Thursday, February 23, 2012

Repost from 2009: "raw notes" by jeans for Lesson 8: "Attitudes about our divine roles"

I don't usually post lesson notes, because we each need to find our own way through the material and what I do is for my 8 girls and their needs - but I woke up this morning remembering that a friend of mine had written a terrific article about the woman of Proverbs 31 and remembering that is one of the new virtue value scriptures. I teach the Laurels and many of them are "done" with Personal Progress (although I don't like that phrase, whenever I hear any of them say it, I remind them that we are all personally progressing and we are never done), so they might not even really search out that value's scripture recommendations. I thought this is a way to get them excited about it, and a scriptural way in to the discussion about what is expected of women in different times & places.

So here's what I'm doing today...NOT that this is what you should do...too late to be helpful if you're teaching today anyway...

Lesson 1-8

What good are women? What are they for?
Women’s roles are culturally constructed – change according to time, place, peoplehood
Those culturally defined roles set the boundaries within which the Lord has to work – he had to during his own lifetime, he had to when the Church was organized in the 19th century, and he has to now, across the globe

However, the gospel opens up possibilities in & beyond those roles & beyond our limited human vision
The Lord is a boundary-buster – his vision is expansive vs. the poverty & smallness of the circumscribed roles in our culture
He can help us see beyond women as simply childbearer, defined by biology --> mother, nurturer, educator – also finds wholeness for women who cannot bear their own children
He can help us see beyond women as just housekeeper, her place is in the home --> homemaker, home as temple, creator of spiritual spaces, family & home as the foundation of the gospel and of any society, elevation of that role
He can help us see beyond women as only ornamental, seductive, dangerous --> true beauty comes from kindness & virtue
He can help us see beyond women as powerful, authoritative, "manly" (often expected of career women & feminists) --> the power of being a servant, charity never faileth, love is the greatest & perhaps in the end the only power in the universe

Story of Mary & Martha
Luke 10 – follows right after the Good Samaritan.

38: Note, Martha received him into HER house. Martha "encumbered with serving," and Mary "sat at the Lord's feet." He loved them both, and he taught them both according to their spiritual needs.
John 11-12 - Martha was transformed because she was teachable and humble - we can see the change in her between Luke 10 and John 11-12. Her attitude changed and her life was transformed by her relationship with the Savior.

We learn Mary was the same Mary who anointed the Lord’s feet with ointment. We hear Martha’s unhesitating testimony of Christ and the resurrection, even in her grief

What WAS the Lord's view of women?
• He invited and nurtured their discipleship
• He valued the work they did in the home and honored them there
• He showed, on multiple occasions, his love for children and their needs
• He demonstrated that women belonged in the synagogue, temple, and kingdom of God, and their sphere of influence goes beyond their households
• He called women wise who prepared both physically and spiritually

Woman of Virtue, Proverbs 31 (one of the Virtue Value scriptures)
Proverbs 31:10-31 – one of “Virtue Value” scriptures – Riess points out that it is an acrostic, specifically a Hebrew alphabet acrostic – geared toward memorizing, a way to pass on advice from a mother to a child
(Jana Riess, “The Woman of Worth: Impressions of Proverbs 31:10-31,” Dialogue Spring 1997 30(1): 141-151.)

The alphabet acrostic goes like this -
A Woman of Worth who can find? She is far more precious than rubies.
Because of this, the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
Clearly she does him good and not evil all the days of his life.
Doing her work with willing hands, she seeks wool and flax.
Even as the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away
Faster than the sun is she, rising while it is still night to provide food for her family and tasks for her servant girls
Giving careful consideration to a field she buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard
Herself she girds with strength; she makes her arms strong
In her merchandise, she sees the profit of her own work. Her lamp does not go out at night.
Joyfully she puts her hand to the loom, and her hands hold the spindle
Keenly she feels the plight of the needy and holds her hands outstretched to the poor.
Looming ahead is the threat of winter snow, but she not afraid, for all in her household are clothed in crimson
Making coverings for herself as well, she wears fine linen and purple
Notable is her husband in the community; within the city gates he takes his seat with the elders of the land
Once created, her linen garments are sold for money; she supplies the merchant with sashes
Power, strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs confidently at the time to come
Quickened with wisdom is her tongue, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue
Regulating well the ways of her household, she does not eat the bread of idleness
She is commended by her children, who rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her:
There are other women who have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Unnecessary is charm, and vain is beauty, but a woman who fears Yahweh is to be praised.
Value her, and give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.”
Traditional interpretation: prescriptive as well as descriptive – emphasizing her silent, behind-the-scenes contributions to the household & that it is the realm of her total fulfillment
Feminist interpretation: noticing the prosperity, industry & conclude that it is not typical, not prescriptive
Jana’s: notice that wisdom is a woman many places in Proverbs, and this is the crowning summation of the book of wisdom. Wisdom is practical & pious; the gospel brings a rich, fruitful life. Women should be discerning in their choices; spiritual discernment brings wisdom

– use their names to do the same - write an acrostic for themselves
You cannot do it all & you cannot do it by simply imitating others or by trying to fulfill their expectations of us
The expectations which matter are God’s & then your family’s
Your particular family’s needs will need all your love & creativity
Your callings in the Church will ask your whole soul & self
Trust in the Lord will open up unexpected paths & vistas


  1. Unfortunately, too often, these are not the messages one receives whether in the Proclamation on the family or talks, ie. Boyd K. Packer's recent one.

    Any outsider looking at LDS sources would come to the conclusion that women's role in the Church is to support a priesthoodholder and bear children.

    In my ward, I can see someone being released for giving this lesson, despite the tie-ins to the scriptures.

  2. Which is why I rarely post my lesson notes.

  3. wow, I didn't see things like that at all. I think what jeans is pointing out, (or at least as I read things?) is what is at the root of things like the Proclamation. That seems to be what Sis. Beck does, isn't it? What am I missing here?


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