Young Women Theme Letter
I admit that reciting the Young Women Theme every week with my counselors and my girls is not my favorite part about the Young Women Program. It never has been, at any time. I also find it extremely odd that the Young Men have no parallel theme, and that their eight objectives are specifically not to be recited each Sunday: “Young men should not recite these objectives in their meetings or activities” (See 8.1.2, Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, Handbook 2: Administering the Church). How did they get out of that?
But if we have to say this Mormon-style catechism with the Young Women, I would at least appreciate being consistent in our teachings about Heavenly Parents. The empty white space (or pink space, I guess ) and its opposite message about Divine Nature and Individual Worth lie in stark contrast with the message the printed letters state. So I wrote a letter, a very nice honest letter, and I invite you to do the same if you feel as I do.
I also wrote a similar message to my area authority (after speaking with my bishop and stake president too, who said that I should not change it on my own), and I was heartened by his response: he will pass the word to the YW General Presidency if he can, although he does not often interact with them, and he will keep this concern in his heart.
I faithfully choose to engage in the good work of speaking up, with integrity and virtue according to my divine nature and individual worth, so that I may be accountable for correct knowledge I have been given. (No where would I have learned a thing like that?)
Young Women General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-1702
(Also sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear President Oscarson, President McConkie, and President Marriott,
My name is ______________ and I am the Young Women’s President in the ____________ Ward. I have been blessed by the Church throughout my life–only three of those blessings being the mission I served in ________, and my current calling in a very multicultural ward. I am grateful for the service you too give the Church. Thank you. I am sure that it is not easy.
I write to ask you if you would consider bringing up a precious matter in the Young Women General Presidency. There is a subtle but powerfully damaging message that we are sending the Young Women through the Young Women Theme. As you well know, it states, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.” However, in practically every General Conference we talk about “Heavenly Parents”–and there are many excellent statements by General Authorities and the Auxiliary Leaders about Heavenly Mother’s involvement in our lives and in the Plan of Salvation (Paulsen and Pulido’s BYU Studies article “A Mother There: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” is utterly astonishing, and shows that “sacred silence” is a cultural myth).
The damaging message is this: we understand that we have Heavenly Parents, but because Heavenly Mother is then excluded from the Young Women Theme, then a) She must not actually be that important, and b) She must not love Her daughters like Heavenly Father does. My Young Women (and I and my counselors) can infer from this that as females, our place in the heavens is not that important, and that we are ancillary to the Plan of Salvation if She is. I have no doubt that these are untrue messages, but those are the messages that are being communicated each week as my Young Women stand and repeat the Theme.
The Young Women Theme was changed in 2005 and again in 2008–it changes as the need arises–and we humbly ask for this change: That we daughters be able to stand and say, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Parents, who love us, and we love them.” It may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you, it makes an enormous difference in how women view their own value in this life and in the eternities. We do not want an Absent Mother any longer.