Saturday, February 14, 2015

Preparing Young Women for Motherhood: It's That Simple

What does it mean when we say the Young Women's program should prepare these ladies for motherhood?

For many, this involves teaching useful skills like sewing, cooking, and budgeting. In my doctor mind, I think about charting regular menses and ensuring folic acid intake.

To get another perspective, I asked a man what they teach about fatherhood to the young men and he said, "We don't really talk about it that much. I think we don't want to put fatherhood in their heads just yet because that would involve sex, and they already want to do that."

As if young ladies don't want sex, too.

So it's looking like if we don't do anything, these kids will probably grow up, get married, and have kids anyway. And if we really want to promote childbirth and rearing, a more appropriate audience might be Sunday school where there's likely to be married adults.

No one wants to hear my talks about ovulation in Young Women, so is motherhood going to be defined by 'Hints from Heloise' in the meantime?

I think there's actually more to it than that. (Though trust me, I want your casserole recipe.)

As simple as it sounds, to prepare young women for motherhood, we need to teach them how to be like the Savior. 

Ever wonder why Jesus is referred to as both the Father and the Son? From a LDS perspective, the answer has nothing to do with the Trinity. Him being the son of God is obvious. But father as well? One explanation is that everything Jesus did was of one heart and one mind with Heavenly Father, and thus they are the same in purpose.

But have you ever thought that we use that word, "father," because our language is limited and there is no other way to say "male mother"?

When I gave birth for the first time to my son, this thought immediately came to my mind. I studied the scriptures afterward and many things jumped out at me when I kept thinking about Christ being our male mother. Here are some relevant points I've gathered:

  • In Matthew 23:37 Christ describes himself as being like a hen (not a rooster) who gathers her chicks under her wings. 
  • About Jesus it is repeatedly said and written that he bore our sins. (See Isaiah 53:4-5 for example.) This is in parallel to how mothers bear their children, sacrificing and suffering to bring them into this world and nourish them in it.
  • As a mother creates a world of water and blood in her womb, so did Christ create the earth and delivered us through symbols of water and blood. Elder McConkie adds:
  • “Two births are essential to salvation. ... The elements present in a mortal birth and in a spiritual birth are the same. They are water, blood, and spirit. Thus every mortal birth is a heaven-given reminder to prepare for the second birth. … In every mortal birth the child is immersed in water in the mother’s womb. At the appointed time the spirit enters the body, and blood always flows in the veins of the new person. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no life, no birth, no mortality. ... In every birth into the kingdom of heaven, the newborn babe in Christ is immersed in water, he receives the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and the blood of Christ cleanses him from all sin. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no Spirit-birth, no newness of life, no hope of eternal life” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith)

Furthermore, when we look at the definition of charity -- which is the pure love of Christ -- does it not echo the virtues of motherhood as well?  Long-suffering, not puffed up, rejoices in truth, bears all things, hopes all things (see 1 Cor. 4-8).

Yes, in my mind, when I'm to teach the young women of the Church how to prepare for motherhood, I will show them Christ's example. I will encourage them to perform acts of service and altruism, even and especially when it's a challenge. In this way each young woman, including those who will not have the blessing of being able to have children in this lifetime, will go forth as Sister Sheri Dew said, "loving and leading," as mothers do. As Jesus most certainly did.

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