Sunday, November 8, 2009

My family hasn’t been shot at, for one thing

I’ve heard a lot of people in church claim (mostly in gospel doctrine and priesthood classes, but occasionally in sacrament meeting speeches) that “the family is under attack”. Can someone explain to me exactly what in the world that phrase is supposed to mean?

And i mean that seriously—i really just don’t get it.


Butter said...

The institution of the family. I see it with many of my friends. Raising your own kids is not important. Getting married at all isn't important. Sex outside of marriage is considered normal and often a good thing. Abortion is no big deal to many. Satan knows if he can get at least one parent to either commit a grievous sin or to just leave the Church, or even poke holes in what the brethren say, he is winning, particularly if then the children no longer are raised in the Church.

Right now I have one friend working toward leaving her husband. He's been having affairs for years (she had no idea for a long, long time). Another friend isn't sure what to do, but she's trying to save her marriage, but a lot is up to her husband... who got himself into porn, strippers, lap dances, and, ultimately, prostitutes. Both of these friends are LDS, married in the temple. I know these two personally. These are not on-line friends or someone I've just heard about. There are many more of those, but these are the ones I've cried with and listened to talk because I know the families so well.

Additionally, I am a SAHM, which prophets have repeatedly said to do, and I'd say you yourself are pretty darn hostile to the whole stay at home mom thing. That is another way the family is under attack.

David B said...

@Butter: So it sounds like you’re saying that the fact that stuff is happening now that means the family’s under attack. However, the things you list are things that have been going on as long as there have been people—so is it that the family’s always been under attack? It seems to me that that lessens the impact of the statement. It always sounds to me like it’s an urgent thing, ’cause it’s something new.

And on the SAHM thing, i’m not against people being SAHMs. I am, however, against people using simplistic slogans to claim that one side or the other is superior. (And “prophets have repeatedly said to” do the SAHM thing? True, and they’ve repeatedly said otherwise. Freezing someone out by claiming divine backing doesn’t work if the divine backing isn’t clearly there.)

Michelle said...

I'd be curious to know when prophets have said not to be stay at home moms (sorry, I refuse to use acronyms that are computer-related, mainly because I don't know what most of them stand for). I've heard the statements about women working when there is no father present, or when it is absolutely necessary financially (which I would say is a hugely vague idea - where is the line between enough money to live and enough to be comfortable).
This is a touchy subject - I don't want to get into a who's right/who's wrong battle. I'd just like to know when a prophet has "said otherwise."

David B said...

My favorite one is an old one, but very clear—Brigham Young said: “We think the sisters ought to have the privilege to study various branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. Women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but they may also stand behind the counter, study law and physic, or become good bookkeepers, and all this to enlarge their sphere or usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation.”

If you want something more modern, Marvin J. Ashton wasn’t quite so intense (he rarely was, actually), but: “[A] woman should feel free to go into the marketplace and into community service on a paid or volunteer basis if she so desires when her home and family circumstances allow her to do so without impairment to them.”

I strongly suspect (i’m pretty close to certain, but i’m a quantitativist, so i won’t say that until a proper survey’s been conducted) that there are more quotes out there on the side of the SAHM thing. I’d argue, though, that the reason for this is a pushback against a perceived imbalance (Utah has the highest proportion of women with children under five working outside the home, so there’s a bit of local context to this, as well). (I like the dangling participle in the preceding parenthesis.)

There’s also the hiring practices at the BYUs, which i’ve been thinking of making into a blog post somewhere down the line—basically, though, it’s evidence on two fronts that the church leadership actually has precisely no policy on women working outside the home.

On a different subject (but more closely related to my original entry), i’ve been mulling over whether simple criticism is what’s being referred to with the whole “attck” meme, due to some contextual cues when i’ve heard it get brought up. I’ll have to think that one through for a while—expect a blog post down the road on that, too, probably earlier than the BYU hiring one.

David B said...

And @Michelle—you’re right on the vagueness thing. I’ve often wondered if the issue of birth control isn’t an apt parallel—the church’s policy is vague (essentially, go work it out on your own), so people in the church, both lay members and leadership, start staking out sometimes-extreme positions and arguing that they’re right, mainly on the basis of not being wrong.

Anyway, that’s just musing out loud, but it’s an interesting line of thought, i think.

Michelle said...

I think the phrase "under attack" just means that there are forces in the world that threaten the existence of the traditional family.

And from your first response comment - yes, I would say that the family has always been under attack. Satan doesn't have/can't have a family and (I would say) doesn't like that people on earth can. I would submit that since the time of the Cain and Abel incident the family has been "under attack".