Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I don't think it is a case of either/or. Rather, it is inclusive. Both the ability to see black and white (meaning, Satan can't trick us into believing that good is evil and evil is good) and the ability to navigate ambiguities are blessings of discernment. When a person has to choose between ambiguous choices it is between several different good choices. Not a choice between something good and something bad. Eve didn't have a "bad" choice. She could choose to stay in the garden and be happy and innocent and in the presence of God. A very good choice. Or, she could transgress (move into a different state) and choose to move the plan forward. A better choice. Two good choices. Neither of those choices were evil but both would have certain consequences, so Eve had to use her judgment and personal revelation (she would have been baptized and blessed with the Holy Ghost I'm assuming, before she could have had a temple sealing) and gift of discernment to choose the best path.
Satan didn't trick her. He didn't convince her that staying in the garden was bad. She was far too spiritually prepared and in tune to be deceived by him. She saw the absolute of good and evil. She also, in her wisdom, saw the ambiguity of good and better and made the best choice.
Where the "absolute" part comes in is knowing the difference between good and evil. There is no absolute amongst the myriad goods.
PS--If there was no room to disobey Heavenly Father, then how do explain to childless couples that they have broken the commandment to multiply and replenish and as such are living in sin? Eve was warned what would happen should she make a certain choice. She chose to accept the consequences. That's different than willfully disobeying God.
Those two ideas seem (seem! I'm sure it can be resolved!) to contradict each other. Which is it: our ability to see black and white gives us power? or our ability to see complexity and choose between conflicting ideas gives us power?
(The whole idea that there can BE "conflicting goods" is not a "black and white" idea. If we're dealing in absolutes, we would say that Eve should never have disregarded anything the Father told her, ever, no matter if it was a warning or not. Wouldn't we?)
First, I don't think of people as absolutes. We all sin. We all need forgiveness. I liked Marilyn's example of someone who smokes. Of course the smoking is wrong (absolute) but the person is no better or worse than myself. A murderer, on the other hand (and I'm not including abortion in this example), I can safely say is farther off the path than I am. Still a precious child of God--but clearly not trying too hard to be obedient. So yes, while people are ambiguous, it is sometimes clear whether or not a person is farther off the path than I am. I would not, however, know if that person was farther off the path than another person that is not myself. Say Kami. She's a hellion. Who knows what she's up to when she's not feeding her baby and taking care of her children. She could be doing anything. So I cannot safely say that Kami is not farther off the path than anyone else. Because I'm not her.
The previous paragraph was basically useless because the important thing to remember about people is that no matter where they are in relation to their obedience to the commandments, we are still required to treat them the same--with love. With kindness. With compassion.
While people as a whole are ambiguous, actions are never ambiguous. Just because I lose my temper and yell at my children for very good reasons I am never justified. It is always wrong. Yelling at a child because said child is in danger is always okay. Absolutely. Smoking, always wrong. Gossiping--always wrong (and that is one of many reasons I'm going to hell). Stealing--always wrong. Indulging in road rage thoughts--always wrong. Wearing a sleeveless shirt--always wrong.
Abortion is not a special case. Getting an abortion because you don't want the baby--always wrong. Getting an abortion because the mother's life is at risk is always okay. Unless the mother has a special witness to her that it isn't. Then it isn't. Still absolute.
Some people may claim that there are murky issues, like deciding to work when you are a mother. However, those issues aren't truly murky to the person deciding. It is only murky to those of us evaluating that person's decision and gossiping about said decision. Being a working mom is not wrong. That's an absolute. Choosing to stay home and not work is not wrong. That's an absolute. Neither of those choices is sin. Receiving revelation about whether or not you should make a choice and then following the inspiration is always right. Choosing to not follow the inspiration is always wrong.
So that's how I see the world. I was worse when I was younger and I cringe when I think about some thoughtless remarks I made as a Youth (as Marilyn would say) because I didn't understand the role of personal revelation. I definitely agree that as I age, I see levels of complexity in life that I didn't see before. I also gain compassion as I experience more of what life throws out. But even that new awareness has not changed my basic belief in obedience trumping all else. Now if I could just always do what I know I should do--that would be wonderful!!!
The first thing that popped into my head when I read, "Our reasons for sinning---and for choosing not to sin---are often motivated by many factors, and while that doesn't make the sin less wrong, it does make ME more hesitant to judge others" was a talk I heard in EFY. It's been a long time so I don't really remember all of them, but the speaker was saying there's different motivations for choosing not to sin, some better than others. I think it went something like this.
1. Fear of what others think or will say (worst reason)
2. Fear of God, hell, etc.
3. I forgot
4. Love for others (our family, friends, etc.)
5. LOVE of God and wanting to please him (best reason)
Anyway, I think there are a lot of ambiguities in life. I was just listening to NPR yesterday and there was a guy on who wrote a book, Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight. Here's a link to the interview. It talked about many of the issues of what you discussed. And then again on NPR, I only caught a snippet of it, was a discussion with this guy about whether it's better (in his hypothetical example) to push one guy off a bridge to his death in order to save 5 people that soon will be crossing the bridge. His real life example of it was a when a group of 4 Special Operations soldiers were deployed into some hills along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border with the knowledge that some top Taliban leaders were in this town nearby and they were supposed to take them out. By random happenstance some Afghan shepards with a bunch of sheep came up on them and they had to decide whether to kill these innocent Afghan shepards or risk that they'd go alert the Taliban and ruin their mission. Well the four guys voted and decided they did not have the moral justification to kill the shepards and they had no way to detain them, so they let them go, and within an hour they were surrounded by Taliban and only one escaped alive and a rescue helicopter was shot down too so another 11 guys died as well. The soldier that escaped said he wished he would have chosen to kill the two shepards instead. Anyway, definitely a hard call, and one that I'm glad I'll never face.
I think that Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of opposites (joy vs misery, right vs. wrong, pleasure vs. pain) but that doesn't mean that there isn't things between those. For instance, very rarely do most people feel absolutely miserable or absolutely joyful. And while I realize I'm on a slippery slope here, I think the same applies to right and wrong. Something might be right for one person and wrong for another. For instance, homeschooling, or having ten kids. Or what about that lady in the Bible who drove a stake through the bad guy's head (sorry I don't recall the names and I'm too lazy to look it up) after being all nice to him and letting him sleep in her tent. Right or wrong? I don't think the Bible is very clear on that one. (But then again maybe I'm not remembering correctly). Anyway, point being is I agree that only God can know someone's heart and so He's the only one able to judge with absolute understanding and the rest of us just need to rely on the Spirit to make our own decisions and not judge other's decisions. Easier said then done, eh?
I really liked the Hebrew word meanings it presented---transgression being to pass into a new state, command being a warning possibly temporary in nature, beguiled implying an intense emotional/spiritual experience, etc. Those translations really helped open up the meaning of the story for me.
I also liked the point that Eve (women) carry not just the breath of life but the breath of LIVES inside them. I liked the emphasis on how Eve's choice was made with US in mind---a selfless choice in many ways, since she herself had the chance NOT to experience death and pain, but that would have left all of us stranded. I knew that that was the case but I guess I hadn't thought much about it before. It makes me relate even more to Eve, as a mother---the fact that I, too, have sometimes had to subordinate my own comfort/security to the greater good of bringing another life into the world.
Another symbolic idea I loved: that Adam AWOKE when Eve was created. Beautiful symbolism there, of how husbands and wives awaken each other; how we become aware of and able to do so much more than we can alone. That is, TOGETHER (in a celestial marriage, of course) the world can be so much lovelier, clearer, more real. I love that.
Here's a question, though. One quote in the book (and someone else mentioned this) says something like "the knowledge of the absolutes of good and evil give us power like God." Yes--page 40--"Satan wishes to blur our knowledge of the absolutes of good and evil" . . . he tries to diminish our sensitivities in this regard . . . etc. Okay, so I understand that and agree. People always talk about how it's bad to have "relativism" where we don't acknowledge that there is actually RIGHT and WRONG, and how we in the gospel know that there is GOOD and EVIL and not just "everyone can do whatever they feel is the best thing and all philosophies are basically equal." Fine. BUT---
in other parts of the book, there's an emphasis on how women have a special gift for "discenment"---being able to tell the difference between ambiguous choices, to see "beyond the literal to the divine essential." (p. 42) This is exactly what Eve did---and it mentions it several times---she chose the "greatest good for the greatest number" etc. And again, in the last chapter, we learn that women make decisions based on interrelationships, how others will be affected, deciding "which, of conflicting statements, is paramount."
So doesn't that conflict, in a way, with the idea that our knowledge of ABSOLUTES gives us the most power? Women acknowledge, and navigate around, ambiguity---and they KNOW that not all choices are "black and white"---and they have to OFTEN choose which, of many good or acceptable things, is BEST. I'm not saying there are no absolutes---but I definitely think there are fewer than I used to believe! I think when I was younger, I saw so many things that way---this person is bad because he smokes, this person is bad because she got pregnant before she was married, etc. Not that I thought those people couldn't repent, but I thought that they were somehow "lesser", in some indefineable way, and "I never want to be like that!" As I've gotten older, I see so many more complexities. AND, I've learned that we ALL need the atonement---just as much as anyone else---someone who breaks the Word of Wisdom doesn't need it MORE than someone who doesn't. Very few people ever act because of an "absolute motivation," if that makes sense. Our reasons for sinning---and for choosing not to sin---are often motivated by many factors, and while that doesn't make the sin less wrong, it does make ME more hesitant to judge others.
I guess what I'm saying is, I understand that God can see RIGHT and WRONG in an absolute way. He can look at someone, weigh all the millions of different factors in their choices, love them for exactly what they are, and come up with the perfectly just and also perfectly merciful judgement for that person. But . . . NO ONE else can really do that. How can I ever say, in an "absolute" way, whether someone is good or bad? And how could it possibly be beneficial for me to even TRY to do that? It rings much more true to me to say, like she did in the last chapter, that we make better decisions when we DO weigh all the ambiguities, the complexities, the "shades of grey" (if you will---I know that phrase has bad connotations). Not that we don't acknowledge that there IS evil, but that we don't claim to always know exactly what it is or where it is. Because we're humble and we know only God can judge that. Right?
Help me out here. I'm sure I'm missing something. Maybe the problem comes when we label PEOPLE as absolutes of "good" or "evil", because people are complex? But it's fine to label ACTIONS as absolutes of "good" and "evil"? But again, that doesn't totally hold up in my mind. Because sure you can say, "adultery is always, totally, unequivocally wrong." "Murder is always totally wrong." But there are so many other issues that aren't so clear. "Abortion is always totally wrong." Well . . . maybe nearly always . . . but not always. So not an "absolute." And what about "divorce"? Or "birth control"? Waay more room for complexity in those choices. So that statement she makes, that God-like power comes from knowing the ABSOLUTES OF GOOD AND EVIL---I'm just wondering how that's true. What does she mean by that? How did such knowledge help Adam and Eve? I welcome your ideas! :)
Tons more I liked in this book, and lots more connections it sparked in my mind, but I guess I better stop now. THANK YOU for recommending it! I loved reading it, and found it really helpful---I can't wait to get to the temple and do some more thinking about all the things I learned.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
And Kami, good name choice, and do you call him Sebby? I have grown to love the nickname Sebby for a tiny guy. :)
Re:veils and the middle eastern culture, that's one of the things that was interesting about this presentation---that it really ISN'T a modesty thing for us. At least the way I understood it. Paul was explaining how the veil for women was departing from that Jewish/Middle Eastern tradition. How it did NOT mean modesty/social status/etc. in this context, but AUTHORITY. Which it certainly didn't convey, in those other traditions. I thought that was a cool thought. (I mean, not that we aren't modest or that modesty would be a bad reason or anything. But it's just more limiting in what it implies, I guess.)
Monday, March 22, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Andrea, I went to that forum where you picked up that article we discussed earlier. I was curious and read through a few of the discussions. I couldn't help thinking that some of these women are very, very self-centered/selfish. They really have no concept of differences being equal while still being different. Grrr. I can't read that stuff.
Marilyn, thanks for the thoughts on temple veils. Fascinating. Never really thought too much about it until Saturday, which was before I read your post, so that was great timing.
But back to Eve.
I loved, loved, loved learning some of the Hebrew roots and translations for words that are in the scriptures. It puts such a different spin on how the world views the story of Adam and Eve. I read every single one of those sections aloud to my husband because I knew he'd enjoy them, too! My favorite one was regarding Adam and Eve's response to God after eating the fruit, when He asked them what they had done. Eve knew and she took responsibility for her choice!
Informed Agency plays a huge role in this choice. How awesome to think that Eve was not duped. She was in tune and able to discern what was necessary. It is silly that God would leave the choice to become mortal in the hands of uninformed beings - or that he would leave it in Satan's hands. That is allowing Satan far too great a role and gives the honor for our mortality to him. It would also have negated the role of agency as a necessary ingredient in our progression.
Didn't you think the thing about Mitochondrial Eve was interesting?
I was able to go to the Temple this past Saturday and really enjoyed the opportunity to sit and think about Eve as I experienced the endowment session.
Couple favorite quotes from the book:
Not only will women need to seek truth for themselves but they will need to speak up courageously and articulately as half-truths or faulty premises are presented to their sisters in the guise of progress and enlightenment (78).
President Kimball: "Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. These...female examplars will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days" (119-120).
Loved the idea of mercy and justice being inherently female and male. I just think that there is so much that we don't understand about the eternal nature of men and women. Men and Women are different. And it's a good thing. It's also an eternal thing. But neither loses anything. We gain.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Any insights into why women veil their faces in the temple is very, very welcome. It is one of those things that always bugged a little bit. One friend (very feminist, more than me!) struggled with it for a long time before she concluded that as we are still acting as "Eve," or "every/all woman/women" that the veil represents Christ being all around us--on our right and on our left, etc. That gave her a great deal of comfort (she studied the topic for years). That also tallies nicely with the idea you presented of being with Christ. I like the idea of authority, or right to be there. That is . . . comforting, actually. The whole concept just shifted for me. If we have the authority and right to be there, and indeed have to be there for the whole thing to work, and the veil symbolizes our connectedness to the Savior--I can deal with that. I can enjoy that.
Thanks again. Keep those insights coming!
One was on Minerva Teichert's paintings of women in the Book of Mormon. The best part was seeing the paintings as the lady talked---but you could see how she used symbolism, placement of the women, etc. to show the central role of all the women characters. Teichert even added women to scenes where they aren't mentioned in the text. And she was the (only?) LDS painter to show female angels (instead of male, or androgenous)---she painted the angels as women in the story of the angels ministering to the children in 3 Nephi 17. It's a great picture (I've seen it before, but not taken note of it) and it makes it more meaningful to me to see how the women are comforting, gathering, ministering to the children---just as we do as mothers/women in mortality.
The other presentation talked about how in New Testament times, veils were not the same types of symbols as they were in other cultures. That is: in early Christian tradition, veils showed---NOT sensuality or subjugation, or social status---but AUTHORITY. They were a symbol of the woman's authority in the church---as women were allowed to pray and preach in churches---a HUGE departure from previous Jewish customs. I can't reproduce all her evidence from memory, but she talked about the scriptures by Paul (1 Corinthians?) where it says women should not have their heads uncovered, and how that refers to womens' RIGHT to speak to God for themselves. Also that women are necessary to men's "glory" (as men are necessary to womens'). Very empowering. I have also wondered (some of the information in the presentation made me think of this again) if the veil (as worn by a woman) has a connection to the veil of the temple---and if so, the significance that a woman goes behind the veil when she veils her face. Some traditions seem to have the veil as a barrier between the woman and the world---but if she is within the veil, perhaps it is a symbol of her entering God's presence---joining with him in a holy place.
Anyway. I wish you all could have been there. Here is a link to a summary of the session I mentioned, and here is another session I liked (about earth and gardening and the universe---it all fit together nicely).
And I'll post on Eve, if I ever make it to the library. :)
Andrea, I really liked your recent post---especially the thoughts on the Fall as a loving and selfless act. Very interesting.
First, my favorite quote from the book: "Satan wishes to blur our knowledge of the absolutes of good and evil. The power inherent in that knowledge makes us like God. It is our choice of good over evil which makes us godlike. If the adversary is able to diminish or erase our sensitivities in this regard, his chances of keeping us from becoming as God are significantly enhanced . . .." pgs. 39-41.
This is a very provocative quote. It is essentially saying that there is no "gray" and that we are dulling our spiritual sensitivities when we try to create and/or justify gray areas. That means that homosexual marriage is wrong--no matter how difficult it is to explain it to a homosexual friend. It means that the curse put on the Lamanites that made their skin dark really did happen, no matter how awkward it is to explain to a non-white friend. It means that we really should attend all of our classes no matter how much fun we have chatting with our friends in the hall during Sunday School.
It means that if we are spiritually in tune, we always know the correct thing to do. It doesn't mean we will always do it, but we will always know what we should do. Especially since: "Discernment, the ability to see beyond the literal to the divine essential, has ever been God's gift to women." pg. 41 There is a lot of justifying in most of our lives. It bears thinking of that when we choose to justify a wrong choice, or label something as too insignificant to really matter, we are crippling ourselves in our efforts to become like our Father in heaven. We are also undermining our spiritual gift of discernment. It is better to openly acknowledge to ourselves that what we are doing is wrong but we are not yet willing to change our behavior. At least that would be honest and not spiritual self-delusion. Better yet, of course, would be to change the behavior. Always easier to say than do!!!
Another of my favorite quotes is this one: "She [Eve] had a long history of being taught in the premortal existence as well as in Eden. She had developed wisdom, judgment, and evaluative powers, having received spiritual guidance and sacred ordinances. She was in a unique position to draw on knowledge and light. Eve likely did not have a total picture of all that was meant for humankind upon entry into mortality, any more than we know when we begin a new phase of life what it will bring. But, as we have learned, Eve was sufficiently prepared for a proper exercise of agency." pg. 75
That last line is a doozy. If Eve was sufficiently prepared for a proper exercise of agency, we have been sufficiently prepared. We were taught in the premortal existence. We have developed/are developing wisdom, judgment, and evaluative powers as we grow in experience. We have received spiritual guidance from the scriptures, from the prophets, from other church leaders, and from blessings like our Patriarchal blessing. We have made covenants and been taught by ordinances. We, as daughters in the dispensation of the fullness of times, are in a unique position to draw on knowledge and light. We do not have a perfect knowledge of what is to come, but we have been "sufficiently prepared for a proper exercise of agency." Combine that with the previous quote, and we get a sense that we are not going to be able to talk ourselves out of poor behavior with a winsome smile and pretty words.
On a different note, I liked that the author included this quote: "They [Adam and Eve] chose wisely, in accord with the heavenly law of love for others." pg. 38 Adam and Eve truly did put us ahead of themselves. They could have lived in innocent comfort for eternity. But they didn't. It is a great example of love. It is also a mortal example of love. Adam and Eve, like the people living in the city of Enoch, act as examples of how loving and Christ-like we can become despite our mortality. They were subject to opposition but they chose to love each other with a Christ-like love. With compassion, empathy, and generosity. And so can we. That is one of the greatest lessons of Eve.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Before doing so, I would like to make one comment in regard to my "off-handed femi-nazi comment."
I must admit that as I was reading Eve the other day, I realized just how much I have looked on this topic of feminism with American eyes, more specifically, my American eyes. I forget there is more world out there still believing women to be the lesser sex. How easily I forget, even, the fictional (but all too true) story from Slum Dog Millionaire (yes, I watched it . . .with ClearPlay . . . and it was a fascinating movie!!). And Andrea has given me even better movies to add to my list I'm sure! Perhaps I am simply naive in my thoughts on feminism and womanhood only because I, myself, have not felt the oppression in my own life.
I would also like to say thanks to Andrea for your most recent post. I don't think anyone else on this blog knows more than you about the history of women, and I appreciate that knowledge.
Last comment from me on this topic (I promise) is that I think we're getting confused on whether we are discussing feminism as a movement vs. feminism as in the value of women in the sight of God. Enough said.
Now, for the stuff I want to talk about!!!
Agency has been a much studied topic of mine for the past year or so and so I'm guessing that is why all of the agency quotes stuck out to me more so than did the feminism strain (though I learned a lot there, as well). I have been struck all the more with how deeply God honors that precious gift of agency, the trust he has in all men (including women) to use that agency, and the power we receive as we properly use that gift.
"In mortality we fill our minds, our discussions, and our bookshelves with a search for insights into the qualities that will make us like unto God. The list becomes long and daunting and our hope of developing those qualities seems as a dream that cannot be realized. Yet He has given us the asnwer in these words: 'Then your eyes shall be opened , and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil' (Gen. 3:5)." (p.40) Wow! So, is she saying here that it is simply knowing good and evil that allows us to be as the gods? We all know it's more than that, and yet I think we don't appreciate just how much just having that knowledge, physical bodies and an earthly experience allow us that opportunity. A couple of pages later the author states, "Discernment, the ability to see beyond the literal to the divine essential, has ever been God's gift to women. . . . the Lord has such abiding faith in women's judgment and wisdom. By His very actions, He has shown women that He wants them to claim and properly act on this gift." (pp.41-42)
We all have heard time and time again how there must be an "opposition in all things." But from reading Eve, I got the sense that it is so much more than that. Adam and Eve had to have had knowledge before properly making any choice. "Without some knowledge of right and wrong, there can be no true exercise of agency." (p. 67) It was so enlightening for me to better understand how Adam and Eve were instructed in the garden by angels before partaking of the fruit. I loved how the author used Moses 4:12, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Here the author is implying that Eve gained knowledge (and I will infer "line upon line") before making that decision. Adam and Eve were given choices, maybe one better than another, just as we are given every single day. I guess we could say that Eve "chose the better part." Why was it Eve instead of Adam who took the first bite, I don't know. What I do understand more clearly now is that "Eve was sufficiently prepared for a proper exercise of agency" (p. 75) and we are responsible for doing the same in our own lives.
As women, and mothers, we have the responsibility to learn for ourselves, to act for ourselves and on behalf of our families based on the truths that we learn. For a lack of a better plan I'm just going to quote some of my favorite passages from the book to sustain this point.
"Our conscience might be described as a memory, a residual awareness of who we really are, of our true identity. It is perhaps the best example of the fact that we can become aware of truths because we feel them rather than by knowing them because we perceive them through the physical sense." - Pres. Packer, pp. 71-72
"The prophets have warned that the women of the last dispensation . . . will need to fortify themselves against the onslaught of the adversary . . . We will need to find spiritual sustenance in sure and steady truths garnered from divine and correct sources. Not only will women need to seek truth for themselves, but they will need to speak up courageously and articulately as half-truths or faulty premises are presented to their sisters in the guise of progress and enlightenment . . . Women, particularly Latter-day Saint women, can and must identify truth." pp, 78-79 (italics added)
I will step in here and say a few words on the recent topics of discussion. This quote tells us to pay strict attention to truths and watch out for the half-truths that are presented to us. There is so much judging and criticism among women. I have learned through the years that what is right for one family, is not right for another. This does not mean that gospel truths are altered, but the way we live them are very personal and individual. We can only know the answers by seeking out the truths, knowing good and evil and then acting for ourselves based on the knowledge (spiritual and academic) that we obtain.
Women are to search out, learn, and articulate all spiritual truths, . . . they are to concern themselves with all matters relating to the gospel, and with all matters relating to salvation, to the heavens, and to the earth. p. 120 (italics added)
"Both men and women must have more confidence in women's thought processes and in their judgments." p.178 (bold added)
The more I've learned about agency, the more I have understood and realized just how much this great gift and power demonstrates Heavenly Father's love and trust in His children. Doesn't knowing that He trusts us to make the right decision, give us more faith that we actually will! This book opened my eyes to the fact (feminist or not) that Eve was a strong woman. I had never viewed her as weak before, but I hadn't ever really given it much thought either. It's just what she did. Similar with my own feminitity, I haven't given it much thougth (thus causing me to be more defensive when feminism has been discussed in the past). I just who I am and I've always been happy to be a woman, a mother. Though having not really thought about it more deeply (for fear of becoming too feministic, I guess) I have realized just how belittling I have been by not recognizing the full power I have in that role as an "agent unto [myself]."
There is so much more I have gained and want to write about from this excellent book. So much could be said about marriage, our missions in life, prayer and the protection we can recieve against Satan! My favorite chapter, and one I'm going to make my husband read, was the very last about women and guilt. Good stuff! But really it all boils down to agency and using that agency to make the best choices for us and our families.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Thank you for the input on the book Kami =-).
And Thank you for your response Kelly. You said we must be kind on a sensitive issue, and you were very kind. I really hope I did not come off as unkind! I tried really hard not to! Anyway, I just wanted to throw my opinion out there, which in spite of it all, remains the same.
You gals are all interesting and I am enjoying the stimulating conversations. Thank you!
Also, Andrea likes to think she has final say in what books we read, but really, since I'M the one who edits the blog and makes the list, well, let's just say nobody noticed when I added Midnight's Children to the list. ;) Actually, if there's any book a person really wants to read, we certainly would be willing to add it. Plus, I think Andrea already added a economics book based on your recommendation.
And Autumn, yes Guns, Germs, and Steel takes for granted that man evolved from apes, but it really doesn't spend any time discussing it besides the spread of Neolithic people, etc. That is hardly the focus of the book. I thought it was fascinating overall.
Well, now my husband is home, so I must go look useful.
Can't wait to hear all your future thoughts!
PS Just because Kami and I have final say in book selection, and we started this little book group, doesn't mean we are the "moderators" or "leaders" or anything. If any of you have friends who would be interested in our group, we are certainly willing to have them join. We'd be delighted, in fact. Fresh blood, different perspective, and all those other good things.
PPS My children's names are Miriam (6), Cowen (5), Emeline (3--yes, she was named after the Mormon feminist Emmeline B. Wells), Eli (1). I love names, so I was so glad you shared. I already knew, though, because I spent WAY too long one night scanning through your blogs to figure it out. Love your kids' names!
an educational philosophy title coined by Oliver DeMille. You can read the Wikipedia entry HERE.
oh, and, Welcome Marilyn. I do have an aunt named Marilyn, but I also had a friend in high school with that name. As you can see, I'm well-rounded in my marilyn-ness. :-) Loved your introduction. I can see we're going to have great discussions with some new blood here.
I feel like a bit of a slacker here because I have not read ANY of the books yet or made ANY posts, but I answer the call to introduce myself as follows:
My name is Marilyn. Yes, I know, you have an aunt or a grandma named that. It's okay because I am kind of a nerdy old-lady type of person anyway. And I like lots of nerdy things, such as classic rock (can that be considered old-person music these days? you know you're in trouble when you find yourself groovin' to the MUZAC tunes at Sears---Muskrat Love!) and doilies and doing jigsaw puzzles. (Not really about the doilies. But I do have lots of them my dear grandmother made for me---and I cherish them---but keep them in boxes.)
I don't know any of you, but Andrea left a comment on my blog so I met her that way, and here I am. I did go to BYU and grow up in Provo my whole life, so I've probably seen you around campus if you've been there. :) I majored in Piano Performance and Home Economics with a minor in English. I live in South Jordan, UT, and I like poetry and reading and writing. I write a little (an article a week or so) for the Spanish Fork Sentinel (a small-town newspaper) (and I have no idea what I'm doing; I only got the job through nepotism. But I'm learning.) and I have four darling (of course) children: Abraham (7), Sebastian (4), Malachi (2) and Daisy (7 months). I like these conversations about feminism because my Grandma used to always ask me if I was "a feminist." (When I was, like, 6.) And we'd have these types of conversations. She was one, through and through--the old kind. (She was born in 1905.) And she didn't have much use for the LDS church---but she was awesome---slender and beautiful and cultured. She divorced when my mom was little, raised 3 daughters by herself by selling Avon, spoke French and Danish, always wore perfume and heels, was a graceful dancer (she loved to go to Hawaii and go to dances at the fancy hotels), and . . . but why am I telling you about her? Oh yes. Feminism. Well, Feminism makes me think of Nana. So there you are.
Um. What else? My husband is an artist and I love him. I just got called to be Young Womens President, and it's the scariest thing. I do not generally even like The Youth (mostly because I am intimidated by them) but I guess I'll learn to . . . right? Right? I like cooking and baking. And eating. I like biting babies. I like running, long distances, although I'm getting slower and slower and it's kind of depressing. I should have held back as a Young Thing so I could be peaking now instead of declining . . . but whatever. And now I really should stop, but thank you for having me and I'll try to contribute occasionally rather than just lazily feeding off of all your collective intellect and energy and enthusiasm. But it will be hard, since you've already impressed/amazed me quite a bit, you know.
Not forever. but for now. But doesn't it sound SO much more dramatic to say forever?
I read your post with interest. It is a topic that I often turn over in my mind. What I have ultimately decided is that each couple must prayerfully choose their own way, and it is not for us to judge the decisions of others. We are not privy to the private challenges each person, marriage, and family face. As long as we counsel with the Lord and obey Him, we will not be sorry.
Although you had many quotes from David O. McKay that were spoken in Conference, the bulk of the quotes are old, and not spoken by a prophet of God. I did my own search online and couldn't find any quotes from more recent prophets. Not that President McKay's counsel isn't still in effect - we know we should obey past Prophets - just that 70 years later times are different and sometimes counsel does change.
From the Church website is this information:
Official Church Policy regarding birth control:
Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.
God has a plan for the happiness of all who live on the earth, and the birth of children in loving families is central to His plan. The first commandment He gave to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The scriptures declare, “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Those who are physically able have the blessing, joy, and obligation to bear children and to raise a family. This blessing should not be postponed for selfish reasons.
Sexual relations within marriage are not only for the purpose of procreation, but also a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual ties between husband and wife.
Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple. Elective abortion as a method of birth control, however, is contrary to the commandments of God.
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism - which I know is not doctrine, but they do quote the General Handbook of Instructions which is at my husband's office at Church so I couldn't get to it). The general handbook of instructions for Church leaders has the following instructions concerning birth control: "Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have a great responsibility not only for bearing children but also for caring for them through childhood…. Married couples should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel" (General Handbook, 11-4).
Interpretation of these general instructions is left to the agency of Church members. One of the basic teachings of the Church, however, is that spirit children of God come to earth to obtain a physical body, to grow, and to be tested. In that process, adults should marry and provide temporal bodies for those spirit children. For Latter-day Saints, it is a blessing, a joy, and also an obligation to bear children and to raise a family.
One of the cornerstones of the gospel is agency or choice. Latter-day Saints believe that everyone will be held responsible for the choices they make. Many decisions involve the application of principles where precise instructions are not given in the General Handbook of Instructions or in the scriptures. The exercise of individual agency is therefore required, and Latter-day Saints believe that personal growth results from weighing the alternatives, studying matters carefully, counseling with appropriate Church leaders, and then seeking inspiration from the Lord before making a decision.
Church members are taught to study the question of family planning, including such important aspects as the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life. If, for personal reasons, a couple prayerfully decides that having another child immediately is unwise, birth control may be appropriate. Abstinence, of course, is a form of contraception. Like any other method, however, it has its side effects, some of which may be harmful to the marriage relationship.
Prophets past and present have never stipulated that bearing children was the sole function of the marriage relationship. They have taught that physical intimacy is a strong force in expressing and strengthening the love bond in marriage, enhancing and reinforcing marital unity.
Decisions regarding the number and spacing of children are to be made by husband and wife together, in righteousness, and through empathetic communication, and with prayer for the Lord's inspiration. Latter-day Saints believe that persons are accountable not only for what they do but for why they do it. Thus, regarding family size and attendant questions, members should desire to multiply and replenish the earth as the Lord has commanded. In that process, God intends that his children use the agency that he has given them in charting a wise course for themselves and their families.
When I was a teenager, or even when my family was young, I was sure I wanted a huge family and that I could handle it. Now that I'm actually in the throes of a large family, I'm learning to recognize some of my own weaknesses and limitations that I wasn't aware I had. Some of them make me stop and think before piling child upon child into our family. I need to be able to take good care of the ones I have. The Lord did give us Agency in this matter - just as he does in all matters. There really isn't any one size fits all answer. I'm glad that you seem to have found your personal answer. I haven't found mind. I know that at this point there's a good chance I won't have any more children, but the reasons for that are mostly due to my mental and emotional abilities, and nothing physical or financial. If the Lord wants to bless me with more children, I will be happy to have them. Right now I think he wants me to rest and the final decision will come later.
As a side note, if you look at the 15 Apostles, the number of children they have had is as follows, from largest to smallest:
Maybe at least half of them had fertility issues, or maybe they limited their family. I don't know. I do know that it is obviously a personal decision for each couple to make with study and prayer.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
However, you did really make me think about the original feminists and what they have given to us women today. I kind of equate them now with the pioneers bringing us the gospel and the founding fathers bringing us freedom, etc. So, thank you. I now want to do more personal research on the topic.
However, there is one thing that I completely disagree with you on. I thought about not even mentioning it, because I really hate confrontations and disagreements etc. But the topic is so dear to my heart, and as there are other readers of this blog, I wanted them to hear the other side of it. Also, I think that is how truth is found out. People have to be willing to talk and discuss to discover truth. It makes me think of the conversation in "The Virginian" by Owen Wister with the Judge and the girl where he asks her to "play fair" and basically have an ear for truth. Okay, here goes--
I do not believe in birth control. Studies show that IUD's cause abortions and that the pill may do the same thing. I believe that preventing Heavenly Father's spirit children from coming to earth is contrary to the gospel. In fact I believe this was the very choice that Eve had to make. I believe in letting God guide the size of our families. I believe this is another principle of faith. I have done a lot of pondering and searching and researching and have found many, many quotes by general authorities that support what I believe.
Quotes By General Authorities:
This is a letter from the first presidency when David O. McKay was president of the church. “Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of MissionsDear Brethren:The First Presidency is being asked from time to time as to what the attitude of the Church is regarding birth control. In order that you may be informed on this subject and that you may be prepared to convey the proper information to the members of the Church under your jurisdiction, we have decided to give you the following statement:We seriously should regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.However, we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother's health and strength should be conserved and the husband's consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self control a dominant factor in all their relationships.It is our further feeling that married couples should seek inspiration and wisdom from the Lord that they may exercise discretion in solving their marital problems, and that they may be permitted to rear their children in accordance with the teachings of the gospel.”- First Presidency (David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner ), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Office of the First Presidency, April 14, 1969
"It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if the parents are in good health.“Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.” - Seventy J. Ballard Washington, April 1995
General Conference“The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father's children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity.” - Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1969, p. 12
“True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God's purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to His spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.” - Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 539
“Today the cry is heard in some quarters that these statements calling upon parents to provide bodies for the spirit hosts of heaven are outmoded. Massive birth control programs are being sponsored on a national and international scale. Fears are expressed that the earth cannot support the number of people that unrestricted births will bring. But God's decree and the counsel of the prophets remain unchanged. The real need is not to limit the number of earth's inhabitants, but to learn how to care for the increasing hosts which the Lord designs should inhabit this globe before the last allocated spirit has been sent here to gain a mortal body. Amid all the cries and pressure of the world, the position of the true Church remains fixed. God has commanded his children to multiply and fill the earth, and the earth is far from full.” - Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 86
“It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so.”- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1979, p. 6
“Many good people, being influenced by the bold spirit of the times, are now seeking surgery for the wife or the husband so they may avoid pregnancies and comply with the strident voice demanding a reduction of children. It was never easy to bear and rear children, but easy things do not make for growth and development. But loud, blatant voices today shout ‘fewer children’ and offer the Pill, drugs, surgery, and even ugly abortion to accomplish that. Strange the proponents of depopulating the world seem never to have thought of continence!”- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1971, p. 7
“In this birth control effort man places himself in direct opposition to the plan and laws of God. The Almighty made this world, and He made us. All human beings are His children, His spirit offspring, and it is His intention to provide each one of us with a body of flesh and bones. This body is essential to eternal progress. With this in mind He gives us the powers of procreation and permits us to join with Him in a divinely sponsored act. But by preventing or aborting legitimate births, we oppose this plan. His spirit children are born into bodies of flesh and bones by His own design. Then who are we to prevent it?”- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, The Way to Peace, p. 266
“Some who have been perfectly healthy and able to bear children have avoided this responsibility, and in doing so have resorted to the use of harmful practices and devices resulting often in physical injury to the wife and demoralization to both parties. Some have wondered if the Church would approve such practices. Of course it never has and never could.”- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Your Faith and You, p. 121
“The Church has always advised against birth control and that is the only position the Church can take in view of our beliefs with respect to the eternity of the marriage covenant and the purpose of this divine relationship.”- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, The Way of the Master, pp. 114
“Another of the great evils of the age is race suicide. This also is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Providing opportunity for the spirit children of our Father in Heaven to come to earth and work out their own salvation is one of our sacred privileges and obligations. We teach that among the choicest of eternal riches are children.”- Prophet Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 154
“The only legitimate ‘birth control’ is that which springs naturally from the observance of divine laws, and the use of procreative powers, not for pleasure primarily, but for race perpetuation and improvement. During certain periods—those of gestation and lactation—the wife and mother should be comparatively free to give her strength to her offspring; and if this involves some self-denial on the part of the husband and father, so much the better for all concerned.“‘Birth control,’ under God's law, is a problem that solves itself. I have no faith in the sophisms of those who reject His law, and try to substitute therefor their own vain theories for sex regulation. The eugenists may mean well, but they don't know enough to lead the world out of the wilderness.- Apostle Orson F. Whitney, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916
“The efforts on the parts of Eastern magazine writers to educate the people of the United States, particularly parents, to the doctrine that they limit the number of their offspring to three or four children, and how this can be accomplished, is both pernicious and an abomination in the sight of the Lord; and it robs both man and his Maker of their glory and increase.”- Apostle and Patriarch George Franklin Richards, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916
“[W]e declare it is a grievous sin before God to adopt restrictive measures in disobedience to God's divine command from the beginning of time to ‘multiply and replenish the earth.’ Surely those who project such measures to prevent life or to destroy life before or after birth will reap the whirlwind of God's retribution, for God will not be mocked.”- Prophet Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1972, p. 63
“Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world in obedience to this great command, are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they, for by their acts they prove their unworthiness for exaltation and unfitness for a kingdom where the crowning glory is the continuation of the family union and eternal increase which have been promised to all those who obey the law of the Lord. It is just as much murder to destroy life before as it is after birth, although man-made laws may not so consider it; but there is One who does take notice and his justice and judgment are sure.“I feel only the greatest contempt for those who, because of a little worldly learning or a feeling of their own superiority over others, advocate and endeavor to control the so-called ‘lower classes’ from what they are pleased to call "indiscriminate breeding."“The old colonial stock that one or two centuries ago laid the foundation of our great nation, is rapidly being replaced by the ‘lower classes’ of a sturdier and more worthy race. Worthier because they have not learned, in these modern times, to disregard the great commandment given to man by our Heavenly Father. It is indeed, a case of survival of the fittest, and it is only a matter of time before those who so strongly advocate and practice the pernicious doctrine of ‘birth control’ and the limiting of the number of children in the family, will have legislated themselves and their kind out of this mortal existence.”- Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916
“True motherhood is the noblest call of the world, and we look with sorrow upon the practice here in our own United States of limiting families, a tendency creeping into our own Church.”- Prophet David O. McKay, Church News, June 11, 1952“When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring the use of contraceptives is to be condemned.”- Prophet David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1943, p. 30
“Any effort or desire on the part of a married couple to shirk the responsibility of parenthood reflects a condition of mind antagonistic to the best interests of the home, the state, and the nation. No doubt there are some worldly people who honestly limit the number of children and the family to two or three because of insufficient means to clothe and educate a large family as the parents would desire to do, but in nearly all such cases, the two or three children are no better provided for than two or three times that number would be. Such parents may be sincere, even if misguided; but in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion, and selfishness. Such feelings are the seeds sown in early married life that produce a harvest of discord, suspicion, estrangement, and divorce. All such efforts, too, often tend to put the marriage relationship on a level with the panderer and the courtesan. They befoul the pure fountains of life with the slime of indulgence and sensuality. Such misguided couples are ever seeking but never finding the reality for which the heart is yearning.”- Prophet David O. McKay, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916
“… since birth control roots in a species of selfishness, the spiritual life of the user of contraceptives is also weakened. Women seem to become more masculine in thought and action; men more callous and reserved; both husband and wife become more careless of each other, and increasingly indifferent to the higher duties and joys of living.”- Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 310-314
“Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fullness of joy, and if we will obtain a fullness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires -- life eternal.”- Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 276
“Officers, members of the Relief Society, herein you have the word of the Lord, on this subject. Can anything be clearer or more emphatic? It is a very strange thing that people can believe that the Lord of Life could countenance for one moment, the refusal of his children to comply with the first commandment given to Adam and Eve. It is so easy to avoid parenthood, if people wish to do so, and that, too, innocently, even if selfishly. Men and women can remain unmarried. That is all there is too it.”- First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose), Relief Society Magazine, v. 4, no. 2, February 1917, pp. 68-69
“There is one thing that I am told is practiced to some extent among us, and I say to you that where it is practiced and not thoroughly repented of the curse of God will follow it. I refer to the practice of preventing the birth of children. I want to lift my voice in solemn warning against this, and I say to you that the woman who practices such devilish arts, or the man who consents to them, will be cursed of God. Such persons will be cursed in their bodies, cursed in their minds, cursed in their property, cursed in their offspring. God will wipe them out from the midst of this people and nation. Remember it. Mothers, teach this to your daughters, for I tell you it is true. I need not pronounce any curse, whatever my authority may be, but I say to you that women who take this course, and men who consent to it, will be cursed of God Almighty, and it will rest upon them until their generation shall be blotted out, and their name shall be lost from the midst of the Saints of God, unless, as I have said, there is deep, thorough and heartfelt repentance.”- Apostle George Q. Cannon, Collected Discourses, v. 5, October 7, 1894
“The Latter-day Saints do not imitate the examples of the Eastern cities and the old commonwealths of the Atlantic seaboard in destroying their offspring. They do not patronize the vendor of noxious, poisonous, destructive medicines to procure abortion, infanticide; child murder, and other wicked devices, whereby to check the multiplication of their species, in order to facilitate the gratification of fleshly lust. We are not disposed to imitate these examples, nor to drink in the pernicious doctrine once uttered in Plymouth Church by the noted Henry Ward Beecher--that it was a positive evil to increase families in the land beyond a limited extent, and the ability of the parents to properly educate and maintain them, sustaining the idea of small families; in effect, justifying the mothers--the unnatural mothers--of New England, and their partners who sanction their efforts in destroying their own offspring, and in preventing the fecundity of the race. Fancy such a doctrine justified by the noted orator of the nineteenth century, and re-echoed by the smaller fry throughout the country! The Latter-day Saints are taught to reverence the words of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the multiplication of their species, and are called as His children to multiply and replenish the earth." - Apostle Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, v. 25, p. 110-112
“To check the increase of our race has its advocates among the influential and powerful circles of society in our nation and in other nations. The same practice existed forty-five years ago, and various devices were used by married persons to prevent the expenses and responsibilities of a family of children, which they must have incurred had they suffered nature's laws to rule preeminent. That which was practiced then in fear and against reproving conscience, is now boldly trumpeted abroad as one of the best means of ameliorating the miseries and sorrows of humanity. Infanticide is very prevalent in our nation. It is a crime that comes within the purview of the law, and is therefore not so boldly practiced as is the other equally great crime, which, no doubt, to a great extent, prevents the necessity of infanticide. The unnatural style of living, the extensive use of narcotics, the attempts to destroy and dry up the fountains of life, are fast destroying the American element of the nation; it is passing away before the increase of the more healthy, robust, honest, and less sinful class of the people which are pouring into the country daily from the Old World. The wife of the servant man is the mother of eight or ten healthy children, while the wife of his master is the mother of one or two poor, sickly children, devoid of vitality and constitution, and, if daughters, unfit, in their turn, to be mothers, and the health and vitality which nature has denied them through the irregularities of their parents are not repaired in the least by their education.”- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 12, pp. 120-121
"Into this happy home and pleasant atmosphere will eventually come the children for which the marriage was consummated, and who will add immeasurably to the joy and fulfillment which God the Father intended when he instructed Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth. When parents understand the purpose of their existence, that they are literally the spiritual offspring of their Father in Heaven and that they have a responsibility to provide mortal bodies for others, then they rejoice in the miracle of birth as they realize they are copartners with God in the creation of each child who comes into that home.In keeping with the revelations on this subject, one of our early leaders, the late Melvin J. Ballard, said this:“There is a passage in our Scriptures which the Latter-day Saints accept as divine: ‘This is the glory of God—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ [see Moses 1:39]. Likewise we could say that this is the glory of men and women—to bring to pass the mortality of the sons and daughters of God, to give earth-life to the waiting children of our Father. … 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” (Sermons and Missionary Services, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1949, pp. 203–4, italics added).We reaffirm today what U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt said in 1917:“What this nation vitally needs is not the negative preaching of birth control to a submerged tenth, and the tenth immediately adjoining, but the positive preaching of birth encouragement to the eight-tenths who make up the capable self-respecting American stock which we wish to see perpetuate itself” (Metropolitan, Oct. 1917). There are various arguments for curtailing the birth of children or the size of families, but they are contrary to the laws of God. Our early citizens who were patriotic and God-fearing, and in many instances lacked for material possessions, believed in large families; and from that stock came some of our greatest statesmen and finest lawyers, scientists, and educators. They were self-made men reared in humble homes where spirituality abounded."(N. Eldon Tanner, “Celestial Marriages and Eternal Families,” Ensign, May 1980, 15 )
"As we look about us, we see many forces at work bent on the destruction of the family, both in America and abroad. Family ties are being destroyed by an ever-increasing divorce rate, by increased infidelity of spouses, by the abominable sin of abortion, which bids well to become a national scandal and is a very grave sin. Another erosion of the family is unwarranted and selfish birth control. "(Spencer W. Kimball, “‘We Need a Listening Ear’,” Ensign, Nov 1979, 4)
"A U.S. Government report issued by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare recently said, “Alcoholic beverages drain the national economy of $15 billion every year.” This is nearly three times the total given to religious and charitable causes. Living this simple principle of the Word of Wisdom would enable us to feed the starving masses of the world. What is man’s solution to this problem of starvation? It is pretty well summarized in this clipping that I took from the newspaper recently. It is datelined Singapore. It says that “parents who insist on having more than two children will lose tax benefits, face discrimination in public housing and pay more maternity costs, the government has announced.” Earlier the health ministry said that some discriminatory measures will be taken against new additions to large families in 9 1/2 months. “For the Singapore of the 1970s,” it said, “the third child is luxury. The fourth and fifth are antisocial acts.” The new measures include vigorous family planning campaigns coupled with sterilization and abortion programs. “The government hopes to reduce the natural increase in the birth rate to less than one percent by 1980.” (“Family Size Labels a Guy,” Deseret News, Oct. 25, 1972, p. A9.)And so, this is man’s solution to the problem—birth control, sterilization, and abortion to destroy the unborn children. But you can be assured that this is not the Lord’s solution. Hear the words of a living prophet as you heard reiterated this morning:“Much is being said,” said the prophet, “in the press and in the pulpit concerning abortion. This Church of Jesus Christ opposes abortion and counsels all members not to submit to nor participate in any abortion, in any way, for convenience or to hide sins.“Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day. … To interfere with any of the processes in the procreation of offspring is to violate one of the most sacred of God’s commandments.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Ye Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975, p. 7.) "(Hartman Rector Jr., “The World’s Greatest Need,” Ensign, Nov 1975, 10)
"It is of great concern to all who understand this glorious concept that Satan and his cohorts are using scientific arguments and nefarious propaganda to lure women away from their primary responsibilities as wives, mothers, and homemakers. We hear so much about emancipation, independence, sexual liberation, birth control, abortion, and other insidious propaganda belittling the role of motherhood, all of which is Satan’s way of destroying woman, the home, and the family—the basic unit of society. "(N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” Ensign, Jan 1974, 7 )
"BIRTH CONTROL CONDEMNED :Those pioneers condemned the artificial means of limiting the number of children in the family, a growing evil, not only throughout the United States but also here in our own settlements. Said the great leader:To check the increase of our race has its advocates among the influential and powerful circles of society in our nation and in other nations. The unnatural style of living, the extensive use of narcotics, the attempts to destroy and dry up the fountains of life are fast destroying the American element of the nation."(David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1947, pp. 114-122)
"Infidelity and sexual immorality are two principal evils that threaten to weaken and to wreck present-day civilization. Unfortunately, the trends of modern life are tending to disintegrate the very foundation of the Christian home. Sexual laxity among young people, birth control, and intemperance are its insidious and vicious enemies. When family life disintegrates, the foundation and bulwark of human society is undermined.Men and brethren, what shall we do?The answer today is the same as it was two thousand years ago, the same as it will ever be throughout time.All men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name and endure in faith on his name to the end or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God ( D&C 20:29). "(David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1947, pp. 115-121 )
"So, then, what is required of parents, who have been so joined in the Lord’s house, concerning their children? First, they are to love each other—this is so vital; then they are to welcome choice spirits from the Lord and teach them to love the Lord, keep his commandments, and walk uprightly before him. When they do this, they have given these children the foundation for attaining real joy here in this world and in the world to come. For they will have eternal life, which is the ultimate success, and they will be made rich. “… Behold, he that has eternal life is rich.” ( D&C 6:7.)May this be our goal, and may we be willing to pay the price to obtain it and not be taken in by all the misinformation which is abroad in the land today about birth control, abortion and sex education, and other Satan-inspired philosophies; that we may look to the Lord and follow his living prophets and oracles today. I pray that we will, for I bear witness that God our Heavenly Father lives, and that he hears and answers prayers, and that he is concerned about his children, so much so that he sent his Only Begotten Son that we might have immortality and eternal life." (Hartman Rector Jr., “Success—A Journey or a Destination?,” Ensign, Jul 1973, 57)
"RESTRICTED FAMILIES :Another and very ominous indication of the cracking up of American homes is the decreasing birth rate. In the Reader's Digest for October there is an article which states that "in the United States at large 42% of the married women have no children whatever or only one child."That in the United States at large "approximately only one-third of the married women have a sufficient number of children to keep the population of the country even at a stationary level."That in the United States at large "the urban birth rate has fallen so shockingly low that all American cities of one hundred thousand and over would, in three generations, or one hundred years, fall to one-third their present size if left without accessions to their populations outside."That in the United States at large "the professional classes in American cities are reproducing themselves only sixty percent."That "in many local areas conditions are even far worse. Note, for instance, the city of Chicago. More than half its families have no children whatever—to be exact 534,125 out of its 842,578 families are without a single child of their own. And there are many American cities that have even a worse birth rate than Chicago. . . ."The one large group of people that remains least affected by the scourge of artificial birth control is our rural population. Were it not for them America would already be headed down the speedy slopes of decline."Seeking the pleasures of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the household. When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, March 21, 1942, said in a broadcast to the world:One of the most somber anxieties which beset those who look ahead is a dwindling birthrate in thirty years. Unless present trends alter, a smaller working and fighting population will have to support and protect nearly as many old people. In fifty years the position will be still worse. If this country is to keep its high place in the leadership of the world and to survive as a great power that can hold its own against external pressure, our people must be encouraged by every means to have larger families.Former president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, said:The severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon wilful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and woman should be the father and mother of healthy children so that the race will increase and not decrease.The Census Bureau on January 31, 1941, declared:If the present birth and death rates continue, the non-white population of this country will, in the long run, increase at the rate of about seven percent per generation, while the white population (including the Mexicans) will decrease at the rate of about five percent per generation.The principal reason for marriage is to rear a family. Failure to do so is one of the conditions that cause love to wilt and eventually to die. " (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1943, pp. 28-33)
"If I were to name the first thing that impresses me always in these fine Latter-day Saint homes, I would say it was a love for and a desire for children. These are homes where the having of children was not delayed because of some social or educational or financial objective, and where the size of the families has not been limited by the practice of birth control.A few years ago I read some statistics taken from the United States Census Bureau which indicated that out of 180,000 divorces for that given year, 57 percent were in homes where there were no children, 21.2 percent where there was only one child; and in families with five or more children, divorces ranged all the way from none to only .7 of one percent. " (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1948, pp. 51-56)
“In Europe families are limited to a point where couples are more or less ostracized by neighbors and friends if they have more than two children. Some European nations are even now beginning to decline in population as birth control and abortion become a way of life. Far too many wives are working in order that the couple may have its own home, a car, colored television, or extensive vacation trips. Children for such couples are an unwanted handicap and a needless expense.Why bother to marry when children are neither wanted nor expected? Why burden oneself with marriage when couples expect to change partners when they tire of one another? What is the need for virtue when one’s goal is only self-satisfaction? If ever there was a need for the restoration of truth in a world where man is only interested in his own pleasure and self-gratification, it is now!”(Theodore M. Burton, “The Need for Love,” Ensign, May 1979, 72)
“In this age of selfishness and greed, of birth control and barrenness, of easy divorce, broken homes, and juvenile delinquency, in this age of cheap amusements, idleness and lack of discipline, it is well to search for basic values, to call attention to the fact that the home is the nation’s most fundamental institution and that mothers are the first professors in that character-building school.” (Vision and Valor, Bookcraft, 1971, p. 24.)The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized to help the family. No other organization provides more help. The whole program of the Church is correlated to supplement the teachings of the home. The Church speaks out boldly against the common evil of this day—the deliberate limiting of families by birth control. It teaches, rather, the sacred obligation resting upon husband and wife to bring children into the world."Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth."Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" ( Ps. 127:3-5). (A. Theodore Tuttle, Conference Report, October 1969, pp. 130-132)
"First, you can stand up for the truth wherever you are, at all times, and in all places. Sometimes our members are fearful to speak up for the truth in clubs, associations, or even, at times, among members of the Church. As the Lord has said, it should be done with boldness but not overbearance. Speak out for the Lord and for his prophet on the vital issues of the day.For example, I know of a woman, a good woman, who found herself in a very challenging situation. She was at a luncheon with a number of members of the Church; some were active and some inactive; and also a few nonmembers were present. The subject turned to abortion and birth control, and one of the nonmembers voiced for about five minutes some very strong feelings concerning these issues. She indicated, erroneously, that she felt that there is nothing wrong with an abortion, and that there should never be any kind of restriction placed on a man or a woman concerning birth control itself. This good sister in the Church was faced with a difficult challenge of whether to talk about the weather or some other noncontroversial subject, or whether to really speak out and state the truth. This choice woman chose to do the latter. After explaining what the Lord had said concerning both of those issues, she bore her testimony as to her personal feelings. As you might expect, the luncheon concluded rather abruptly. However, afterwards one of the inactive women came over to this good sister and explained that she had never before understood the Lord’s view on those issues and had felt the truth being spoken on that day.Feel free, when prompted, my brothers and sisters, to bear your testimony of those principles that you know to be true. Sincere feelings conveyed from heart to heart by means of testimony convert people to the truth where weak, wishy-washy, argumentative statements will not."(Gene R. Cook, “Are You a Member Missionary?,” Ensign, May 1976, 103)
There are books now on birth control, books on common law marriage, and many other books that are not conducive to the morals or the best thinking of those who read them. In a recent poll taken of 7,600 middle class average homes, the startling fact was revealed that forty percent of these homes did not own a Bible.(Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report, April 1947, Afternoon Meeting 82.)
"About a year ago, or so, we suggested that young couples should not be called into the mission field, for reasons given. Just by way of reminding you, we thought it best for the young couples not to go into the mission fields because, in the first place, in the natural course of events, the responsibilities of motherhood would interfere with the work of the sisters, and if anything were done to postpone that responsibility, the Church would become a party to birth control, and the Church will have nothing to do with that evil."(President David O. Mckay, Conference Report, April 1949, Afternoon Meeting 177.)
"Undermining of home:And so today, the undermining of the home and family is on the increase, with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children. The Book of Mormon describes this condition when it states, "And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." And then these words follow—and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: "O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths." ( 2 Ne. 13:12) And let me warn the sisters in all seriousness that you who submit yourselves to an abortion or to an operation that precludes you from safely having additional healthy children are jeopardizing your exaltation and your future membership in the kingdom of God." Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1970, pp. 21-25Birth Control:“The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father's children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: ". . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . ." (Ps. 127:3, 5.) We believe God s glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness.False reasoning in population limitation:The precepts of men would have you believe that by limiting the population of the world, we can have peace and plenty. That is the doctrine of the devil. Small numbers do not insure peace; only righteousness does. After all, there were only a handful of men on the earth when Cain interrupted the peace of Adam's household by slaying Abel. On the other hand, the whole city of Enoch was peaceful; and it was taken into heaven because it was made up of righteous people.And so far as limiting the population in order to provide plenty is concerned, the Lord answered that falsehood in the Doctrine and Covenants when he said:“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves." (D&C 104:17.)A major reason why there is famine in some parts of the world is because evil men have used the vehicle of government to abridge the freedom that men need to produce abundantly.True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God's purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to his spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.(Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1969, First Day—Morning Meeting 12.)
“Because birth control pills and other contraceptives are on the market doesn't give license for pre-marital sex relationships nor warrant liberties for illicit sex experiences; neither do they justify married couples to use them to prevent conception. There can be harmful side effects from their use. Any drug strong enough to prevent conception and pregnancy cannot help but be harmful to the body and adversely affect its physical functions. Doctors have now decided that too many deformed and mentally retarded children (which number is increasing at an alarming rate) are caused by the use of contraceptives and/or the use of tobacco and alcohol by women. To tamper with the fountain of life can only bring ill results, with heartache and sorrow.Is this what you parents and prospective parents want? What satisfying activity, joy and happiness can mentally retarded and handicapped children look forward to in life? Parents are responsible for providing their children with normal, healthy bodies, which bodies tabernacle a choice spirit child of God.”(Elder Delbert L. Stapley, April 26, 1966, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1966 12.)
“The problem of birth control and voluntary barrenness is poisoning the very fountains of life and defying God's injunction to multiply and replenish the earth.”(Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], 244.)
"Young married couples who postpone parenthood until their degrees are attained might be shocked if their expressed preference were labeled idolatry. Their rationalization gives them degrees at the expense of children. Is it a justifiable exchange? Whom do they love and worship--themselves or God? Other couples, recognizing that life is not intended primarily for comforts, ease, and luxuries, complete their educations while they move forward with full lives, having their children and giving church and community service." (Spencer W. Kimball, From "The Miracle of Forgiveness" pg 41)