An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘Visiting teaching message’

Guardians of the Hearth

My visiting teacher, Sis. Beyonda Shadda, asked if she could share the message this month. “I know you don’t like to hear the lesson,” she began.

“I don’t mind discussing the message. I just find it boring to hear it read aloud,” I assured her.

“The lesson this month is on ‘Guardians of the Hearth’ which is such a lovely thought,” Sister Beyonda said. “I just want to read you what Pres. Hinckley said at a Women’s Conference.” She unfolded her copy and read:

You are the guardians of the hearth. You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.

I was polite. I didn’t ask her why Pres. Hinckley thought it important to tell Mormon women that they are the ones who bear and primarily care for their children— or that nurturing children is important. Don’t women already know that? Probably he was just repeating the Mormon myth that we are the only good people—the only people who love and value our children—and that we must preach this message to “the world.”

I assured Sister Beyonda that raising my five children was the greatest joy and achievement of my life. She frowned in disbelief. How could I be a loving mother without hearing weekly sermons and Relief Society lessons telling me motherhood is a sacred obligation?

Emma Smith–How the Lord Rewards Faithful Wives

The July visiting teaching message, “Strengthening Families and Homes” quotes Joseph Smith telling Relief Society sisters, “When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward.”

Now, I’m not too fond of advice like that even from a prophet—and if George said something like that to me, I’d go ballistic. Can you imagine what Emma’s life must have been like? Every time she disagreed with Joseph—and she had plenty to disagree about—he could receive a revelation to put her in her place.

Of course, I wouldn’t have objected to George bringing abandoned women home to help with the housework—unless he proposed to marry them. Then no revelation would have saved him.

Had Emma left Joseph during the Nauvoo years when he was teaching, practicing, and denying plural marriage, the Church likely would have foundered. But Emma stayed—although her parents would have taken her and the children in.

And what was Emma’s reward for standing by Joseph through persecution, poverty, and polygamy? She was widowed and left to run a boarding house to support herself, their children, and her mother-in-law, Lucy Mack Smith. She remarried and her second husband philandered and brought her an illegitimate child to raise. Emma’s reward for being a faithful, dutiful wife makes me wonder what the punishment would have been had her devotion to Joseph faltered.

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