Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two old emails

Here are two old emails that I'm posting because they relate to what I posted in my poetry blog today. I'm sorry I don't have room (or permission) to post the whole thread of either of these messages so that you can see the context they were written in, but each can stand on its own, so hopefully you won't be too confused.

This was written on Mother's Day a few years ago after I heard a talk that really upset me.

Sun May 8, 2005 12:36 pm
Mother's Day

We had a talk in church today that really bothered me. In it, there was a story of a woman who was a farmer's wife. When she and her young husband had taken over his father's farm it already had a huge mortgage. They had big plans, but by the time the
story took place, they were both overworked and falling behind. She didn't have time to do laundry, and keep house, and take care of the chickens, and get the tomatoes picked and taken to market, and take care of the children, and get all the fruit in from the orchard before it rotted. So she did what she could, but the house was a mess, and the mortgage payment was overdue, and the children were unwashed, and she was too tired to even care anymore.

Then one day while she's struggling to haul in a load of tomatoes to take to market, a car comes down the road, and a beautifully dressed lady comes to the door and wants to buy some apples, so the farm wife takes her out to the orchard, and starts to haul out the big ladder to get at the good ones, and the lady is all, "No don't do that, it's too heavy for you, that's man's work." and the farm wife laughs in her face and
says, "Look lady, you're all fine in your pretty grey wool suit, but if I don't do a man's work around here, we just won't make it." and the lady says, "When we were first married, and my husband was first starting out his company, he wanted me to keep my job as a secretary while he went out and did sales, but I knew that if we did that, we'd both be tired at the end of the day and we'd only eat takeout, and we'd both be miserable, so I stayed at home and made sure we had a feast on the table every night, even if it wasn't out of much, and we had some hard times, but we got by."

So then the lady leaves, but accidentally drops her perfumed handkerchief on the way out, and when the farm wife finds it, she decides to ignore the tomatoes, and let them rot in the barn for all she cares, and she puts on her one pretty dress, and cleans the kitchen, and makes a good meal, and when her husband comes in from the fields that night, and she's looking all pretty and serves him that nice meal he looks more grateful than he did when she hauled in all those potatoes last fall, and she knows now what her husband really wants from her: a clean house, a good meal, and a smiling face.

Is it just me, or is this story of the devil?

It totally sets up unrealistic expectations for women, and implies that if they can't get the laundry done that they've failed in their true calling in life, and maybe lost the love and respect of their husbands as well. It was further compounded by the fact that the next song we sang was "There is Beauty All Around" which implies that if you can't see the roses blooming beneath your feet, you must not have enough love in your family.

Maybe it's just because I'm having trouble even jugging work and keeping house, let alone the fact that everybody that hears I'm newly married makes me feel guilty about putting off having kids until Peter's job offers him benefits, and I'm just jealous
of my cousins and sisters in law who can stay home and have beautiful little blonde babies, but I was seriously in tears by the end of sacrament meeting.

Any thoughts?


This one was in response to a letter my sister-in-law wrote where she told about a Sunday School class she taught. Some people in the class vocally disagreed with the very idea of teaching "perfect ideals" like Temple Marriage because it offended those who hadn't made that choice.

Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:33 pm
Re: [TPMOTD] Hi Elder

I agree that we should acknowledge exceptions in our church lessons. Each person is different, and on a different point on the path to perfection. I think that the problem in Marcelle's Sunday School was not that the person wanted validation that their life was acceptable to the Lord too (in which case, they could have asked a question like, "Can those of us who are not blessed with the ideal temple marriage feel some of the blessings of an eternal family?" and then the class could have had a valuable discussion about teaching children, or how to love and support a spouse who hasn't made the commitment yet -- like in this month's Ensign article). The person attacked Marcelle for teaching that there was an ideal at all.

Taking the path of saying that all exceptions are equally valid leads to the moral relativism we see all around us today. 'The Family' goes from being 'Mom and Dad and the kids' to 'Mom and or Dad and or a child or two if it's not too much trouble' to 'Grandma raising her daughter's five illegitimate children each by different fathers' to 'Dad and Dad and some poor child they've adopted.' I don't deny that children in these 'alternative families' need to be loved and feel like they have a safe home and family, but nobody can tell me that the later ones are nearly as good for a child's social, emotional and spiritual development as the first. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. I'm the first to admit that marriages don't always work out the way we want them to, but I also know from experience, that it's worth working hard to get the ideal because life is so much better that way.

I think that our lessons could be improved by helping people to see the differences between Christian Liberty (where the Lord doesn't give us every nitty gritty detail, teaches correct principles and lets us govern ourselves), Repentance and Progression (we may not be perfect yet, but we are always moving forward, getting a little better), the Second Article of Faith (we won't be punished for the sins of others), and the Lord's Mercy (Those who didn't have a chance in this life to receive all the ordinances will not be punished for it in the next). All of these ideas allow for the exceptions we all know to be valid. At the same time, they stress personal responsibility -- we won't be punished for things that are out of our control, but only if we're doing our best to live the commandments we can, and work to improve in the areas where we haven't reached the ideal.


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