However, we are not wise when we buy into demonizing the young women as temptresses and portraying young men as vulnerable sexual louts unable to set or maintain their own boundaries. Such assumptions are nothing more than religious childishness.
As a 65-year-old-man who has never been asked to teach sex-and-morals education in a YM/YW joint lesson – and who is the father of 8 (five mine and 3 of Lietta’s) and 17 grandchildren – I am reluctant to grade my personal success in imposing on my children’s lives the Church’s rigid and unforgiving sex-and-morals programming.
The consequences of the teaching actions that I as a quietly-desperate patriarch-wannabe took with my four daughters and son definitely have not resulted in five inspired entries in the “I am a Mormon” online website.
They are all hostile to and either out of or no longer attending the LDS church.
And … they (all 8 of Lietta’s and mine) are all healthy grown-up men and women essentially free of sexual hangups and promiscuities. They also powerfully own their own sexuality and so far as I know have boundaries across which no one – including ecclesiastical authorities can casually cross.
As for my grandchildren – more than one of whom were at risk of the LDS “tsk tsk” circumstance of birth outside of or prior to wedlock – to my knowledge none seem troubled with sexuality beyond the usual boiling blood puberty and resulting explorations of what it means to be human and sexual. They are living in a social context I would have considered absolutely evil in my own teenaged years.
20 years ago, as we struggled with teens who hadn’t read the morals playbook coming out of Salt Lake City, we saw how the rigid “already-been-chewed-gum” black and white either/or accusatory lessons on chastity failed miserably.
And – true to the principles that have made Steven Covey rich and admired – rather than blame the organization for a flawed strategic plan and implementation, we blamed ourselves as somehow failing to understand, and correctly implement the suggested parenting plan defined by objectives of the organization.
The highly self-confident and obedient stake and ward echelon of leadership for the most part seems to assume that on most matters of educating the local flock, Jesus appears to the Presidency and the Twelve and dictates His will and policy regarding whatever topic deemed to be vitally important. That revelation is then forwarded to the locals as commandment.
Locally it seems that there is a naive self-confidence that encourages an assumption of divinely-inspired revelation verbalized by the Church as “commandments.” That assumption seems to override much of a stewardship instinct for appropriate and sensitive application of the orders from headquarters. Regardless of advice or its sources, our lives are our lives, our children have their own lives and we do not own them nor are we accountable to God for trying to own the lives of our children.
In addition, there is always the notion that if members are “obedient” the Lord will look out for His own and things will turn out either all right or that no serious harm will have been inflicted by the obedient on the innocent.
This thinking is further reflected by the undue influence of faith teachings emphasizing conformity
.. “attend your meetings, pay your tithing, go to the temple, etc.”
Such has always implied that members can apparently set their personal, marriage and family problems on the back burner and wait for the Lord to take care of it in His own good time while they remain “faithful.”
The talks on chastity, morality and evil music that Lietta and I heard at an Adult Session of Stake Conference recently were offered by sincere people with the best of obedient intentions as they preached a more aggressive policy of sexual control as taught by the Church.
20 years ago my overconfident and arrogant Stake President told members sitting in conference that “the trouble with the young men in our stake is that the young women are tempting them.”
As a mature ecclesiastic in possession of a strong grasp of human nature and the role of morals, ethics and common sense in working for appropriate social behavior, that man was in way over his head … and did not know it.