Can this Primary lesson be saved?: Being pure and righteous

My husband and I teach the CTR 6 class.  Actually, Brother J has been teaching Primary for the last four years, so he’s an expert.  But our ward split and the other gentleman who team-taught with him went to the new ward, and so a few weeks ago they called me to be his new teaching partner.  I’ve served the majority of my adult years in Primary, starting when I was 18; I’ve been a Primary pianist and a Primary chorister, but I’ve only served as an actual in-the-trenches Primary teacher once, and that was thirteen years ago and only for a few months before they had to release me.  If you must know, I had a nervous breakdown.  I blame the five-year-olds.  But that’s another story.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve been intimately acquainted with a Primary manual.  Technically, I’ve had to consult Primary manuals from time to time when I’ve substituted in Primary, but the thing I like best about substituting in Primary is that I don’t feel particularly responsible for teaching the children anything.  I just have to make sure they stay in the tiny room with no windows for 50 minutes without killing each other, and I can consider my duty performed.  Now that I’m a real teacher again, I feel like I should probably strive for something better.  (Never mind the fact that striving for something better usually ends in a nervous breakdown; at least this this time I have another adult in the room, i.e. someone to hide the sharp objects.)

So a few weeks ago I was preparing for Lesson 38 in Choose the Right B, “I Can Be Pure and Righteous.”  The manual suggests opening with the following object lesson.

Pour some salt into your hand, and show it to the class. Explain that in your hand you hold pure salt. It is pure because there is nothing in it besides good, clean salt.

Shake some pepper into the salt in your hand. Explain that the salt is no longer pure because it is no longer free of things other than salt. When people allow wrong or unkind thoughts in their minds or do wrong or unkind things, they are no longer pure. They are like a mixture of salt and pepper. Emphasize that pure people try at all times to think good thoughts and do righteous acts.

So I had a little problem with this activity, as did my husband.  Not that we’re against trying at all times to think good thoughts and do righteous acts, but here are a couple things:

Thing One:  Being fallible is part of being human.  It may actually be all of being human.  Every person on this earth is a “mixture of salt and pepper,” as it were.  Even if you repent, you’re still going to sin (though hopefully not always the same sin) because that’s what people do.  Nobody is “all salt,” except for the people who are fresh out of the baptismal font–which brings me to Thing Two.

Thing Two:  This is a lesson designed for children ages 4-7–children who have not reached the age of accountability.  Now, can a child who isn’t accountable still do bad things?  Of course.  Should we teach them not to do bad things?  I certainly hope so.  But does doing bad things when you’re not accountable render you “impure”?  This doesn’t really jibe with Mormonism as I understand it.  (But then, I’ve been working in the Bloggernacle for the last three years–I could be really confused by now.)

In Junior Primary we work on preparing children for baptism, so naturally we talk about reaching the age of accountability and the concept of repentance, which all of them will have to do at some point.  But if sinning is like mixing salt and pepper, then repentance must be like trying to pick all the pepper out of the salt–and that would be difficult to demonstrate.  Note that the lesson doesn’t ask you to demonstrate it, just to tell the kids they’d better not get pepper in their salt.  But getting pepper in their salt is inevitable.  Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but it just seems like if you’re going to bring up “impurity,” you ought to include something about the re-purification process.

But that brings me to my other problem with this lesson.  We start by saying, “When people allow wrong or unkind thoughts in their minds or do wrong or unkind things, they are no longer pure.”  The lesson goes on to talk about how to be righteous (and therefore, pure).  It gives examples of kids obeying the Word of Wisdom and not swearing or looking at pornography.  Now, what’s missing here?  Oh, I know–an example of a moral dilemma your average four- to seven-year-old actually faces on a daily basis.  I like the Word of Wisdom.  I’ve taught it to my own kids.  It’s pretty awesome.  I also think that eschewing foul language and pornography is a super idea.  I mean, I guess it’s never too early to tell kids they shouldn’t look at porn, right?  And I don’t think I’m super-naive–I know kids get exposed to swearing and pornography at younger and younger ages, it’s very sad, blah blah–but most six-year-olds I know don’t really struggle with the porn and the swearing.  Or the beer and cigarettes, for that matter.  Most kids that age–that I’ve met–have more problems with stuff like lying, cheating, stealing, disobeying their parents and being unkind to others.

So…what?  Are we talking about smoking and drinking and swearing and porn because the kids are unlikely to be involved in that, so we aren’t apt to make them feel all guilty and impure by mentioning that those things are wrong?  Do we want to give them a sense of accomplishment, build up their righteousness confidence?  “I’m seven years old and I’m drug- and pornography-free!”  I’m just trying to sort this out.  I’m a piano player, not a teacher!

I’m conflicted because I do think that we should teach children to avoid smoking and swearing and porn-looking, but I worry about the distorting the gospel message–giving kids the idea that these are the things “righteousness” hinges on.  I remember the shock and awe on my oldest child’s face when I told her that I’d rather she wore a midriff-baring outfit every day of her life than ever hit her brother again.  (Um, it’s kind of a long story.  Just go with it.)  She was dumbfounded, which I thought was kind of sad.  Is my daughter permitted to wear midriff-bearing outfits?  No.  But I’ve definitely instilled in her this idea that there’s a hierarchy of sin, and cruelty outranks “immodest dress” by…my math is rusty, but…a lot.  (Does she still hit people?  Occasionally.  But she feels really, really bad about it.  As she should.)  I don’t want my children to swear, but I really don’t want them to get the idea that not swearing is as righteous as it gets.  That’s setting the bar way too low, even if they are only seven.

I reiterate how conflicted I am because I’m not trying to say, “You can swear and/or have a tattoo and still be a good person.”  You can, but that’s not the point, and I don’t think we need to explicitly teach our children that lesson.  I think they will get the idea if we place appropriate emphasis on the things that matter most.  God commands us to be holy, and I think we should teach our children to be holy.  Keeping your language clean and watching wholesome entertainment and whatnot is all part of becoming holy.  But we can argue all day about what constitutes holiness, so I’d rather save that for another blog post.  I could get behind a lesson on holiness (though my experience with church manuals tells me that such a lesson would probably be problematic as well and anyway, Mormons don’t talk much about “holiness” per se), but that’s not how this lesson is framed.  It’s framed as a lesson on being “pure”–which is kind of odd when you’re talking to reasonably-innocent-and-ostensibly-pure-by-default children–and “righteous,” which I think ought to entail more than throwing out your cigarettes and pornos, at least when you’re six.  (There’ll be plenty of time to lower expectations later on.)

Brothers and sisters, the time is now yours to deconstruct this post and mount your individual gospel hobby-horses.


  1. Metaphors all have their limits, and a lot of fun can come with jumping over that boundary, but I trust that even though Jesus taught that impure salt is good for nothing but tossing on the ground and stepping on, he still understand and believed in repentance.

  2. To pick all the pepper out of the salt would be difficult and is something we couldn’t do alone. Repentance likewise requires help from God. Or at least that’s what I told my class a few weeks ago.

  3. I understand the analogy (but of course, I’m somebody who likes to stretch analogies until they break) (for sport).

    BUT. Pepper’s not a BAD thing. So the differentiation between salt that doesn’t have anything in it then has pepper mixed in it, and “pure” salt that is then “contaminated” by pepper seems to me to be a little too simplistic. A not-so-clever child will think pepper’s evil and a clever child will reason that since pepper’s not evil, then whatever contaminates the salt must not be that bad.

    I speak from the point of view of the not-so-clever.

  4. Last Lemming says:

    I suppose it’s a good thing that nobody seems to have noticed the unfortunate symbolism of “contaminating” white things my mixing them with dark things. That would not have gone unnoticed in my day.

  5. What about extending the analogy, and bringing water to dissolve the salt in, then run it through some kind of filter to remove the pepper or sift the pepper off the top? That way you can bring in the cleansing power of the atonement–teach about looking forward to baptism, even–and salvage it!

    Although this is just off the top of my head (and after some bouts of less-than-sleepful nights thanks to my 2-year-old twin sons), so it’s hard to say whether this is well-thought-out.

  6. Pepper is my favorite of the two, I’m done for. Even when I was a wee little one. I remember this lesson and thinking, “I like pepper!”

  7. I think we like to use physical examples to teach our children with but I find that it often goes over their heads.

  8. ”I’m seven years old and I’m drug- and pornography-free!”

    Best line in the Bloggernacle ever. If there’s a Best Post of the Week, this gets my nomination.

    As for the lesson, well I find it bad to teach 4-7 year olds that the things they’re exposed to at home are sinful. When a child is that young telling Mom and Dad they’re doing wrong…well if it’s based off the imaginary LDS household that lets their kid drink beer, take drugs, and look at porn, chances are Mom and Dad do more than spanking when it comes to discipline.

    What is it with using the imaginary LDS household to teach Primary anyway?

  9. The first thing I thought was “salt is better with pepper”, oh no I must be in trouble… but then since I often skip the object lessons in the manual at least my class doesn’t know it!

  10. So many hooks … which to address …

    Teaching is tough, especially teaching children. You want to teach commandments before they’re old enough for it to be a problem (“Oh, now that you’ve been arrested for bank robbery, let’s bring up ‘thou shalt not steal’ for the first time — we didn’t think you needed to hear about it before you were old enough to do it” is not the model any of us wants). And you do need to keep a focus to have an effective lesson — if you can’t teach purity without also teaching repentance, do you need to teach prayer, and conscience, and the Holy Ghost, and free agency, and all other connected ideas? How long is this Primary class?

    But this lesson could easily be improved. One way would be to, as you’ve said, have the kids reason through examples that really are a part of their world: hitting, sneaking through your parents’ closet looking for your Christmas presents, whatever. (This habit of talking only about other people’s sins, beginning in earliest Primary, evidently, carries through even to my Gospel Doctrine classes, where I struggle to draw examples from my elderly class members of problems in our own lives — they too often fall back on “sinners = drug dealers, pornographers, and those people who want us to pay for their health care” and not the stuff that plagues our ward.)

    Even the object lesson could be easily improved. How about a drinking glass with water, into which you knock some dried mud off of a shoe? That would be as visible as pepper in the salt, eliminate the unfortunate racial suggestion, and avoid the “but pepper is good, too” misunderstanding. If you had to go that far, you could still suggest that the water can be cleansed of its impurity by pouring the water through a filter (maybe even use the same illustration for a later lesson on repentance, by pouring muddy water through a coffee filter).

  11. People who have never been conscious of their own peppery thoughts can be scary. And people who are afraid that they MIGHT entertain peppery thoughts come to see and taste pepper everywhere around them, and draft laws prohibiting pepper, as well as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, and anything non-salt.

  12. I like comment no. 1. Teach the lesson appropriate to the age group. If you would rather use sand (white sand?) instead of pepper, that would be fine.

  13. I prefer the white sand idea… I like the obvious conclusion that we could never become pure without Christ. I like the reminder that you can’t always see sins.

    I also prefer speaking about what purity is…kind words and seeking good pictures to look at and good things to read.

    even with adding dirt or sand you may well get a child who says, that wouldn’t taste as bad as you would think.

    Ranking sin is always a fun math exercise.

  14. Oh, I just really really hate the idea of this object lesson altogether. Children do not need to be worried about being “ruined”–give them about five years to get into puberty, and they’re already going to think they’re ruined because they’ll be taught that every sexual thought is a SIN. If you must do it, I agree that “purity” must be talked about in very close conjunction with the Atonement. But if I were teaching this lesson, there would be no salt OR pepper, and we would talk only about making good choices for ourselves. Purity is a completely crap notion in the first place. Only the Atonement can make any of us pure, and putting that kind of idea into kids’ heads is what starts them thinking that they must shun everyone who doesn’t follow every little rule, lest they be tainted and get that awful pepper mixed in with their salt.

  15. I nominate comment 11 for comment of the week.

    And thank you Elouise, for putting an image in my mind of a certain female politician trying to get other politicians to sign a pledge that they will NEVER season their food again. Making “season their food” the best euphemism ever.

  16. I remember getting that object lesson when I was in Primary, and I saw exactly the same problem with it (and, in fact, made the same suggestion for improvement that Matt M did).

    Anyway, I don’t know what my point is, except to note that the kids might very well pick up on the problem. Don’t underestimate their devious little minds.

  17. Mommie Dearest says:

    This is just about the most worthless way to teach repentance that I can think of. Yeah, that’s (sort of) what is being “taught” here: “Don’t ever sin to begin with and you’ll stay pure.” I don’t have time today to write about better ways, but wouldn’t that (better ways to teach repentance — to both adults and children) make a great topic for a post, and invite some useful comments.

  18. I second #11.

  19. I really appreciate you discussing the relative hierarchy that exists among bad behaviors but is rarely mentioned. My colleague that was a bishop in a nearby ward came to work one day shaking his head over the youth in his ward who had never watched an R rated movie or dated (because they weren’t 16 yet), but were sexually active.

  20. The 5th Horseman (aka Josh B.) says:

    Its unfortunate that our system of social morality deals only with absolutes, yet that is exactly what a lot of people need to function.

  21. Aren’t we talking 7-year-olds here? Black and white is pretty much where their thinking is; they aren’t capable of much nuance for the time being.

  22. I tried (when I could get my 9yr old classes attention) using a chalkboard and chalk to teach the similar lesson on the atonement:

    We all start with a clean board (slate), which, over time, we make marks on through sin. Big sins, small sins, sins hidden in the corner, etc. Repentance alone is like an eraser; we can clean up after our sins, but we can’t overcome them completely on our own. No matter how much we erase, there’s still some residue left behind. The Atonement is like a wet washcloth; with it, Jesus can completely wipe away our sins, making our slate clean again.

    Does that make any sense?

  23. John Mansfield (1) – I don’t think the metaphor is weak. I think it works. I just don’t like what it says.

    Ardis (21) – I agree that 7-year-olds aren’t capable of much nuance, which is why I don’t like to get into anything that requires a nuanced approach. I don’t reckon that they understand or remember most of what we tell them, though, so all this adult angst is probably just that, adult angst. However, I’m also the mother of a child who feared she’d committed some grave sin by applying a temporary tattoo to her skin, so maybe that explains my hypersensitivity. Also…

    if you can’t teach purity without also teaching repentance, do you need to teach prayer, and conscience, and the Holy Ghost, and free agency, and all other connected ideas? (#10)

    Point taken. On the other hand, do we ever teach purity to the youth without also mentioning repentance? I don’t think we ever do. Probably because teenagers are more likely to have done some seriously impure things.

    Josh B. (20) – I don’t think I have a problem with absolutes. Some things really are black and white, or they’re black and white enough for 7-year-olds. I wouldn’t try to have a conversation with a bunch of 7-year-olds about how big a sin it is to steal bread when you’re starving, or whether or not it’s okay to drink coffee if your doctor recommends it. Seven-year-olds don’t need to think about that stuff. They need to think about obeying their parents and being nice to people. You can talk about that in black-and-white terms (even though the issues get more complicated if your parents are drug dealers and some people are terrorists–you don’t need to go that deep with young children).

  24. What’s with the story about Debbie – she breaks her canteen on a hike so she doesn’t have water and the other people on the trip – her uncle and his family – offer her a drink: A beer. Really? Okay, so she’s been baptized, so she’s obviously not the 4-7-year-old range, but still. At least come up with situations that might possibly happen to kids, please.

    And then there’s the attributes of the TV/movie hero you’re emulating:
    – does your hero always obey the law?
    – does your hero ever swear?
    – does your hero act righteously at all times?
    – does your hero dress and act modestly?

    I’m guessing there are no superheroes that would be able to take tests at BYU-I (no form-fitting clothes, and all).

  25. Stan Beale says:

    I am afraid the salt and pepper story is the perfect example of unintended racism. I wish everyone had to read Ossie Davis’s “The English Language Is My Enemy” to understand the pernicious side effects of using the color white to symbolize purity and black to represent evil. It is especially harmful to young people who are very susceptable to picking up the connotations and having them effect their subconcious belief system.

    To see the early effects of things like prejudiced language. Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s “dolls test” is devastating. The efects that that things like language have on young black children is very harmful. Though the Clark’s work is dated, it stll has relevance today. Kiri Davis’s 2005 documentarty “A Girl Like Me” demonstrates the resilliencevof this effect (the short documentary is available on You Tube).

    We can only guess as to its effects on white children.

    This alone will not lead to the resurgance of the KKK and the White Citizens Councils, but in its small way it helps pertuate racism and its effects. I am disappointed that this got past the writing and review committees.

  26. The 5th Horseman (aka Josh B. says:

    @23: Yes, I agree with you. My point was more directed towards

  27. *Argh– Mod- please delete double post?*
    @23: Yes, I agree with you. My point was more directed towards how adults themselves can be, and that this attitude might filter down and cause some of the angst we are talking about now. Taking your words out of context, “I’m ok with absolutes,” I think most adults feel that way towards other adults too. It’s just easier to deal in if’s, then’s, yeses and no’s, even with the grown ups, and that opinion filters down to the little ones; “giving kids the idea that these are the things ‘righteousness’ hinges on.”

  28. I don’t think there is anything in the handbook that says you aren’t a good teacher if you don’t use every story or illustration in the manual. ;)

    I don’t think talking about WoW or swearing or pornography is actually too much for kids this age (case in point…our RS lesson included a woman talking about her grandson who, at age 2, has already picked up his dad’s swearing habit, and how gently teaching standards/boundaries to this little boy (she babysits him every day) has made a difference, and translated back into his own home). I also have heard too many stories of kids ages 4-6 being exposed to pornography (some choosing to look at it because it ‘feels good’ but not knowing enough to know to stop looking).

    But, of course, there are also a whole host of other examples you could also discuss. You could ask them to think of examples of ways they can make good choices to keep their bodies and minds and spirits clean. I love seeing how well kids can translate true principles into their lives when given the opportunity. I also am amazed at how much the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost work on these kids at young ages. I think some of them need to have that validated in really concrete ways for situations they may face at this age, such as “That TV show makes me feel funny” or “those bad words I heard on the playground made me feel sad.” Or, expanding on other examples, “when I yelled at my sister, I felt bad” or, on the flip side, “When I gave my brother a hug after he got hurt, I felt happy inside.”

    And by all means, if the Spirit prompts you to talk in tandem about the Atonement, do it. But teaching simple standards has its place, I think. Keeping covenants involves a lot of simply making choices about what to do and not do.

    FWIW, when I taught my pre-8 kids about things like this, I always talked about how we were teaching these things for them in “practice mode.” Because of Jesus, they were automatically clean from any mistakes they might make before baptism, but they could use this time before turning 8 to get ready for when they became accountable. Teaching them some of the standards we have, and simple ways to live them, is part of good ‘practice,’ I think.

    Lastly, I looked over the list of lesson topics, and there has been a lot about the Savior threaded throughout the year. I think another thing you can do with them is over time, help them make connections between lessons. e.g., “Remember when we talked about choosing the right and trying to stay pure? Well, in this lesson about Jesus, we learn that He is the one who makes it possible for us to be totally clean from our sins and mistakes, because none of us is perfect at being righteous. Even when we do our very best, we still need Jesus to help us be clean and pure.”

  29. “I also have heard too many stories of kids ages 4-6 being exposed to pornography (some choosing to look at it because it ‘feels good’ but not knowing enough to know to stop looking).”

    Really?? Such stories are the product of sick grownup imaginations.

  30. #29 – Kristine, I also know too many cases of kids going into kindergarten knowing a whole lot about the technical aspects of sex because of what they saw in their homes. I’m not saying I would mention porn in a lesson like this one, but “these stories” aren’t imaginary. Now, if you meant that grownups with sick imaginations are the cause of the exposure, I agree.

    As to the title of the post, yes, it can be saved – and quite easily. I like the salt and sand example, but I would mix them together right from the start, talk about how all of us get sand mixed in with our salt, explain how baptism takes away all the sand at that moment, explain about trying to limit the amount of sand after baptism and then focus on how God can remove the sand as we add more salt – not in a checklist, more-good-deeds-than-bad-deeds way but in a becoming-more-like-Jesus-by-changing-who-we-actually-are way.

    I’ve had that type of conversation with very young children, and they are fully able to understand the basic concept.

  31. Ray, I meant the part about them looking at it because it ‘feels good.’ I knew plenty about the ‘technical aspects’ of sex when I started kindergarten, because we had an encyclopedia and my parents didn’t lie to me about where my brother came from. I expect little kids would look at Playboy with exactly the same sort of curiosity, and they would not be titillated unless an adult suggested it. And if they did, then what is needed is a conversation about abuse, not about “keeping yourself pure.”

  32. Got it. Thanks.

  33. My four-year-old was laughing hysterically last night when we walked past Victoria’s Secret. Nothing sexy about it, there’s nothing funnier to a four-year-old than underwear, except maybe poop.

  34. As a current primary president I applaud you for reading your lesson ahead of time and actually putting this level of thought into it. I truly believe that any primary teacher willing to prayerfully prepare a lesson head of time will have the guidance needed to teach the children in their class — even for all the imperfections of the manual(s). Maybe the salt/pepper analogy would not work for your class; but now you have a number of alternatives suggested in the above comments. Keep up the good work!

  35. Geez, I thought “Oh, no, they are not suggesting you talk about pornography with 4 year olds! No way!” But there it is in the lesson… Jesus doesn’t want you to look at magazines with bad pictures. So, should a well-meaning Primary teacher actually use that particular example, they are in the position of explaining to someone else’s children what constitutes a “bad picture”.

    Come to think of it, when I was teaching the 7 year olds, one did once volunteer an unsolicited definition of pornography. He said it was pictures of naked people. I guess that’s as simple (and simplistic) as you can make it. It seems to me children ought to have an understanding of healthy, normal sexuality before you start trying to teach them what the problems with pornography are.

  36. I don’t have a problem using different examples than are in the manual. I just think the examples in the manual are odd, given the age group and the gospel principle I’m supposed to be teaching. Not because I think kids can’t understand them, but because–well, I don’t know, I wrote a whole post about it and apparently I never got around to adequately explaining why I think they’re so odd. Maybe I don’t understand the pressures and temptations suffered by this generation.

  37. clarkgoble says:

    That analogy is kind of bad because most salt in the US has iodine added.

  38. StillConfused says:

    I don’t like the salt and pepper analogy at all because, quite frankly, it comes across as racist to me.

    But I could NEVER be a primary teacher. For one, I can’t talk in that annoying primary voice. For two, I can’t talk down to kids. Kids in my class would come away with things like knowing how to start their own business or practical stuff like that. Maybe that is why I am always given civilian callings like building scheduler or ward librarian.

  39. “I also have heard too many stories of kids ages 4-6 being exposed to pornography (some choosing to look at it because it ‘feels good’ but not knowing enough to know to stop looking).”

    Really?? Such stories are the product of sick grownup imaginations.

    I wouldn’t have believed it either a while ago, but I’ve actually heard this from people who have walked the path of addiction, and for some, it starts that young.

  40. Maybe we should keep young kids from breastfeeding, just to be safe.

  41. Addiction to pornography doesn’t start in prepubescence any more than problems with premarital pregnancy do. Curiosity cannot and does not fuel addiction or even compulsion, and pictures of naked people do not have magical dark powers.

  42. Bro. Jones says:

    First, I talked about how salt serves different purposes, and how even sweet things like apple pie and ice cream have a bit of salt in them. Second, I used red (cayenne) pepper instead of black pepper–avoided race analogies. Third, I did what #2 said: I talked about how the salt wasn’t right for some things after the pepper was in it, but while we’d have a hard time picking out the pepper, God could do it just fine (repentance).

  43. When I taught Primary, I just skipped object lessons that seemed dumb to me. What they don’t know about, they don’t get confused about.

  44. Brad, Kristine, I get that there are different opinions about how and when addiction can happen, and that addiction is complex, but I don’t understand the outright dismissal of people’s experiences. Or maybe I need to clarify. We’ve had various people submit their stories for our site, and several of them talked about how the seeds of addiction began in childhood — which included a combination of factors, including exposure to pornography, unhealthy family life, no one to talk to about what they’d seen and/or shaming about it all, etc. What surprised me was to see that age 6 showed up several times in these stories.

    Of course, it’s not just pictures alone that cause problems, but I think it’s naive to insist that early (and repeated) exposure for children can’t play a part in problems if children don’t know 1) that it’s good to choose to stay away from such material if they run into it and 2) that they always have a safe, loving place to talk about anything they might see or experience.

    In addition to the stories I referenced, not long ago, I stumbled on a couple of other stories written by moms about young children (one was four) who found (I got the sense that the 4-year-old sought out) and then hid inappropriate material in their rooms. I think kids even at very young ages can sense and feel when something isn’t quite right (why else would they sneak around their parents and hide the stuff in their rooms?) — even if they really don’t have the knowledge about why that is the case.

    Of course, parents (and teachers) need to be very prayerful about how and when to approach these topics, but I personally think it’s entirely unhelpful to frame pornography as only a problem for pubescent kids. I think puberty is too late to be thinking or talking or teaching about how to keep its influence out of one’s life.

  45. I think pepper is fine if you ware wanting to teach the 5 year-olds about sexual sin. But if you are wanting to teach them about greed, you should mix saffron in. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, because it comes from the pollen of a single kind of flower and must be cultivated and harvested by hand. The second most expensive spice in the world is actually vanilla, for similar reasons. They couldn’t grow vanilla outside Central America for almost three centuries, because they didn’t realize that vanilla had formed a symbiotic relation to a particular kind of bee that wold fly into the vanilla flower and penetrate a membrane that kept the plant from self-pollinating. 60% of the world’s harvest of Achiote, also called Annatto, is used to dye cheddar cheese. Achiote is also native to Central America. The Laminites used it to color their hot cocoa drinks the color of blood. Achiote would be a good choice to mix in with the salt if you wanted to teach the primary class about murder.

  46. It was a black slave (that’s right, you heard me), that discovered that you could take a little blade, like maybe a bamboo shoot, and penetrate the membrane in the vanilla plant by hand. This allowed them to grow vanilla outside its center of diversity in the Americas. Now-a-days, a good portion of natural vanilla is grown in Madagascar, where they get quite bored and are happy for the opportunity to hand pollinate the vanilla flowers. You wouldn’t use vanilla to teach an object lesson about sexuality, obviously, since vanilla is pretty much what we are going for. I’m not sure you would want to use vanilla for any object lesson because it is a pain to get those little seeds out of the vanilla bean.

  47. Michelle, a child with an unhealthy family life who is repeatedly being exposed to sexual conduct and images at home has much bigger problems than a primary lesson; vague euphemisms and object lessons are not going to help him/her. There are terrible cases of child abuse and neglect, but dealing with them as a primary teacher, and giving possible dose of guilt with it, is not the help, protection or healing that an abused child needs and deserves.

    It’s quite an extrapolation to assume a 4 year-old child hiding images is on their way to addiction. I can think of a dozen scenarios other than that one- someone might taught him or her guilt and awareness of bodies long before it was appropriate- perhaps in a “modesty” lesson?

  48. Actually, I suppose you could use vanilla. But the ice cream, not the spice. “Vanilla is the most common flavor of ice cream around the world. Yet, that doesn’t stop it from being super delicious. There is no need to find yourself in the ‘premium ice cream’ section. You never know where your bishop might show up.” I think it works.

  49. I heart Thomas Parkin.

  50. One more word, and then I promise I’ll leave off my portion of this conversation. Haagan-Daaz (not a real word in any Scandinavian language) has a ‘limited time’ flavor out right now called “Pumpkin Cranberry Spice”, and sweet mother of all that is good and pure, it is wonderful.

  51. I heart you, too, Tracy.

  52. Lamplighter says:

    Ardis, #10, my husband used the dirty water object lesson once on a group of 11 year olds. One little guy reached over, grabbed the glass and drank the whole thing. Later in his teens he was arrested for property destruction, hmmmmmmmmmm.

  53. Michelle,
    The child wouldn’t know it was inappropriate material unless someone told them-or they were told to hide it. Also, it is very common for pedophiles to use porn in the process of seducing and abusing children. This is the only scenario in my mind in which a six-year-old would develop a habit–and then it isn’t the child’s fault. Further, no primary lesson is going to solve the problem. So you’re right it was a combination of factors–but primary isn’t the place to address all those factors.

  54. “The child wouldn’t know it was inappropriate material unless someone told them-or they were told to hide it.”

    I guess this is where we might disagree a bit. I believe children have access to the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. I think some could know that they were seeing something they shouldn’t, even without having been taught anything specific about any of this. Yes, some might be ‘shamed’ into such behavior, but some may just feel somehow that something isn’t quite right. I’m one who believes in teaching simple truth to kids, because I think it can validate things they may already discern in their spirits, but not have the knowledge or experience to understand or do anything about yet.

    And I’m definitely not insisting that “primary is the place to address all those factors.” All I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of reason to be able to talk very simply about avoiding ‘bad pictures’ or whatever with kids the age of Rebecca’s class, if the Spirit directs.

  55. Well, what do you expect, Lamplighter, after your husband filled him with all that impurity?! :)

  56. I remember teaching this lesson to my CTR 5 class a little while ago. I didn’t use the opening object lesson for similar reasons to those explained above, but I also noticed that this particular lesson required quite a bit of modification to make it work for my class. I have 10 kids in my class, 7 of whom come from part member families or other “atypical” family situations (divorced parents where one is no longer active, adoption after criminal neglect by birth parents, etc), so we rountinely modify lessons to make them sensitive to a variety of family circumstances. We turned this into more of a choose-the-right/just-say-no lesson & talked about how other people who don’t believe the same things that we do or who haven’t made promises at baptism to keep the WoW aren’t bad people, but that we may make different choices because we believe that is what Heavenly Father wants us to do. We also really emphasized the importance of talking to a parent or other trusted adult if anyone ever offered the kids drugs or alcohol or showed them pictures, etc that made them uncomfortable. And we discussed the idea that if someone else says bad words around us, etc. that does NOT mean that we are “impure” & it is ok to politely ask them to stop. I made up my own examples of how the kids could be righteous by being nice to others, not saying mean things to people, etc because those examples seemed to be more applicable to their 5 and 6 year old experiences.

  57. And by “atypical” I meant family situations perceived as outside the norm of our heavily LDS, extremely conservative Idaho area. I think the family situations of my class are pretty representative of a lot of US families.

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