Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Girls and Missionaries: The View from 1964

Girls and Missionaries: The View from 1964

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 17, 2012

Advice to girls in “the mission field” offered by Katherine B. Cannon of the YWMIA General Board:

Girls Should Help the Missionary Honour his Priesthood

It is a wonderful thing to be a girl, especially a Latter-day Saint girl, for all the wealth of eternity can be hers. No one but herself can keep her from the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom. She must live our heavenly father’s teachings each day. She must help those around her to do the same.

In God’s great plan, young people of the same age should enjoy associating together on a social basis. However, there is an exception to this rule: Young boys who are called as missionaries to serve the Lord for a set period of time, are not to socialise during these years in the established sense of the word. Their minds should be on our Heavenly Father’s work, and it is the place of all young LDS girls to help, never hinder them.

Missionaries are called of God and set apart as His servants. god tells us “let them go two by two and thus let them preach …” (D. & C. 52:10.) Now these choice young people are sent two by two that they might give each other strength and be a witness one for another. They wear the cloak of authority to teach in the name of Jesus Christ, and they have been promised, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also. I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D. & C. 84:88.)

This wonderful spirit that these young men and women radiate makes us feel that they are very “special,” and we can see that they differ from other young people who do not have this special calling. Our missionaries become very dear to us as they do to all members of the Church and to those people to whom they teach the Gospel.

Many times, as they speak, girls are led to believe that they are interested in them personally, are “in love” with them. THIS CAN NEVER BE during the mission years! These young men are called of the Lord and set apart to dedicate a certain number of months to His service. during this time they are relieved of all other responsibilities except of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the world. The Lord has commanded them to go forth with an eye single to his Glory!

The missionary and his family sacrifice much as he goes into the mission field.

There is only joy and gratitude in all their hearts because of his wonderful call to serve His Heavenly Father. it is a difficult task for these young men in their vigorous youth to subdue and overcome their natural physical inclinations. yet because of their great love for the Gospel and their knowledge of its truthfulness, and they put on the Armour of God and go out into the world as soldiers in the Army of the Lord. They have pledged themselves to follow the rules, and in return they are clothed with the spirit of our heavenly Father and given this promise: “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

To desert a post in the army can mean to surrender life itself. to do so in the Army of the Lord can mean to give up life eternal. The missionaries love the members for their dedication to the Church. Because of this mutual dedication, singleness of purpose, and interest, it is only natural that the members, contacts, and missionaries should be drawn close together. However, in this there is grave danger. For instance, young girls often interpret this love and dedication as a personal attraction. IT CANNOT BE. This is a missionary’s sacred calling, and no young girl in the mission field should cause these young men to waver in their singleness of purpose.

Girls must be strong in their dedication to the Church and help the missionaries honour their priesthood and remember who they are and why they are in the mission field. Every member of the Church prays daily that the missionaries will be protected from harm and evil and that they will fulfill their callings.

It is every mother’s prayer that her son might be as pure gold, for gold is the only element which will not mix with another element. While they are missionaries, it is the united prayer of the church members that each and every missionary will be pure gold. Everyone should work hard to have these prayers come true. Missionaries are only human. They are young boys just like your very own brothers. Girls must think seriously about how they would like their brother to be treated if he were called to leave his home and family and dedicate two years of his life to his Heavenly father’s work. They must think how their mother would worry about him and how all would pray that he be kept from harm.

Being young, he might find it difficult not to waiver at times, especially if he is tempted by the girls. The Lord would surely be disappointed in him if he stepped down, as would his parents, his brothers, his sisters, his friends, the entire Church. Each missionary needs our help and support and our prayers that his glorious calling might be fulfilled. each missionary needs our help to stand firm and straight in his purpose.

Girls must help to keep them strong and stalwart soldiers as they travel over the battlefields of the world holding aloft their swords of truth and right. The girls’ policy must always be to keep themselves aloof and apart from the missionaries emotionally while they are in the service of the Lord, that there will be no temptation placed in their paths. Girls should never seek to be alone with a missionary. Missionaries should not be invited socially to girls’ homes. Even though they are called of God and set apart as His holy servants, they are still only young men filled with all the appetites of youth. How terrible would be a girl’s condemnation if she were the reason for a missionary to fail in his duty.

A girl’s mission is almost as great as theirs, and she must dedicate herself to help them succeed, remembering always that they are special tools in the hands of the Lord and they cannot function properly without complete dedication of purpose. This is the responsibility of every LDS girl living in a mission field, and our Heavenly Father will bless each one as she helps Him keep these young men in the path of righteousness.



  1. Some rather dubious chemistry there. (Disclaimer–I’m not a chemist, but my father and grandfather were chemists.) There are a lot of gold compounds, as a quick Google search shows. So much for gold not mixing with other elements. The noble gases are much less likely to make compounds, but nobody ever said that young missionaries were like argon or krypton. I’d be willing to bet that some mission president or AP has, however, compared missionaries to kryptonite.

    Besides, in that presidential election year of 1964, Sister Cannon surely must have heard of that most famous of all gold compounds, AuH2O.

    As to girls as the temptress–well, I’ll let someone else rant about that.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 17, 2012 @ 8:42 am

  2. Isn’t this just a wonderful example of how our social rules are principle and not doctrine? Wow. Reminds me of Marty Jezer’s text for my Women’s Studies class in undergrad who called 1945-1960 “The Dark Ages.” It’s less worth a rant than a forehead slap, because, joy of joys, that’s largely the blissfully distant past. So glad that’s not the dialogue now, at least in my experience. Thanks for this reminder of how good my life has been, being born in the 60s.

    Comment by Bonnie — April 17, 2012 @ 9:04 am

  3. AuH20! Ha!

    Yeah,I see this as closely related to the current (and how far back?)modesty lectures. I can support an explanation of the rules missionaries live with, and cautions not to misinterpret the friendly, caring conversation of elders, and a frank discussion that for reasons of courtesy and self respect girls should respect mission rules and not make life any harder for missionaries than it already is … but to practically absolve a missionary who is “only human” if he wavers in his commitment, and offer “condemnation” to a girl who is “the reason” for a missionary’s failure … Ugh.

    Does that count as a rant, or just a forehead slap?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 17, 2012 @ 9:13 am

  4. I met my husband while he served as a missionary in our branch. :)

    I was only 13 at the time and neither of us had a clue we’d meet up two years later when I went to Ricks as a 15 year old…but still, it’s fun to answer people when they ask how we met and see their reactions. You can practically see all the thoughts zipping by in their head “Oh you were one of those girls.”

    Comment by Chocolate on my Cranium — April 17, 2012 @ 9:38 am

  5. What puzzles me is the counsel that missionaries should not be invited “socially” to the homes of girls. Would that not discount a great many of the members’ homes? Or is it OK to invite them “anti-socially”?
    My experience as a missionary, long after the 1960s, was that the mothers of “the girls” could be guilty of “placing temptation” in an elder’s way, making sure that they were very definitely in their homes and flat-out encouraging relationships with their daughters.

    Comment by Alison — April 17, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  6. Not only were you one of those girls, Chocolate, you got started purty darn young! :)

    I knew one of those families, Alison, in France. Three teenage daughters, as smart and beautiful and flirty and active as anybody could hope for, a real asset to any ward whether it was southern France or the Salt Lake Valley … except the parents really wanted their girls to marry missionaries and go to the U.S. and promoted every possible contact between the elders and their daughters. It got to be more than a little embarrassing, especially when the elders played along far more than we sisters thought was appropriate.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 17, 2012 @ 10:11 am

  7. Just in case you don’t remember that election campaign, Ardis: I didn’t make that up. It was on campaign signs, buttons, bumper stickers, etc. In fact, the entire state of Arizona was lit up so it looked like that from space. Or something.

    The only family I met in Japan that invited missionaries over regularly had three lovely girls, in their late teens and very early 20s. Was Sister S____ hoping to land American husbands for the daughters? Now, nearly four decades later, I just don’t know. But we were happy to visit with them and eat their food and teach them–and none of the young ladies married any of the missionaries who served in that area. And there weren’t any sister missionaries in the area to chide us (or to be embarrassed on our behalf) if we crossed the line. : )

    Comment by Mark B. — April 17, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  8. Almost as great as theirs…..ugh.

    Comment by Diana — April 17, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  9. Mark, did you and your comp make dates with them (there were three girls, not just two, so it was okay, right?) to stroll along the quai and watch the fireworks on Bastille Day (or whatever the Japanese equivalent was)? I think not.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 17, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  10. There is good teaching in the original posting, and the underlying principle applies both ways — boys and young men should similarly respect sister missionaries — but the author was writing to girls, not to boys.

    A forehead slap is an entirely reasonable response for “to practically absolve a missionary who is ‘only human’ if he wavers in his commitment, and offer ‘condemnation’ to a girl who is ‘the reason’ for a missionary’s failure”. Or a charitable “God bless them”.

    Comment by ji — April 18, 2012 @ 9:45 am

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