By Tracy M
As the most fledgling member of the Mormon world, at least in this neck of the woods, I occasionally- alright, often- come across things in LDS culture/doctrine that confuse, confound or downright perplex me. And the thing is, since the LDS world is pretty darn conservative and private about things that are, well, private, I frequently find myself with a passel of questions and no one with whom to ask them.
There are many things that I am discovering are cultural, but not necessarily doctrinal. It takes a while to sort out what is what, especially when you have no frame of reference. My husband and I have made MANY changes in our lives since we joined the Church- from our choices of media, to our language, our diet, our home organization, our relationships with family members, our finances, and restructuring our time. This Church asks a lot of it’s members- you don’t just go to Church on Sundays and call it a week- the commitment is enormous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining- we have clearly seen the benefits and blessings of making these changes.
In sorting through some of the changes we have made, I come across things that perplex me. Like, why did my husband have to give up coffee and tea, but our bishop told him having a Mountain Dew or Red Bull was perfectly ok? Is caffeine out or not? And with all the pain he went through to totally kick coffee- and he did- it’s ok to get right back up on that horse with a soda pop?
Recently, I asked my husband’s aunt, my closest family member who is LDS, about garments. She was embarrassed and mumbled that it was ok to remove them when “experiencing marital bliss” (direct quote!), but otherwise they needed to be kept on constantly. So, to say that I was grateful for the thread over at FMH about garments is the understatement of the year. Most of my questions were kindly taken care of over there, and I had a lot of them- I mean if your mother never wore them, who do you get your info from?
Sometimes, as a newbie, one just stands around feeling baffled. In a church where family is so favored, why do mother’s have to nurse in a bathroom next to stinky diaper pails? Why do I detect the faint air of disapproval, even if I try and do it in RS where there are only women present? Why do so many meetings and so much work take place on Sundays? I practically hate Sundays because of how hectic they are- and I’m not sure that is how it’s supposed to be. Little girls can’t wear sundresses? How do you handle people’s inflammatory comments when one has close family members who are gay?
That brings me to my hot topic. I will attempt to be sufficiently vague. Over at T&S, there has been an interesting series on fertility. A man commented about semen collection, and the problems with it- saying that he would collect his sample from within his wife, so as not to have to use the “little room”- others went on as if this was normal and acceptable, but my head was reeling. A doctor finally commented that this was not clinically usable sperm for in vitro fertilization, and said that the “room” and a sterile environment must be used, and that it was not forbidden to do so for this purpose. So, does the Church have an official stance on masturbation?? Or is this one of those cultural things that is taken as doctrinal? Or did I just misunderstand the whole thing?
The thing is, we have young sons, - and our boys, like I thought all boys did, tend to fiddle with themselves. We have given them all the proper names for all their body parts, and have talked with them about inappropriate touching from anyone else. When they begin to fiddle with themselves, which I consider natural and normal body exploration in a child, we have told them that is something they should do in private. No problem, as far as we are concerned. But now I wonder if we are expected to deal with this differently. I am not interested in dishing out the heavy guilt about our bodies that other religions have done for so long-
So, doctrine? Or culture? Anyone?
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