The Morning After

(ok, posted in the afternoon MST, but who could resist a title like that!)

A lot of wards/branches landed on the “Keeping the Law of Chastity” lesson yesterday in RS/PH and from online reports, it went interestingly.

So what did Sex Education for Mormon Adults look like in many wards?  Well via twitter….

Some people were less than impressed:

 

Others wanted more pictures:

 

And some people were excited to get it on:

 

Even the BCC twitter feed got in on the action:

Joking aside, you can tell just from these tweets (and the many responses therein) this lesson was a scary one to teach and, for many, a difficult one in it’s a execution. Why? Let’s look at the makeup of the lesson. You begin with a story about a girl with a white dress who wants to go to a compromising location but before she is to go is told by her parents to go into the smokehouse for a slab of bacon. This clever ploy is to teach that “you can’t go into the smokehouse without absorbing some of the influence there. We think you are smart enough not to go into a place where you would come out any less beautiful and clean than when you went in.”

And then the story ends. Well, what if she hadn’t known and went there? Would she still be dirty? This is especially important as the conversation quickly can turn to a discussion on porn usage, and there are going to be many inadvertent inappropriate viewings online as we go through out life.  But especially there nothing about the fact that could always be made clean again. Ok, well, if you go further in the lesson, almost to the end, there are a few paragraphs how you can be clean again, but it’s almost drowned out by the don’t ever do it. Prepare so you don’t have to repair, which is super important, but not enough to drown out the Atonement part. (And in our ward, we got caught up in the first part of the lesson so we didn’t really get to the last part).

The lesson chugs on after this story to go right into quoting from Moroni 9:9. As has been said before, just because a scripture is searchable by the words “chastity and virtue” doesn’t make it a good scripture to use in discussions especially with youth. Unless it’s carefully couched in terms of consent or terms of careful scriptural exegesis taking into account Moroni’s male and cultural lens.  What do I mean?

When women talk about chastity, it’s about not consenting to unchaste acts, not granting access to one’s sexuality outside of marriage. If you re-read Moroni 9:9 with “consent” instead of “virtue,” it suddenly makes a lot more sense:  “9 For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is THEIR CONSENT.”

How we talk about female chastity from a male perspective means girls don’t grant access to their babymakers until babymaking is permitted.  If their babymakers have been accessed (whether the girl gave consent or not) then paternity is brought into question.  This is really just an issue because of property rights passing to one’s offspring.  It’s a moot point if we are Christian enough to grant paternal rights to adoptive fathers (which we are).  Girls should not be considered unvirtuous if they don’t consent.  That seems obvious.  It’s not consistent with scriptures which were written by men steeped in a male perspective of chastity that was about paternity issues, not about female choice and a woman’s right to say no.

What’s objectionable is not that they lost their hymen, but that they were forced against their will, they were raped. Their virtue cannot be taken, it can only be given away, and when given at the point of a gun or through other coercive means, it’s rape, it’s not being unchaste. This should be evident to anyone who reads it; it’s kind of an obvious point. Most women will immediately realize that if there is no consent, there is no loss of virtue by the woman, and that a man who forces or coerces a woman, robbing her of consent, is committing a heinous crime against her.  But that doesn’t mean she is at fault.

Clearly there are various levels of coercion. Consent while under alcohol may constitute diminished capacity to consent, for example. We should be careful not to make choices that diminish our ability to consent or to withhold consent.  But that doesn’t mean that women are unchaste if they don’t consent.

None of our manuals make this clear, and far too many times I have heard a teacher or class commenter insinuate that a woman was “asking for it” based on how she was dressed or based on walking into the smokehouse or whatever analogy we want to use. It’s beyond time that we get our language right on this topic, to protect our women from victim blaming and to protect our men from violating a woman’s consent.

For those who have not had this lesson yet, please feel free to use any of these ideas when similar problematic ideas are brought up. This lesson is a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be. And can we please stop using Moroni 9:9 as the “chastity and virtue” scripture in these discussions because for anyone who has been sexually abused or even raped, and who’ve been taught to be a “guardian of their virtue” nigh unto death (thank goodness that’s no longer the case) as the most important thing ever, how can it not be anything other than more harmful?

Comments

  1. In all of this discussion on consent, there is a bit of a thorny issue in another part of our scriptures, but one that I believe the church would like to remedy sooner rather than later: “consent” within the topic of plural marriage as a woman’s consent to an extra marriage was not required, i.e. Law of Sarah. See here for a current discussion on this wrinkle.

  2. I don’t think changing it to a completely different word is the best option. Better to do as the BCC tweet suggests; decouple virtue from chastity. Moroni 9:9 should never have been associated with sex, but people glommed it together thinking that rape is the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

    The use of “virtue” in that verse is intentional, and should be considered as the same word used when the woman was healed by taking virtue from Jesus.

  3. Perhaps some of the OP’s point in replacing virtue with consent can be maintained if we fall back to the idea of virtue as “power” (see here (http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,virtue), for instance, especially def. 5). It may stretch the idea (too much?) but power can include power to decide and act, and thus includes consent.

  4. Interestingly, our Elders Quorum had a pretty good discussion. What I find most humorous about the argument(s) that erupted in our Relief Society, is that people are arguing about a ~1,200 year old text (at the time) that was translated into language for a mid-19th century mindset and culture that understood “virtue” as being ONE of the words used to describe/mean female chastity. While the word virtue is still used in that way today, this use has fallen out of favor with our modern sensibilities. I’m think that if the Book of Mormon were to be translated today, it’s quite possible that a different word would be placed in Moroni 9:9 (the entire section/book would read differently). And taking all of this into account, people still lose their $hit and #ragequit rather than loving one another, listening to varied opinions, sharing thoughts, and having a discussion that invites the Spirit rather than drives it out.

    You’re right in saying that this lesson is a minefield. There are two ways to clear a mine field. One is to delicately locate the mines, then do the hard work of not setting them off while diffusing and removing them. The other is to trip mines as quickly as possible (i.e. start blowing $hit up) and hope that nobody gets hurt.

    Our approach to these sensitive topics does more to win the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters and the strength of our argument ever can because when we approach these topics in love and reverence, the Spirit can testify and influence.

  5. Following up on what Abu Casey says: If the Book of Mormon was written for our day, and the word virtue is deliberately given in the translation, what other meaning can it have beside the forbidden one? I wonder how this verse has been translated into other versions of the book and what understanding/meaning that provides. *opening my Ukrainian Book of Mormon*

  6. I used my prerogative as RS President in my ward to claim the privilege of teaching this lesson (also, we have no week-2 teacher). I wanted to take a positive view of what it means to actually keep the law of chastity as opposed to just not breaking the law of chastity. I was disappointed that there was nothing I felt comfortable using from the manual (usually there’s at least one or two quotes that will work, but this time it was all negative and prohibitive, as well as potentially hurtful), so I just didn’t use it at all. I used a PowerPoint presentation (complete with funny pictures), which helped to direct the discussion and shut out topics I did not want to discuss. At the beginning, I put up a couple of slides referring to the usual way of talking about chastity.

    I wanted to specifically address the idea that not all sexual acts are engaged in willfully, so this post makes me feel validated. I wish I could have dealt with it in more detail, but I didn’t want to make it the main topic of the lesson. I think everything in the OP would make a good base for a fireside. In my lesson, though, I had a slide that read: “If your feelings of guilt and shame come from something that was done to you by someone else, do what it takes to heal from it. You do not need to repent for being abused. The Atonement is real and the Savior is there for you, but sometimes you need more. Get counseling. Talk to someone you trust. Most of all, recognize that it is not a shame to you that it happened. I REPEAT: It is not a shame to you that it happened. It is a shame to the one who did it, NOT TO YOU. Reach out for what you need. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”

    Lucky for us, our Bishop is a trained counselor in addition to being a compassionate, spiritual man, so I was able to tell the sisters that if they need advice regarding either of these situations (their own actions or the actions of someone else), he would be able to counsel them both spiritually and professionally, or at least refer them to another counselor that he would recommend. We also talked briefly about victim-blaming. I planned to discuss that a little more in the “real” lesson I had planned, but the discussion just didn’t go that way. Once they realized that I was serious about not wanting to share embarrassing or voyeuristic stories or complain about how evil and immoral everyone else is, the sisters relaxed quite a bit and we had a good discussion. I usually take a very practical view of teaching lessons, but this time I really felt that the Spirit was helping to guide it rather than myself. I think a couple of sisters had some tension or pressure relieved that day.

  7. A couple weeks ago our stake presidency decided to address all of the women on the stake on the topic of “The Law of Chastity.” Three men stood in front of 500 women (no men) and taught them about sex and God’s expectations.

    Seriously. Three men stood up in front of a meeting hall full of mature, independent women and “taught” them about sex. No women on the program. Just three dudes who wanted to talk to 500 women about sex.

    Why should women be ordained? To prevent three dumbasses from doing that!

  8. I think our ordained leaders deserve a little more respect, Anonymous, especially in light of the fact that their only crime appears to be encouraging those in their stewardship to observe the commandments.

  9. Jenny,

    You’re free to sit in our next women’s only Law of Chastity meeting wherein men teach women about their sexuality. I suppose you’re the type of person who likes having a local businessman tell you about your sexuality, just so long as the fellow has a fancy title like “President.”

  10. I envy some of the others’ experiences here. I spend our lesson trying not to cringe in too noticeable a way. The low spot was when the women discussed the creative ways they and their husband’s use to avoid the appearance of evil in being alone with members of the opposite sex (especially in professional situations). Womeone like me who occasionally has working lunch meetings alone with male clients is a seductress in a very O.T. sense. And the client who I meet alone with at his own home… Well, just stone me now.

  11. Errr… Sorry about all the typos! How come they are only glaringly obvious AFTER I hit the post button?

  12. Anon, this is where the cultural norm against not challenging leaders to their faces needs to be broken. Much spoken nonsense results from nobody ever having told the speaker to consider the possibility that he (or she, but it’s more often he) is full of it.

  13. Yes, Anonymous, you should go to your Bishop (if you can’t get to a member of the Stake Presidency) and complain. Write down what you need to say. It’s extremely likely that the SP thought they were doing you all a service and would be mortified to learn how they came off (as they should be – that’s really misguided). But they need to know this isn’t useful. Be sure to offer concrete ideas about what WOULD be useful, though.

  14. We didn’t have this lesson in our ward this week, so there’s something to look forward to I guess! But our youth speaker in Sacrament Meeting was assigned the topic of sexuality and chastity. The adult speaker who got up after him said that he would never again complain about his assigned topic having watched this brave 16 year old boy address a congregation of adults on the topic of sexuality and chastity.

  15. Our wise teacher opened with the story about the girl in the white dress and we discussed how cigarette smoke sticks to one’s clothes even if you just walk through a room where it is, then she moved on to section 4 on how to become clean again, for fear we wouldn’t get there, we talked about that for a good while, in the process pretty much covering the other topics listed and that was that. I thought she did a very good job and did not fall into the mine field at all. It was not uncomfortable and I did not cringe once. Nobody even mentioned Moroni 9:9. I’m sure she didn’t because she has a daughter who was raped.

  16. I taught in my YSA RS, and tried to focus on three main points: 1, isn’t it nice that God gave us sex drives? 2, how to increase your willpower, and 3, what to do if you slip up. We also touched on how being raped/assaulted is not a sin, and the local resources for women who are addicted to porn. I was nervous, but the lesson went so well. No one gave damaging comments, just uplifting and helpful ones. I’m still giddy and relieved.

  17. We actually had a very good discussion in Elder’s Quorum about how we should respect women as people and not look at them as sex objects or instruments of temptation. It gave me hope.

  18. Anonymous, ad hominem to Jenny is out of line.

  19. I’m a new RS president. Our lesson was awful and hit a few of the mines in the minefield. Aside from mentioning an object lesson (of the chewed gum variety), the teacher followed the manual pretty closely. I made a few comments, and I wish I had made a few more. The discussion got derailed pretty badly when we got to that one sentence on modesty. I felt sick to my stomach after church, especially because I feel partly responsible for the things that were taught.

    Question: How can I better prepare for weeks when particularly sensitive subjects are being taught? What are tactful and sensitive ways to prepare a teacher to teach a difficult lesson?

    I didn’t read the lesson until Sunday morning, before church. I was appalled that rape and sexual abuse were not covered at all. Reading the lessons well in advance is now on my to-do list.

  20. A_non: what I do besides reading the lesson, is look at the way The Exponent covers the lesson, and I always check the comments to see if it’s a lesson that is generating more then a few, which is a sign to me that it might be more difficult to approach. I may or may not agree with how they approach the lesson, but it’s a good beginning place of what types of questions might be generated, especially if the author gives warnings about “be aware of the single sisters in your midst” or “there might be those who have experienced x or y so tread carefully.”

  21. I’m teaching this lesson on Sunday and have been thinking back on all of the chastity lessons I had in YW. Yikes! We had the horrific object lessons, outdated terminology and extremely uncomfortable teachers. I’m trying to figure out how to teach it and am coming up blank. All suggestions are welcome!

  22. “ad hominem to Jenny is out of line.”

    Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

    I’m not interested in hurting anyone’s feelings. But I’m also sick and tired of a culture where men can gather up 500 women, using their religious authority, and proceed to spend an hour lecturing to the women about their sexuality. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of a culture where that is accepted as okay. I’m sick of a culture where women feel the need to rationalize it. I’m just sick of it.

    Consider this hypothetical: What would happen if three women called 500 men of the church together to teach them about male sexuality? I can’t even imagine it. There’s no format for women to lecture men on anything, let alone lecturing them about their sexuality.

    This is a structural problem. Women’s status in the LDS faith is such that a man can gather them up en masse and lecture them about women’s sexuality. Women’s status in the church is such that not only must the women accept the men’s teaching, but they must understand it as coming from the Lord’s anointed. This isn’t a problem requiring sensitivity training. This isn’t a problem of better understanding or more compassion. This is a structural problem with the place of women in the LDS faith.

    Am I out of line? Maybe. But this doesn’t get fixed by staying in line. I’m sick of it.

  23. Heather Arnita says:

    Anonymous – I am really curious about what the stake presidency taught at that women’s meeting? Was what they said upsetting or just the fact that they were talking about sex upsetting?

  24. Anonymous, you’re right, it is a structural problem. And women have accepted the structure too. It is slowly changing, but requires courageous people to stand up and say what you said. In this case, though, I think it is the SP that is out of line. I’m pretty sure that a fireside like this wouldn’t happen in my stake, just knowing the personalities of the SP – and of the Stake Relief Society Presidency! If you don’t feel comfortable going to the SP, make an appointment with your Stake Relief Society President and present your concerns. Bring a list of ways to approach it differently (or just say, “I don’t think this is necessary”). She will have more influence with the SP. Find other women who feel the same way you do and get them to make appointments too. Don’t stay in line on this.

    A_non, perhaps the best way to approach a sensitive topic is to just do it yourself, especially if you’re concerned about how someone else might handle it. That’s what I did. Another option is to talk to the teacher ahead of time and make it clear what you expect from the lesson. Be positive. Don’t say, “Please don’t bring up that terrible old chewed-gum analogy.” Say, “Can you focus on the spiritual underpinnings of the law of chastity” or something like that. Also, ask at the beginning of the class that people don’t confess sins or give examples of what “other people” do and shut them down if they do it. In my lesson, we had a sister who tried to go off on modesty and as soon as she said the word I jumped up and down and shouted “Nope! Nope! Not going there!” It was unexpected and I managed to do it in a humorous way, so it went over fine. There were a few sighs of relief, too. I know this sister well and know how she usually acts, so I was prepared for anything she might say. You know your sisters – use humor and persuasion as they will accept. Your teachers won’t always follow your advice – old habits die hard – but you can start establishing a different culture in the teaching in Relief Society. If you are really disturbed about how the lesson went, you should use the next presidency lesson (first Sunday in my ward, maybe the same in yours?) to present the topic differently.

  25. I’m a counselor in RS and I always freak out about lessons ahead of time, and then they usually go more or less fine. This time we started with the smokehouse story, and then as we read quotes throughout the lesson I read the part about media and I tried to make the point that this is where the smokehouse story actually is relevant: don’t do something that you already know ahead of time will affect you negatively. But it’s okay if you make mistakes, they can be fixed. I felt good about it at the time, but looking back…I just hope I phrased everything all right! Not necessarily my strong suit. I know it was a hard lesson for some people there.

  26. Geoff - Aus says:

    On the positive side the definition of chastity
    In this dispensation the Lord reiterated the commandment given at Sinai when He said, “Thou shalt not … commit adultery, … nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6, emphasis added). From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be the same. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all—for men and women, for old and young, for rich and poor.5

    The Church has no double standard of morality. The moral code of heaven for both men and women is complete chastity before marriage and full fidelity after marriage.

    So the Lords eternal definition, doesn’t exclude gays. Full fidelity after marriage is chastity, and we don’t have double standards..

  27. We had this lesson and I had no idea it was a minefield. And, we had the laurels in the room visiting. Our teacher presented two videos the church has produced, where young women talk about what the law of chastity means to them. It set the tone for the rest of the meeting. It was not a discussion of sexuality so much as it was a conversation about the laws of God, their power to protect, and the atonement of Christ and it’s infinite power and infinite love. I thought it was beautiful. Sincere prayer, a desire to bless those you teach, and pleading for the spirit as you teach will go much further that consulting online forums or stressing over all the potential ways somebody may become offended. The gospel is beautiful….and the law of chastity is a beautiful part of the gospel.

  28. First the bad:

    1. Mormons use really really weird euphemisms when talking about sex. one woman went off for a few minutes about “presenting your real beauty” to your husband and I think it’s some weird reference to sexuality but i’m still confused about it 24 hours later. Was it a reference to taking your garments off before you do the deed? saying a prayer first? wearing lots of/no makeup???? Does LDS Tools have a euphemism translator?

    2. After reading the sentence on never being alone with a man almost every woman in my ward started talking about how SATAN is trying to get you to be friends with a man and after you are married if you have a good marriage there is no reason whatsoever to be friends with a man ever again. AND EVERYONE NODDED.

    This is beyond dysfunctional. Just because eating too much makes you overweight we don’t tell people not to eat. Seriously, I want my husband to have good camaraderie and inside jokes and fun with all of his coworkers. The only way you can be moderate in this area is if you have practice in seeing women as beings and not sexual objects. If you see women/men/yourself as ticking time bombs of sexual temptation you are doing it wrong. This explains why I can’t get most mormon men to say more than a “hi” to me at any church function, ever.

    Now the good:

    1. We had a marriage counselor in RS who made a comment that the best defense against infidelity is a good marriage.

    2. i commented about how messed up we are to shame people for having natural biological reactions – and we should never feel bad for our body working correctly, but we can make other decisions after it happens to manage temptation. But how we talk about things now creates weird cycles of shame that should never be there in the first place. (the marriage counselor thanked me for my comment).

  29. “1. We had a marriage counselor in RS who made a comment that the best defense against infidelity is a good marriage.”

    Nope, that’s offensive because it implies that those who were cheated on had a bad marriage and it was their fault for not making it better. It’s victim blaming. Better put that with the bad.

  30. In addition to uncoupling virtue and chastity, I think uncoupling chastity and virginity is also essential. It is so common for the word “chaste” to get used when people really mean “virgin,” but the thing is, it’s entirely possible to be completely keeping the law of chastity while having sex! As a married and pregnant woman, I’m obviously not a virgin, but I’m still chaste. So much of our lesson and discussion on Sunday focused on teaching (scaring?) the younger generation about the importance of the law of chastity, but what was really being said was “we need to keep these kids from having sex.”

  31. Anonymous: “I’m not interested in hurting anyone’s feelings. But…”

    You know you’re doing things wrong when you write sentences like those. If the first sentence is true, the rest should not have been written.

  32. Y’all will be happy to know that I made the following statement in Ward Council on Sunday:
    “We should not do that. The technical term for that is ‘mansplaining’, and it can be highly offensive even if we mean well.”
    So, the Bishop’s wife, and the wife of the counselor who doesn’t have a profound fear of public speaking will take over instead, with closing remarks from the Bishop. I serve with some great men, and it generally only takes the smallest nudge to get them out of the ruts we have been in for the past 185 years.

  33. I’m actually right at the part in the BoM where those Lamanite daughters are taken, and I’m think I’m seeing a point here that I hadn’t noticed before: The Daughters were taken by Noah’s Priests and then their people attacked the Nephites, and it wasn’t until after the battle that the Daughters were found. There is no timeline offered. It wasn’t that the Daughters were taken, and 24 hours later are discovered wailing and traumatized. Nope. They are taken, and at some point later– certainly after enough time has passed for their people to realize they are gone, to blame the people of Limhi, to prepare for battle, battle to be joined, etc– they are found, at which point they plead for the lives of Noah’s Priests.

    Could it be that those daughters of the Lamanites truly did lose their virtue because they were seduced? They were gone for days, it sounds like. Could have been even longer, if their dancing was part of a multi-day religious ritual, and not just an impromptu party.

    If their virtue was taken, I take it to mean their generosity, their kindness, and their willingness to work for their own upkeep was corrupted by the wicked priests of Noah, through their incorrect teachings.

    I hope that this scripture doesn’t come up in my lesson (we haven’t gotten there yet). Unless I find some rock solid evidence that all the Lamanite daughters were held captive and had non-consensual sex, I truly don’t know what I’ll want to say. I’d feel terrible if I spoiled the teacher’s whole lesson.

  34. Last comment and I’m done.

    I’m not interested in hurting anyone’s feelings. But I’m also sick and tired of a culture where men can gather up 500 women, using their religious authority, and proceed to spend an hour lecturing to the women about their sexuality.

    There you go, Steve. That’s my entire quote. Here’s an easy to follow summary of my argument:

    1. Man uses religious authority to gather the women.
    2. Man teaches women about women’s sexuality.
    3. That’s okay because in LDS culture men always get to lecture women on all topics, including women’s own bodies.
    4. One of the reasons that’s okay is because women consider men “ordained leaders” who’s “stewardship” includes lecturing women about their bodies.
    5. I’m okay with sharply criticizing people who perpetuate this.

    Now I’m done. You can have the last word Steve. (In the future if my words so offend your sensibilities, please just have the moderator quietly remove my comments.)

  35. the other Marie says:

    That white dress/smokehouse story didn’t make me think that the girl was going into a place where she might be raped/intoxicated/coerced into sex (and if that’s what was meant, then the parents’ lesson and comment is very messed up), but rather some place where people around her would be getting frisky with each other (a bar or rowdy dance hall, maybe) and where she might get ideas. I really disliked the line “you can’t go into the smokehouse without absorbing some of the influence there,” and I made a comment to that effect. Of course we can resist evil influences in our environments if we desire it and seek God’s help to do so. We have choice at any given moment, no matter where we are or how we got there–and as you said, consensual behavior is the only behavior that is capable of being sinful, and sin can be repented of, unlike that “awful smell” that would never come out of the dress. Additionally, there are times when we cannot choose our environments, or when we have a noble reason for being in unholy places (say, ministering to others in such places or otherwise being “in the world but not of the world”) and we can absolutely have the power to not “absorb” any of the influence there. In fact, we can even feel the spirit powerfully in such places. I agree that when we choose for fun to go into places with particularly negative behaviors we probably forfeit some of that access to spiritual protection until we change our hearts. But are we willing to be consistent here if we think that our environment is so very important to our own spiritual health? What about when we choose to stay employed in a place with dishonest dealings going on? If we aren’t personally dishonest but choose to stay employed there knowing what’s going on around us, is there no way for us to not “absorb” any of that evil? If not, then where are the lessons advising us to quit our jobs as soon as we see any dishonesty around us? Or quit coming to Relief Society when we consistently hear ignorant or hateful comments?

  36. We didn’t talk about any of the points that many of you have brought up or suggested. No, we didn’t talk about much of anything. We spent twenty minutes on announcements (because that’s what we go to church for, isn’t it?) and then every time somebody tried to say something, the teacher would say, “We’ll get to that later,” or “Make it quick, we only have two minutes,” or would cut them off altogether. So we ended up discussing nothing.

    Not that I was looking forward to talking about chastity, but I would have liked to talk about SOMETHING.

  37. ““1. We had a marriage counselor in RS who made a comment that the best defense against infidelity is a good marriage.””

    “Nope, that’s offensive because it implies that those who were cheated on had a bad marriage and it was their fault for not making it better. It’s victim blaming. Better put that with the bad.”

    That’s not victim-blaming and it’s extremely unhealthy to think that such things are. If you’re going to think like that, you can’t tell kids that if they want to avoid accidents, they should drive defensively (because it suggests they’re to blame for someone else’s actions), or that if they want to do well in school, they should study more (because a maybe a kid will blame themselves for their dyslexia). It’s just a crazy and harmful way to think.

  38. I think most people, upon discovering they’ve been cheated on, realize that something’s gone wrong in the marriage–something that is not necessarily their fault. Saying, “The best defense against infidelity is a good marriage” is not the same as saying, “If you focus on strengthening your marital relationship, you are guaranteed never to be cheated on.” “The best defense” is not “the fail-proof strategy.” Is there a better defense against infidelity than a good marriage, outside of, say, locking your partner in a cage?

    I’m the first person to say that the success or failure of a marriage depends a frightening amount on luck, but come on, let’s be reasonable.

  39. Jenny – Moroni 9:9 doesn’t refer to the story of the Lamanite daughters being kidnapped by King Noah’s priests. It’s talking about the final wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites.

  40. Joshua G. H. Smith says:

    I like learning stuff.

    I’ve had fairly diverse experiences in my Church service thus far, plenty of exposure to the youth at both the Stake & Ward levels. I have cringed at how modesty has been co-opted to mean virtue, which in turn has been co-opted to mean chaste, which really has been co-opted to mean abstinent and fearful of sex. While I believe modesty is important, I believe the underpinnings of why this is the case are important as well, and to make the egregious jump from immodest to unchaste is simply tragic.

    This post framed ‘consent’ for me in a way that I hadn’t previously pondered. It’s not for lack of trying, but maybe I just missed it before. Consent = virtue; and thus by extension consent = power. Consent. For me this post clicked in a way that is extremely edifying.

    I like learning stuff so today is a good day.

  41. The law of chastity lesson in my ward was a train wreck. The teacher tried but the comments got off the rails quickly and we never got back on. What made it worse is my inactive daughter came with me and the lesson was atrocious. One lesson I have learned when teaching the “do nots” of the gospel is you always end with the atonement and repentance. It was never mentioned in the lesson. Topics discussed–a man should never be alone with a female co-worker, a father shouldn’t be upset if a woman calls up and tells him his daughters need to dress more modestly because she has teenage sons and it’s their job to help her sons out with their dirty thoughts, teenage girls who dress immodestly have low self-esteems and let’s not forget that sexual sin is the 3rd most evil sin you can commit next to murder and denying the holy ghost. I am also really tired of the “smokehouse” stories and not going to questionable places too. No child should ever attend public high school if this is the standard.

  42. Ours wasn’t quite a train wreck, but I was uncomfortable. We had the third worst sin reference brought up, and tons of talk on pornography. There were several times when I thought of Elizabeth Smart talking about how she felt like “chewed up gum” after she’d been repeatedly raped. I was a little upset that sexual abuse was never covered, since it has impacted many people in my extended family. The discussion came round to the atonement at the end, though it was more having comfort in the atonement even when the rest of the world was going to pot.

    My husband’s EQ discussion went well for the most part,until the very end when the inexperienced substitute teacher pulled out McConkie’s pine box quote (“I would rather have you come back home in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it.”). At least one class member had a visceral reaction and it just went downhill from there.

  43. I’m really, really, glad that I was busy during the third hour with ward management issues.

  44. That McConkie guy sounds like he has real Christian Courage. Reminds me of the people of Ammon who laid down their lives, and even essentially that of their children then do that which was unthinkable to them. Also reminds me of the admirable Karl Maeser, who was incidentally very influential in Pres. Hinckley’s young father. Maeser once had something to say about laying down his life before even a small act of dishonor.

    I realize to the modern church member we are so terrified of death because we’ve made it as scarce as possible thorough the miracles of the modern age. But for those acquainted with suffering, death, and are firmly grounded in a testimony of the resurrection, death is not just a part of life, but preferable to somethings.

    What will you lose your life for so that you might gain it in more abundance?

  45. “…avoid the appearance of evil…”

    Oh right there with you; I can’t stand this crap. Avoiding the appearance of evil is an admonition. The appearance of sin is not the sin – the sin is the sin!

    “Seriously. Three men stood up in front of a meeting hall full of mature, independent women and “taught” them about sex. No women on the program. Just three dudes who wanted to talk to 500 women about sex. ”

    The fallacy here is mere criticism of who is delivering the message, not the content of the message. In other words, so what if it was three men talking to women about sex? What was the problem with what they said? The mere fact that it came from a man means nothing.

  46. Kristine–Amen. You are spot on. I’ve been married to a non-member for 30 years and now in my
    fifties. I know the women–but rarely meet their husbands and barely acknowledge passing in the foyer. Ridiculous and sad.

  47. I traced the reference for the “bacon and dress story” to “Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson”, which says it comes from a graduation talk at BYU. I cannot seem to find the graduation talk. I was wondering if anyone knows the larger context that Pres./Elder Benson would have been talking about when he told that anecdote? Was he even talking about the LoC at the time, or did he share the story within a different context?

  48. We talked about the story of the girl in the white dress, and there was added discussion about how influences are everywhere in the world, and sometimes they are unavoidable. What matters most is how we react when we can’t avoid it completely, which we covered pretty much at the beginning of the lesson.