We’ve recently had some discussion here at The-Exponent about the potential benefit of revising the young women’s theme to include reference to Heavenly Mother. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to visit this blog post and read the beautiful letter written by a currently-serving ward young women’s president. This small change could have far-reaching impact in terms of affirming the value of all women in the church, young and old, simply by including (not even by name) the God who looks like us, a God who is a woman. I fully support this suggested change.
Having said that, if I were in a position to institute church-wide change in the youth programs I would prefer something else entirely.
First of all, I would likely do-away with Boy Scouts of America as the young men’s program. (I can hear the gasps now. But I’m serious about this.) I understand this program applies primarily to youth in North America and is not a global program. I also realize that BSA has a wonderful structure and is beneficial for many young men. But I would prefer that both the Young Women’s and Young Men’s program center on Christian discipleship. Personally, I would prefer that no one stood to recite a theme. But if young women are reciting the YW theme each week, then why aren’t young men reciting the Scout Motto? If there is value in ritual recitation of a list of virtues, then wouldn’t we want our young men to share in that benefit?
I believe that girls and boys are inherently, biologically different. Women and men seem to have interests and ways of responding to the world which are influenced by their biological make-up, specifically via chromosomes and hormones that make us into one sex or the other. I celebrate the differences of the sexes. I also acknowledge the wide range of expression of gender in the world.
However, when it comes to living a gospel-centered life, there is no difference between us. All are alike unto God. We are all asked to bring the same thing with us when we approach the door of discipleship: a broken heart and contrite spirit. Jesus doesn’t ask for a list of values. He only wants our will, our desire to follow Him. When we surrender our will to Him, we become One in Christ and with each other. After that, His grace is sufficient to transform us into our best, most unique selves–women and men, boys and girls–with or without recitations.
If I had the power to change the weekly practice of reciting a theme, I would encourage Young Women and Young Men (grown men and women too) to share a common theme. It would go something like this:
We are daughters [sons] of heavenly parents who love us – and we love them. We stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places as we strive to live the Doctrine of Christ, which is: Faith in Him, repentance, baptism by immersion for remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and serving our neighbors. We will answer the Savior’s call to love one another as He loves us – today and every day.