Preaching the Ideal

By: hawkgrrrl
August 28, 2012

Is it better to preach the ideal or to make all feel welcome?  Is it even possible to do both?  Within the church, there seems to be a tug-of-war between encouraging people to live the ideal and trying to be welcoming to everyone.  A “come as you are” approach has merit if we want to focus on growth from outside sources (e.g. missionary efforts and even reactivation).  Focusing on the ideal works best if our focus is on our own youth and helping them make the best possible choices for their lives.

Judge Not – Nevermind, Go Ahead and Judge

I was recently teaching my Sunday School class about the Zoramites.  In the lesson, the Zoramites were kicked out of the synagogues for not wearing nice enough clothing.  I asked the class if they could imagine how humiliating it would be to be rejected at church for what you were wearing, not accepted because your clothing wasn’t nice enough.  One boy in the class replied, “Well, it makes total sense, though.  You’re supposed to dress nicely for church to be respectful.”  The Zoramites were preaching the ideal rather than making everyone feel welcome.  Maybe we are doing the same at times in the current church.

A few years ago, we were watching a TV show in which a teenage girl in a coma was suddenly revealed to be pregnant.  It was a tricky plot line anyway, but our young daughter was especially confused.  “How did she get pregnant?  She’s still in high school.  She’s not even married.”  I determined she wasn’t really asking for a nuts and bolts full disclosure lesson on how babies are made and gave her the euphemistic answer that the girl had just “made some bad choices.”  That phrase subsequently came back to haunt us a few times.  Every unmarried mother, according to our vocal daughter (said with a sympathetic head tilt) had “made some bad choices.”  And once when we were talking to our oldest son about some bad choices he had made regarding homework assignments not turned in, our daughter was suddenly interested:  “Is Chad pregnant?  You said he made some bad choices!”

Kick Em When They’re Down

A recent NY Times article talked about a new great divide emerging in the US, the multi-generational divide of two-parent families and unmarried parents.  About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago.

This correlates with a widening educational divide, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group. Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent. Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time.  By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man.  Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist:  “The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers. The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.”  This education gap spirals in both directions:  the more educated bestow those advantages to their children, and the less educated often become inextricably caught in forces that limit their children’s educational choices also.

Scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — not individual earnings — account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality.  “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.  Bruce Western of the Harvard sociology department found that the growth in single parenthood in recent decades accounted for 15 percent to 25 percent of the widening income gaps.  “The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t,” said Christopher Jencks, a Harvard sociologist. “And the people who least need to stick together do.”  Cinderella is unlikely to snag a handsome prince to rescue her in this emerging scenario.

As recently as 1990, just 10 percent of the births to white women with some postsecondary schooling but not a full college degree occurred outside marriage, according to Child Trends. Now it has tripled to 30 percent, compared with just 8 percent for women of all races with college degrees.  Less-educated women are also more likely to have children with more than one man. Analyzing nearly 2,000 mothers in their mid- to late 20s, Child Trends found that a third of those with high school degrees or less already had children with multiple men. So did 12 percent of mothers with some post-high-school training. But none of the women in the study who had finished college before giving birth had children with multiple men.

Not in Front of the Children

While families come in all shapes are sizes, not all provide an equal advantage to children.  According to studies, 2-parent families allow children to spend more overall time with parents.  Kids are provided with two role models and have more variety in the adult mentoring provided.  Their children have more educational and social opportunities, such as being enrolled in classes like swimming, karate, baseball and Boy Scouts, and their children are statistically more likely to finish college.  These families have access to a larger support network, and also have a financial advantage, either from two incomes or from one income with a parent at home supporting that spouse.  And there is lower parent stress with the ability to trade off between parents.  These are advantages that usually disappear in a single parent model.

It’s not difficult to conclude that a two-parent family where both are educated and committed to their children is the ideal.  But from a missionary perspective, who is most likely to find our message of support and community most compelling?  In many cases, the ones that need the help, those NOT living the ideal.  How do we welcome them into our church community without making them feel like a cautionary tale?

I am reminded of a family reunion years ago when one family member told others at the reunion not to babysit for our unmarried niece so that the teens in the family would see how difficult it is to raise a child on your own without any help.  That seems to be taking preaching the ideal too far.

Finding Balance

I think the best solution is for the church to teach an ideal while also teaching compassion for others and ourselves when we don’t have ideal circumstances.  No matter our circumstances, what we do today and going forward can make things better or worse for ourselves and our children.  Unfortunately, just like the Zoramites, we seem to have a hard time viewing the “bad choices” of others (or even ourselves) with compassion and acceptance.

What do you think?  Which is the greater risk – that our youth will lower their standards if we don’t preach the ideal or that we will ostracize those who have failed to live that ideal?

Discuss.

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27 Responses to Preaching the Ideal

  1. anonlds on August 28, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Nice article. Embedded in the idea of preaching the ideal is the assumption that the church knows what is ideal and the same thing is ideal for everyone.

    How are we going to be accepting of someone with an out of wedlock child, when we aren’t even accepting of a girl with 2 earrings or a man with a blue shirt? Just because we don’t find flip flops reverent in US culture does that mean we should impose those values on a Tongan congregation?

    We need to get away from the idea that everyone needs to live the gospel in exactly the same way. We focus way to much on whether someone meets visible markers of a good mormon and not enough on if they are a good person.

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  2. dba.brotherp on August 28, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    I absolutely agree with anonlds. We don’t preach the ideal in church, we preach conformity to current opinions.

    The only ideal is, “as I have loved you, love one another.” As soon as we start seeking out exceptions to that only ideal, we are dooming ourselves and others.

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  3. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 28, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Nicely said Hawk. Like many things, there is a tension between two goals. No matter which way you balance others will have criticism.

    Which is an entirely other set of tensions between feedback necessary for growth and kvetching.

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  4. Paul on August 28, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Let’s be clear: the Zoramites were not teaching the ideal, and neither were family members who shunned an unwed teen mother. The ideal they were missing, of course, was charity, the pure love of Christ.

    You are right: let us teach compassion just as the Savior modeled for us. I said the same thing in my post yesterday on my own blog. In recent memory both Elder Holland and Elder Scott have addressed the concept of the space between the ideal and our real lives, and done so with the compassion we should seek in our own teaching.

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  5. Will on August 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    I have always liked the story of Nephi, the son of Helaman, who left his position as “President” (Chief Judge) to devote his full time and attention to his duties as the presiding High Priest. As part of this, it is quoted in Helaman 5:2, “those who choose evil were more numerous than those who choose good, thus they were ripening for destruction.” Nephi understood the problems the government was experiencing could not be solved by more money or more programs; rather, the solution was the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    This is exactly what is happening in our society. We are spending Trillions (an estimated 17 Trillion since 1965) helping the poor and the needy and the problems are getting worse not better. We now have an estimated 49 million Americans on the dull and an estimated 108 million receiving some sort assistance. We are currently spending almost a Trillion dollars a year on a problem that is getting worse. This is heart breaking. Nephi felt “weary” about the situation, which is exactly the way I feel when I read things like this post. The solution is to proclaim with boldness staying morally clean before marriage and faithful after marriage is the best path to a bright future. The solution is proclaim with boldness that keeping our bodies healthy and free from drugs of any kind is the path to a bright future. The solution is to proclaim with boldness that marriage should be between one man and one woman. The solution is to teach the Gospel with boldness. The solution is the Gospel and we should not be ashamed teaching it directly and clearly.

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  6. JSG on August 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    I once heard it suggested that churches which are welcoming and extremely non-judgmental have trouble keeping members active. If church is just another place to socialize and feel welcome then why bother with it at all? There are dozens of much more interesting places to hang with your support group and be told you are wonderful just as you are. The real draw of religion is its promise to help make you better and deal with the problems in your life. Part of that process involves the painful step of acknowledging that you have messed up and need to change. If people aren’t ready for that kind of self inspection then they are unlikely to benefit much from the Gospel no matter how welcome they feel.

    Think of it like a gym. People don’t go there to feel comfortable, they go there because they want to improve themselves and accept that the process will involve a certain amount of pain. A gym could probably attract more members by setting up a couch and big screen TV and telling people they didn’t need to lose weight, but after a few weeks the couch potato gym members would probably decide that the gym isn’t really helping and just stay home or go eat at a restaurant instead.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to do a better job of befriending people who are struggling with painful sins. The ability to love the sinner while condemning the sin is a very useful skill to develop (and we’d all like to be on the receiving end of it too). But I think that making the church too comfortable and accepting would have a negative impact on everyone, not just the youth. Church standards don’t just scare people away. They also attract people in search of guidance and inspire people to work harder.

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  7. Paul on August 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Is there someone advocating teaching less truth and doctrine? I don’t read that in the OP. In fact, what I do read is that we need to teach the ideal, but also to teach compassion. Seems to me that’s what the Savior did.

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  8. Nick Literski on August 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    #5:
    I have always liked the story of Nephi, the son of Helaman, who left his position as “President” (Chief Judge) to devote his full time and attention to his duties as the presiding High Priest.

    Yet you’re all excited about High Priest Pinnochio seeking the office of President. Interesting.

    We now have an estimated 49 million Americans on the dull [sic] and an estimated 108 million receiving some sort assistance.

    Obviously, at least one state isn’t spending enough on education.

    The solution is to proclaim with boldness that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

    Exactly what does this have to do with the numbers of individuals or families receiving public assistance (and making you cry, poor boy)? Let’s have some legitimate facts and statistics here, Will, not just your unthinking proclamation on the subject.

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  9. JSG on August 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Perhaps it would help if we were to establish a more clear idea of what it means to “view the bad choices of others (and ourselves) with compassion and acceptance.”

    The original post seemed to set up a contrast between teaching the youth ideal standards and making people feel welcome. I assumed that the author was suggesting that the strict standards were what was driving people away and that by compassion she was suggesting that we focus less on high standards in order to make people feel better about their past decisions.

    But is entirely possible I misread and there was a different kind of compassion and acceptance being suggested. Perhaps what was being proposed was an improved sense of “love the sinner, condemn the sin” with no relaxing of standards. I’m not sure. Compassion can be a difficult thing to define.

    For me, true compassion means doing what is best for someone in the long term, not necessarily what makes them feel happy or welcome in the short term. The Savior Himself seems to alternate between showering people with words of encouraging kindness and condemning people for their sins. Some people just need a little kindness to help put their lives back on track. Other people need a forceful reminder of how badly they’ve messed up.

    Which makes teaching a large group fun because you can almost guarantee that you’re being too kind for half the audience and too harsh for the other half. I guess you just do your best and hope the spirit helps the audience to hear what they personally need.

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  10. Bob on August 28, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    #9:JSG,
    If I come to your class, and I am only hearing “a forceful reminder of how badly they’ve (I’ve) messed up”___you will not be seeing me the next week.

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  11. Paul on August 28, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    JSG, the way we do it is to do what Elder Packer has taught: teach doctrine and not behavior. It’s tricky, of course. Standards are behavior, not doctrine, and yet find it convenient to teach young people standards to help shape their behavior. So we need to find a way to teach standards (if we do at all) from doctrine. In other words, rather than teaching how many earrings a person might wear, we can teach about the lovely creation our body is and how we might treat it as a temple (period).

    Similarly, if I am teaching a lesson, I have no business telling any memeber of my class whether he or she is or is not living up to what I’m teaching. I’m not the judge. All I can do is teach the doctrine. I might illustrate how the doctrine could look in action, but I really can’t pass judgement on others.

    If I’m teaching the doctrine of tithing, I can teach the principle and the blessing, and add my personal testimony (assuming I have one), but I can’t really chastise anyone else for not living that law since I have no personal knowledge about anyone else but myself.

    Even if I must for some reason teach behavior (and we do and should to our own children all the time), I can teach the doctrine first, the principles that grow out of that doctrine and then behaviors that reflect the principle. But I ought not teach my children to judge others who don’t uphold those principles. I can accomplish that by loving the people who come to church with me, regardless of what they wear, whether they have tobacco on their breath, or how reverently they sit in the pew next to me.

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  12. Jeremiah S on August 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Church should definitely be more welcoming to those who are different in any way, including those who aren’t carbon copy Mormons. “Visitors Welcome”? I’d really like to see this become more than just something written on the side of our buildings. I have seen some great examples of this, but I’d like to see us do better.

    One of the strengths of the church is the set of standards we learn to live by. One of the greatest stumblingblocks to Zion is–the set of standards we learn to live by, when these standards become more important than charity. Of course (e.g.) it is best for people to be chaste. IMHO, a person who is loved and accepted is much more likely to learn chastity than a person who is cast out, or looked down upon.

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  13. hawkgrrrl on August 28, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Interestingly, Jesus hung out with publicans and sinners. I think he vacillated on the Pharisees. Sometimes they were the whole that needed no physician. Sometimes they were a generation of vipers. Helping the sinners is easier because the diagnosis is more straightforward.

    As to my point in the OP, I think we need to find balance between preaching the ideal and welcoming people who don’t live the ideal. And I do believe that’s why people come to church – to improve their lives, not to eat donuts in the foyer, besides which we don’t even have donuts. Instead of handing out donuts and coffee, we saddle people with responsibility, which is (as the article Mormon Heretic referenced) infinitely more effective.

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  14. prometheus on August 28, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    A few thoughts on some of the comments.

    Love the sinner, hate the sin is a nice thought, but in practice it doesn’t work out too well from a psychological standpoint. The exact reference I don’t have at hand immediately, but this thought is fully explored in the book Unclean, by Richard Beck. (Fantastic book on the conflict between purity and mercy, boundaries and inclusion and totally relevant to this post.)

    As far as teaching doctrine, not behavior, I agree to a point, but I don’t think it is useless to teach practical skills regarding things like anger management, either.

    Of course, this begs the question of what exactly is doctrine and what are the practical outcomes of said doctrine? For example, (although I don’t want to derail the post on the earring debacle) I don’t draw the same conclusion that certain of our leaders have about the body being a temple. This is an essential thing to work out because what we hold to strictly will create different social dynamics depending on what it is.

    A church that demands absolute strictness on abstaining from , wearing white shirts, maintaining a 1950s family structure and so on looks very different from one that demands absolute strictness to the sermon on the mount.

    I do agree that a high bar attracts more committment, but you also have to have the right bar. The bar I would choose is having and building a personal relationship with Jesus, loving and forgiving everyone, whether friends or enemies and showing mercy to all. If we let the small things go and focused on the only things that actually matter, our relationships, we might see a whole new culture arising.

    Just my thoughts on the matter, for what they are worth.

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  15. Michelle on August 28, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    So hawk, I’m wondering what you ended up saying to the person in your class. It seems to me that the very same question you are posing about those who struggle and need a safe place applies to those who are active and living the ideal but who still need guidance and gentle correction once in a while. Is it his fault that he didn’t quite understand how that scripture can apply in a situation where someone comes ‘as they are’ to church? Maybe no one has ever helped him think through how to navigate holding to standards and doctrine while reaching out to help someone plant the seed of faith in Christ.

    I guess I just feel a little uncomfy that you are pointing fingers at how “we” don’t help those who may not be living the ideal, and yet you don’t seem to be extending the same kind of compassion and desire to help guide someone where they are with the person in your class who somehow ‘should know better.’ But in reality, aren’t we all sick, struggling in some way, all in need of the balance of pure love and pure doctrine that can truly help us come to Christ? And if that is the case, is it any better to call him out when maybe he’s doing the best he can on the path, too?

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  16. hawkgrrrl on August 29, 2012 at 3:33 AM

    Michelle – You say you’re wondering what I said to my student, but then you assume I was neither gentle nor giving guidance. Based on what I can’t imagine. There was no finger pointing or “not extending compassion” to the boy in the class. In the OP I simply reported what he said. He’s 14 years old, and it was a class discussion. He actually laughed about it a bit, and so did the other kids in class. These are all good kids. I have no idea why you would jump to the conclusion that he was called out or in some way blamed for his answer. It’s an amusing story because it points out something that is really true of us as church members. It’s what makes the lesson about the Zoramites so relevant today.

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  17. Jake on August 29, 2012 at 6:50 AM

    I think the question of ideals is bound up with judgement. Are we creating ideals so we can compare people and judge them to see how close they are to the ideal, or are we creating ideals to inspire people to do better? I tend to think it is the former. Ideals give us a standard by which we can judge other people, but as has been pointed out above they are culturally specific and relative to each society.

    I think we prefer to preach ideals as they are less messy then reality. You can give a one solution fits all to everyone. I love what Oscar Wilde says about ideals in ‘The Ideal Husband’:

    “Women think that they are making ideals of men. What they are making of us are false idols merely. You made your false idol of me, and I had not the courage to come down, show you my wounds, tell you my weaknesses. I was afraid that I might lose your love, as I have lost it now.”

    By dwelling on the neat and perfect ideal it creates monsters out of us, because we all become too scared to reveal our flaws and weaknesses. We become so caught up in trying to give the appearance of perfection that we are terrified to reveal our warts and wounds, lest we respect and love is lost for us by our peers in church. I think reality is always preferable to ideals. Ideals although well intentioned, generally invoke feelings of inferiority and guilt because we can never live up to them along with encouraging deception as we want to hide our weaknesses and problems, rather then inspire us to do better.

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  18. Glenn Thigpen on August 29, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    The Book of Mormon has a lot of stories that we can “liken to ourselves” today. The CHurch has to teach the doctrine, else it (we) would not be doings its (our) job. The missionaries have to teach the law of chastity, else they would not be doing their job. Ditti for the word of wisdom, the law of tithing, etc.

    It is how those lessons are taught that makes the difference. One way is to focus on what the doctrine is and to encourage and support those who have challenges overcoming obstacles.

    This also is true of our daily living in the church. It is not our place to condemn, but to reach out to those who are inactive for one reason or another, and to remind those who do not come because maybe they feel they are not living a worthy life that “the sick have no need of a physician.”

    Also reaching out to someone who may walk into church wearing clothes that others may not normally wear, to shake hands and befriend. There are lots of ways we can help people feel better about themselves and to help them feel welcome in our midst. Some one once said that we all are sinners and all have fallen short.

    Glenn

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  19. hawkgrrrl on August 29, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    Jake said: “Ideals give us a standard by which we can judge other people.” Well, certainly some people do this, but that’s not why we have ideals. We have ideals for the same reason we have goals and role models. It’s not wrong to aspire to be more or do more or be the best we can be. We just have to be supportive of ourselves and others when we fall short.

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  20. Jake on August 29, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Hawkgrrrl,

    Do ideals really inspire people, and make people want to do better? I can see the rationale behind it, in the same way that moral ideals are designed to encourage a moral life, but I can’t help think that they don’t really do much. I mean we only really invoke morality and ideals for people we don’t like or people who are not like us. We speak of ideals too often in the third person, we apply them more to others then ourselves.

    I agree we should aspire to improve ourselves and do better. I think that ideals get in the way of that though. What I should aspire to become is never going to be the same as someone else, because we are all different so what model of ideal do we use for everyone? If the ideal male is a married man who fixes the house, gardens, builds shelves, and fixes the car and I have no interest and enjoyment from fixing cars and broken shelves – then why should I aspire to that ideal? In fact to aspire to that ideal would be detrimental to my flourishing as an individual as it goes against who I am and who I want to be. If I am a single parent, and spend more time to aspiring to the ideal church family set-up, then that could in fact hinder my ability to do the best in the situation I am in. If I spend more time trying to find a husband/wife to achieve that ideal, then I am in caring for my kid, and becoming who I want to be then it is interfering in my ability to be the best that *I* can be in my situation.

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  21. anonlds on August 29, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    JSG said “I once heard it suggested that churches which are welcoming and extremely non-judgmental have trouble keeping members active. If church is just another place to socialize and feel welcome then why bother with it at all?”

    Churches clearly have values and the community is built around sharing and upholding those values. One of the values our community should embrace is tolerance. We have multiple values, and some get ranked higher than others in practice. We don’t value tolerance high enough as evidenced by the large number group of people who feel pain as a result of rejection and isolation. We tend to blame that pain on their own sin. But lots of people on the margins of the the church aren’t there because of sin, although I’m not sure how much that matters.

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  22. Hedgehog on August 31, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    I favour the ‘teach the principles’ and allow ‘the people to govern themselves’ approach. With the emphasis on *selves* not and not *others*. More emphasis on the big commandments, and getting rid of *rules* about things that are really not important in the overall scheme of life would also help.

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  23. Douglas on September 1, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    When preaching/pontificating, it’s always the “ideal” (Accentuate the positive, as the old tune goes…). Administration thereof is another matter. We are dealing with “hew-mons” (not “logical” Vulcans).
    The anecdote of the niece that got knocked up out of wedlock being in effect banned from the good graces of the family by the apparently self-appointed patriarch struck a nerve. Yea, she “sinned”. But I recall from Romans 3:23 that “ALL have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God”. Includes me, the HawkChick, the unwed mother, and even her criticizing patriarch. There is an unfortunate tendency to ostracize unwed mothers b/c (1) we act as if it’s contagious, and (2) we don’t want stark reminders that not all of us are perfect. Methinks often when an unwed mother counsels with her bishop that he strong-arms her into adopting out her child through LDS Fmaily Services more for appearance sakes rather than the desires and needs of the mother and child. True, in MANY cases that’s exactly what should be done, but the Church tends to get heavy-handed in how to do it.
    I’d rather see the atttude that the Church is a refuge and a school for the imperfect sinners, not a lofty pedestal for the supposedly already-perfected “Saints”.

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  24. hawkgrrrl on September 1, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Douglas, good point that we always preach the ideal but administer to the reality. That’s the perfect distinction.

    In the case of the niece, the advice was not from a patriarch, but a lone female. Honestly, she was the only person in the group who would have advised that, and it was ignored, although she tried hard to get the word out. I don’t know how other families in the church would have behaved in relation to such a situation.

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  25. Douglas on September 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    #24 – Thx, Hawk. Of course, any LDS Bishop has the thankless task of ministering to a young lady “in trouble”, who is going through a life-altering event, and, of course, likely has to also deal with the repentance process (of course, she’s not ALONE in that, it’s just that she can’t hide the fact for long!). How to convey the position that the Church most definitely does NOT approve but nevertheless is there to help? I don’t want the job, thank you! At least better than the “Gubmint’s” welfare state which all but encourages multi-generational unwed motherhood. To wit: among those of the African “persuasion”, the illegitimacy rate was slightly lower than whites circa 1950 (likely due to a greater degree of religious observance with the concomitant peer pressure). Now, at about 70% of the births of children to black women, it’s TWICE as high as whites, which itself has soared to disgraceful levels. More or less, unwed and early motherhood, with all the pitfalls described in the OP, is a rite of passage in the “hood’. If I truly believed in conspiracy theories, I’d say it was a diabolical Klan plot to destroy black families and neighbourhoods; no conspiracy could have been more diabolically effective!

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  26. Bob on September 1, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    #26: Douglas,
    ” A Klan plot to destroy black families and neighbourhoods”.
    Just because a young black girl has a baby in the ‘Hood’ does not mean she is homeless or not supported by a loving family.

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  27. Douglas on September 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    #27 – Let’s hope not. However, all too often the young “ladies” (not an exclusive to blacks,BTW) are in the second, third, or even fourth generation on long-term welfare. They tend to see becoming a “Baby Mama” as their ticket to a Section 8 Apartment and an EBT card. The “conspiracy” that I’ve previously referred to is that the system seems to be self-perpetuating. The Church’s approach, while at times clumsily executed by the lay persons involved (the professionals at LDS Family Services seem to be top shelf), at least does far better to either break the cycle or at least move the young, unwed mother to marriage (if not to the father, at least in time to a wage-earning husband). In the “hood”, (and also “redneck” acres or “taco flats”), the welfare system has replaced the breadwinning husband, hence the epidemic of dysfunctional living. Tax monies for welfare is misplaced compassion.

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