a RM is indicator of being a good guy, where blog posts are written begging guys not be rapists. then those feelings will exsist.

Don't over look guys who don't go on missions. It isn't an indicator of the kind of guy they are today. There are lots of amazing men out there, don't let a label or lack of one stop you from finding that out.

Anonymous said...

Just as she feels the need to speak up against something that is alarming her, we feel the need to speak up about things that are alarming us in her blog post.

Anonymous said...

The whole of this post is both ridiculous and offensive. No man is responsible for you. That's your job. Grow some freaking lady balls and woman up.

Instead of being judgmental and condescending, try focusing on yourself rather than criticizing those around you about whom you likely know little too nothing. Work on your own strength and self-worth. Learn that you don't need a man to complete you.

Seriously. If I'd put the pressure on dates that you do, my husband never would have married me. And yes, he is an RM.

oliviakaytalley said...

For those of you finding offense to this post, I sincerely apologize. I didn't this blog with the intention of casting stone at anyone. However, none of you can really dictate how I decide whom to date. This has been my experience and its not right for anyone to belittle that. If you read the post, you would have read that I don't think boys that haven't served missions are bad people at all, they just aren't who I choose to date. I have certain qualifications just like anyone else.

In correlation to my "soul" comment, to have sex is to give a piece of your soul to someone else. If you disagree, you are more than welcome to read Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments, by Elder Holland, because he states that. And if you don't agree with an apostle of the Lord, this post doesn't apply to you in any way. So yes, if you go on a date and the two of you give in to temptation in whatever way and you have sex, that is giving a piece of your soul away.

As for the virtue comment, I am not condemning any person who is a victim of a sexual crime, at all. However, President Kimball did say "it is better to die in defending one's virtue, than to live having lost it without a struggle."-Miracle of Forgiveness pg 196. I am sorry if that was articulated in a poor light, but that quote is where my thought process stems from.

I knew posting this would recieve a great deal of backlash. But I am not ashamed nor embarrassed for what I wrote. Those are my personal opinions that I am proud to express, just as all of you have every right to express yours. That is the beauty of the this country. For those of you that disagree, that is fine, that is your right, you aren't going to marry me, and I certainly don't want to marry someone who would belittle something I feel so passionately about. So I am content.

Bailey said...

Why are you tying 'virtue' to sexual fidelity at all if in this case, a person's sexual agency is taken away (sexual assault)? What do you define as 'virtue'?

Anonymous said...

^Yeah, exactly. In the case of sexual assault, is a part of one's soul still taken away? Seems unfair.

oliviakaytalley said...

Virtue is sexual fidelity. It is moral purity, as well as inner strength and being worthy of the Holy Ghost. I am not saying that anyone that is a victim of sexual assault is "dirty," but can you honestly say that if you were raped you wouldn't feel that way, even for a moment? And who made you feel that way? The person who violated you. But the beauty of the Atonement is that that person gets to feel clean again. In any case, one of the great weaknesses of man is sexual temptation. If both of you aren't fighting the urge to indulge in such behavior, and one is pressuring another, chances are much higher that the two of you will willingly succumb. However, that willingness does depend entirely on your conviction and conversion. I'm just saying, if he wants to have sex and decides to over power the girl he is with, there is not a lot she can physically do.

Bailey said...

But that would be sexual assault, something about which a person would feel dirty for a whole host of reason's I'm not convinced are from the spirit. Of course a victim of rape is going to feel "dirty", as you say, but its because society tells them they are dirty and worthless and that its their fault, not because they actually are any of these things in God's eyes or because anything has been taken from them (i.e., a piece of their soul, as you say) from the assailant. The victim should not have to be "atoned" or only "get to feel clean again". They are already clean. They are already sinless. They have done no wrong. They are not dirty, nor should they in any way be made to feel that way. The entirety of the blame and need for atonement is on the assailant.

Also, I hope you are aware that one of the greatest weaknesses of women is sexual temptation too. Not just men. I'm so tired of the rhetoric that places women as fundamentally nonsexual (read: "spiritually pure") and men as fundamentally sexual beings. It forces unwarranted responsibility on the woman's part and demeans men to the status of animals. All humans are highly sexual. That's all there is too it. Obviously we should all control our sexual desire and follow God's laws for us, but it does not help at all to say that one group has higher urges than the other, forcing women to assume sexual responsibility, letting men off the hook for being their "natural" manly selves. I understand that is sort of what you were trying to combat here, but it really is just as simple as admitting that everyone has a sex drive rather than blame men as a whole for having one by pointing out a few bad cases of RM self discipline.

Karen Hoover said...

Just giving you a double thumbs up, especially in light of all the negativity. Also, in response to someone else's comment, it would be rather impossible to grow "lady balls" since there is no such thing (laughing at the idea.) I think you DID woman up by standing for what you believe and having the courage to say something about it, especially knowing there would be backlash. I, for one, admire the heck out of you for doing so. I could read between the lines. It is unfortunate that too many people take things so literally and choose to distort the truth that is right before them. I found your argument to be that of encouragement to returned missionaries (of which I am one and married to another,) to stand true to the things they learned while serving and apply it in their lives and their dating once home. Obviously, not everyone is going to have served as diligently as others, and yes, there are those who were unable to serve who are good and honorable men--but the last doesn't seem to be your point. At least not to me. People can argue with me. They can sling mud over here too, and that's fine. All any of us are doing is expressing our opinions, which are an extension of our own personal belief systems and experience. You keep going, Olivia. I, for one, am proud of you for setting standards for yourself and standing for what you want and believe. And I won't hide behind an anonymous post. If a person believes something enough to state it publicly, they should have the courage to stamp their name across it. Bravo, lady. Bravo.

Kenzee Monson said...

^Just as she is free to post her opinions, all the rest of us are free to critique and consider what she has said., and it need not be labeled "negativity" or "mud slinging"; its just observations, refutations, and honest criticism. Whether or not the author takes any of the criticism to heart is also entirely up to her. No harm, no foul.

oliviakaytalley said...

Bailey, I am not trying to say that those who are victims of sexual assaults are dirty and need to repent. The Atonement is not just redemption for sinners, it is a healing balm for all pains, all hurts. It is a way to make a person who has been hurt or broken feel whole again, whether they sinned or were hurt by someone/something else. I am not trying to pass judgement and say that those who have been raped or molested need to turn to the Atonement because they did anything wrong, I am saying that the Atonement is an option for them to turn to that they may feel good again. To say that a person who has been sexually violated by another only feels bad because society "makes them" is frankly naive, and ignorantly undermines their feelings. You cannot possibly imagine the emotional trauma that takes on their spirit and mind. Feel free to disagree, but I would encourage you to read The Miracle of Forgiveness, because President Kimball addresses such situations directly. I am unaware if you have been in a situation like that, but I can tell you from experience that the feelings that come are not a societal result. I also want to vocalize that I don't think men are the only ones who suffer from weakness in lust and carnal desires. I use "man" as a blanket statement of human beings. I know it is innately embedded in both men and women, and the entire point of this post is that if I, as a woman, am striving my hardest to keep to desires under control, I don't want to have to fight the men I go out with to keep myself clean, because it is a weakness, and I have had to physically get myself out of bad situations where my boundaries were being tested because I would rather die than give in to such temptation.

Karen, I wanted to thank you and everyone else for your words of support and positivity. They are so greatly appreciated. While I don't mind the negative comments, it is nice to have support. I have been defending what I believe in for 21 years, because in my own personal opinion, if you aren't fighting with everything you have for what you believe is right, you don't believe it enough.

Bailey said...

Ok, I was going to try to make my point without saying this, but I am a survivor of sexual assault. It happened on a date like many of the ones you have cataloged on this blog. So I can, in fact, "imagine the emotional trauma that takes on [my own] spirit and mind", thank you very much.

There are two parts of sexual assault that make the victim feel like less than a person. The first is that their bodily agency has been taken away. Someone ignored the personal boundaries I had set for myself. This feeling is entirely on the behalf of the assailant, and its a common reason to be angry, but its never the whole story of a victim's anger. The second part is due to the shaming reaction that I received from my family, community, and society at large, a shaming that has continued with you. It is in these reactions that survivors feel the most pain, and the sad thing is, these shaming reactions could be halted more easily than sexual assault itself, quite probably. I actually think it's immensely naive of YOU to say that the feelings of shame that victims of sex assault experience are NOT largely due to societal influences. Our culture always blames the victim, and even if not directly blaming them, we make it clear that they have been dirtied, defiled, and made unclean, even if it was not their decision. This is where I am objecting to what you say. Even your suggestion that I should "turn to the Atonement" so that "I may feel good again" is a way of insisting that I feel dirtied and less than. I SHOULD NOT have to feel that way, for actions that I MYSELF had nothing to do with. Not YOU or ANYBODY ELSE should get to make me feel like that. The feelings of shame I have felt for over a year are due ALMOST ENTIRELY to societal influences; this culture has effectively tucked me in the corner under the label "the victim". You cannot be around people who say things like "I would rather die than give into temptation" as a survivor of sexual assault without going completely insane. I get whispered about in my church community. I get treated much differently. I get treated like a delicate, damaged girl, but I am not that. I am a strong, resilient, grown-ass woman, and I will not let people like you make me think otherwise. In relation to sexual assault, we should always teach the victims that they are strong, whole, and complete people. That nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, can take away from that. It is this type of dialogue that will serve survivors much better. Using "Atonement" and "Forgiveness" language smacks of victim blaming, even if that is not what the person saying these things is trying to do at all. So I recommend not using it. Just don't.

Anonymous said...

Olivia, if you are finding yourself afraid that men will force themselves on you, I don't think you should be begging them cutely, for the sake of your eternal soul, to not do so. I think you should be furious at them. I think you should be asking yourself why these men feel entitled to sex from you and your peers. I think maybe the way that men are being raised is the problem here, not just a few guys with normal sexual temptations. Sexual assault is far more about entitlement, power, and control than it is about sexual desire or lust.

oliviakaytalley said...

Well, that's the whole point of this post. To bring to light the reality of how I and many of my friends feel. My focus is not that we are all mad and afraid that we are going to get raped. That is not how I feel and I hope my letter didn't come across that way. My focus is that temptation is all around us, all the time, and as hard as that can be, especially in the dating world, I hope and pray to find a man that fights as hard to keep himself worthy of going to the temple and receiving exhalation with a family we have raised together as much as me. My point is that I don't understand why such an expectation is so outstanding in a place with such an abundance of young men and women who sacrificed two years of their lives serving the Lord and His children.

To be furious and angry is to let the adversary take hold of your heart and mind. I am asking for change, and I know it may be an impossible task, and I know people only change if they want to. But if I can at the very least instill in the heart of one person a small spark of thought, I consider this blog a success. If you want change, you do not force it-you do not yell, get angry, argue, or demand. You ask with all sincerity with your only intention being betterment and fuller happiness. You change people by loving them.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you, Olivia, for standing up on this. Far too many young men treat young women terribly. Far too many young men, endowed with God's power to act in His name do anything but. When you accept a date with a young man who is LDS, especially if he is an RM, you shouldn't have to fear for your virtue. Why is it that the brethren continue to speak to the young men and plead with them to start acting like men of God? Why is it that young women have to fight off unwanted advances? Why can't these young men honor their priesthood and honor the women they date? Frankly, I'm ashamed that so many young men fall so short by their own choice. As a mother of 4 sons, I teach them to respect and honor women and to never do anything to a woman that would ever put her virtue at risk. It IS their responsibility to honor women and anything short of that is unbecoming of the priesthood they hold. We should be holding them accountable and Olivia has every right to do so and to expect them to act appropriately on a date. Young men who act this way should be stripped of their temple recommends. And while young women also bear responsibility for how they dress and act, ultimately the young men are still responsible for their own actions, they cannot push the blame on anyone else. If a young man rapes a young woman, it does not matter what she was wearing or where she was or how she was acting, he committed a crime and he should be punished.

If my daughter were sexually assaulted, I would not stop until that young man paid the price. And I would never allow people to belittle my daughter for being the victim of a violent crime. I don't think Olivia was saying that in that situation you need to use the atonement to feel good, as in clean, but rather to be able to forgive the perpetrator and go on with your life. I am ashamed that people treat those who've been assaulted that way, That is completely wrong. Women should not be blamed for being the victim of a violent crime.

As far as RMs, Olivia has every right to want to date and marry a young man who has honorably served a mission and dedicated two years of his life to the Lord. Are all RMs like this? No. Are all young men who do not serve missions dishonorable? No. But a young man who serves an honorable mission learns things that cannot be learned elsewhere. A young man who chooses not to serve a mission, at the very least, is exhibiting that he is not converted enough to serve. Young men who don't want to or aren't ready to serve, should not serve. Maybe they will change their minds at some point and maybe they will find that conversion down the road, I hope so. But there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with Olivia wanting to date young men who have honorably served a mission. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with Olivia asking young men to honor their covenants. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with Olivia having dating standards that are important to her. If her dating standards offend you perhaps it is because it hits too close to home. Perhaps it is because you don't want to feel bad for not being that worthy, honorable young man that Olivia, and many, many girls like her, would want to date. If that's the case, make the changes necessary so young women who have guarded their virtue and immersed themselves in the gospel will want to date you.

Anonymous said...

The Lord cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance. Just because the world wants to change morality through a ballot box does not mean it is no longer immoral or a sin. Homosexuality is a sin just as adultery, fornication, dishonesty, open rebellion, and murder are all sins. Satan may want to sugar coat it, but the truth is it is a sin. Wickedness never was happiness. You can take whatever road you want, but there is only one road that leads to eternal happiness and joy and that is following the Savior. I always find it fascinating when members of the Church try to defend homosexual relations. They must be reading a different set of scriptures or attending a different temple session or going to a different sacrament meeting than I am. You cannot defend homosexual marriage and still support The Proclamation to the Family. Please, find me any scripture or any talk from a prophet or any thing from the Church handbook that says homosexual marriage is acceptable to the Lord. Please. I'd be very interested in seeing it.

But let's not get sidetracked. This blog post is about asking young men who hold the priesthood to act like they hold the priesthood and stop acting like animals.

It's interesting that this blog post has ignited such responses. It's just a blog post by a young woman who wanted to express her views and plead with young men to step it up and act like they represent God. Something that the brethren have done over and over and over again.

Bailey said...

"a young man who serves an honorable mission learns things that cannot be learned elsewhere"

I disagree. Many of the same lessons learned on an LDS mission can be learned through service projects, moving out of your parents house, furthering one's education, traveling for other purposes, and door-to-door vacuum salesmanship. What specifically can young men learn on a mission that they can learn absolutely nowhere else?

"A young man who chooses not to serve a mission, at the very least, is exhibiting that he is not converted enough to serve"

This is not true at all. The reasons that people choose not to go on missions are as varied as the reasons that people choose to go on them (social pressure, parental pressure, nothing else to do after high school) and reducing all the possible things that can go wrong in a potential missionaries life to spiritual failing is overly simplistic and foolish. Its also immensely shaming to those who do not complete missionary work for reasons outside of their control.

Finally, as long as these young women are so confident in their own standards, there is literally no reason for them to "fear for their virtue" because the actions of their date have honestly nothing to do with the girl's "virtue" if we agree that sexual assault does nothing to taint one's "virtue". If the tainting is consensual, then I don't see why the blame is to be placed on the male date.

Olivia is obviously more than welcome to only date RMs or only date non-missionaries or do whatever she wants. But she, and the rest of you, are wrong to characterize these divisions of people with such sweeping and ignorantly shaming statements.

Anonymous said...

I think many in the church acknowledge that the words of the prophets can be flawed (and have been before). I think that's how they can reconcile homosexuality and the Church. Which is a fair enough approach.

Bailey said...

There are righteous forms of anger. Don't even try to tell me otherwise, that I'm not allowed to be angry. Because I'm not angry at a particular adversary, I'm angry at a bad societal system that unfortunately has contaminated our religious life.

guest said...

Also, with respect to homosexual marriage, it is possible that a church member supports it in the civil respect. This does not mean that they want homosexual marriages to be sanctioned by the church necessarily, but that gay couples should be allowed to have civil marriages, in other words, equality and belief in the separation of church and state.

oliviakaytalley said...

I mean, this post isn't even actually about gay marriage...but I do have a link handy to the Church's official stance on the matter:
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage

Angela said...

Olivia, you're a genius. I love everything you said. Ignore these haters. Half of them posted as "Anonymous" anyway, so they're hiding behind the internet. You are brave, and completely right in every respect in this blog post. Thank you for sharing, and being a positive force on the internet.

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

The word of the prophet is never flawed. The Lord has said the prophet will never lead the Church astray.

Angela said...

The prophet has asked the young men to serve missions. There really is no exception to this rule except mental illness, to which I would say is a very good reason, and I wouldn't judge someone who was suffering from that. But Olivia is still well within her right to not want to take that on as one of her challenges in mortality. I know I would struggle with that, personally, and I really admire people that do take those things on willingly. But, that aside, there really isn't another good reason why a young man shouldn't serve a mission. Maybe they made mistakes when they were younger, and maybe they've repented, and that's wonderful, and they're not bad people, but Olivia didn't make those same mistakes and she deserves someone who is her equal. She has lived her life in such a way that she deserves someone that loves God more than anything else. If you don't feel the same way, that's fine, you go out with those guys, they deserve to be loved too. But it's hard enough when even RMs aren't keeping their covenants. The fact of the matter is that RMs have already made covenants, and those that served faithfully and have kept their covenants before, during, and after their missions, are much more likely to keep their marriage covenant with you. Not saying the other guys won't for sure, but RMs have already proved themselves, if they are faithful. So the likelihood of an eternal marriage is greatly increased. Just saying.

oliviakaytalley said...

Anonymous, first of all, I would like to call for civility here, and would appreciate if you would refrain from using profanity. I am sure we can express ourselves in a respectful manner, and since it is my blog, anything less will be deleted. Second, I don't know where you got the idea that I in any way believe that those who don't serve are sex crazed, immoral, or worthless. Because I said none of the above. In fact, had you read my actual words, you would have read that I literally said that I don't think those who don't serve missions are in any way bad people. In fact, I know great men that didn't serve. I am saying that I wouldn't date those that are not returned missionaries, however. And as a young lady looking to get married, that is my prerogative. And I disagree that a man has any "social" excuse not to serve, or that some "aren't built to endure religious door-to-door salesmanship." First of all, because I think it is incredibly ignorant to compare saving souls to "salesmanship," and also because the Lord would not ask men to serve, knowing that some "just weren't built for it." That's a poor excuse. Missions are hard for everyone. I have yet to talk to a man off his mission that thought it was easy and wasn't tested in every way possible. Medical and mental issues are the only reason not to serve missions. I don't think those who can't serve or must come home early due to the aforementioned reasons are in any way inferior. I know boys that can't go due to mental disabilities that would give anything to trade places with someone who doesn't to be able to go. I recently dated a guy that had to come home early for medical reasons. I think their desire to serve is admirable. They are not who I am talking to. I am talking entirely to those men who have the ability to go, and choose not to. That CHOICE not to do so is a quality that I don't have any desire for my future date, boyfriend, or especially husband to possess. Which is very much my choice. And you can think that is absurd, horrible, sexist, or whatever you want. That is fine. I am not looking to date you or anyone who has the same mindset as you. So think as you will. My blog is for my thoughts and opinions

Kenzee Monson said...

These people aren't haters. They are people offering honest critiques of what has been written. Nothing wrong with that.

Kenzee Monson said...

I am not so sure. I would venture to say that most missionaries these days really only go because of social pressures to do so. That said, RM's might be more likely to be lemmings or mere followers, much less self assured than their non RM counterparts. I would personally rather be we to someone who loved god for themselves, really truly loved him, than someone who might simply be marrying me due to very similar social pressures as the ones that sent them on their mission! I'd want it to be real! Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Olivia,

I wanted to commend you for your dating standards, and for calling RM's to a higher standard. I think this is commendable. There is nothing wrong with wanting to date only RM's. And I am grateful that you want to remind young men to keep up their standards once they return home from their mission. As a member of a bishopric I couldn't agree more.

However I also wanted to comment about some of the comments that have been made on your blog and facebook page. I am a little stunned about how little some people think of me. I chose not to serve a mission for my own personal reasons. It had nothing to do with personal worthiness, faith, medical or mental conditions. I was worthily sealed in the temple when I could have still have accepted a calling for a full time mission.

Yet here I stand condemned. A man who spends most of his evenings and Saturdays working to bring people into this gospel, trying to reactivate those who are lost, refuting and clarifying critics of this gospel. A man who walks head on into the battle in the hopes of finding someone who is lost. A man who sacrifices what little time I have to serve as a member of the bishopric, dedicating entire Sundays and weekdays. A man who holds a current temple recommend, and regularly attends the temple. A man who has given every once of my energy that I have, and much more, to be the type of man who may Savior can be proud of. A man who treats his wife like the princess she deserves to be because nobody else will. A man who keeps his covenants with the utmost sacredness.

Please don't condemn me as a covenant breaker, or a rebellious spirit. I never have been.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is some wisdom in learning to hear and listen to the spirit. He knows how that RM will turn out, and he knows how that non-RM will turn out. It's probably wiser than a missionary status label.

oliviakaytalley said...

Bishop, I want to apologize to you most sincerely if you understood my words or those of my friends as condemning. That was certainly not my intention, and I say again that I absolutely don't think less of men that didn't serve. I know incredible men that didn't. I know relatives and stake presidents that didn't. As we have always been taught, this life is about agency and the freedom to choose. And that is what makes it beautiful. Some of the best men I knew from my home ward didn't serve and are some of the most humble, righteous people I know. But I am addressing right now, at this point in my own dating life, with men that are the same age in the same place as me. It is not that every man is this way, but from my own experience, boys that took me out that did not serve missions did not treat me with the same respect that most boys who did serve treated me. It has been infinitely more difficult to find a man that is at the same place as me spiritually, in my experience, when he hasn't served. I do not pretend to be a saint or spiritually perfect, but I know where I am at. I know how full my lamp is. And in my experience, I have found that the men that serve missions have been the ones that I felt were on the same place on the path as I was. To reiderate, I am absolutely not saying that I am spiritually better than young men who for whatever reason didn't serve missions. Not by any means. I am just saying that its already like looking for a needle in a haystack to find RM's that treat girls like princesses.

So again, I apologize if my words came across as condemning. That is not my intention. I am saying that being an RM is a quality that I require my husband to have, just as anyone has has qualities that they need and want their spouse to have. And yes, I am calling for young men to stand up and be men. A call which has been on the tongues of the bretheren. If everyone reading this will recall back to October General Conference, Priesthood Session. Elder Holland gives a resounding, intense talk, commanding for men to step up and be worthy, to hold the priesthood and serve missions. It was one of the most powerful talks I have ever heard, and I am a woman who listened to it days after. I doubt he would so fiercely and forcefully declare the need for men to serve if it was not critically important.

Anonymous said...

There is inherent danger in sending a message to young men that it is okay if they do not serve a mission. It is cheating a young man out of experiences that he needs and service to people he can touch, to justify not serving a mission by using examples of men who haven't served missions but have gone on to become exemplary husbands, fathers, and leaders. What about all the young men who don't serve and don't become those exemplary leaders? What about the young men who could've done so much more had they served a mission? You can find examples of people who dated non-members and married them and were then sealed in the temple. Do we suggest that because some have married out of the Church but gone to the temple that it's not a big deal to date non-members? What about all of those who didn't get sealed and may never get sealed? Young men who receive the priesthood should honor it. They should honor it on dates.They should honor it by serving a mission if they can physically and/or mentally do so. Serving a mission does something for a young man that nothing else can. Certainly, there are young men who serve missions who shouldn't be there and certainly there are good men who didn't serve missions. I know some amazing men who never served but are very faithful and better men than most. However, I still encourage all young men to serve missions because those men are the exception, not the rule. The call is for all worthy young men to serve missions. The Lord knows that there are things to be learned only in a mission setting and that there are people those young men need to touch, that's why He's called for young men to serve. Those who are obedient to that call receive the blessings associated with that obedience. To imply anything else is to shortchange these young men.

The words of the prophets are flawed? That idea will only lead to apostasy.

Anonymous said...

Asking someone to be kind and not speak badly of men who didn't serve missions is not the same as discouraging boys not to serve. Yes, encourage them! Send them! Ask them to aspire to their greatest potential. But don't disrespect and shame the men who don't. And don't belittle the examples of men who didn't serve and became great men. We don't need to call out anyone. We simply need to love each other, not judge each other, and everyone do their best. What is wrong with that?

oliviakaytalley said...

I am no longer defending my stance on this. I am not going to tell you for the upteenth time that I wasn't speaking badly of anyone. Think as you will. I have said my part and if you take issue with that, then that is your issue. Because it is evident that people are going to keep choosing to be offended by this post and ignore what I have actually said.

Anonymous said...

I understand where you are coming from and I agree that striving to marry an RM is a worthwhile thing. I have no issue with this, or dating only RM's. My concern was the generalizing that some have made that non-RM's are not covenant keepers, or that they are rebellious. We covenant to be a witness of Christ at baptism, but this in all places and times. Choosing not to go on a mission is not breaking a covenant because you haven't made any such covenants until you go through the temple in preparation for the next stage of your life, whether that is marriage or going on a mission (or sometimes later).

Let me be incredibly clear on this. A worthy young man with a testimony should absolutely serve. Not doing so for the reasons you have mentioned above will leave a hole in you that can never be repaired. And it is as critical as the brethren have mentioned. But it doesn't make them rebellious to God, and it doesn't make them non-covenant keepers. Could not going be a sign of rebellion? Absolutely. Does it qualify all of us to be labeled as rebellious on its own? Absolutely not. However, it certainly qualifies as a missed experience and opportunity.

I absolutely want you to find someone who is on the same spiritual level as you, and your best bet for that is an RM. I only request that you don't lump all of us non-RM's into one group, just as you have not lumped all of the RM's into one group.

-Bishopric guy from above

Heather said...

"Choosing to be offended"

*runs out the door, crying from secondhand embarrassment*

I mean maybe, just maybe, what you have written or your tone or something, JUST SOMETHING happens to be *actually* hurtful. Just maybe.

oliviakaytalley said...

"When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make. It is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else." (David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," Liahona, November 2006, 89-92.)

Heather said...

How bout maybe what you have written is inherently disrespectful in its generalizations? Regardless of what you or I or brother so and so feels? We don't have to use the word offended if you don't want to. We can use disrespectful.

A GAL NEEDS said...

The above post is the post that would make the most sense to me. If you are not accustomed to listening to the spirit, then you will tend to pidgeon-hole people so you can have the life that YOU visualize and that YOU want. Sometimes, the life that YOU want and the life that God wants for you may be the same, but the way to get it may be a bit different. and the only way to know what God wants is to be able to listen to the Spirit (the gift we receive at baptism). The problem is that it is hard to trust your ability to do that and even more difficult to live so that you can claim that gift. I guarantee that rather than say I will NEVER do this or I won't accept someone who doesn't do THIS, it is far better to love everyone equally and listen to the spirit. If you do, you will be guided in the way that is the best for you!

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