So the big topic that has the Mormon and ex-Mormon blogospheres similarly abuzz is the shocking announcement at General Conference that missionary ages are being lowered. That's right--young men may serve as early as 18 and young women as early as 19.
In light of this development, I'd like to add my own spin to the zillions of other opinions swirling around on the internet. I'd like to talk about dirty sales tactics (or scammer tactics) and how they apply to the church's decision to get the mishies out early. This is not about the tactics the missionaries will use on the unsuspecting public to lure them into a seemingly harmless but secretly destructive religious organization--this is about the tactics that religious organization is using on the missionaries.
Always, always be wary of someone trying to rush your decision.
A car salesman will try to get you to hurry-up-and-buy-this-car-because-it's-exactly-what-you-want-and-it's-such-a-great-deal-and-you'll-love-it. It sounds great at the time, and it can be a pretty tempting offer, especially with how much a good salesman will talk the deal up. But if you take a second to think about it, you may realize that this car won't give you the kind of gas mileage you're hoping for and you'll wind up paying a smidge more than you can afford for your monthly payment. If you're fooled, you'll get yourself into a long-term car loan that you'll wind up regretting. A good (albeit, crafty) salesman can convince you that signing for that car right now is the best thing you can do. Of course, he's in it for the commission. He's not necessarily worried about what's best for you--especially in the long run.
Another example is the recent Reveton ransomware worm, which "locks" a computer with a message claiming that the user has engaged in some kind of illegal online activity. The message claims that the only way to "unlock" the computer and avoid being arrested is to pay a two hundred dollar fine to a law enforcement agency (such as the FBI) within the next 72 hours. The worm's success is based on people's initial reaction being, "I'm in so much trouble, I better do this right now before this gets any worse." The panic can cause people to overlook the shadiness of the FBI requesting fines payable via Moneypak. The message looks legitimate enough to make people make quick, careless decisions and willingly donate two hundred hard-earned dollars to a web-savvy scam artist.
And, of course, the third example is the LDS church rushing its youth into missionary work. The less time the kids have between graduating from high school and arriving at the MTC, the less time there is to carefully consider their decision to serve a mission. The typical Mormon life is laid out pretty specifically (especially for the men): deacon, teacher, priest, graduate, wait a year possibly at college, and then mission, marriage. The church is trying to streamline this sequence and allow less time for experiencing the world and "shopping around" before committing to an adult lifestyle.
I think the brethren are hoping that every male born in the church will be hurried straight down this path (without passing Go or collecting $200, ha ha) and suddenly wake up at 25 as a married returned missionary with two kids...and then decide that, even if they wanted to leave the lifestyle, it's too late. Might as well keep going.
A rushed decision is often a bad one. The church is trying to maximize its member's rushed decisions. And that doesn't seem right to me.