The price for having our 11-year-old grandson, Brigham, spend the week with us was taking him to the full three-hour block on Sunday.
George saw me putting on a skirt and said, “Really, only one of us needs to go with Brigham.” So, I found myself in Gospel Doctrine class after seeing Brigham
to Primary. The text for GD was John 16-17—the Intercessory Prayer. Lydia, a down-the-line Mormon, taught straight from the manual with quotes from past
prophets typed and handed out for class members to read at the appointed time. I received no new insights on the passages we read.
As her conclusion, Lydia read John 17:21-22 which emphasizes the Father and Son as one (the LDS interpretation being “one in purpose.”)
Lydia told us she couldn’t even imagine the Father and Son having any kind of disagreement. Fair enough. Then she said the 12 apostles were likewise unified.
(Apparently, Lydia hasn’t read much of Acts yet). Then she expanded this unity to the Restored Church (no, she hasn’t read much Church History, either.) When
Lydia said the Council of Twelve always agrees unanimously, I resisted the urge to raise my hand and ask why we need twelve. If decisions are always
unanimous, a Council of One should be adequate.
Lydia concluded her lesson with an admonition for Church unity and gave a warning example of a man who nearly lost his testimony after
criticizing the way the youth program in his ward functioned. She then admonished us to attain the degree of unity of the Father and Son in our
Unity is a great goal—although setting up Deity as our model is somewhat ambitious. I would love to be one in purpose with George—so long as
it is my purpose. The problem is: Marriage is tough. Spouses who don’t agree cannot look forward to growing up and leaving home the way children anticipate escaping parental limitations.
Spouses are linked long term—financially, emotionally, and in Mormon circles, even spiritually, since a spouse who ceases to believe can drag the other
spouse and the children away from the church and eternal life.
Compromise feels like capitulation when core values are involved. And trying to be like Jesus isn’t much help when each spouse has a
different vision of what Jesus wants and expects. Solving marital conflicts of interest requires self-understanding, control of ego, empathy for the partner’s
point of view, and a host of other complex skills.
Lydia’s lesson, like most Church lessons, failed for me because although she told us what to do—i.e. achieve unity—her lesson gave us
no guidance on how to accomplish a super-human task.