Saturday, 21 July 2012

Titus 2 and Mormons

(This post is very religious in nature - specifically my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - but is my opinion only and is not indicative of official doctrine of the Church.)

I read a few Catholic and non-denominational Christian blogs. Something that has come up on these blogs is references to being "Titus 2 women". This made me think of a similar sort of Mormon phrase that has cropped up on blogs, women being "keepers of the gate", or "lionesses at the gate".

Now, being well versed in Mormon-speak, the above phrases immediately made sense to me. They were taken and adapted from a talk given by Sister Julie B Beck, our previous General Relief Society President. She was encouraging women everywhere, regardless of marriage, motherhood and age to be guardians of the home and protectors of all that is good and righteous.

But what about Titus 2? Do Mormon women and other Christian women believe in the same things, and act on those beliefs in the same way?

My Church uses the King James version of the bible, and Titus chapter 2 is as follows:

 But aspeak thou the things which become sound bdoctrine:
 That the aaged men be bsober, grave, ctemperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not afalse baccusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
 That they may teach the young awomen to be sober, to blovetheir husbands, to love their children,
 To be discreet, achastebkeepers at chome, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrineshewing uncorruptness, agravitybsincerity,
 aSound speech, that cannot be bcondemned; that he that is cofthe contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
 Exhort aservants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not banswering again;
 10 Not apurloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they maybadorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
 11 For the agrace of God bthat bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
 12 Teaching us that, denying aungodliness and bworldly clusts, we should live dsoberlyerighteously, and godly, in this present world;
 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the aglorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
 14 Who gave ahimself for us, that he might bredeem us from all iniquity, and cpurify unto himself a dpeculiar people, ezealous of good works.
 15 These things speak, and exhort, and arebuke with allbauthority. Let no man cdespise thee.
 Before getting a clear understanding of this chapter, I feel it's important to point out that this letter of instruction (the entire book of Titus, actually) was written for Saints already strong in the faith. Their testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was firm.

This letter was more of a formula for strengthening that testimony, and for strengthening their relationships with each other and their families as a whole. In other words, this is how we can endure to the end.

I came up with a list of different bits of advice embedded in this chapter:

  • be sober (Greek translation of this word comes up with circumspect, or in other words prudent and discreet)
  • love your husbands
  • live righteously
  • love your children
  • be chaste
  • follow uncorrupted doctrine
  • be of sound speech (ie, speak wholesome words)
  • follow a pattern of good works
  • be sincere
  • be obedient

Specific advice is given to various groups of people, as well:
  • "aged men" -- Don't use your age as an excuse to be grumpy!  
  • "aged women" -- Beware gossiping, teach your experience to the youth 
  • "young women" -- Most of your focus should be at home; keep it safe
  • "young men" -- Be sober, make wise choices

All of this advice is timeless, for most of us. But what about that sticky little phrase in verse 5, advising women to "be obedient to their own husbands"?

Does this mean complete subservience to another human being? Should wives submit their will and free agency to their husbands in all things?

I'm not so sure. I think there is more to this advice than meets the eye, and I think that substance is found in the words immediately following, "that the word of God be not blasphemed."

Our free agency is vital to our existence, so I don't think this means servility or domestic drudgery. If husbands are careful to keep the Word of God, why wouldn't their wives listen to what they have to say? If the husband's will is aligned to Gods, and the wives are also aligned to God, then they would be in agreement with all the important aspects of life.

Looking at this advice as an if-then statement --

If .............the word of God be not blasphemed,
Then .......wives should be obedient to their own husbands --

well, this makes more sense in my mind. It appears more like a contract between mutual parties rather than obsequiousness.

This ties into another piece of advice given to wives in verse 5, to be "keepers at home." The Greek translation of this phrase gives rise to another word instead of keeper - guard.

And now we are thrown back to the Mormon phrase of "keepers of the gate" and "lionesses at the gate."

If it is the woman's responsibility to be the guardian of her home, and if men ought to be wise (verses 2 & 6), patient (verse 2) and Godly (verse 7), why wouldn't a wife listen to her husband?

This sounds like a partnership of different responsibilities but with the same goal - safeguarding the home, family and personal testimony.

Titus 2 Women and Mormon Women

We are trying to be righteous and follow God's law. I see no discrepancy between what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches to the women of the Church and what other Christian denominations teach to their women members.

From the Family: A Proclamation to the World

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. 

Obviously I am not claiming that the LDS Church has the same beliefs as other Christian denominations, but I do think it's worth pointing out that there are many similarities and our faith in Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the world is paramount.



There is much more to understand and ponder in this chapter of Titus. Namely,


  1. What can I do to be more holy?
  2. Have I established a pattern of good works in my life?
  3. How can I be a better keeper of my home, guardian or lioness at the gate?
  4. Am I sober? Discreet? Prone to silliness?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Five Things For Friday: If Wishes Were Horses

If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride:
If turnips were watches
I would wear one by my side

-1-

Since it's five things for Friday, rather than three, what would you wish for if you had five wishes? 

My first wish would be for an actual summer, with sunshine and everything.

For the past three months, I think not a single 24-hour period has gone by without rain falling from the sky at some point.

Yes Please!

-2-

I wish that I was more organised. 

I've finally come to the sad realisation that owning shelves, boxes of various sizes, drawers, cupboards, an attic, laundry room and garage doesn't automatically make me very tidy.

Sigh.

I would like to honestly say it's because I'm just so invested in my kids' lives that I have no time for anything other than mothering/teaching/mentoring, but it's not true. I have time to spring clean the shelves and arrange things alphabetically if I so desired. But I'd rather read books, sew, and blog. (you're welcome)

It's just not meant to be.

-3-

I wish I knew how to write a book. 

I have wanted to write a book since I was a teenager, but never really understood how to do it. 

I still don't! How do people put a book together? What is the process of crafting a story? I should take a class or something, or spend time researching these questions. 

Instead of going through all that work and thinking, I want it to come to me automatically. And then write an amazing book that makes millions of people happy and gets turned into a movie. If I'm going to wish for something, might as well go big, eh?

(in fact, I am trying to figure this out right now, because a story has crept into my head and actually I'm taking the time to write it down.)

I learned how to type on one of these... (ok, it was electric)

-4-

This is a weather-related wish, but it's also a nostalgic one.

I wish there was a water park nearby! I grew up near one like this, which seems to have grown in size since I was there last and it looks awesome! Massive slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, splashing and swimming all day... 

Although I always forget how stressful it is to go swimming with little kids - I have to keep my glasses on so I can keep an eye on them at all times - so maybe I'll wish that all my kids can swim, first.

Fun. I'm totally serious.

-5-

Okay, so we'll pretend that I didn't use two wishes in my last paragraph.

For my last wish, I'll wish for contentment. For peace. 

I have the unfortunate tendency to look ahead to next week, next month, next year. I wonder about living in my homeland again, and pine for a time when my kids can experience the kind of wilderness that just doesn't exist in England. I wish my toddler was older, I wish I had another baby, I wish wish wish wish.

And I need to stop. 

There is a story about a Fish who could Wish. At the end of the book, he wishes he was like any other fish in the sea. And any other fish CAN'T wish, so that was the fish's last wish.

So this is my last wish. I wish that I can't wish, and be happy with who I am, where I am headed, and patience to get there.

Is it really a Chinese proverb? I don't know, but the words are wise.

What would you wish for?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Living Chemical Free, Part 7: Cloth. Yes, that kind.

I've debated about this one.

Those of you who know me in real life may want to skip past this post. It's a little... TMI. The internet is a vast resource of information, but sometimes you just don't want to know that about someone, even if you can close the tab and walk away!

But I'm going to brave it, and talk about cloth menstrual pads.

(By the way, why is a woman's cycle such a taboo thing to talk about? Probably a post for another day...)

Most of my post-menarche life, I've used disposable pads or tampons. I was not aware of there being any other choice. I heard vague, whispered talk of the "old days" when women had to use "belts" of some description to anchor some device in place, but it sounded bizarre and so difficult! What could be easier than  opening a cute little scented package, sticking it in your underwear and going about your day?

Well, if I was entirely honest, part of my discomfort during my periods was the sticky-backed plastic pads in the first place. I was super excited when I heard about Mooncups, and immediately bought one.

Bliss.

No more pad issues, fewer changes at the toilet (sometimes I could go all day without changing) and a single purchase that would last me years.


=====

After having my fourth child, moving into a house with a laundry room, and a generous friend who gave me her cloth nappy stash, I became more committed to using cloth in general. I stopped buying disposable whatsits and have now even converted to cloth dishrags rather than plasticky sponges.

It suddenly hit me that if I was happy to use (and wash!!) cloth nappies, what real difference was there in using cloth pads for myself? Well, when it comes down to it, not very much.

I was kicking around the idea of using cloth, mentally planning how I would run the operation and if I would buy a set or make my own, and wouldn't you know it? My period, absent after almost 3 years, decided to renew our relationship. Ah.

I dug out a pack of disposable pads, and after half a day, I realised that I HATE them. For various reasons I'm not using the Mooncup right now (there's a TMI limit that even I don't want to cross!) so my choices were:

1. Buy a set of pads from a UK company and get them delivered post-haste. No matter where I looked, a set of pads would cost £40 and more. Much, much more. Call me cheap, but no thanks. I don't care how cute your fabrics are.

2. Make my own, from fabric I have in the house and using the plethora of free pad patterns available online. I am suffering from extreme sewing machine aversion right now (I go through phases) and just can't summon the energy to turn my machine on. I have a tough life, I know. Le Sigh.

3. Pilfer some cloth nappy items that are just sitting up in the loft, doing nothing.

I chose option 3, but before you get all concerned that a grown woman managed to snap on a cloth nappy around herself and start reaching for the "get me out of here before her brand of crazy reaches through the internet and infects me, too" button: No, I did not use an ACTUAL nappy. I used these:


Which are not very different in composition and size to these:



Yes, the nappy inserts/boosters aren't rounded like the actual sewn pads, but they do the job just fine.

So there you have it.

If you don't want to use chemical-laden disposable pads or tampons during your cycle, you might want to consider the simpler/cheaper alternative of cloth pads. You only have to buy them once, and they last for many years.

Once used, chuck them in a container of cold water and baking soda (yes, I use it for everything) to soak until the container is full, and then put them in a cold wash. Done.

It's not any messier/grosser/more of a hassle than any other method of catching or absorbing. It works out cheaper and you aren't sending waste to landfills that will take eons to decompose.

You just might like it!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I am not an Activist -- BUT.

A friend of mine is facing some breastfeeding discrimination at church, of all places.

A family friendly location, if ever there was one.

A place where we are taught that our bodies are God-given, and that children are gifts from above.

But breastfeeding is dirty and wrong? No.

She has my support, and the support of my children....




I don't want to get into a Formula vs Breastfeeding debate. Frankly, I'm not interested. I think that formula has its place and I'm glad it exists because I wouldn't be here today without it!

What upsets me is that our culture's mores have been so inculcated into LDS Church culture that the pornography of the breast is now making us feel like feeding our children is something to be hidden away and be embarrassed about.

I am a woman of contradictions; I have covered myself when feeding my children, and probably will end up covering up in the future. That doesn't mean I think it's right, or good, or normal - it's just that sometimes I end up bowing under the extreme pressure if being "modest", too. 

And what about the woman who dares breastfeed her child past a certain age (whatever that magic age happens to be)? My youngest is 25 months old, and still very much needs momma's milk. My older kids see it, recognise it, and allow her that right. 

Why does this have to be such a big deal? It saddens me. 



 Seagull Monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah
No blanket here.

Illustration from Harper's Weekly of an 1871 Sacrament Meeting in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Two women on the left side of the picture are breastfeeding - gasp! - without a covering.


Things have changed so much....