The Shitakies

A Junto Chapter

Offended Forehead Marks

Posted by Sterling on October 9, 2007

I don’t know if any of you guys have caught on the to Beck debates. I usually don’t follow that type of thing on the “Femenine” Mormon blogs, but I thought a lot of these were out of control. President Beck is the Relief Society President. She spoke on Sunday afternoon. For you chauvinists that got up to scratch yourselves and visit the jon during her talk, she had the audacity to quote the prophets, encourage child bearing, discourge materialism, teach old-fashioned virtues, and encourage women to “be the best”. Needless to say, this stirred the pot.

Some comments and posts I think are insightful, others are just ravenous wolves coming out of the woodwork.

Mormon Mommy Wars, What I Wish President Beck had Said

Feminist Mormon Housewives, Pres. Beck’s Motherhood Talk

Tales from the Crib, Who’s the Best and Does it Matter

By Common Consent, Why I Like President Beck’s Talk (mostly)

Times & Seasons, Beck and Call

And, Times & Seasons, What President Beck Did Not Say

I don’t think any type of instruction incites fire and rage like discussing women’s roles over the pulpit.

I’ll admit, I’m astounded by the fact that people are so willing to mark themselves as “offended” by instructions from Church leaders.

The term offense is used many times in the scriptures and not in a positive way.

“And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matt. 11:6

“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Matt. 18:7

“Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Matt. 13:21

“And if they right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matt. 5:29

“unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Pet. 2:7,8

“And wo to him by whom this offense cometh, for it had been better for him that he had been drowned in the depth of the sea.” D. & C. 55:5

Knowing how the Lord uses the term “offense” I am surprised how readily people label themselves as offended. Does this remind anybody else of the Amlicites marking their foreheads “Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was epedient that the curse should fall upon them.” Alma 3:18

It’s one thing to have a hard time with the doctrines of a talk, or to have to work hard to try to understand it, gain a testimony of it’s doctrines, and apply them to your life. If I diagreed with a talk from General Conference, I’d decide I needed to repent and keep it to myself, perhaps only disclosing my struggles with people I trust, and then only for support and counsel to overcome by own stubborness. I find it a personal rule that if I disagree with a General Authority, it isn’t because the General Authority is in the wrong, but vice versa. The high mindedness to discount a talk as “disappointing”, “misguided”, or “inapplicable” is fantastic for a Latter-Day Saint, even more so in a public forum.

Now I imagine these marking comments are only a small, outspoken minority and that with time, cooler heads will prevail. I should probably be more empathetic of the plight and tribulations involved with being a modern LDS woman. When compared to everybody else, they do have it hard. Nobody has it harder than those the Lord has blessed with the truths taught by the restored gospel.

Posters and commentors might with time be embarrased by what they wrote or thought. Heck, they might even repent. But, to label yourselves as “offended”, that’s remarkable.

12 Responses to “Offended Forehead Marks”

  1. jeshuabr said

    “Does this remind anybody else of the Amlicites . . . ?”

    I think that’s going a bit far; though, some of those posts were certainly closer to the Amlicites than say the Ninevites, but then again, I’m not even sure that’s a fair analogy (the Ninevites).

    And maybe there, I’ve hit it on the head. For the men, we’re consistently lectured about porn, wife beating, child molestation, unrighteous dominion. We’re also counseled on how to lead ans serve. And what do women get? Lectures on using a Hoover, and putting a little elbow grease into the window cleaning. At least, that’s the (misguided) perception. If that’s your perception of the talk, I can understand how that would be a little discouraging.

    Candidly, I think the reason so many sisters feel this way about Sister Beck, their Relief Society President, is because the Relief Society President’s comments resemble nothing the offended sisters have heard in Relief Society: straight talk about what the Church expects out of women.

    While we lived in Virginia (in Sterling’s ward no less), my wife was present for at least three B&M sessions. Most of the time it involved women venting about their husbands, and what they could do to serve women better. The Brethren have made attempts to combat this manner of meeting together. A few years ago, I wish I could remember when, Pres. Packer said something to the effect of Relief Society sisters should rest assured that the Priesthood isn’t spending their time in quorum talking about their needs. And that, for many women (at least that I’m acquainted with), is what Relief Society has become. Not every week or every other week. But even once a year is far too often.

  2. Sterling said

    Amen, Bennett.

    But I would add, if that was their perception of her talk (hoover and elbow grease), they didn’t hear what she said, but what they wanted to debate.

    Sometimes it seems to me that either the Church attracts depressed women or it makes them depressed. Or, perhaps it just softens some women up so they feel confortable sharing their insecurities and shortcomings to everybody and anybody all the time. Then, we are confused into thinking that these women are representative of LDS women as a whole. One thing for dang sure, I’m glad my wife is not one of those women.

    Maybe, while I may error on the side of thinking I’m doing a pretty darn good job at being righteous, they error on the other side of constantly beating themselves up about not doing all they should. I tried that for a couple of months on the mission but didn’t care for it, so I stopped.

    Now, I prefer my present error. It takes less thought and makes me feel a heck of a lot better.

  3. Matt said

    Eliza here (Matt’s wife):

    I was also fascinated by the sudden backlash against Sis Beck’s Sunday a.m. talk that started pretty much as soon as she gave it–although maybe I wasn’t paying attention, I did not notice much in the blog world about her Saturday evening talk from the RS session. Personally I am sometimes guilty of not paying complete attention to talks, whether because of people around me or my own thoughts. That said, I need to re-read both of her talks to see if I missed something big, but I am one of the ones who felt uplifted and inspired by them–not because I am doing a fabulous job, but because I need to be doing a fabulous job. I had been thinking already about ways I needed to improve in my home life, which includes my personal spiritual life as well as my admittedly big task of keeping the Spirit constant in our home in various ways, and I thought Sis Beck “told it like it is” in a refreshing and frankly endearing fashion.

    That said–I can’t restrain myself from saying I was a tiny bit disturbed by the attitude of your post and subsequent comment, Sterling! I agree that there was WAY too much whining going on about Sis Beck’s switch from “you CAN DO it because you ARE WONDERFUL” to “you CAN AND SHOULD be doing it because you CAN AND SHOULD be wonderful and besides, it’s your job.”

    But how can we adequately judge the deep and real feelings that are the source of some of the “B&M” as Josh called it? “Who am I to judge another / When I walk imperfectly? / In the quiet heart is hidden / Sorrow that the eye can’t see.” I don’t have an answer to that.

    You might argue that these vocal feminists/faultfinders don’t exactly have “quiet hearts.” I just wanted to point out, though, that for some women, righteous or not, quick to offense or not, self-deprecation is a real problem, whether or not we vocalize it. I can’t speak for anyone’s wife, but of my close friends and family who are women and even many who are men, every single one of us have had moments like that. The lack of “preeminence and praise” and the admitted sometime drudgery that comes from being a housewife and mom, along with feelings of inadequacy whether they come from sin, hormones, or just a hard day, can be a devastating combination to a daughter of God whether or not she is a “mother who knows.” I do not think that means that all GAs need to be soothing our little egos over the pulpit, and it certainly does not mean that when they don’t we should all rally around in the blog world tossing out phrases like “glorified maids” (one of my favorites from somebody’s comment somewhere, who clearly has an axe to grind!) But I just don’t think it means that erring on the side of “thinking I’m doing a pretty darn good job at being righteous” is the answer. In fact I would argue that the other end, humility, is the answer.

    King Benjamin asked his people, “Can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” Basically we are less than dirt, right? (without the Atonement of Christ, anyway.) At the same time, and I think this is where a good compromise comes in between the two errors you are talking about, here is Elder Maxwell:

    “It also helps in resisting the tugs and pulls of the world if we, though imperfect, know that currently the course of our life is generally acceptable to the Lord. With sufficient dedication, those quiet assurances can come!

    “The validation of our worth really comes from knowing who we are, not solely from what we do. Jesus’ searching words remain: ‘What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ ”

    Blogging provides a forum for anyone, in this case members of the Church, to be vocal about insecurities, questions, and criticism that we might never have let past our “quiet hearts” in any other setting. I agree with your main argument, I think; we are commanded not to take offense and not to speak against the leaders of the Church, and I believe in those commandments. But your presentation–these silly women who just want to argue about what we should and shouldn’t be DOING (see Elder Maxwell quote again)–kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

    That’s all! -Eliza

  4. Matt said

    By the way, I DID agree with this paragraph:

    “Now I imagine these marking comments are only a small, outspoken minority and that with time, cooler heads will prevail. I should probably be more empathetic of the plight and tribulations involved with being a modern LDS woman. When compared to everybody else, they do have it hard. Nobody has it harder than those the Lord has blessed with the truths taught by the restored gospel.”

    I think you are exactly right–both in that the crazily offended commenters are in the vast minority of our worldwide Church, and also in that nobody has it harder than those who know the truth, a fact Sis Beck directly addressed. It’s a hard life, OK great, now go out there and be the best at it. Like I said, inspiring!

  5. Sterling said

    Great Eliza, now you’re going to think I’m just trying to be contrarian. I meant what I said about the outspoken minority and cooler heads prevailing, but you also happened to agree with the line that I threw out in sarcasm. Now, this I say in all truth, No women have it better than LDS women. Despite public opinion, ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s misery.

    I’ve always considered knowledge of the gospel a boon, not a burden. I take the whole yoke is easy and burden is light thing literally.

    Concerning judging the deep and real feelings underlying the B&M voiced on the blogs, I didn’t think I was judging. I was only surprised that so many bloggers didn’t even leave me that option. They marked themselves as offended before I could even give it a second thought, (which I probably wouldn’t). I find this analogous to filing a defiant guilty plea at the local radio station instead of the county courthouse.

  6. Matt said

    Well I still say that it is hard to be a disciple of Christ. Knowledge of the restored gospel, to me, is both a boon and a burden. I don’t see that as bad. Where much is given, much is required type of thing. I’ve personally never been present at any B&M-type sessions of Relief Society sisters but perhaps I have been unusually lucky.

    Your delivery/attitude was really what bothered me. Maybe I am being too practical when you just intended to point out a problem, not solve it; but the way I see it, the way to bring offended people/sinners back “to the fold” (which is the whole point of us being here on earth once we’ve got it covered on our end, right? Which, as you’ve implied, you have–got yourself covered, that is) is not necessarily to call them to repentance the way you are in your post. Rather, I would venture a good way to start is to try to understand where the resentment or offense is stemming from. That is always an option, regardless of how quickly people “mark” themselves. Although I guess being helpful wasn’t your aim anyway. I definitely think you were judging, just like I’m judging you, which I guess isn’t fair either.

    I know this is a boys’ blog so I’ll stop commenting unless, as Matt just said to me, “Sterling doesn’t always just let things die.” He also said that nothing offends you. I hope we can still be friends, Sterling…


  7. Sterling said

    I’ll be honest Eliza, I wasn’t trying to be constructive at all. I was voicing observations, albeit without tact. I’m sure the delivery was terrible, but I wasn’t trying to touch hearts. I wasn’t trying to speak out to the women in the world, that is except you, but that was only collateral because you’re reading a “guy’s” blog.

    Really I was just speaking my mind, perhaps to freely, to a bunch of bigots that like I said, were ignorant enough to get up and go to the jon when Sister Beck stepped to the pulpit.

    You’d be surprised though, how much tact I can have when I need it.


    I think you should keep commenting, that is if Matt approves.

  8. jeshuabr said

    I agree Eliza. Keep commenting. Feel free to comment on Sterling’s B&M about libraries.

  9. Matt said

    This is actually Matt now, and I adjusted the quote Eliza attributed to me above to be more accurate.

    I really don’t have anything to add to this topic.

  10. Matt said

    Bennett, it’s interesting you should mention that, as Eliza and I have had some “lively” discussions about public libraries recently. Maybe she’ll post when she feels inclined, but she did just say to me “maybe I shouldn’t read your blog anymore.”

    I think you covered most of the pro-public library arguments well enough. I hope Texas is treating you well.

  11. Sterling said

    I’m still trying to figure out what “Sterling doesn’t always just let things die.” means.

  12. Matt said

    “posts die”…as in I’m not sure if she wanted to keep posting back and forth with you unless she knew that she may get into a posting war that may never end.

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