Cultural Idolatry? My Stake President's…Interesting…Advice
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend our stake Relief Society presidency meeting, which all ward RS presidencies and some random people like me (I’m humanitarian chairperson) attended.
Throughout this hour and a half, I was surprised at how much men were speaking at this RS meeting. From what I saw, they spoke at least half the time. (But that’s a post for another day….).
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the evening came during our stake president’s portion of the evening. In the process of speaking about young women’s transition to RS, he strongly advised women leaders to encourage young women to avoid “cultural idolatry” as they planned to buy their wedding dresses. He found it extremely distasteful that women bought big, ornate wedding dresses that had to have inserts put in to make them proper for a temple wedding. “Cultural idolatry” he firmly called it again, and promoted the idea of women getting married in a simple dress that could serve as a temple dress for the next ten years.
I had a very mixed reaction to his advice. On the one hand, I suppose I can agree that ornate wedding dresses could be a form of cultural idolatry and in principle, I like the idea of not going over the top materialistically. But come on. If wearing a fancy wedding dress is cultural idolatry, what about the huge house he owns, the Mercades he drives, or the very expensive suits he and his counselors wear? That’s definitely got to fall under that label as well. It seemed a bit unfair to me to specifically target young women, many of whom fantasize about this being the most special day of their lives and want an outfit that reflects that specialness. If he had extended his “cultural idolatry” advice to other realms as well, I would have been much more comfortable.
I’m interested in hearing your reactions to this stake president’s advice. Do you agree that women are culturally idolatrous if they don’t wear a simple wedding dress? Was it appropriate for him to give such advice (on what is clearly his own personal hobbyhorse) under the mantle of stake president? What are other – better – ways to talk about the issue of cultural idolatry?