RS/MP Lesson 9: Sacred Family Relationships (Lorenzo Snow Manual)
Posted by Robert C. on May 11, 2013
There are 4 ideas in this lesson that I want to comment on.
1. Family Reunions
Starting on page 127, we read an account of a family reunion that Pres. Snow held. It’s interesting how he “engaged in conferring blessings” and offered “fatherly counsel, instruction, and admonition.”
This passage got me thinking about differences between the quality vs. quantity of time we spend with family members. Sometimes I’ve wondered whether it’s better to be spending time with my kids, just to spend time with them, or to spend time doing something “for myself” (I have scripture study or prayer in mind here, not “me time” watching TV or something, though I’m also not ruling out “me time,” esp. for harried mothers…). Speaking for myself, I think I’d do better to sacrifice some quantity for quality, esp. in terms of making a point of having good spiritual experiences with kids, so that FHE is more Gospel focused, and discussions turn more frequently to things of eternal and spiritual worth.
The manual asks the following question for this section: “What are some good results that can come when we bring our families together?” I think a better question might be with regard to how can be bring about good results when we bring our families together, or why we should bring our families together. (And I’d be inclined to conceive of this question in general terms, to include the idea of spending time together as an immediate family, like with FHE.)
2. Marriage and Divorce
Pres. Snow expresses alarm at “the frequency of divorce in the land” (p. 129). I found this site which reports about a four-fold increase in divorce since the time Pres. Snow gave this address (from less than 1 in 1000 to about 3.5 in 1000). Yikes.
It’s also quite interesting how Pres. Snow mentions in that same quote “the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of as a precious heritage from the Lord.” Again, I think such attitudes have only intensified since Pres. Snow gave these words. But I also confess that, in an intense period of child-care myself, I often have this attitude also. Children are difficult, and in the daily grind it’s easy to forget how important and precious they are.
I’ll return to this issue of the importance of children below. Here I wanted to say something else about marital fidelity, in a round-about way. I work at Willamette University and a scandal broke out this past weekend where misogynistic Facebook comments from a particular fraternity were posted on a public site. It’s caused embarrassment and divisions for the fraternity and the school. Conversations have devolved into shouting matches and battle lines being drawn. So, for example, if a student ever liked a post something from that fraternity, they’re being implicated as guilty (of misogyny) by association. Reports are that the scandal is bringing the worst out in people.
What does this have to do with marriage fidelity? Well, my understanding is that one of the key problems in this situation is how Facebook makes it very easy way to engage in a form of moral grandstanding that is ultimately very inconsiderate of others’ feelings. This is because you don’t have to really see or meaningfully engage the other person that is being hurt by your comments.
This is in stark contrast to a marriage relationship where if you make a drive-by snarky comment, you have to pay the price (by sharing the same house with the offended party!). In this sense, I think our family relationships, marriage in particular, forces us to live considerately and to take responsibility for our actions and words. And, ideally, these committed relationships help us learn to be more considerate and thoughtful of those around us.
3. Trifling Misunderstandings
I just really like this bit of advice on page 131, “See that the little, trifling misunderstandings in domestic concerns do not poison your happiness.”
I think I might just read this quote, offer a knowing smile, and ask my quorum to discuss how and why trifling misunderstandings arise in family settings so frequently (or, if they don’t know what I’m talking about, can they give me and my family any advice?!).
4. Finer Feelings at Home
I also like the quote on page 131, that we “ought to be more fatherly [or motherly, I take it] at home, possessing finer feelings in reference to [our] wives [or husbands] and children.” I’m clipping the rest of the quote, which mentions neighbors and friends, simply to focus on the topic of this lesson which is the family.
Since it will be Mother’s Day when I teach this lesson, I plan to ask some leading questions about the “finer feelings” of mothers that we have experienced in our lives.
I hesitate to say the following, since I’m afraid it might be misconstrued as being insensitive to feminist concerns (which I’m very sympathetic to). But I can barely think about my own mother, and my own wife as a mother, without starting to tear up. In so many ways, our modern world is so godless, with such prevalent meanness and cruelty, or at least pettiness and selfishness, that it’s quite despairing. Although I understand that stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) often feel frustrated and stifled at home, under-appreciated, even discriminated against, since our culture and society encourage men more than women to be the breadwinners, as men go off and do “important” work in the world—work that gets recognized, monetarily and culturally, and is supposedly satisfying and fulfilling.
Well, I think this is ultimately and false and vain perspective, and that the true heroes of this world are mothers. I talk about SAHMs simply because that’s what I know best, since my mother and my wife are such. Of course SAHMs are becoming less common, and it’s simply not possible in many cases, and not desirable in other cases. But, again, in my experience, SAHMs regularly perform the most important and most Christ-like acts of service that I have witnessed in modern society. Parenting, in general, is crucially important, and of course mothers in any guise should be joyously celebrated and recognized this week.
I can’t find the words to adequately express how deeply this conviction burns in me, that the most important work we do is in the walls of our own homes. Perhaps it’s becoming easier to recognize how vain and unworthy the overwhelming majority of our leaders and idols in modern society are, because of all the scandals with business and government leaders (not to mention athletes). What popular figure can you name that is really worthy of emulation? I was asked not long ago to name a short list of my true life heroes, and after thinking about it, the top 3 on my list were all who women whose main occupation has been mother (my wife, my mom, and one of my aunts whom I deeply admire). These are simply the most Christ-like figures I’ve encountered in my life, and I’m convinced that their commitment to being a mother played a major role in shaping them into the Christ-like figures that they are.
Well, my time’s up. I’d be interested to know what thoughts you have about the lesson, or what experiences you have in teaching the lesson.
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