In a not-so-recent blog post, Tracy M. discusses the pain she feels when marriage and family is taught in Church. As a single mother myself, I understand the pain, but I strongly disagree with the post.

One of the suggestions which is made is that we as a church should "teach only Christ." What is that supposed to mean, anyways? Teach about Christ and the events His life? Because while useful for grounding in the Gospel, it's not enough to teach about Christ, you have to teach how to become like Christ. That comes with navigating all the prickly non-ideals. And sometimes, discussing the ideals can hurt those of us who find ourselves unable to live up to them. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be taught.

I don't think that minimizing pain should be a significant goal when teaching gospel principles. Taken to the end of that logic, we would never teach any modes of behavior for fear of offending someone. The Gospel is a gospel of change. It is supposed to prick us a bit, goad us into changing our lives to be more like Christ.

In my mind, there is a way to teach the ideals that allows for those who cannot attain it. In a standard 30 minute lesson to those who have already heard the principle:
  • Teach the ideal. (5 min.)
  • Open up discussion on what constitutes ideal. (9 min.)
  • Acknowledge that almost none of us match up to the ideal. (1 min.)
  • Open discussion to how we as humans don't match the ideal and what we can do to reach or deal with not being the ideal, guiding the discussion to tie back into those Christlike attributes that apply. (14 min.)
  • Sum up the discussion. (1 min.)
This method of teaching helps us develop coping skills, and skills necessary to become more like God. But it also helps us develop compassion for those who are not perfect (which is all of us.)

The talk I gave in sacrament meeting yesterday addressed the fact that if we are truly dedicated disciples of Christ, we would welcome and seek out correction. Rather than wallowing in guilt for imperfection (because we would already know we are imperfect,) we would seek the Spirit's direction for us, personally.

With something like eternal marriage, I understand the pain. Marriage takes two, and sometimes (often, unfortunately,) things happen to snatch the blessings of a good marriage away. But my experiences in failed marriage have given me a greater appreciation of the doctrine of eternal marriage. Having tasted the bitterness of an unrighteous relationship, I hope I am better able to discern what makes a righteous marriage. And I know that I'll appreciate a good man when and if I find him, because I know how bad it could be.

True, I often feel the pangs of loss when eternal marriage is discussed. But please, please don't stop teaching it!
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