Guest Post — Words Mean Something: Modesty and Lust

Oleaby Olea

There’s been a lot of talk recently about The Lord’s Standard of Morality, as defined by Elder Tad R. Callister. I’d like to focus on just two words: modesty and lust.

Modesty in this talk is used rather narrowly to refer to clothing choices – particularly of women.

The scripture quoted to justify women’s modesty is 1 Timothy 2:9, which speaks against braided hair, gold, pearls and costly apparel. It mentions nothing about covering shoulders or knees. It mentions nothing about how men might be sexually titillated by their lack of covering. Elder Callister also missed the verses 11 and 12, which teach that women should be silent and should not be suffered to teach or have authority over men. Words mean things. Selectively using only a small section of a verse, without honoring the context, or even acknowledging that it exists, eviscerates the scriptures and pretends that revelation exists independently of culture – particularly unhelpful when talking about dress standards.

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LDS Church Announces Lightbulb Commandment

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Lightbulb Earrings: One Modest Pair is Sufficient

(Salt Lake City) – The LDS newsroom has announced a new commandment prohibiting incandescent lightbulbs.  The LDS Church hopes this initiative will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 million tons annually among the church’s 15 million members.  An LDS church spokeperson expressed optimism about the goal, given the results of a 14-year pilot project restricting earrings.

In November 2000, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley made an offhand remark about his distaste for earrings on men or multiple piercings on women. Church members, eager for new revelation and bored of old commandments, raced each other to prove their faithfulness through approved earring attire.

“I’m not sure that earring thing was supposed to be a commandment,” said Eliza Smith, an independent sales consultant for Hot Modest Jewelry Pyramid Corporation.  “It just sounded like a typical opinion for conservative men of his generation.”

“That earring rule was inspired revelation,” rebutted Jacob Moroni Young, a senior at Brigham Young University who was a freshman at the time of the November 2000 announcement. (“BYU requires a lot of religion credits,” he explained when questioned about his lengthy stay there.)

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Birth/Rebirth: Unassisted Childbirth

The floor was dirt, but it was clean….Even if Foua had been a less fastidious housekeeper, her newborn babies wouldn’t have gotten dirty, since she never let them actually touch the floor. She remains proud to this day that she delivered [twelve] of them into her own hands, reaching between her legs to ease out the head and then letting the rest of the body slip out onto her bent forearms. No birth attendant was present, though if her throat became dry during labor, her husband, Nao Kao, was permitted to bring her a cup of hot water, as long as he averted his eyes from her body. Because Foua believed that moaning or screaming would thwart the birth, she labored in silence, with the exception of an occasional prayer to her ancestors. She was so quiet that although most of her babies were born at night, her older children slept undisturbed on a communal bamboo pallet a few feet away, and woke only when they heard the cry of their new brother or sister. After each birth, Nao Kao cut the umbilical cord with heated scissors and tied it with string. Then Foua washed the baby with water she had carried from the stream, usually in the early phases of labor, in a wooden and bamboo pack-barrel strapped to her back. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Chapter 1

I am the oldest in my family and due to my breech position, I was born via c-section. Because of that first c-section, my two brothers were also born by c-section. I remember following my mom into the bathroom when I was small and seeing her scar. She was matter-of-fact about how I was born. My mom didn’t say much about any of our births, other than joking that, “If you hadn’t flipped around in that last month…!”

Popular culture filled in the rest of my birth-knowledge. I knew that panic and screaming was involved. I knew that the breaking of your water was an emergency. I knew I’d get an epidural as soon as possible.

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Birth/Rebirth: From the Backlist: Motherhood Versus Womanhood

Wordle of the speech, "Are we not all mothers?" by Sheri Dew

Wordle of the speech, “Are we not all mothers?” by Sheri Dew

Our plans for a series with the theme of birth sparked an interesting discussion among Exponent bloggers.  Birth can be a difficult topic; not all women have the opportunity or desire to give birth and rhetoric equating womanhood with motherhood can have some damaging side effects.

Amelia: I spent too many years suffering—sometimes very literally so—because of my upbringing to think of myself primarily as a future mother, fighting with the equation of womanhood with motherhood, birth, and childrearing.

A lot of the rhetoric around reclaiming birth, natural parenting, breastfeeding advocacy, can really push my buttons.  It just feels like the other side of the coin the church has handed out to women for years—which I fully acknowledge is problematic on my part.  These things are part of what it can mean to be a woman for most women.  But too often even the feminist treatments of these topics feel reductive to me, finding something essential to womanhood in them.  I reject that entirely.  I do not believe that womanhood at its essence is about giving birth, carrying a child, breastfeeding, caring for children.

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Birth/Rebirth: The Emotional Anatomy of a C-Section

DSC02265My sister-in-law has a wonderful story about the birth of her first child. “I feel complete,” she told me. “My body has now done everything it’s supposed to do.” Every time I’ve heard her tell it, she’s been giddy. She speaks of the wonder of a woman’s body, the physical instincts that take over during labor, the miracle of actually pushing a child into the world.

Three children later, I am still jealous.

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Birth/Rebirth: Welcome baby, you are home.

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One of the first times someone asked me to recount my daughter’s birth, I started to speak, and then without meaning to, I started to weep. It was difficult to remember something that was so tender to live.

The contractions started on a Thursday afternoon, when the only thing I wanted was to take a nap. I lay in my bed with my eyes closed. One surge came, and then another, every ten minutes. Each lasted approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds. I could feel them grow. They became easier to manage if I stood or walked. At their end, I would climb back into my bed. I called my husband, Spencer, after about two hours of this. He was at work. I asked him to come home soon–though not necessarily immediately–and to please pick up grapes on the way. However, the next contraction was so forceful that it made me throw up. I called him back and said, “Actually I need you to come home right now.”

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