I just wrote a too-long comment on another blog, and decided I wanted to share my thoughts here as well. (Actually, it was two comments, so that's not so bad, right? hehe)
The conversation was about traditional roles as taught in the Proclamation to the World on the Family. Some argue that teaching the ideals of husband as provider and presider and wife as primary nurturer really aren't necessary, since the Proclamation leaves room for individual adaptation. And we all know that our leaders have talked about how family decisions are ultimately their to make.
"But if it really is all about individual adaptation and nuance (which I wholeheartedly wish it would be), why bother delineating it?"
And someone else said, "It's all about individual circumstances."
And here are my thoughts in response:
IMO, these two statements to me illustrate perfectly why we have the Proclamation. It *isn’t* all about individual circumstances. Those only come once we know the doctrine and teachings and ideals. If our leaders did was say, “do whatever you want,” we *would* lose sight of the ideal, the pattern.
Elder Holland’s talk last year in the WW leadership broadcast, in my view, is one of the best I have ever heard on this topic.
The gospel (and the Church’s role) is first about doctrine, standards, and principles that don’t change (even if and when exceptions clearly exist). Those ideals need to be clearly articulated for people to truly make their choices. We can’t fully exercise agency without knowledge and understanding of truth.
BTW, I know too many women, too, whose husbands are not fulfilling those basic roles. IMO, every woman deserves to have her husband at least be willing and prepared to do what he can to provide the possibility for her to be home with her children. If individual circumstances vary from that ideal, then that's between a couple and heaven. But if those standards don't continue to be taught, I fear that more women will be forced to work when they don't want to. That's beyond individual adaptation. That's just plain wrong in my view. And it actually removes agency from the woman, and perhaps could mean that incorrect principles are perpetuated for generations to come.
BTW, I'm not men-bashing here. I know there are a lot of good men out there who know what it means to preside and provide, and take caring for their family seriously. But, imo, in the end, a family can't fully function, and a woman can't fully develop and fly, unless the man is willing and prepared to do all he can to fulfill those basic roles.
On another note, as a woman who is more "naturally" suited in many ways to my career that I had before marriage and children, I am also extremely grateful for the teachings of prophets, because it was only in actually taking that leap of faith in choosing SAHMhood that I discovered that that really was something I could do. And something that I have grown to love doing. It's the hardest thing I have ever done. I still have found ways to keep my pre-Mom self alive, and I am a fan of that. But because of the ideals that are taught, I have discovered more about who I am.
I listened to an interview with Kathy Soper yesterday. She said something that I found profound. The thought was something along these lines: When women discover the mother within them (and that *is* a process for most women...it *doesn't* just happen or come naturally for many of us), they discover the divinity within them.
I have found this to be true. And so, again, I say thank heaven for prophets who teach us true and lasting principles. And then who also recognize the importance of agency *after* teaching those principles.
As the saying goes, all things must be done in order....
p.s. IMO, I can't help but think that one reason these teachings are sometimes misunderstood is that sometimes people think they describe what we should all be born with. But if that doesn't apply for any other gospel ideal (minus those few situations where someone may truly have a gift they don't have to work and pray and sweat to obtain), why should these ideals be any different?
Ten years into motherhood, I feel like I am becoming more of a nurturer. This is not about a checklist of tasks, but about what choosing to fulfill this role, with faith even though it didn't come naturally, is doing to my heart and spirit.
These ideals, imo, are about becoming, but we too often want to reduce them to just about doing.
[I should add that that this whole notion of finding divinity within through growing into motherhood doesn't mean there aren't other ways to discover that divinity as well...through creation and compassion, for example.) But I think sometimes women think, "Well, nurturing doesn't come naturally for me, therefore, I must not be destined to do it." And I think this is often something that causes women to miss opportunities to find that divinity within by taking a leap of faith on this issue. Again, ultimately, God can and will guide with individual lives, but let's not dismiss the principle and ideal just because it may not all come naturally or easily to some of us, or because maybe not all lives fit the ideal.
I will always love this scripture: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine...." Having chosen motherhood in faith, I can testify to this principle. Don't assume that because it doesn't come naturally that you can't or shouldn't do it.]