Monday, November 24, 2008

The One Person Per Bed LDS Missionary Rule

Recently my wife and I were discussing the LDS missionary rule that says that missionary companions need to sleep in the same room but not in the same bed. I was lucky on my mission because we always had two beds in every apartment including one bedroom ones. They were usually hard spring poking twin beds. A full bed would have been a luxury. In addition most had plastic sheets to protect them from bed-wetting elders although I never wet the bed I can remember a couple of times I smelled something fetid when I went on an exchange. There is not worst than a soggy bed. We also had some good comfortable couches. I spent most of my time on the couch when I read the scriptures. I had many a good p-day snooze on a couch. As far as I was concerned the bed was for sleeping from 10pm until 6am.

I wasn't much in laying on the bed and having a chat so I would have kicked any elder in the head that went near my bed for any reason let alone to sit on it to talk to me. I wasn't in to any type of unmanly behavior and another dude on your bed bordered on violating my space. The only time I let another elder near my bed was when we prayed together and then he was on the floor kneeling. The only contact might be his hand pushing off the bed to get up and flop in to his own bed.

My wife tells me on her mission she had apartments where there was only one bed. She tells me her companion was unselfish and told her to sleep in the queen size bed while she slept on a couch in the room. She says some missionaries who didn't have couches and only one bed would have to alternate. My only drag was an apartment that had a shower in the kitchen with a shower head. You would pull a plastic curtain shut and the water flowed down the drain in the middle of the floor. Other than that I had complete privacy in all bathrooms. I read weird things that insist missionaries can't even go to the bathroom alone but that just is not true. It is the only place you can go alone the rest of the time you have to be in close proximity to your companion.

Times have changed since I was a kid and apparently the last thirty years has seen more extreme restrictions due to possible dangers. I remember sleeping with my two sisters until I was five years old. I slept on the side closest to the wall so I won't fall off. My sisters were six and three. It is not uncommon for females when they have sleepovers at any age to sleep in the same bed without anything happening in to their twenties. We only had two king size beds in our little two bedroom apartment as a kid growing up. The bed we shared was an old bed our parents once slept in. We were very poor. There were only four rooms in our apartment but we had a large closet/sun porch.

When two brothers were eventually born my mother made the closet in to another bedroom with bunk beds. We froze our buns off because there was no heating vent in that area of the house. I slept on the top bunk all alone and my two brothers slept on the bottom as they were one year and five years old and I was ten. I remember many a day falling off the bunk on to the floor in the middle of the night. I wonder if missionaries who have bunk beds like in the MTC find themselves on the floor in the morning.

I guess the one person per bed protects missionaries from any potential dangers. I have to say I was never attracted to any missionary companion or missionary in my field including sister missionaries for that matter. I didn't have the slightest interest in any of them as objects of desire and the beds were the size of postage stamps and would have broken if two people laid on one. As a missionary the only thing I thought about was doing the work. I was too tired for hanky panky and lived the mission rules the best I knew how. I only broke the sleeping in rule and that only by about fifteen minutes on any violation. I always got up by 6:15 a.m. at the latest but usually within a minute or two of 6:00am which was no small thing since I didn't use an alarm clock. I also had companions who purposely let me sleep to get some extra time alone on those few infractions.

I can't imagine why a mission president wouldn't purchase two beds for every apartment. I know that they try to keep cost down but in my mind it is riduculous to not provide minimum furnishings for every apartment. They should do a better job of selecting apartments for their missionaries if they only have one bed. I guess this is one of those topics that people have strong opinions about.

I am sure there are some wild stories of people in following this supposedly harmless guideline from the missionary handbook. I don't really believe that there are many missionaries who would have a problem either way but I guess the Church doesn't want trouble if something possibly did happen. Better safe than sorry as the adage goes.


Michael said...

Sounds like you have some very strange and powerful insecurities about your sexuality and masculinity. I would go to visit an LDS therapist about whatever unresolved issues you have about being in close proximity to other men.

Dr. B said...

I don't have any unresolved issues with men. I lived in a different time when I served a mission. We didn't even think about those kinds of things in the 1970s. I never worried about some missionary elder hitting on me. Today as a library director I have many gay and lesbian employees so you can save your crap for someone that needs it. I am definitely not homophobic. My comments were to get a discussion going. You can take your personal attacks somewhere else. Bozo.

Michael said...

Dr. B,

I wasn't making it a personal attack and I was not accusing you of homophobia. But your comments are so strident and adamant about your companion being next to your bed that it comes across as such.

When I was on my mission we generally had separate beds all the time and "temptation" was not an issue. But I did have companions who had the US definition of strident masculinity even though we were in Italy where straight men would walk down the street arm-in-arm and carry purses. Their culture did not have such hang-ups as we Americans tend to exhibit.

If we had a situation where there was no second bed it was not an issue to sleep in the same bed or on the floor (none of our apartments had couches).

Dr. B said...

Having served in Italy myself I know all about men linking arms during a passagata. I served the first seven months in Italy before I was transferred to Toronto Canada. When we opened Raguasa our palazzo with marble floors you would have frozen your buns off. In Canada it was even worst but luckily we all had beds. Since I have a wife and eight children I have no sexuality identity crisis. I treat my son with affection and don't have a problem expressing it.

Anonymous said...

Me thinks he doth protest too much.

Wells said...

my brother is a zone leader in europe right now and often hosts 12 elders in his apt--not enough beds, of course, and said that since companionships are not supposed to sleep together, they make sure they split them up so that they're sleeping with someone different :-)

Anonymous said...

Nobody in my mission ever slept in a bed.

We slept on the floor. I always slept on the same floor as my companion. Wasn't a problem.

Rob Caldwell said...

Dr. B, You started a good discussion. Thanks for putting yourself out there.
Separate beds is most important for one reason (IMHO): to sleep comfortably! When you get a good nights sleep, you are fresh and ready for the next day. Those are my two cents anyway.