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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.

4 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 9: Sacred Family Relationships (Lorenzo Snow Manual)”

  1. Dawn Bradbury said

    Speaking from along the road a little farther….my children are grown and all are away from home. Coming from a ‘godless home’ and a nonfamily home – we did not do things together – and it was a climate of tearing us down and being made to feel worthless. My adopted dad passed away a few years ago and frankly, I was relieved. but the issue here — the importance of the family relationship has grown closer to my heart. I’m not saying I was a perfect mom…I had to work sometimes, and I was impatient alot…but had to drastically change when I joined the church. The idea of perpetuating family feeling has become so important to me that I have now made my family the priority and pray it is not too late. The very day I began to get this feeling, Heavenly Father provided the ways and means for me to bring my family back together (speaking of my children here.) I feel a divine purpose that I didn’t or couldn’t feel when I was trying to learn the Gospel all at once and do all the right things. FHE was not every Monday. I regret that now. But the opportunities to teach are still here and I plan to take advantage of every moment. Re: the issue of fidelity….I remember sitting in Stake Conference at the Assembly Hall when Beloved and I were first married. The counsel given was two-fold. “when you go out to slay dragons and monsters, be careful not to become a dragon or monster.” The second really made an impression on me, “Never speak about your spouses failings to anyone.” Not saying here that we shouldn’t report abuse – but if Beloved ticks me off about something….it really is no ones business. And he is a wonderful man and I am a lucky duck. We have both watched our friends and seen how speaking badly about a spouse can erode any marriage. Out of 12 couples – there are 6 couples (50%!!!!!) still together. It is heartbreaking. I forget the point I was making. But I’m grateful for the posts here, I learn so much!

  2. jimslds said

    Thanks for your lesson Robert C. I always appreciate your insights. I hope this wasn’t a bit much as it hit close to my heart, my family!
    In 2007 we started a family spiritual time where we meet almost every evening for a song, quick spiritual message, and prayer b4 bedtime for our five children, ages 13 down to age 5. Sometimes just a message, and prayer, sometimes a song and a prayer, sometimes a song, story & prayer, and sometimes, a full blown out fight erupts and a closing prayer, one time it ended horribly with no prayer and everyone ran off and I stood there bewildered and didn’t know what just happened. Sometimes we have a song, children & adults bearing their testimony, or we may think of people we can do kind acts for, or challenges or events they would like to discuss, which we usually try to put a gospel twist to it, which is almost always appropriate, and a prayer, etc.. When others visit our home it’s almost always time for spiritual and we invite them to participate.
    We try most morning to have scripture reading as a family with an occasional straggler or someone MIA usually in a deep coma like sleep.
    We have special prayers times for anyone we know in need and blessing of our food.
    We now avoid school activities or sports that require Sunday participation. When my oldest daughter was 8 years old, she was on the cheerleading team and we all didn’t at that time realize Sunday was the days they had competition. My wife had a discussion with our daughter during a drive in the car and asked our daughter how she wanted to handle this and what she wanted to do, leaving me out, as I sometimes can be, well, preachy and persuading to not participate in such an activity on a Sunday. I sometimes forget free agency when it comes to my children. Since the when I do not feel the children were paying attention I have received feedback from church leaders, and others in church and elsewhere to suggest they are absorbing the teachings that come from within the walls of our own home.
    Every two weeks I met with each children in my office for a kind of PPR interview and it’s all about them and their joys, fears, challenges, school, and whatever they would like to discuss, and I almost always leave them with some gospel message. I have to slip it in, can’t help it. I guess because I truly love it and them. I am working on giving more father /husband blessings.
    You see, in this world since the days when President Snow mentioned “the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of a precious heritage from the Lord” it has not just intensified, but I feel has spiraled nearly out of control.
    Well my oldest daughter said she couldn’t offend God and would absolutely not break the Sabbath. Imagine my relief, also, I was very pleased that this little girl felt that strongly about it. She had to meet with the entire board and they were tough on her because to be on the team required to be there for the competitions. She stood her grounds and told them she could not offend God and would not participate on a Sunday. They were pretty astonished at her conviction and after their exhausting arguments, voted to allow her to stay on the team and told us they had never heard of such a thing nor had ever made such an exception. All our children here in Long Island New York are the only Latter-day Saints in their schools.
    Marriage and Divorce
    It’s very simple [KISS] in our home. I am the man in the home and it’s made clear, I wear the pants in the home and ALWAYS get the last word with my wife, usually with such words as. “YES DEAR”, OK HONEY, What ELSE CAN I DO? I LOVE YOU! I am continually working on myself and not judging my wife’s actions. I sin differently and want her forgiveness, approval, and love, because I LOVE her that much.
    In our home, I date my daughters and knight my sons! I try to do something each week with one or a few of them, since I do have five, depending on the activity and occasion.
    The greatest mission of woman is to give life, earth-life, through honorable marriage, to the waiting spirits, our Father’s spirit children who anxiously desire to come to dwell here in this mortal state. All the honor and glory that can come to men or women by the development of their talents, the homage and the praise they may receive from an applauding world, worshipping at their shrine of genius, is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfils the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God. The jewels in her crown, the stars that shall glisten in her diadem, in time and in eternity, shall be the sons and the daughters to whom, through the blessing of the Lord, she has been instrumental in not only giving earth-life, but in bringing them, through care and devotion and faithfulness, into the paths that God has appointed for his children to follow [Melvin J. Ballard].

  3. In regards to “trifling misunderstandings” a GREAT story to share is the “Grapefruit Syndrome.” I’ll be using it tomorrow, and bringing a basket of grapefruit as a visual :) Here’s a link to the that Ensign story: https://beta.lds.org/liahona/1999/09/the-grapefruit-syndrome

  4. Robert C. said

    Thanks for the great comments, suggestions, etc. I hope your lessons went well.

    (I wish I’d had a few more carefully constructed questions to toss out, since our quorum was unusually quiet for this lesson, but otherwise the lesson went fairly well.)

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