What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap about the Family?

keep-calm-and-defend-the-familyI am a middle-class white lady who’s been married to the same man for eighteen years, and all four of my children were fathered by this same guy, after we got married, and I have no intention of leaving him in the near future or otherwise. I don’t have any gay friends or family members, even though I’ve been told that’s impossible in this day and age. I do have gay acquaintances, but no one I hang out with or am forced to interact with at holidays. I don’t even have gay co-workers because I haven’t worked outside the home since I had my first baby. I think I should be an ideal candidate to do as I was counseled in Saturday night’s General Women’s Broadcast and “stand with the Brethren” and “defend the Family,” which I understand is under attack. I mean, I live in a freaking bubble. I not only don’t have gay friends; I don’t really have any friends, so I couldn’t possibly suffer any social consequences if I were to become an ardent and outspoken Defender of Family. On the other hand, that also means no one would listen to me, because if a tree falls in the forest blah blah, but that’s not the point. If I’m not currently standing up for the Family, it’s definitely not because I lack moral courage, because doing so wouldn’t take any, in my particular case. It’s really just that I don’t care enough about the Family. I don’t think I care at all.

Don’t misunderstand me. I care a lot about my family, i.e. I care a lot about the individuals in my family. I care a lot about the individuals in a lot of families, which I guess means that I care about a lot of families individually, but I don’t care about the Family in general or the Family in theory or whatever is meant by the Family.

When church leaders tell me I should be defending the Family, I’m really not sure what they mean. I mean, it can’t mean that I’m supposed to be speaking out against divorce or same-sex marriage or unwed parenthood because if it did, they would just come out and say that, right? I mean, I know that church leaders rarely just come out and say anything, but if I were to raise my hand and ask for clarification by saying, “Hey, does this mean I should be speaking out against divorce and/or same-sex marriage and/or unwed parenthood?” they would definitely not respond in the affirmative but would probably say something that had nothing to do with my question and didn’t mean anything, which I think means that there’s some deeper message here that I’m just not getting.

I do get that the Family is part of God’s plan for our eternal happiness. Perhaps I’m supposed to go around affirming that being married for eighteen years to the same guy who fathered all my kids (after we were married) has made me very happy and that it can make other people happy too. Well, I’m not sure that’s true. I’m happily married, but I don’t think it’s just the fact of having been continuously married to the father of all my kids that accounts for my happiness. I enjoy a lot of advantages that other people, married and unmarried, don’t. I happen to love my husband. He’s not a jerk. He’s a good father. I enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. But I can easily envision staying married for almost 20 years to someone I didn’t love, who didn’t make me happy. Because a woman in my position—limited skills, inappropriate education, no recent work experience and no personal wealth, but also four dependent children–has a lot more incentive to stay married than just the sheer joy of it.

By contrast, a woman with some other combination of skills, education, work experience, etc., may not have any incentive to get married in the first place if she can’t find someone who makes her happy. She may want to have children anyway—which may not be the best idea she’s ever had, depending on her particular circumstances, but sometimes it happens, whether it’s a good idea or not, and by then it’s really too late to call it a good idea or a bad idea. It’s just something that has to be lived with.

That’s part of how I define family these days: something that has to be lived with.

This same weekend—just yesterday, in fact—I had an experience with my family that was especially disturbing and disheartening and put me in a somber and depressed state of mind. I do not regret getting married to a member of the opposite sex and having children (after we were married), but I can’t say that my current situation would be good publicity for the Family. In fact, it’s up close and personal experience with our family life that has convinced my teenage daughter that she never wants to have one of her own. (That may be just as well.) So I admit that I was a Negative Nelly walking into this meeting, a real Debby Downer if you will, but all this talk about the Family being under attack and me needing to defend it left me cold. Because what the heck were they talking about? I just don’t know. And I don’t care. I have more important things to worry about. Like how I’m supposed to take care of my family. Not the Family. My family, with its individual members and their varied and demanding needs. I can’t remember the last time church gave me a good idea on that front, if it ever did.

And if I, a middle-class white lady married to the same dude for eighteen years and four kids, who doesn’t even have any gay friends or a job, can’t get inspired to stand up for the Family, who can?

Comments

  1. Represent!

  2. I roll my eyes at fear-based rhetoric in any form, but it’s especially disappointing when it comes over the pulpit. What, exactly, is attacking The Family? What are we supposed to be defending it against? How is that supposed to happen? And is there a person in the entire world who reads a Facebook post on the evils of cohabitation/gay marriage/etc. and suddenly changes their mind? Doubtful.

    (As a side note, it’s especially frustrating to hear so much about defending The Family with no mention of supporting practical things that actually do strengthen families, like better parental leave policies or living wages or whatnot.)

  3. Kavalkade says:

    You can stand up for your family by speaking positively about your religion without putting down others who don’t happen to be Mormom.

    That’s NOT what they mean. They want you to speak up about what you do, comparing and contrasting to the wicked sinners, I’m sure.

    Im a divorced, somewhat failed Presbyterian with 3 kids who lives in CA. I don’t think I need to assert my rights to stop others (shhhh gay people exist) from marrying, for instance.

    I do have cousins from se Idaho who have married into Mormon families. I have no issues with your religion until they knock on my door at 8:30 AM on Sunday! ;)

    The Pope said lobbyists are the problem. In that I agree, though he was speaking about people lobbying for change in Catholocism.

    Just be the best you you can be. You seem to have a happy life you want. Be that. Let the people who think differently elsewhere be what they want.

    Do no harm.

  4. This is a very sarcastic article. It makes me sad to come here to be uplifted and feel empty at the end. Dissapointed.

  5. I was uplifted.

  6. Ron: “It makes me sad to come here to be uplifted and feel empty at the end. Dissapointed.” Sounds like that’s what the author is saying about the Women’s Conference or at least about the worship of The Family.

    “I can’t remember the last time church gave me a good idea on that front, if it ever did.” I think we used to be more pragmatic in the discussions at church. Somewhere in the cultural wars, we stopped trying to actually do better and just started beating a drum with a slogan. My ward is generally far better than average on this front, but even at GC I feel like this is too often the case.

  7. “I have more important things to worry about. Like how I’m supposed to take care of my family. Not the Family. My family, with its individual members and their varied and demanding needs. I can’t remember the last time church gave me a good idea on that front, if it ever did.”

    To the extent that this statement truly reflects your experience at church, we need to do much better in this regard. Nobody should come away from three hours of meetings on Sunday or from a session of general conference – let alone years of membership! – without feeling uplifted and instructed in practical matters of family living.

    Also, though, I think it can sometimes be easy for us to get so put off by some element or phrase of a conference message or scripture verse or Sunday school lesson that we miss out on opportunities to take what’s good and important from what’s being shared. It’s easy but unrewarding to focus on the myriad ways that a talk or individual – or life itself – falls short of our expectations. It’s hard but transformative to take even the most banal or seemingly misguided sermon and find a way to let it stir us to greater love of God and neighbor. I haven’t heard the talks you were referring to yet, but perhaps they present an opportunity for charity more than anything else?

  8. It’s remarkable to me how so many people watch the same content yet come away with very different experiences. My wife particularly noticed a focus in the talks on those in different family situations than the Mormon stereotype. Everyone is trying to make their own way through the world, wherever they’re at.

    But I’m a firm believer that we’ll get out of General Conference what we put into it. Like with going to Church or the Temple, General Conference talks won’t always be inspiring to us without work on our part. I think Walker F stated it probably better than I could have. “It’s hard but transformative to take even the most banal or seemingly misguided sermon and find a way to let it stir us to greater love of God and neighbor.”

    That is the best way to get the most out of life, I believe.
    —–
    “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.”

  9. fwiw, one of my daughters as a teen decided she never wanted to have a family of her own, because she thinks ours.family.is.so.awful. That really hurt me to hear her say, to feel for her pain as her mother and to bear her judgment on me, all while it demonstrated her absolute lack of perspective or proportion on her First World Problems. She’s since upgraded to being willing to adopt but not procreate any children. And that’s all fine, that is all for her to decide for her life. And, she has graduated high school, enrolled in college, and seems to be passing her classes and managing her challenges. So it all continues to get better.

    I dearly love your characterization of a family as something that has to be lived with, because as I love them so much, I am also doing my best with whatever has to be lived with.

  10. “As a side note, it’s especially frustrating to hear so much about defending The Family with no mention of supporting practical things that actually do strengthen families, like better parental leave policies or living wages or whatnot.”

    This, this, this. Families where both parents HAVE to work full time, just for the basics, is one major problem, yet, I see one Presidential hopeful wants to eliminate the Minimum wage. Pay people decently, to let them have more family time, and get stronger families. Family Leave is a good idea to strengthen families. But, some feel that postpartum women will be out water skiing or rock climbing the day after delivery.

    Cheating on spouses, & all the forms of abuse, seem to be much, much more destructive to families of all types, than Gay marriages. Teaching better interpersonal skills will also help, I had a father who was book smart on the Gospel, but, how he treated others left a lot to be improved on.

    J-Lo: My daughter felt we were one of the worst families ever, yet, it boiled down to us not being as wealthy as other families, resulting in fewer worldly goods & vacation trips, that other families had.

  11. Not sure if my admittedly long comment was eaten or if it ended up in moderation.

  12. Sure, I’ll “defend” my traditional marriage, if ever someone tried to strip me of that right, but so far so good–no attacks. I do see marriage equality under attack, so I’m gonna defend that too, cause marriage for all is better than marriage for some, and same-sex marriage doesn’t undermine my traditional marriage in the least. They respect my marriage and I respect everyone else’s right to marriage. It’s the golden rule.

    Why can’t the Church see this as clearly as me? ;)

  13. I had a hard time with the topics, too. But I’ll take a stab at answering your question.

    Who can? Those of us who don’t live in the bubble. Those of us who have lost family because of the increasingly casual attitude towards the value of it, who would give anything to just be able to be around our children for more than half their lives, who have been attacked by family members.

    In other words, the majority of people.

  14. Geez, bitter much? So you don’t believe that our leaders are inspired and that family is not under attack? Seriously? Pornography is rampant, child sex slavery is rampant, kids without either a mother or a father struggle in every aspect socially, economically and emotionally (they need both for the healthiest of upbringings, isn’t that obvious), divorce and the break up of families, trans kids and parents acting out in bizarre behaviors, parents breaking up a marriage and family to live a gay or trans lifestyle, and the list goes on.

    I mean, how naive can anyone get if they stick their head under the sand and say that the family is not under attack? Seems to me that you’ve got some other anti-family agenda going on. Or an anti-family proclamation agenda … or an anti-prophet anti-christ agenda. Dunno. All I know is that the prophet and apostles and church leaders are not paranoid. If you think so, you’re probably needing to reevaluate your life as a latter-day saint in a religion where we actually believe prophets and apostles.

    Good grief folks.

  15. Julia, it looks like it was eaten — I don’t see it in the mod queue.

  16. There’s a good article from Julie Beck about teaching the doctrine of the family in the March 2011 Ensign. My sister pointed it out to me when we were talking about why they talk to the PH, RS & YM about pornography but not the YW in our wards. And to the RS they just talk to us about being supportive of spouses going through it. Hello, 50 shades of gray! In this article, Beck actually gave it in 2009, is where she said the porn industry’s next target is YW.
    Last night was the first time I ever heard the phrase: ‘Teach the ideal but prepare for contingencies’. Thank you! Much needed and long overdue. Who actually lives the ideal?!

  17. Jeff, I would guess that Rebecca is reacting to the vague assertion that “the Family is under attack” — never quite defined as how this is happening. The insinuation over the pulpit and in your comment is that people who are born gay wishing to enter into monogamous, stable family relationships through marriage are what is attacking marriage.

    Of course, we as a people could view the desire of gay people to get married as a validation, a legitimization, of marriage. It strengthens the institution of marriage when gay people wish to be granted the civil right of marriage on the same basis as straight people.

    Why don’t we view it that way? Is it not because we are blinded by political priors, letting red meat Culture Wars rhetoric eclipse the substance of our religion, Jesus’ two great commandments, or at least the Golden Rule, as mentioned by Clean Cut?

  18. Hedgehog says:

    I’m just not looking forward to that song. We get to see this in a couple of weeks.

  19. Hedgehog, you need to do what’s right for you, obviously, and I wouldn’t presume to be able to preempt your own judgment as to that, but I would recommend viewing it and seeking for any guidance that might resonate particularly with you. I haven’t seen the talks yet but heard that some really good insights were shared in at least a couple of talks, particularly Sister Stephens and Elder Eyring, from what I heard.

  20. What a refreshing opinion, clearly expressed, Rebecca. For me your essay was much more engaging than the call to “stand with the Brethren” and “defend the Family”. Blessings on your family—and all the rest of us in the bigger family.

  21. Whoa, Jeff. I realize blog posts can raise hackles, but you could stand to tone it down a notch, dude. Your assertions aren’t entirely without merit, but they do come off as uncharitable and mean.

  22. MagpieLovely says:

    I’ve been bracing myself for conference this spring: the FHE and Family Proclamation anniversaries are this year and we’re going to keep hearing a lot about this topic.

    It’s not that I have a particular problem with the whole “defend the family” theme, it’s that it displaces much more important, saving doctrine like, say, the atonement of Jesus Christ. I think families are nice and desirable, but I just don’t think they are the singular key to salvation. It feels reactive and hysterical, to me, when all we hear about at church is traditional families. “Traditional families” have looked very different over the centuries and yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ applies equally well to various people in various circumstances. I want prophetic sermons about Christ and the scriptures. Keep your social commentary (all the family stuff) to a minimum please.

  23. Geez Eric, thanx for the put down: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” At least two of these describe my brothers and I. One brother has a Nobel Prize, the other has a PhD in biology and has done important research in immunology and genetics. And I feel good about my contributions to society. Skip the inane and silly slogans please.

  24. Thanks Rebecca. I went to bed with much the same feelings of bewilderment and frustration. What exactly am I supposed to defend against? How am I supposed to do it? This rhetoric tells me to hole up and (wo)man the family fort without a strategy, arsenal or even a clear sense of who I’m supposed to be fighting. Call me naive, but I choose to step out into the world to implement Christ’s battle tactics of outreach and support for the families I actually interact with–including my own–while championing global efforts to improve the lives of the whole human family.

  25. It’s really unfortunate if a bias toward hearing criticism of gay marriage puts one off the message.

    Context matters. It’s 2015 and same-sex marriage is a done deal. Formally legal in many countries and a number of states in the United States and possibly in the entire U.S. by Supreme Court decision this year. The trend lines are clear and run in one direction. In this context, “defending marriage between a man and a woman” says to me that we should encourage and promote marriage between a man and a woman for the large heterosexual majority, and also actively encourage and promote marriage in the same pattern as between a man and a woman for the small homosexual minority. We ought to be promoting marriage!

    Context matters. When I hear that marriage is a divine calling and that homes should be places of refuge, holiness and safety, I hear slightly coded encouragement to work on practices and policies that will help families, especially families with children at home. We will surely debate what they are and how best to implement, but topics that come to mind include universal health care, jobs and wages that permit at least one parent to be home at least part of the time, child support rules and criminal laws (how many nonviolent drug offender fathers have we imprisoned in the United States?) and employment practices that encourage fathers to support their children and to be in the home, support for single-parent families, including child care programs and flex time jobs, family planning practices that improve the percentage of children who are wanted. And so on.

    Why “slightly coded”? Because for General Conference the home crowd and the speakers happen to be largely U.S. Republicans. While there are notable exceptions, that’s the milieu within which General Conference operates. Politics shouldn’t make a difference in what’s said over the pulpit, but in a 2015 realpolitick sense home-grown politics can make it seem necessary to code the message.

  26. Yes to Mike H! One of the biggest predictors of being a single mom is poverty. Poor people are less likely to get married and, if they do get married are more likely to get divorced. Based on the research, upholding marriage would involve addressing poverty.

    I also cringed at the teach the ideal, but plan for contingencies comment. The church is growing in places like Africa and South America. Poor people in poor countries have to work. Inplying that ideally these women shouldn’t work (but should be at home performing their God given roles) just doesn’t mesh with what I know about the lives of people in poor countries (or poor people in the United States). It’s basically telling people that the ideal is for a woman to marry an upper middle class man. Guess what –this mostly is not an option. Again, the implication is that If we really want women in the home, we should be fighting poverty. Really, the ideal is a reduction in poverty and increase in equality. Only in that context would it make sense to talk about an ideal of women being in the home.

    And I don’t see how other people’s gay marriage affect my marriage or the marriage of anyone I know! My brother-in-law has been married to his (male ) partner for 25 years. I haven’t seen a single negative impact of that –but they are a great example of monogamy and faithfulness!

  27. bookmagic84 says:

    A couple thoughts: I think one reason conference talks are often general and rarely specific is because church leaders are addressing a very wide audience: all of humankind, to be exact. They teach general righteous principles and leave individual people to use those principles to govern themselves. What the right thing for me to do to work towards the goal of defending the family is going to be different than what my neighbor needs to do to accomplish that goal or what someone on the other side of the world needs to do. That’s what the gift of the Holy Ghost is for: to teach us individually and specifically what we personally need to do to apply the righteous principles taught by God’s servants in our lives.

    Along with that, the other thought I had is that rather than wasting time and energy being critical of what church leaders say and how they say it, a more effective approach might be to listen to what they say, and then go home and spend some time talking with God about how I can apply the principles they discussed in my own personal life and situation. Church leaders are imperfect and teach the best way they know how, but with such a wide audience, they cannot possibly teach in a way that will be perfectly effective for everyone. It’s only God and the Spirit that can perfectly teach me in a way that I understand what my personal takeaway message needs to be and what God Himself actually expects me individually to do to apply the principles He inspires His servants to teach.

  28. I applaud you defending and fighting for YOUR family. I believe that is exactly what our leaders are asking us to do – actively, and with determination, defend our own families, from all influences that want to destroy and tear them apart (media, busy schedules, lack of commitment, etc.). I can only hope and believe that by doing so will only have a positive effect on the world around us. I, too, am too busy trying my darned ness to keep my own family intact to worry about the World’s Family. When I hear “stand up for the family,” I loudly respond to the world “I am! Right here! Under my own roof!”

    I think we often forget that these general conference talks are for the WHOLE world, not just our little ole USA. I don’t know if the saints in far corners of the world are dealing with the same crucial/trivial crises we think we are forced to endure here. But, we ALL need to stand up for and defend our OWN families – Satan doesn’t have a border.

  29. Christiankimball’s comment made me think. Maybe in the developing world the subtext is much different from what we’re hearing in the US. I hear code for a woman’s place is in the home and women shouldn’t work outside the home. But maybe, people in poor countries hear something very different? They probably don’t have the baggage I do, and so may hear something much more affirming (and having nothing to do with careers or gay marriage). Interesting to think about how carefully church leaders have to craft talks for a global audience…..

  30. And, the “plan for contingencies” quote is great for using with the youth/college age…..

  31. Idea: how about starting a “Strengthen the Family” award that with give annual awards (preferably with cash attached) to organizations/individuals whose work strengthens the family (eg, I’m thinking economic factors here). This could start by being Salt Lake centric so that the church’s strengthen the family language becomes publicly linked with reducing family problems caused by poverty/inequality –ie, start to shift the meanings associated within strengthen the family away from mairriage and gender roles and towards the structural factors that have major negative impacts on families. This would be following the council of church leaders and also putting our money where our mouth is.

  32. All this yaping about how the attack on the family isn’t applicable. Yes, it is. As long as human beings are suffering, whatever their circumstances or challenges might be, believers or non, we have heard the call to meet the needs of others. The human family is under attack as long as individuals are “othered” or seen as objects rather than human beings. This includes the abandoned, the divorced, the single parent, the LGBT, the abused, the chronically ill, and the emotionally plagued.

    I am disheartened that for once we have this Christian/Buddhist principle extended to us, explicitly, and the Bloggernacle shoots it down as inapplicable. This is EXACTLY what the people of this Church need. It isn’t ambiguous or amorphous. Wake up. See the worth in human beings before you. This IS the family.

    “Our opportunity as covenant keeping daughters of God is not just to learn from our own challenges; it is to unite in empathy and compassion as we support other members of the family of God in their struggles as we have covenanted to do.”–Sis. Carole M. Stevens

  33. martha my love says:

    Rebecca, I am standing with my arm at the square and sustaining your wisdom and the impact of your essay. If only our leaders were interested enough to know or find out what it’s actually like for real families!

  34. Christiankimball–you rock, brother! Can I use your post somewhere else, like to friends or to my son on a mission?

  35. As to the original blog–It resonated with me a great deal in that I am most interested in helping my own family.
    But I will never understand out of ALL the ravages of our society to rail against using the Save The Family battle cry, gay marriage is the one that is the Bringer of True Destruction to The Family. How? Let’s talk about all the other crap and leave the gays aside for a minute. Long before gay marriage reared its ugly head, the family has been getting quite a hit, inside and out of the church. Have families gone even more downhill in states that have gay marriage? No.
    Let’s talk abuse, addiction, greed, impatience, etc etc ETC. There are real issues that can be addressed here. And as the GA’s start to trickle in from other countries (and remember, there are more members OUTSIDE the US than in), more ‘real’, global ideas will be discussed at the pulpit and boy oh boy–am I looking forward to that day!

  36. bookncurls says:

    whoa. This is a good one. Well done BCC.

  37. editorjen: Yes. I couldn’t stop you if I wanted to, but it’s nice to be asked.

  38. Hedgehog says:

    Loch, the church does exactly that in Britain, with the Family Values award.

    john f, thanks. I generally do go along and listen in the formal surroundings at church. I used to look forward to it, these days I feel more weary. Why that song, I’m asking myself, when in all the wards I know noone sang those prescriptive middle verses. I don’t know anyone who likes them.

  39. When the LGBT community is actively trying to pass laws to make heterosexual marriage illegal, then let me know (because THAT would be an attack). Wait, isn’t that what straight folks are doing right now with respect to gay marriage? Well, I guess it’s pretty clear whose attacking who. . . [the notion that somebody standing up and saying “hey, I want the same rights you have” constitutes an “attack” is truly one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in a while, and it’s particularly sad to her this kind of stupidity from leaders that claim to speak for God]

  40. Hedghog –that’s really interesting, and seems quite different from what the church does in the US to promote “family values.” What’s the story re how that happened?

  41. ““Our opportunity as covenant keeping daughters of God is not just to learn from our own challenges; it is to unite in empathy and compassion as we support other members of the family of God in their struggles as we have covenanted to do.”–Sis. Carole M. Stevens”

    Gudri – Yes that is the money quote, however today as I was in church all I kept hearing was something not empathetic or compassionate. There were tons of references to the Proclamation and many comments on wayward church members and how if they just read their scriptures more, did their callings, and went to the temple everything would be okay. There were no verbal hugs, just lists. So yes I love the Christian/Buddhist idea of seeing people as people and reaching out to them. I just feel like I am rare in that vision.

  42. I’m a middle-class white lady with six kids (all fathered by my husband of 25 years after we were married), and my takeaway Saturday night was pretty much exactly like yours (except I love me some President Eyring). Thanks for articulating this so well.

  43. wondering says:

    I don’t know exactly what defending the family is supposed to mean either.

    But here’s a post about families and the sexual revolution that I thought was very interesting, and somewhat relevant to the topic at hand. (Not written by a Mormon.)

    http://theweek.com/articles/544900/why-are-liberals-denial-about-sexual-revolution

  44. Great post, Rebecca. I defend the Family by supporting efforts that eliminate poverty and domestic abuse. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is what our leaders have in mind when they use this rhetoric.

  45. Pascale Plänk Steig says:

    Great essay; great points.

  46. Wow. This was truly amazing. I guess I never thought twice about this topic…

  47. @rogerdhansen I’m sorry you took offense; none was intended. I like that quote from Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley’s father. To me it signifies the danger of embodying those characteristics in our lives to the point of detrimental effect. Those who doubt themselves too much and too often will certainly not achieve their goals. Full-time skeptics are not empowered to be creators, and the overly cynical will skew their perspective of the world so much as to not find value in making positive contributions.

  48. Why were all the talks about family? As if LDS women don’t know the importance of the topic.
    I feel”familied” to death. What about women who have no family? Why can’t we hear talks on pride, forgiveness, tolerance, etc. There are other topics women want to hear about it besides family. Enough!

  49. Loch, from the August 2013 local pages (UK) of the Ensign (https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/language-materials/10688eur_eng.pdf?lang=eng&cp=eng-gb):
    “…previous Family Values Award recipients Edmund Adamus, Director of Marriage and Family Life, Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster; Vivienne Pattison, Director, MediaWatch UK; and Caroline Julian from the think tank ResPublica, who was representing its director, Phillip Blond. The Church presents Family Values Awards to individuals in the public eye whose work and influence have a significant impact on family life within UK society. Previous award recipients include UK cabinet ministers, people of influence in the third sector and senior faith leaders.”
    It also gets reported on the church news pages, most recently this (https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-recognizes-british-judge-for-promoting-family-values?lang=eng).

  50. ‘Families are forever if I can just get through today’ :)
    Corrinna ,.- I choose to think that maybe that is exactly what our leaders have in mind! And Christiankimball – Amen!

  51. Barbara Faulkner says:

    You ARE standing up for the family. By your example. You don’t always need words or some huge big action, just your quiet, shining example.

  52. Jojobjerga–Of course our leaders worry about those issues. Especially when we work at the local level–In my experience that is what most ward council time has been about–helping families with real practical issues such as self-reliance, etc.

    However, I can’t ignore that there are many members who interpret “defending the family” as a need to go out there and stand against the evil world and promote the idea of a nuclear family as being mother, father, 2.3 kids. Just as Rebecca, I wonder if our leaders would really answer the question–what do they mean, in practical terms, by “defending the family?”

  53. Corrina: “I wonder if our leaders would really answer the question–what do they mean, in practical terms, by ‘defending the family?'”

    Could they possibly mean making any and all legislative attempts possible to provide financial and personal support to women who are considering abortion to consider instead carrying the baby to term and giving it up for adoption or keeping it? Could they possibly mean counseling us as citizens to vote for legislators who promise to find ways to address income inequality, which is by far the biggest threat to marriage today (many studies in 2013 and 2014 showed that low income people marry or stay married at a much lower rate than the upper middle class and rich, which also correlates with education, that is, those with more education marry and stay married at a much higher rate than those who do not obtain much education)? Could they possibly mean equal pay for equal work? Could they possibly mean universal health care so that families do not break under the stress and pressures of being without insurance due to low income, or so that families are not broken financially by a car accident or illness? Could they possibly mean encouraging Latter-day Saints to vote for legislators who promise to create legislation providing maternity and paternity leave at levels comparable to peer developed economies that have demonstrated their significant support for families through such policies?

    It seems inconceivable that they mean such things when they say “defend the family.” It is obvious what they mean when they say “defend the family”: oppose gay marriage and “feminists” who want women to make their own decision as to whether having a career or being a mother, or both, or in which order, is best for them personally, and want policy to reflect this fundamental equality between men and women.

    It is a part of the Culture Wars. It is about politics, the politics of the conservative segment of the baby boomer generation (and their parents) uncomfortable with diversity and pluralism.

  54. Trond–Yes! And I would love to hear from non-American members–to hear what the defending-the-family discourse means to them. It seems very USA centric.

  55. I so needed this. I drove my wife to the stake conference so she could attend the Women’s Session. As I waited in our car, I listened to the Radiohead’s OK Computer while reading the twitter feed on the Session. I just couldn’t believe that after a doctrine-heavy Women’s Meeting last September we were getting THIS now. I guess some Brethren chastised or influence heavily on this spring’s Session topic. And this is what we got. So of the phrases and rethoric hurt because we are couple who can’t conceive children and we might be the end of the line for our family generations.

    Loved the post, It articulated my thoughts and feelings exactly. And I’m a dude.

  56. Errr. I drove her to the stake center. Center.

  57. I hope that at least the author felt validated in her struggle to succeed at family life after Saturday’s Women’s Session…I enjoyed the article. It is well-written, poignant, insightful but would have been better without the self-centered, almost whiny, (and in my opinion completely inaccurate) conclusion, “Because what the heck were they talking about? I just don’t know. And I don’t care. I have more important things to worry about. Like how I’m supposed to take care of my family. Not the Family. My family, with its individual members and their varied and demanding needs. I can’t remember the last time church gave me a good idea on that front, if it ever did.”

  58. MDearest says:

    Em, you probably don’t know much about the author, RJ and her family. Otherwise you’d see how out of character it is to call her “whiny” and not acknowledge her toughness and tenacity in supporting her family.

    I read this late Saturday night and felt both affirmed and like applauding. I’m firmly ensconced in the Sisterhood of Struggling Families.

  59. Abigayle says:

    I’d really love it if “the family” would stop replacing time we could spend talking about Jesus Christ. The church has made patriarchy and gender rolls so central to their message, they risk eclipsing the whole point. I don’t want to worship the 1950s ideal social structure. I want to worship the Savior. I’m so tired of gender-roll obsession.

  60. Abigayle—Amen!

  61. sidebottom says:

    If I remember right from last conference, defending the family has something to do with pithy Facebook status updates.

  62. To be fair, I’m not that clever.