Friday, February 24, 2012

Women as Boundary-Breakers (and some additional links for YW Lesson 7: Homemaking and YW Lesson 8: Attitudes About Our Divine Roles)

Hello, hello everyone! I'm certainly behind this month... I won't go into excuses... I decided in order to catch-up, I'd combine lessons 7 and 8 and give some general comments and links for both.

A few concerns I've noticed, from comments etc.:  Why 4 lessons on the same topic, basically? Why do we need to "improve" attitudes among youth - or is that really something adults struggle with more than youth?
And again, as we've asked before, how to we prepare youth to be good moms but not feel guilty if someday that isn't one of God's gifts for them?

All good questions, among many others I saw. And, as pointed out by jeans and others, it is certainly up to each of you how you approach these "suggested lesson developments" - remember, it's really up to you and the Spirit to know what your girls need to hear! Tangents are sometimes what the Spirit leads you to do - pray carefully and if the Spirit's there, have confidence! That's what teaching is all about. 

A few links, first off:

I really, really enjoyed the post by jeans that she called "raw notes" for Lesson 8. Here are some highlights (but you really ought to go read the whole thing):

The main point of the first half of her post seems to me to be summed up in these words of hers: 
"The Lord is a boundary-buster – his vision is expansive vs. the poverty & smallness of the circumscribed roles in our culture"
Here are some of her examples:
  • 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
I think that is a great way to handle all of these lessons in general. The point of teaching about women's roles or homemaking is not - NOT - to just affirm the cultural traditions from a certain past era or whatever. The point is, God transforms us, He has a different view of women than the world does. Or perhaps even than we do! What does God see? Well, what do the scriptures say? That is the next step by jeans in her post.

Next, jeans discusses the story of Mary and Martha. And then Proverbs 31. (Using scriptures to get at the real point of a lesson topic! I love it!!)

I'd better stop here or I'll just be cutting and pasting the whole lesson. In fact, it's probably worth a repost on its own, anyway. I'll have to do that.

But I wanted to add a few other thoughts briefly on the idea of God as a "boundary breaker." It's a powerful and important image and I want to use it in my future lessons, for sure. But I wonder in what ways might we also see women as "boundary breakers"? For example, society often sees children as helpless little people whose main job in life is to have fun (oh and at some point learn a couple of things that will later get them employment). But I see them as developed spirits who are only currently a little less experienced in the world than I am, but are equal to me in their potential to learn, think, and love. I break the boundary between child and adult when I treat them with respect and expect them to think carefully and do their best. Women break the boundaries between social classes when we willingly reach out to the poor around us. I break a boundary every time I go visiting teaching, because those I teach are not in the same group that society would have liked to put me in. We break boundaries of nations when we join in Relief Society humanitarian aid projects, or even simply attend the RS broadcast! We, along with God, are breaking the boundaries of the categories jeans mentioned above: instead of childbearers because of biology, we are childbearers who choose to mother, nurture, and educate; instead of housekeepers because that's just where we belong, we are housekeepers who make a home, change the image of homes into something as sacred as temples, create spiritual spaces, and make family & home as the foundation of the gospel and of any society; instead of beauty because of ornamentation, we are see the beauty (the real tangible beauty and strength) that comes when we choose to be kind and virtuous; and finally, instead of powerful because we compete with men, we are powerful because we choose to serve and love with power.

We are boundary-breakers. Any true servant of Christ is. But we really, really are. And I am hoping that the YW can begin to see that. These lessons don't have to be reinforcing problematic traditions mixed with a few bits of truth. Don't feed them, as Elder Holland puts it, "the philosophies of men interlaced with a few scriptures and poems" - feed them truth, real truth, powerful truth.


  1. Thanks for your lovely thoughts on my old lesson. As I re-read it, I'm more convinced than ever of the central point: too often women feel (and therefore young women feel) burdened by what we "have to be" and by the weight/tug of expectations competing for primacy. But with God, it's not what we "have to be" - it's what we "get to be."

  2. Going along with lesson 7, I'm going to make a big point in my lesson on Sunday of speaking about how homemaking is not just the responsibility of women. I LOVED how this was addressed in the 2008 roundtable discussion as part of the Worldwide Leadership Training broadcast:

    "Sister Susan W. Tanner: I think as we talk about making a home, we need certain principles, we need certain skills, and the lack of homemaking skills—and I don’t just mean baking bread—has created, I think, an emotional homelessness…we have an opportunity, mothers and fathers working together, to create an environment, to be homemakers, to create an environment that will make a home. Home is not just a place; it’s a feeling, and it’s a spirit.

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks: I’m glad you speak of homemaking because homemaking is a word of disparagement in the eyes of some, and it should not be. But we may need to define it. Homemaking is not just baking bread or cleaning a house. Homemaking is to make the environment necessary to nurture our children toward eternal life, which is our responsibility as parents. And that homemaking is as much for fathers as it is for mothers.",4945,8027-1-4404-4,00.html

  3. as with all the manuals, they generally focus on a topic for about 3-4 lessons. we should be used to that by now. when i was YW president i actually reworked the calendar year and split them up or combined highly similar ones. it worked amazingly well. i would try to line up the temple lessons with our temple trips, etc. making them more relevant.

    as for homemaking - i got push back from the girls and i always see push back in public spaces. if we approach homemaking archaically we will always get push back. i think the word homemaking produces that feeling.

    but IF we approach it to fit our needs today - we won't. homemaking IS relevant.

    know how to shop, prepare meals, cook, budget money, clean properly ALL OF THAT IS relevant. whether you are a college student, a married person, a single adult... on several overnight trips with my young women i was astounded at how incapable they were in the kitchen. they couldn't even read directions or understand a recipe.


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