Sunday, March 11, 2012

Taxes and Missionaries

I was talking with my family tonight about tax season.  My sister had finally decided to get her taxes done professionally, because for the first time in her life, she'd had a very complicated year as far as taxes go.  She'd gotten married and her husband recently quit his job in another state and started his own business in this state, and the whole thing was confusing enough that she figured it might be better to have a professional sort it all out for her.

My dad said that he'd heard that a nearby university was offering its accounting students as volunteers to give people free advice about filing their tax returns.  He chuckled and said, "I'd rather pay for a professional to do it than take the advice of some 20-year-old kid who's halfway through his accounting program!"

My immediate thought (which I did not share with my Mormon family) was, "So...why do you support the church's missionary program then?"

The point of his comment was, of course, that you shouldn't put your trust in someone who's not completely qualified, especially someone young and inexperienced.  But as a bishop and a stake president, my dad has sent dozens of missionaries out into the field.  Missionaries who teach about the plan of happiness and eternal marriage...but who've never been married themselves.  How could they be considered qualified to preach about sacred ordinances if they haven't quite achieved all of them?

Nineteen years old is a horrible time to send out a missionary.  This is the time when most kids are adjusting to life after high school, discovering their identities, and seeing the real world outside of their parents' direct care and protection.  But the church plucks these kids up and sends them out to preach to the world before they've really had a chance to experience the world.  And instead of discovering their identities, the missionaries discover the church and substitute it for an identity.  I'm sure most missionaries--especially the ones that were born and raised in the church--have little understanding of the struggles some of their investigators have, but they boldly go door to door proclaiming that they have the solutions.

If you won't trust your tax return to a partially-trained 20-year-old, why would you trust your eternal salvation to a partially-trained 20-year-old?  Mormonism expects you to.

And that doesn't seem right to me.

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