I left Relief Society literally shaking with rage today.
The lesson? "Standing in holy places", from an address given by President Monson last October. Sounds like a typical Relief Society lesson. I surmise I could make something decent out of it if I had been asked to teach it. Unfortunately, the well-meaning teacher started out with this question:
How have you seen the world worsen since you were younger?
Oh yes. Well. It started out alright (depravity on TV, increasing sexualization of women and children), but quickly devolved from there.
One woman mentioned the horror that is sex education, especially since abstinence is no longer taught. (False. I guarantee the majority of sex ed classes will at some point say that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy and STDs. However, it is clear that teaching abstinence alone does not work with teenagers.) She gloried in the days when parents didn't have to talk to their children about sex at all (because who wants to talk to their innocent children about something so dirty and vile?).
Another told us that her high school now provides daycare services for its students. (I admit it is legitimately sad that this school needs a daycare). She then went on to say that when she was in high school, one girl got pregnant, and she never saw that girl again. She implied this was a good thing (because of course girls who get pregnant in high school ought to be hidden and denied their education [the boys responsible require no such punishment]).
There was mention of women choosing to have children without husbands. According to my Relief Society, such women should know that God does not approve of them being mothers and that a house without a husband is "unstable" (even though it was acknowledged most women who choose this are well educated, high-earners in their thirties. But apparently it's not okay to want a child unless you're married.)
Of course homosexuality and gay marriage were mentioned. (I don't know how I feel about this anymore. My gut says to let everyone live their lives as they will. I certainly regret my involvement in the California brouhaha.)
People on welfare were subtly put down, and one girl explained how sad it was that there are oodles of moms on TV with careers, and how "the stay-at-home-dad is often the funniest character on the show." (This one hits home as I had a working mom and a SAHD growing up.) She ended with a familiar spiel about the unique nurturing capabilities that only women have (deep breaths).
The teacher then read this quotation from President Monson's address: "It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our
standards, refusing in the process to surrender that which we desire
most: eternal life in the kingdom of God." I raised my hand. I said that we must differentiate between "reject" and "judge." I openly admitted that the conversation was making me uncomfortable because I felt like there was a lot of judgment going on. I said that we should stand by what the prophets say (a statement I only partly agree with), but that doesn't mean we should judge people who don't live our way of life. What's going to happen when you meet a homosexual person? Are you going to reject him or her? Jesus told us to love everyone. What did he say to the woman taken in adultery? He told her that he didn't condemn her. Just love people and leave judgment to God.
I should have said more. I should have said that no one is perfect. I should have said that Jesus told those accusing the woman that they, as sinners, have no right to cast stones. I should have said that I bet there are women in the room who have struggled with some of the things that are being bashed. That at least one woman in that room will have a child who is gay or who gets pregnant out of wedlock. That, in my opinion, President Monson meant that we should live our own lives in accordance with our standards, not shun all who do not live their lives in that way. That President Monson's talk was actually about prayer. That being a SAHD or promoting sex ed is not the same as "surrender[ing] . . . eternal life in the kindgom of God." I should have said that such judgmental opinions are the exact things that give Mormons a bad name and drive people away from/out of the church.
We hardly got through any more of the lesson. It ended up being little more than a bashing session. Some smiling lasses carefully responded that we have to make righteous judgments everyday. Ugh. There was just so much, dare I say it, hate going around that room. Husband said it sounded like Rameumptom day in Relief Society. "We thank thee, Lord, that we are so much better than everyone else." That's not what religion is supposed to be about.
It's days like this that make it hard to be Mormon. I believe the core doctrines, but I just can't stand the people sometimes. Then again, I don't want to judge Mormons either. I know these ladies, and on the whole they are very nice. What is it about Mormanity that takes devout, well-meaning people and drills such bigotry into them?