I probably need to get over my aversion to these talks that have come along lately about making your home into a miniature temple, or Missionary Training Center. I need to channel those days as a newly married Molly, when I had uncontrollable urges to paint my bedroom all in off-white and gold, with vases on little tables and an oversized crystal chandelier above the bed.
The talk that set off my latest rant is the Thursday afternoon general session of the annual Women's Conference at Brigham Young University, given by Merrill J. Bateman of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife Marilyn.
Elder Bateman suggested that our homes resemble the temple by speaking in soft, quiet voices, training children in their responsibilities like shifts of temple workers, beginning shifts with prayer, and keeping orderliness and cleanliness paramount.
Why do I think these talks are especially unhelpful for LDS mothers to hear? I can recognize the symbolism that connects the two. Homes and temples are both places of love and service. In both places, as Sister Bateman said, "we are engaged in the salvation of others." I agree, but at the same time I would like to immortalize the words of Chandelle who wrote in a comment at FMH:
"...a temple is tidy because it’s not populated by children who like to fingerpaint with their poop. because the ten-thousand people who go in and out of a temple do not eat three meals a day there. because dogs and their muddy paws are not allowed. because there are no beds to be made. because nobody goes there to study or read or sew or do pottery or play scrabble. because everybody comes in and leaves in the same clothing so there is no laundry. the temple is tidy because nobody lives there."
Actually, there is laundry, but volunteers and paid workers come in to do this work, to vacuum and to clean the toilets. I think it is unhelpful to take parents' attention away from the work of living and the salvation of their children to focus on superficial cleanliness or soft, quiet voices. Or even prayer. A pinnacle of frustration for me was a Ward Activity where a photographer was sent to each home to take a simple picture of the family kneeling in prayer. A nightmare of an hour passed during which the photographer never could snap a shot with everyone kneeling, closing eyes and folding arms at the same second. Our family simply could not pray in the true order of LDS family prayer!
I never experienced an enjoyable family home evening with my family of eight children until I finally learned that they would never sit quietly in rows listening to the lesson, like in the temple; and that that was not the goal of FHE. Probably the most spiritual and fondly remembered FHE we ever had was the one with the activity where all the small children piled on Dad and tried to displace him from his position lying on the couch. Totally spontaneous, loving and memorable. Quite loud. And not possible until Mom learned that home was different from the Temple in significant ways.
In her talk, Sister Bateman revealed that "Spiritual truths are not revealed to doubters. Faith is required to move forward." So, what is the spiritual truth behind the comparison between the home and the temple? How can we express this in a way that will be uplifting to families (especially women) rather than depressing? Those of you with more faith than I, help me out!