Recently the mission president of the Denver North mission came to our ward to inform us that elders would no longer be able to visit single women investigators without a priesthood holder from our congregation going with them. Our ward has many capable sisters, many who have served missions themselves, who would be excellent chaperones for these types of appointments but apparently this is unacceptable. He told us that this was standard church policy, that it is written in the handbook and that there could be no exceptions.
Unsurprisingly, this has proved to be a significant hardship for our inner city ward that struggles with a lack of priesthood holders to fill all the callings reserved for men. These are good men but they are already spread too thin. They simply do not have enough time or energy to take this on. Which means that my husband, as bishop, is the one that has to go out with the elders so that they can share the gospel with women.
Mr. Mraynes already has a demanding career which the church has now put a second, unpaid full time job on top of. The nights and/or weekends he has to go out with the elders is time away from his children–time that is already in too short supply. What does it profit the church if they potentially gain one soul but lose the souls of our four, young children because their father is never home?
I have not heard about this policy being implemented anywhere else in the world so I suspect that we are living under the tyranny of one man’s interpretation of the handbook. But even so, the church should have seen this coming as it is an obvious extension of policy already in place.
Mormon feminists have been saying for years that it is insulting that, unless there is a man in the home, faithful sisters cannot feed or be edified by the presence of elders. Mormon doctrine clears Eve, and by extension all women, from being evil temptresses but apparently that only counts in theory, not practice. Or if the policy exists to protect women, as I have also been told,perhaps we should not be sending out young men who we are afraid might sexually assault any woman they come into contact with. Also, I fail to see how adding another man to these visits will make a female investigator feel anymore comfortable or safe.
Perhaps I am being unfair to this mission president and it is a church-wide policy. In which case, the church should be honest about its motives. We have heard whispers for years of missionaries being told not to teach single women–this is a very effective way to make sure that happens. The direct effect of this policy is that less women will investigate and join our church, either because elders and ward members feel it is too big of a hassle or the women themselves will rightly be insulted and won’t want anything to do with an institution that treats them this way.
Hopefully this is not a general church policy and is one over-zealous mission president, in which case the church should be explicit in clearing this up. If, however, the church does not want to convert anymore single women then they would save everybody a load of trouble by just saying it out loud. And if this is not the case, then either put sister missionaries in every area or change this stupid policy.