The first time I met Jimmer Fredette was actually on the football field. I was visiting friends for a few days and, guys being guys, we played sports. A lanky, quiet kid was on my team and answered to the name "Jimmer." He didn't talk much, and explained he was going to take it easy because he didn't want to get injured. But he could throw and catch, and ended up on my team.

Today the name "Jimmer" is nationally known for basketball. But a list of statistics has never really defined a person when they get off the court... which lends itself to an interesting experience when watching from the outside.

Jimmer was a leading scorer for BYU. He was named player of the year by multiple sources. He's 22. He's majoring in American Studies at BYU. He has an older sister and brother.

But there's another stat that comes to mind - one that's empty. Jimmer never served a mission for the Church. And to an outsider who knows, that stat holds much more of a hidden story about who he is than the number of 3-point shots he hit in the last ten games.

Through the prophet, the Lord has commanded all worthy, able young men to serve for two years as full-time missionaries. That's the expectation. So when anyone chooses not to, it opens up the discussion to the universality of principles... and the difficulty in judging actions, applying them to life, and not judging people as a whole.

In the case of a national star like Jimmer Fredette, there are usually two strongly felt opinions. One - that Jimmer is infallible, or must have good judgment, and is in the public spotlight... and hence there must be some spectacular exception in his case. The same thing is happening with David Archuleta, and in his case all sorts of strange things have gone around - from people claiming to have overheard their cousin mention that the prophet had told him not to serve, to others asserting that he had been called as a lifelong full-time music missionary and ordained by God before he even came, so "obviously" he wouldn't serve a full-time proselyting mission.

The other side believes that the teachings of the prophet, when he speaks about all worthy and able young men, truly apply to all young men... and have big issues with the fact that anyone in the public eye wouldn't take the time to serve the Lord.

The potential dilemma comes as soon as I try to make a distant judgment of Jimmer as a person, and of his situation. I know that serving a mission is a commandment. If I judge him though, I align myself with one of the above camps - either claiming that God's commandments are not absolute, but relative, optional, and/or dependent on circumstances, or disregarding personal circumstances altogether.

Neither camp is ideal. Here at (Gay) Mormon Guy I get responses from both sides, usually passionate, trying to project themselves on my life. Sometimes they are accurate, and sometimes they're not.

But there is another option... one that holds much more power to love and understand others. And it comes when I don't judge people when I don't need to.

If I don't know him, does it really matter to my salvation whether Jimmer served a mission? Should his decision affect my own, or anyone else distant from him? I'd say no - except to cause me to turn to God and find personal direction in my own life. If he were my brother, it would be a more pressing issue. 

At the same time, his decision also doesn't change my conviction that all worthy young men should serve a mission... and my push to help them serve faithfully.

So was it right or wrong that Jimmer didn't serve a mission? 

I think that's the wrong question.

Here's a better one. Should all young men serve missions?

The Lord has asked all worthy and able young men to serve as full-time missionaries. So yeah, they should.
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