First, a disclaimer. I’ve never been in the young women’s program. I’ve never attended a young women’s class. I’ve never been to girl’s camp. I’ve never been a young women’s leader.
That being admitted and said, I have daughters who will one day be in the program, so I do care what they are learning. And I’ve certainly heard the worst of what can be taught from the disgruntled online denizens of various message boards.
So I was pleasantly surprised (and certainly interested as an outsider looking in) to find the blog “beginnings new” Billed as “The place for LDS young women’s leaders who want more than clip art and cute. Substantive, positive, caring, smart… that’s us. So join the conversation.”
While I don’t really have a problem with the lesson per se, I was fascinated to read their commentary on a recent YW lesson entitled “Understanding A Missionary’s Responsibilities” From the title, what do you imagine this lesson could be about? Sharing the gospel with friends? Representing the church in all that we do? Preparing for the responsibility of one day possibly being a full-time missionary?
Turns out, this lesson is apparently focused on keeping the young women from flirting (or worse) with the full-time elders. Apparently, the lesson would go something like this:
“A missionary’s responsibilities do not include joking with you in the halls while his companion stands nearby looking at his watch and rolling his eyes. His responsibilities do not include taking pictures with you that end up in your hope chest. His responsibilities do not include you insisting your parents invite them over frequently for dinner appointments so you can show off how well you cook. His responsibilities do not include you getting your friends from other wards to pretend they are non-member investigators so you can spend two hours on a Friday night admiring his teaching skills and imagining what a great teacher he’ll be for your kids.”
The lesson should also address proper post-mission marriage etiquette. When you do finally catch the missionary of your dreams, should you try to live in a different area after marriage, or should you settle as a happy couple in your ward or stake where he is known as a missionary? Is it ever proper to ask him to put on his white shirt and name tag late on a Friday night (with a special note that it will kill the moment for him if you accidentally call him “Elder —-” in the heat of passion.) And how do you deal with it when he stops getting up at 6:30 and studying the scriptures a few weeks after his mission, and hence ceases to be the “spiritual giant” you fell in love with? How do you introduce yourself to his former mission president?
If there’s time, it might not hurt to include a few pointers on the procedures of a disciplinary council and excommunication if it comes to that; most young women will probably want to know how long they’ll have to wait before they get their Temple wedding, and other details along those lines.
It may also be appropriate to introduce the missionary doctrine regarding the dedication of missionaries and the beauty of their future wives (namely, that they are directly related). Young women should be aware of the corollary: the quality of their future RM-husband is being directly influenced not only by their testimony and scriptural knowledge, but by their waist-to-hip ratio as well. So in addition to daily scripture study and service, it might not hurt to do a little jogging and get a face peel if they are set on spending eternity with one of the dreamy, smooth skinned elders and not the chunky pimply ones.
From the summary on the blog, it appears the Young Women’s program apparently had good intentions with this lesson, but may have fallen short in solving the problem.
As my own daughters head towards their critical teenage years, I hope “beginnings new” can be a useful resource to help me keep an eye on what they may be learning.