*This is a long Andrea rant. If you don’t want to read, I won’t be offended. But if you do, you will learn something about our family that I haven’t announced formally. The Ensign article I am writing about can be read here: http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/magazines/ensign-march-2014/2014-03-00-ensign-eng.pdf
I read a thread on Facebook today; posted by a popular blogger, it was a link to a single paragraph taken from the March issue of the LDS Ensign Magazine. The single paragraph, posted on a site I’ve never personally perused called “By Common Consent” was surrounded by links, advertisements, and followed by a stream of responding comments, read this:
Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.
-Elder Tad Callister of the Presidency of the
Seventy, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality,”
March 2014 Ensign, p. 45-49.
Having already seen a handful of the angry response comments, I decided to read a little further. I clicked on the link and read the entire article. What I found was an unapologetic call to members of the church to cultivate, embrace, maintain, and then preach high moral values without concern to the voice of the world who claim such values are irrelevant.
The article was a concise reminder many points of church sexual moral standards. Each of these points can have entire books written about it as a part of our doctrine, our history, and our future. It was book ended with the point that God has the highest and final voice of moral law, and His voice has been given – time and again – throughout the ages, by His prophets; and that God offers us redemption and a way for repentance through Jesus Christ, and finally with an assurance of blessings that come with living such a life.
Of course, the irony was not lost on me – here was a man given stewardship and called of God to teach His Gospel. The man was voicing those teachings (the same taught by prophets and holy men of all dispensations) in a sacred and certified church publication (i.e. articles are not published willy-nilly, but rather with serious consideration and editing oversight). And his voice was being . . . mocked across social media by member and non-member alike. Anger erupted from feminists across the board who shouted foul that a woman should be told to be modest, that a woman could have influence over a man’s thoughts, or that a woman would “get the type of man they dress for.”
I put my own two cents into the conversation with the following comment:
<BLOGGER, name removed>, I am seriously so disappointed in you. You linked to a quote taken out of context, without encouraging readers to then read the entire article. Guess what the VERY NEXT paragraph of the article is about? The responsibility of men (and women) over their own thoughts. This whole article is an unapologetic call to the members of the church to maintain high and important moral standards.
As for women dressing modestly as a help to society as a whole – good, freaking night! We do need to help the men in this world, and guess what, the men in this world help us too! One is not without the other, either in righteousness or unrighteousness. We are helping each other, as we are designed to do, to become our best selves. People who think it’s us against them don’t understand the fundamental reality of human relationships.
And later, after being told I was perpetuating the problem by shaming the blogger with my “disappointment,” I clarified that my disappointment was not in her judgement as a member of the church, but rather her academic dis-integrity to link to a source that does not give full content by encouraging people to read the entire article before making judgement on the content.
At that point I disengaged from the conversation. I understand that social media is a powerful tool. I also understand that I do not know how to wield it.
But later, as I swept my kitchen floor, I thought of the four boys I will be raising, and the challenges that lie in my path as I try to raise them to be men of honor and high moral values.
Certainly the world will not make it easy for us.
There is a terrible story today in the news. A young girl (15) was attacked on her way to school. Gratefully she was able to escape. Last week another young girl (11) was not so lucky. All week I have waited at the school bus stop with my children, not leaving until they are safely on the bus, because I don’t dare leave these small ones alone with society at large, even when I know the residents of every house between mine and that bus stop just half a block away.
But it struck me today that while we as a society anger, and anguish over the tragedy that is so very real in these stories, where is the anger for our boys?
These poor girls were taken advantage of because someone else was stronger than them (physically), and could cause such devastating long-term harm by the selfish decisions of another.
And one day my little boys will be weaker (emotionally, sexually, mentally) than those around them – women, adult and young alike, who will selfishly decide that the collateral damage of their dress is an effect of unconcern to their rights of feminist expression. And the collateral damage to my boys may be the beginning of a long and dark path they will walk in their life.
Now let me be clear: I am in no way comparing the severity of the rape of a young girl to the confusion of seeing an immodest woman to a young boy. They are not the same in severity. But they are both attacks on the weak, the inexperienced, the vulnerable. We as a society can do better. As a mother of boys, as a mother of a daughter, I will do better.
I am grateful for prophets and leaders of the church who can say what needs to be said, even in the backlash of our culture. I will second their voice!
Read the Ensign here: