Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Staying Home … Again

The article, "Staying Home... Again," from the August 2009 Ensign caught me a bit off-guard, even after reading the article several times to make sure I fully understood the points being made. The entire article can be found online here.

Over the years, the Church has clearly held the position that mothers should stay at home whenever possible, although the Church has clearly reduced its rhetoric on this position. From my experience speaking with members, today's reality is that in most cases, women work to help their families make ends meet. In our Ward, I would estimate that about 65% of the wives work outside of the home. Knowing these families well, I can say that these women are not working to provide jet boats and European vacations, but rather food on the table and clothes for their children.

Ironically, I've noticed that a fairly-strong correlation exists between a need for this second income, and the members adherence to a strict interpretation of multiplying and replenishing the earth, paying a full tithing, and spending much of their free time in Church-related callings and activities.

From the example in the article, a woman goes to work to save a business that her family owns from going under. She finds that she actually enjoys working - a lot! And that's a very bad thing, indeed.

The woman begins to feel a great sense of guilt and starts to pray to have the desire to stay at home. In the end, their business fails, at the cost of, "hundreds of thousands of dollars," to her family. The lady interpreted this business failure to be an answer to her prayers, "Through this experience I have come to realize just how important it was to the Lord that I be home with my children, regardless of the consequences," and "He had first helped me to change my heart, and then He helped change my circumstances."

Well, I'm all for faith-promoting stories. Heaven knows I've had to come up with quite a few for F&T meetings, but this article was way too over-the-top and extreme for an example of why women should stay home, in my humble opinion.

  • Wouldn't a business failure of several hundred thousand dollars put more pressure on a marriage than a wife that chooses to work? Is it rational to view this business failure as an answer to prayers?
  • The wife had a seemingly-legitimate reason to want to work in trying to save their business. Are we to understand that the Church doesn't support women working under any circumstance? Would it have been preferred that this women not even try to save the family business?
  • The article seems to support the position that women should feel terrible anytime that they have to work outside the home. There's not a single sentence in the article that supports any reason for women to feel okay about working outside the home.
  • After working a short time, the lady in the article states that she didn't want to be home anymore, but instead wanted to be anywhere but home. Having counseled many families, I've yet to see hear of such an extreme position. In my experience, the wife might feel some guilt, is probably more tired when she does come home after work - but doesn't want to come home at all? Really?
  • The lady in the story, "asked for forgiveness for straying so far from my divine role." Again, I can't correlate trying to help your family save a business to straying far from a divine role.

    The moral of this story (article) - If you're not particularly happy with working outside of the home, consider the potential consequences before praying for a change!

    1. Assuming the story wasn't just completely made up to begin with, I agree with your take on it, with one addition: After she stopped working so many days a week, it was then that the business failed. Now, I know, I know, I want to avoid logical fallacies, but is she sure that the failure of the business wasn't her fault for not working hard enough?

    2. Goldarn - Who knows, right? Or maybe if she started working earlier, the business would have been even more likely to succeed. As you point out - hard to say if this was an actual story, but if not - it seem an even more extreme viewpoint, IMO.

    3. Bishop,

      Bluntly stated, the mistake you are making is that you are thinking. I’ve got to say that I can’t believe your opinion is in opposition to the message of the article, which was sanctioned by the authorities of the church prior to publication. If it is published in a church magazine, it isn’t ours to question! The joy and the benefit of this religion is that I do not have to “think”. The thinking, reasoning, and questioning, I have entrusted with the Lord and the brethren through whom he works.

      I happen to know a little about the Ensign magazine and the process they go through to produce their inspiring publications. There is a rigorous verification process each article must undergo. Each article is proofread, references are verified, the message and content are confirmed for strict adherence to current doctrine, and it is graded on inspirational value. Not all articles make it to the final publication.

      I want to comment on a specific statement you made about the article.

      “ I've noticed that a fairly-strong correlation exists between a need for this second income, and the members adherence to a strict interpretation of multiplying and replenishing the earth, paying a full tithing, and spending much of their free time in Church-related callings and activities.”

      Your statement seems to indicate that you disagree with the fundamental Mormon doctrine that “the spouse should stay in the house”. I fully support this doctrine and I don't let my wife leave the house without my expressed permission. In short, you are saying that maybe we have some doctrines that aren’t in perfect harmony with each other. I want to bare you testimony that the answers will come in due time. I have seen many members question teachings that seem in opposition to the realities of life, science, and the complexities of our existence. In every case, the perceived dissonance was overcome through modern day revelation and further clarification of doctrines. Some examples of teachings that, at one time, appeared inharmonious and were later clarified, include; polygamy, the origin of the American Indians, the Abraham papyrus, the temple ceremony, Quakers on the moon, the salamander letter, the location of the hill Cumorah and the final battle, blacks and the priesthood, the location for the narrow strip of land, polyandry, revelations regarding the year of the second coming of Christ, and a handful of others that aren’t worth mentioning. Bishop, your answer will come, but meanwhile you must refrain from questioning. Follow the doctrine and you too will be blessed with a failed business and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. God will provide the answers when He knows we are ready.

      God Bless.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Bishop Young, I totally agree with your take on the article. The article triggered a lot of discussion on facebook.

    6. kbel,

      I'll say to you the same thing I said to the Bishop. If it is published in a church magazine, it isn't ours to question.

      God & Joseph Smith Bless,


    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Hi, Bishop!
      Long time, no read/write! Fun to catch up on your infinite wisdom. I was recently thinking about a re entry into the workplace, but upon close reading of this article, I think I'd be safer to stay away from the possibility of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess I could get a "safe" job. Maybe I'll go back to McDonalds. Free meals and job security! I'll ask my husband if he's okay with it, as there will surely be a weight gain involved. Keep up the good work in keeping us all informed on how we should be living our lives.

    9. Monomo is a jokester right!?

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