Women and Sacrament

July 9, 2007 | 42 comments
By

On an intermittent but regular basis, women alone perform a portion of our Sacrament blessing.

All Mormon congregations partake of the Sacrament weekly. We sing a Sacrament hymn, bless the bread and water, and partake. It is well known that only Priesthood-holding men bless the Sacrament in prayer.

But what about song?

There are twenty-nine Sacrament hymns in the current (1985) hymnal. The purpose of these hymns is clear. The song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, we are told — and Sacrament hymns tend to explicitly ask for God to bless the Sacrament. They are a sung Sacramental prayer.

This makes especially significant the omissions in the hymns O Lord of Hosts (178), Reverently and Meekly Now (185), Again We Meet Around the Board (186), and He Died! The Great Redeemer Died (192). [As well as, to a lesser degree, In Remembrance of Thy Suff’ring (183) and Behold the Great Redeemer Die (191).]

What is the omission? Male voices.

For a stretch, each of the four hymns on the list — sung sacramental prayers — is performed by women alone. This is a distinctive feature. These are not the Mens- or Womens-Voices hymn arrangements for the choir. These are hymns of the entire congregation. They are the congregation’s sacramental prayer. And a portion of them is performed by women alone.

This kind of gendered silence is unusual in our congregational hymns. Other hymns sometimes split into parts for lines or for a chorus — Count Your Blessings, or God Be With You Till We Meet Again, or The Day Dawn is Breaking. However, this particular kind of gender silence (stretches of normal verse where one gender alone sings) appears almost exclusively in Sacrament hymns. (Not entirely; see, for example, hymn #11).

In one of the Sacrament hymns — Reverently and Meekly Now — it is women alone who speak in the voice of Christ Himself. Indeed, two of the women-alone lines are intensely intimate and first-person appeals in the voice of Christ. Other powerful and evocative sacramental lines, such as “He shed a thousand drops for you,” are also reserved for women alone.

As a child, I was puzzled by these lines. What was I supposed to do with them? Sing along in squeaky falsetto? (I tried a few times; the results were not promising.) Should I ignore them? Without the omitted lines, the text was incomplete. How much sense did it make to sing, “. . . even thee,” without the previous lines that made that fragment complete?

Since then, I’ve slowly come to understand. And so today, I smile during these hymns, and (to the eternal gratitude of those in nearby pews), I don’t try to sing along.

This portion of the sacramental prayer is for women alone to perform.

Tags:

42 Responses to Women and Sacrament

  1. Julie M. Smith on July 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t know if you meant to, but you raise an interesting larger question here: can we have a theology that we don’t know about?

    And what I mean by that is: I imagine if you polled every single one of the Brethren and asked about this (without providing your evidence), they would say, “no, we don’t do anything like that.” And it is not ever (as far as I know) mentioned in any church writing.

    But does that mean that it is not there?

  2. anothernonymous on July 9, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    I think you’re over-analyzing. I attended a ward in San Diego yesterday that sang “He shed a thousand drops for you” and the (female) organist added a bass line (apparently intentionally) and I heard men sing the melody during that part without any shame. It sounded just as appropriate with the bass line added. I’d say that typically, at least half the men in a congregation, if they’re singing at all, are singing the melody as opposed to singing in parts.

  3. roland on July 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Along this vein – Some evangelical groups think they we are wrong to allow women to be choristers, offer prayers or preach sermons during the course of the sacrament meeting.

    However – almost all churchs have a co-ed choir that renders special music during thier service (with the exception – of an occassional catholic all-boys choir.)

  4. Tom on July 9, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    As far as I know, Hymns are not part of the ordinance. They aren’t a “sacramental prayer,” they are a prayer before the sacramental prayer.

  5. m&m on July 9, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I believe “Reverently and Meekly Now” used to have that part actually sung just by the men.

    I actually suspect that #2 might be right (that you are overanalyzing this). Nothing personal, though. :)

  6. Kathryn on July 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    If you are inferring that by the prepatory singing of the hymns, that these words then would be considered as part of the actual ordinance of the Sacrament, I would say that you would be incorrect with that assumption. As inspired as our hymns are, and that they are approved by the First Presidency as well, they are not part of the ordinance which is administered having the authority of the holy priesthood. This is where we as members of the church probably could use a bit more training in the sacred nature of the ordinance of the Sacrament, which is the most sacred ordinance we perform, outside of the temple. And to think that it is administered by our young men each Sabbath, who have been ordained and set apart to these responsibilites for the membership of the church.

    Is there a theology that we don’t know about? Certainly not. I would prefer to say that because it has needed to be protected from misinterpretation, it is not easily seen, but is most certainly there once you realize that it could not possibly be any other way. I love to see when individuals discover this for themselves and now they see it everywhere!

    Looks like this could be a grandslam for many…

  7. LRC on July 9, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    The women-only voice parts partially make up for the fact that the hymns don’t even try to be gender inclusive, let alone gender neutral, and we’re usually singing about men/man and their relationships to God and each other. :-)

  8. Kevin Barney on July 9, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Those lines are not necessarily specific to women, but to parts. If you were in a choir, you wouldn’t have men singing a soprano line, but in the congregation, where most men don’t know any better, it happens all the time.

    I’ve spent my life singing bass, but lately I’ve been trying to sing a little tenor to shake things up. But if I don’t get the line right away I can’t keep with it, and I have to shuttle back to my (very) familiar bass line.

    Yesterday there was a big gap in one of the middle rows, and a sister had to get up and pass the sacrament to the other end of the row. That is one of the other secrets of Mormonism: women can pass the sacrament! (I know it’s silly, but I always get a private smile when I see this happen.)

  9. Steve on July 9, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    From my unique vantage point as ward organist, I’ve noticed that many men only sing the melody (nearly always the soprano part), and thus sing the parts you mentioned that are for women’s voices. I can tell because the men are usually singing out of tune. I’ve been in wards before where strict enforcement of the women’s voice parts prevented men from singing them, usually in the form of dirty looks. However, you can usually count on plenty of both men’s and women’s voices in the parts you mentioned.

  10. Ray on July 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Kevin, I was struck by the same observation years ago about women actually passing the sacrament. I have a wife and four daughters (2 sons), so on our pew each Sunday the sacrament is passed by women more than by men.

    There are two aspects that get melded together because of our imprecise terminology. It requires the PH in order to “administer” the ordinance of the sacrament; it does not require the PH to “pass” the sacrament. In a very real way, those who administer are standing as proxy for the Son, but, again, in a very real sense, those who simply pass it to others are doing the exact same thing. The PH “hallows” and oversees the ordinance (grounds the practice in divine authority), but all are allowed to participate in the process of receiving AND giving – even young children, who are the only one’s inherently “worthy” to represent the sinless one.

    As to the music, I don’t see any unknown doctrine in the examples of this post, and I also equate the significance to parts rather than gender, but I do love the opportunity to reflect on the topic. (BTW, my wife absolutely loved the message of the post. Perhaps that says something about our divergence of need to find gender-specific validation, which says a lot in and of itself.)

  11. Talon on July 9, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    #8

    I also smile sometimes when I see this. It happens on a regular basis in our ward, given the attendence numbers.

    But it does deserve consideration I think. Women “pass” the sacrament every week, whether they have to walk the tray to the end of the row, or whether they are just passing it to the person next to them.

    For some reason if the tray is kept “intra-row” this is kosher, but can you imagine the gasps if a women were to stand up and walk the tray accross the isle to another row? Heresy!

  12. Seth R. on July 9, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    So our primary children are covert feminist subversives?

    Cool.

  13. KyleM on July 9, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Does this somehow mean that the investigating sister singing is somehow blessing the sacrament? How about the disfellowshipped brother worshipping outloud in the only way he is allowed? Was the sacrament we provided to the incapacitated member invalid because we didn’t sing a hymn before we administered? I think it’s quite a stretch to consider the hymn to be part of the ordinance.

    That said, I have noticed that many times melody singing men will stop singing when there are no tenor or bass notes. They know that part of the hymn should be sung by voices that fit the part.

  14. spencer on July 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I think it’s really just because George Careless had a formula for writing hymn music. I don’t have a hymn book with me, but I am not aware of any hymns in our current hymn book that don’t have a women only portion.

  15. Ardis Parshall on July 9, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Kaimi, I think you and Helen Whitney could commiserate on an audience’s insistance of a literal interpretation of something that is meant metaphorically!

    Of course the hymn is not literally a part of the ordinance. But to the extent it helps us settle down, focus our thoughts, and worship, it is a *form* of prayer, and a very helpful adjunct.

    I notice these phrases in the hymns because I can’t reach high enough to sing them as written. Yet I can’t rely on my usual trick of singing an octave down — my lowered voice is as out of place as that of any man who sings when he isn’t needed for the moment. From now on I’ll remember this post. Instead of awkwardly trying to adapt, I’ll simply enjoy the brief space when [some] women’s voices are the only ones that will do.

  16. Kristine on July 9, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    m&m (#5) Nope. The 1985 edition of the hymnal changed the key, but not the voicing.

  17. Deborah on July 9, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    (This is a beautiful reflection, Kaimi. Thanks.)

  18. KyleM on July 9, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    15. Perhaps some of the audience just think it’s a dumb metaphor. FWIW, I quite liked Whitney’s most recent work.

  19. Jim Cobabe on July 9, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Kaimi,

    What a fun thought!

    Of course, the hymn you raised as an example used to have a male-only stanza. Male voices would sing, “With my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain.” Then four-part voices resumed on the last line, with women’s voices for the middle stanza as now.

    The arrangement, when performed correctly, actually constituted a very effective point/counterpoint. I suspect it was simplified because the arrangement was technically demanding and confused most congregational singers, so it was seldom rendered as intended anyway.

    The original piece is powerful and moving, when performed by a technically proficient choir.

  20. Kaimi Wenger on July 10, 2007 at 3:48 am

    Thanks for your comments, all.

    M&M and Jim, good catch on the older version. It is indeed men-only in the prior line. It was also a choir piece in the old hymn book, not congregation. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that.

    Julie, that’s a good question. I think this is a reasonable read; but youre’ right that it’s one that many would probably not think of. I don’t think that undercuts its availability to us. If it helps us better approach God, then it’s a good read for us.

    LRC,

    Too true!

    Kathryn, Kyle,

    So when God said that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto him, was he lying? Or just exaggerating?

    It’s not the same type of prayer, exactly. That is correct. And it is not a necessary part of the ordinance, as the stated prayer.

    But it is communication with God, thanking Him for the Atonement, asking for blessing on the sacrament, and in he very form (song of the righteous) which He has explicitly labeled prayer in scripture.

    Ardis,

    You’re right, that the idea of prayer works very well as metaphor. I think it can be more — on a definitional level, prayer is more than just the stated formula. Perhaps we’re saying the same thing, in different words.

    And thanks for the reminder that not all women fit into the mold of “women’s voices.” :)

    Kevin,

    I’m going to have to report you to the Committee.

  21. Minerva on July 10, 2007 at 10:12 am

    I’m glad someone else has noticed that George Careless does the women-only thing in pretty much all his hymns!

  22. Ardis Parshall on July 10, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I’m glad someone else has noticed that George Careless does the women-only thing in pretty much all his hymns!

    Maybe that’s because his wife Lavinia was such a talented soloist.

  23. Kim Siever on July 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Considering most men in the church sing the melody, I don’t see this as an issue.

  24. Mike on July 10, 2007 at 11:44 am

    When my daughter was 13 years old she marched about a dozen other young women into our poor Bishop’s office after Sacrament meeting and demanded to be given the Aaronic Priesthood immediately.

    Her main argument was that the boys were doing a lousy job passing the sacrament. First, they all had bad hair. Did you ever see a teenage girl in church who had not spent an hour or more that very morning getting her hair just right? This was a couple 3 years before her little brother grew into a 6 foot tall 13 year old with a blond ‘fro about 20 inch in diameter. It is now almost more mortification than she can handle having him pass the sacrament looking like a New Guinea headhunter who got his mane into the peroxide. (See attached picture second from the bottom of this webpage:

    http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/tribal_tattoos_papua_new_guinea.htm

    The boy’s cloths don’t fit either and even if they did, boys that age look gangly. We are a deacons-wear-blue-shirts ward, but color of shirt is the least of their problems. Borrowed tacky ties and floppy untied shoes and droopy drawers. You would never see teenage Mormon girls not wearing cloths to church that look as good as they possibly can in light of the considerable constraints they face; both from their own changing bodies and their parent’s concerns about modesty and fashion. And the girls would all be delighted to wear beautiful matching white gowns that resemble wedding dresses if required, without any complaint.

    The boys milled and stumbled about the chapel causally and cooly in a semi-confused state during the sacrament and seemed not the least bit concerned with their frequent misques and mistakes. Girls would be much more likely to strut smartly and without hesitation to their assigned spots in perfect step and order. There is a reason you never see boys on drill teams. Girls would never miss people and force the Bishop to stand up and ask the obvious question: Has everyone received the Sacrament? Duh no, if he has to stand up and ask. Then have to send the dolts back to finish it right.

    Girls would be on time or even early in spite of the fact that it takes a girl several hours to get ready for church. And with girls doing the sacrament, we wouldn’t have to worry about that one deacon who not only took the sacrament into the foyer but would continue wandering on out into the parking lot and down the street, aimlessly offering the sacrament to everyone he might meet. A teenage girl would never never do that.

    Girls have better voices and can read outloud with more confidence than boys. (And probably would sit there in front and whisper the entire time, I did not point this out.) They would never accidently swear when they realized that they had mixed up the words in the sacrament prayer.

    When a teenage girl stands up, people take notice. Girls smell nicer than boys because they wear perfume and bath more thoroughly. Girls wash their hands more often and the boys never wash their hands specifically before preparing the sacrament or breaking the bread. One of the reasons they take boys camping, according to my daughter, is that they get so obviously filthy dirty that their mothers are then forced to make them undergo a good scrubbing the night before church.

    Finally, girls are much less prone to the pranks that sometimes befall the boys. A girl would never construct a “slosh tray” and spill several ounces of water on a member of the congregation. Girls would never think of bringing squirt guns to the ordinance and using them on the Priests. Girls would never kick the person’s foot in front of them and send them sprawling.

    The poor Bishop just shook his head and said a silent prayer. He told my daugher and her friends to ask their parents why they couldn’t be given the Priesthood and let us deal with the question why can’t have their own special time when they are center-stage before the entire congregation during a scared ritual.

    What would you have done?

  25. Adam Greenwood on July 10, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Sacred ritual.

  26. Julie M. Smith on July 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Adam,

    I think the way Mike described it, ‘scared ritual’ was precisely correct.

  27. KyleM on July 10, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    20. “So when God said that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto him, was he lying? Or just exaggerating?”

    My questions directly acknowledged that singing is worship. I think you’re exagerating, not God, by considering the hymn to be part of the ordinance. Saying “This portion of the sacramental prayer is for women alone to perform.” implies that women don’t need the priesthood. They get to sing! By themselves! Sometimes. I found that idea quite condesending regardless of how one feels about women and the priesthood. Maybe I just have an overreactive feminist side I didn’t know I had. If so, I apologize.

  28. Russell Arben Fox on July 10, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    “Her main argument was that the boys were doing a lousy job passing the sacrament. First, they all had bad hair….The boy’s cloths don’t fit either and even if they did, boys that age look gangly….The boys milled and stumbled about the chapel causally and cooly in a semi-confused state during the sacrament and seemed not the least bit concerned with their frequent misques and mistakes. Girls would be much more likely to strut smartly and without hesitation to their assigned spots in perfect step and order. There is a reason you never see boys on drill teams….Girls would be on time or even early in spite of the fact that it takes a girl several hours to get ready for church….Girls have better voices and can read outloud with more confidence than boys….When a teenage girl stands up, people take notice. Girls smell nicer than boys because they wear perfume and bathe more thoroughly….Finally, girls are much less prone to the pranks that sometimes befall the boys.”

    I suspect that, on some level or another, all of this is fully comprehended by the church leadership. After all, why else are only sister missionaries, never elders, assigned to Temple Square?

  29. Kristine on July 10, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Mike, would you care to broker a marriage with your daughter? ;) I have a son who is going to need someone like her to get him in shape!

  30. The Practical Mormon on July 10, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    “You\’re overanalyzing it” is code for “Dang! Wish _I’d_ thought of that!”

    — The Practical Mormon

  31. The Practical Mormon on July 10, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    “You\’re overanalyzing it” is code for “Dang! Wish _I’d_ thought of that!”

    — The Practical Mormon

  32. Sonny on July 10, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    “You\\’re overanalyzing it” is code for “Dang! Wish _I’d_ thought of that!”

    I guess we need to inform Websters that the definition of overanalyzing has changed.

    I felt it was a bit of overanalyzing myself, but I can honestly say that I did not think \”Dang! Wish I\’d thought of that\”.

    After reading the Bios of many of the bloggers, I realize that those that have taken philosophy are heavily represented on this blog, but folks, it IS possible to overanalyze.

  33. Kaimi Wenger on July 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    That’s an interesting, err, claim, Sonny.

    Of course, my post here has nothing to do with philosophy. Nothing at all. And besides that, I’ve never taken a philosophy class in my life.

    It’s entirely possible to claim that my post is overanalysis (wrong, I’d say, but possible). However, I’m really at a loss on how that claim could be supported by the (true) fact that some of my co-bloggers have studied philosophy.

  34. Mike on July 10, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Kristine:

    I think this daughter of mine, only 16 now, will be brokering her own marriage and the marriages of several of her friends. If I can figure out how to get past this complication, perhaps yes. Don’t we all need good strong women to keep us in line? I do hope she finds someone whose parents are so wise as to be on this blog. In the mean time she has her hands full right now trying to whip her little brother into shape. Other than not being blond, I swear that hair on the New Guinea website I listed above is a dead ringer for his.

    Just so that everyone is clear: my description in #24, Freudian typos aside, represents my lame attempt to read a teenager’s mind about three years ago and was offered in the spirit of amusement and irony. It was not an objective evalution of our ward AP boys. I myself think they do a pretty good job, all things considered.

  35. reformed banker on July 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I come from a very conservative family, ward, and stake where none of the sacramental issues Mike brought up could have possibly occured. One of my favorite bishops in a ward in Roseville, CA gave a 5 minute discourse at the beginning of priesthood meeting that laid out the unwritten rules of the sacrament. If the boys didn’t look like missionaries, they wouldn’t participate in the ordinance. No Looney Tunes ties, long hair, facial hair, cargo pants, colored shirts, athletic shoes, etc. It was probably (for me) the best 5 minute talk I’ve ever heard. But what do I know? Even my own family thinks I’m overly strict . . .

  36. KyleM on July 10, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    35. Sheesh. I wore cartoon ties and athletic shoes on my mission.

  37. Trekker on July 10, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I remember as a young Teacher preparing the sacrament and getting this evil idea to fill up selected cups with vinegar instead of water. I obviously didn\’t understand the significance of the sacrament coming from an inactive family. Did i ever get into trouble for that. Thank goodness for repentance…

  38. Sonny on July 10, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    “Of course, my post here has nothing to do with philosophy”

    Kaimi,

    I apologize if I seemed overly critical of your original post. I do think it was very thoughtful and I appreciate that.

    I mainly was responding to response 30, 31, that claims that somehow if one thinks another is overanalyzing, that somehow means the person must be jealous that they did not come up with the idea in the first place. I was just trying to say that it is indeed possible to overanalyze something.

    And I aplogize to all philosophers. I was completely drawing on experiences in my own circle of friends, some of whom are students of philosphy and tend to overanalyze on occasion. Of course ‘overanalysis’ is completely subjective, and one person’s ‘overanalysis’ may be another’s ‘spot-on analysis’.

  39. Mike on July 11, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Reformed Banker:

    Count your blessings. I’ll try to count mine. I have a fine young man for a son who in spite of trials and tribulations you may never comprehend is currently serving in his Priesthood Quorum. I bet there was at least one boy in your old ward who did not feel welcome for whatever reason, real or imagined. Did y’all ever fgure out why?

    We have some youth in our ward from “rigid” LDS families who would respond to your favorite 5 minute talk. We have some youth who are probably teetering. Do you think your old Bishop would change his tune if he gave his talk and two or three boys (or rather 50% of them) flat out told him they would refuse to participate on those conditons and walked out of the meeting? I assume your old Bishop has great compassion for the youth in the ward. Is this isssue worth it to push them on out? Especially after others have worked so hard to get them there?

    I admit these are not easy questions. We are to teach youth reverence and re-enforce it when they understand it; but sometimes it is not easy to do both. You have to take your youth from where they are at, to get them to be where they should be, not the other way around. Our YM leaders often discuss these issues as they apply to specific boys. We have at worst some youth who pull your heart strings almost out. For instance their crack-whore mothers joined the church a few years ago and went inactive. The YM leaders drive into a scary part of the city literally putting their own safety at some risk; to drag them out of bed and buy them breakfast at the Waffle house on the way to church. They may not own church cloths and resent wearing another persons clothing. It is hoped that if we do this enough times they might catch fire and become strong members of the church. But I admit that in spite of our efforts they tend to get worse and swirl on down the poverty cycle toilet. If they happen to “lighten up” sacrament meeting a few times, it seems worth it to me.

    I also might point out that not all youth respond as expected. My son wore his blue shirt to a relative’s ward in Utah last year. He went up to pass the sacrament. All the other deacons were in white shirts. The Bishop asked my son who he was, (nephew of a member of his Bishopric) just before the meeting started and then told the other boys that he could wear his blue shirt and pass the sacrament this one time. He was making an exception and my son would remember next time he visited how their ward dressed. My son nodded in agreement. I thought it showed uncommon wisdom and was the most likely plan to work.

    But several other ward young men leaders came up after the beginning of the meeting and told him he could not pass the sacrament because orf his blue shirt. My son whispered to each of them that the Bishop said he could. But after several rounds and the obvious fact that the ward had way more than enough deacons, my son just got up and walked out of the meeting and went back to the house of the relatives we were staying with and read his Bible. At the time I was worried about him, even before this meeting, whether he would choose to join in with the LDS Priesthood activities or follow aother member of his immediate family who has left our faith. He had made a real choice to attend our meetings that morning and he could just as easily have been at a meeting of Protestants where they would have treated him better, just like we treat investigators and new members. I think he regretted that choice. I had to restrain myself from not accosting those insensitive youth leaders and kicking their righteous asses after church.

    So this year he showed up, not accidently but defiantly, in a blue shirt when we visited this same relative. He had a xeroxed copy of a page out of the CHI where it does not say you have to wear a white shirt, only that it has to be neat and clean, etc. He wanted to go up there and get into a dispute with anyone and everyone on the issue. See, the white shirt rule is a local rule made up and enforced by the Bishop. My son thinks it is a form of pride and self-righteous and he wants to tangle with somebody on it. He wants to start a blue shirt revolt in that ward. I told him to sit himself down on the back row with me; at 6 feet tall he is too big to pass the sacrament in a Utah ward where they only use dwarfs and runts. In our home ward about half the deacons are adult men from the Elders Q. along with a few boys of all sizes and he fits in with them. He sat there snickering at the young boys in their whirte shirts. At least he was there.

    During the next meeting they invited my son to a service project/ youth conference where they fixed these old houses up over the course of a couple days. Since he helped me remodel our house after a flood a few years ago and earned the Home Repairs merit badge and quite beyond it, he was extremely useful. He can paint, cut boards straight, hang dry wall, shingle, etc. His long arms and almost impossible strength-to-weight ratio and heat tolerance allowed him to work for 16 hours in the hot sun, mostly on a rickety roof. He reportedly got more accomplished than most of the adult men in the construction business who helped them out and he received a couple summer job offers from them. At a banquet given at the end of the conference he sat across the table from the visiting General Authority who joked with him about his wild hairdo.

    That is how we keep our youth active. By giving them productive things they can do and not sweating the small stuff.

  40. Sonny on July 12, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Mike,

    Thank you very much for telling story of your son in #39. I can relate to this story in two ways: one as a son in a similar situation and one as a father.

    My family moved from a beach city in Southern California in the mid 1970’s when I was a young teenager. At the time, ALL Aaronic Priesthood holders in our ward had long hair (hey, it was a surfer town dude), and I was no exception. We moved to a Central California farm town, were I was the only teenage boy with longer hair. I liked my long hair mainly because I thought my ears looked funny and I wanted them covered. I was approached many times by various ward leaders telling me how wrong I was to have longer hair. It did not motivate me to cut my hair, in fact I felt more withdrawn, although I never entertained the thought of never attending church. I also did not want to serve a mission, a position I took until I was 21 and had a wonderfully spiritual experience that totally changed my heart, that got me to server a fantastic mission (and finally got over the hair-length thing).

    Fast forward to now, and I have a 15 year old boy that loves his electric guitar and his longer hair length. I wish he would cut his hair, as somehow I associate my long hair length in my youth to minimal spirituality and not wanting to serve a mission. My mind knows that is bunk, but I look back and cringe at how close I was to missing out on what turned out to be a life changing mission with experiences that I will always cherish and can never deny. My irrational “long hair equals no desire to server the Lord” mentality is causing me to wish my son would have shorter hair. But at the same time, I don’t want to push the issue too much, for the reasons you stated so well.

  41. Ray on July 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    FWIW, As a young man many, many years ago, I heard a story that hit me so hard I have never forgotten it. To summarize:

    A rancher had horses that needed to be broken for riding. His sons did it. A neighbor watched and commented to the rancher that he had a friend who could do it much faster and better than the rancher’s sons.

    The rancher replied, “So could I, but I’m not raising horses. I’m raising sons.” I believe my sons and daughters know that’s how I feel about raising them.

  42. Mike on July 13, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks Ray and Sonny.