As a blogger, and one who reads other blogs, I've come across a lot of strong resentment (here and here) toward Sister Beck's General Conference address in the Sunday morning session. Listen to the talk here. Many found it discouraging, guilt-inducing, and some found it downright offensive. They criticize her choice of words and discredit her address based on her being the freshman Relief Society President. I'm writing in defense of Sister Beck--I think she was grossly misunderstood by those critics. I'm always one who strives to sustain the leaders of the church, and I've taken a concerned and heartfelt approach to listen and ponder her address to the women of the world from her perspective as the General Relief Society President.
Sister Beck spoke about the need to be women--mothers--who know, meaning women who know to keep the commandments of God and walk uprightly before him. She identified that the challenges children will wrestle against in this world are "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places." Mothers who know who they are, who God is, and have made covenants with him are armed with the knowledge, power, and influence to bring up a righteous generation of children.
Mothers who know (1)honor sacred covenants, (2)are nurturers, (meaning they cultivate, care for, and make grow) by creating a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes, (3)are leaders in equal partnership with their husbands, (4)are selective in their activities and involvement to conserve limited strength to spend more time with their children, (5) are always teachers, and (6) permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally.
Sister Beck encouraged the practices of teaching the gospel in the home to point children toward righteous eternal goals such as temple marriage, and working together with children in homemaking tasks to teach and model emulable qualities. She didn't say to sweep and groom and wash and keep a perfect house. She didn't say we had to be perfect at housekeeping, but that growth happens best in a house of order (See Elder Oak's talk about good, better and best!) She didn't say our homes have to be as clean as the temple, but that we can pattern our homes after the Lord's house by applying the principles of organization, patience, love, and work.
Ultimately her message was not to discourage, but to encourage mothers in their role as the most powerful and influential in the lives of their children, and that by nature of knowing who we are and what our role is, LDS women would be the best in the world at homemaking (meaning nurturing children). "LDS women should excel in upholding, nourishing, and protecting families. Let us come to be known as mothers who knew." Prophets have taught on the role and value of motherhood, and have called upon us to teach our children in the ways of truth. This is nothing new. What is the problem?
I'm not offended by her address at all--in fact I'm relieved to hear this said. And I think her wording was careful and inspired. It is so true that the challenges facing our children are greater and uglier than ever before, and women need to know the expectation the Lord has for them. It is not a guilt-trip because your house isn't clean enough or you don't spend enough time and energy with your children. The encouragement to know the gospel and create a conducive home for gospel-teaching is equivalent to anyone else's address encouraging us to be better at bearing one anothers burdens or attending the temple or paying tithing or having more faith.
What is wrong with the counsel to be selective in our activities and involvment so that we have more energy to spend time nurturing children? It compels (not guilt-induces) me to spend less time on self-interested, energy-sapping things (perhaps I spend too much time on the computer...) and more time nurturing my daughter (not to indicate that that isn't energy-sapping in and of itself...) What is wrong with the counsel not to succumb to social pressure and worldly models of parenting (which I conclude means modeling behaviors not consistent with gospel teaching)? What is wrong with the counsel to permit less of those things that do not bear good fruit eternally?
I find it ultimately encouraging that "LDS women who love the Lord and bear testimony of Him and are strong and immovable will prepare a righteous generation of sons and daughters." This doesn't bother me because I think I'm one of those women who knows. Motherhood is powerful and influential--shouldn't that empower us as those who already understand the value of children and motherhood? She may not have directly said it in her talk, but we are already armed with the tools to bring up children in righteousness; we are already on the right track; we are already doing a good job because we are mothers who know!
1 year ago