The number of missionaries is down about 15,000 from its peak. The number of convert baptisms is down about 20% per missionary. Retention rates are also down. There are numbers of young men who would be willing to serve missions who are not allowed to because of sins that would not have barred them from missionary service previously. Is there a link here?
It is difficult to argue with the simple fact that results don’t lie. No one wants a bunch of hypocrites teaching the gospel. Yet if we bar all sinners from teaching the gospel then no one is available to teach the gospel. It seems to me that the decision to “raise the bar” has been counterproductive and destructive. I am not suggesting that we look the other way when there is serious sin. I am not suggeting that it is OK to send abusers, pedophiles or predators into the mission field. But the largest number of those affected by “raising the bar” don’t fit any of these sins — they are just run of the mill sinners like all of us.
Many who would go and have at least one convert are not being converted. The long term effect of the number of those who would be converted and remain active is staggering. The issue isn’t numbers but the effect and impact on the lives of those who are barred and those they may have touched. I suggest that we return to a view that leaves the decision to the spirit and the local bishop without strict guidelines from Salt Lake. Wouldn’t it be better to let repentance take however long it takes instead of some written guideline that applies to all? Wouldn’t it be better to let the local priesthood leaders who know the young man (or woman) assess the trustworthiness of that individual rather than relying on a set rule about how long it takes to wait per type of sin committed?