In a recent post, frequent commenter Ardis noted her experience with the standards of the church that have been pushing similar themes since the mid-1960s. This reminded me of a post I did elsewhere noting some of the “timeless standards” from the 1965 pamphlet.
There is a new trend in the church to elevate the For the Strength of Youth standards to something that should be applied to all members, not just the youth. I’ve experienced first hand and heard online from others that local wards have reviewed the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and standards with the adults, explaining that it applies to them as well. In our Singapore stake, this was presented in a talk called “For the Strength of YOU.” What’s behind this trend? Here are some possible theories:
- Elevating FSOY to Scripture. We’ve already seen wards using the Proclamation on the Family as scripture or claiming that it is scripture, despite Pres. Packer’s statement in General Conference that it was “revelation” being removed when the talk was published. If FSOY becomes scripture, what’s next? The White Bible? The Church Handbook of Instruction? The Fourteen Fundamentals? The cleaning list in the janitorial closet?
- Got Milk? These standards are basic and fairly easy to follow (unless you already have a tattoo when you join the church – sorry!). Meaty? Not really, but not everything can be deep and complex.
- We Love Rules. We like rules, checklists, habits that come in groups of seven, and bulleted lists.
- Out of Ideas. This sounds a lot to me like someone has scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with teaching materials. Here’s an idea I’ve pitched before. How about we just move to a two-hour block and quit straining so hard to come up with something to talk about for three hours?
Clearly, the 1965 version of the pamphlet was incredibly timeless as these snippets will demonstrate:
- “Few girls or women ever look well in a backless or strapless dresses. Such styles often make the figure look ungainly and large, or they show the bony structures of the body.” (Like those ungainly hags Angelina Jolie and Katherine Heigl).
- “When at home working in the yard, hiking, traveling in the mountains, camping, or participating in active sports, girls or women may appropriately wear slacks.” (The word “slacks” sounds like someone’s double-knit pants rubbing together as they walk. *shudder*)
- “Pants for young women are not desirable attire for shopping, at school, in the library, in cafeterias or restaurants.” (peopleofwalmart.com is evidence of that!)
- “Young men should always dress appropriately for the place and the occasion. For special school or church dances, they should wear a suit with dress shirt and tie, but never tennis shoes or “T” shirts. Sports jackets or dressy sweaters are appropriate apparel for the more casual dances.” (I defy any man to open his closet right now and find a dressy sweater. If you found one, was it next to your clip on bow ties? Do you also play the accordian? Do you also own a pair of cropped coral Chinos? Some natty wingtips?)
- “Girls should always try to look feminine in their dress. They should not dress like boys or try to give a masculine appearance. Dress often determines their actions.” (What actions will be determined? Will they pee standing up? Chew tobacco? Impregnate a cheerleader?)
- “A “real lady” does not go out in public, to the market, or to shops with her hair in curlers.” (I would like to know why “real lady” is in quotes. It reminds me of this Chris Farley sketch.)
- On dancing standards: “The dance should not be a grotesque contortion of the body such as shoulder or hip shaking or excessive body jerking.” (I’m speechless.)
- “Members of the church should be good dancers . . . ” (I’m actually surprised that being a good dancer is a requirement for church membership. I’ve been to enough church dances to know that it’s not routinely enforced) ” . . .and not contortionists.” (Cirque de Soleil performers will be disappointed that to hear they are not welcome.)
- “Extreme body movement should be avoided, and emphasis should be placed more on styling and clever footwork.” (Whew! Riverdance is in! Actually, the only “clever footwork” I’ve ever seen at a church dance was break dancing. Mostly I’ve just seen the two-step side-to-side shuffle.)
I’ve only culled some of the best tidbits from this blast from the past, but it begs the question, what will today’s For the Strength of Youth pamphlet look like in 45 years? It’s hard to say. Obviously, I’m a product of my own time, so the 1965 pre-sexual revolution pamphlet is hilarious. It’s hard to be objective. Plus, since I graduated high school in 1986, we didn’t use a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet when I was a teen.
- Has your stake or ward presented the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet as binding for the adults as well?
- Are For the Strength of Youth standards helpful and necessary in leading and parenting teens? Are rules more effective than principles?
- Are the For the Strength of Youth standards equally appropriate for adults as for teens?
- What from the current pamphlet do you think will sound ridiculous in the future? Is there some of it that sounds ridiculous to you now?
*This post was an update on a previous post of the same title I did at Wheat & Tares.