She didn’t say that you should keep your home as clean as the temple. She said that women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house because growth happens best in a house of order. She did say that homes should be a pre-MTC in the sense of teaching children doctrine.
She did not say that women need to wear pantyhose. She said that women “who know” honor ordinances and that that can be seen in women who, even though they rely on dusty roads and public transportation make an effort to present clean, well-groomed children to sacrament meeting.
She did not say that LDS women are the best mothers in the world, or the best housekeepers. She said that LDS women should excel at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families. She did say that they should be the best homemakers in the world, but the context was of claiming power and influence.
She did not say that women should be perfect housekeepers. She said that mothers “who know” choose very carefully and do less, including less consumption and fewer activities. She said they do not try to choose it all (and, presumably, there should be no guilt as part of the decision not to choose some things).
She did not say that LDS women are or should be domestic servants. She only discussed housekeeping under the subheading of nurturing, and all of the videos in that section showed women either cleaning alongside their children–or teaching their children to clean–as part of that nurturing role. She also said that “mothers who know” are selective about their involvements so they can maximize their influence.
She did not equate mothering with housekeeping. She equated housekeeping with nurturing and also talked about mothers as leaders and teachers.
She did not say that cleaning was the end-all, be-all of motherhood. She said that part of nurturing is creating an environment for spiritual growth and then used various household tasks as examples of ways to teach children values.
She didn’t say anything about being a full-time mother.
I can understand why this talk pushed a lot of buttons, but some of the comments made about the talk at various websites show scant resemblance to what President Beck actually said and are not at all productive in our discussions of the important issues that she raised. Please go to byu,tv, Sunday morning 10am conference, 55 minutes in, and re-listen to the talk, perhaps writing a rough outline as you go, before you comment here or anywhere else on her talk.
My take on the talk:
(1) Kristine’s post about it over at BCC is much better than mine will be.
(2) I’m thrilled that so much attention was given to mothering–and not the “we’re all mothers so love up those nieces and nephews if you don’t have your own kids” kind of mothering.
(3) At first I was irked that she didn’t include any non-house-work examples under her definition of “homemaking”, but then I realized that that was only part of her talk and that she references leadership and teaching at length elsewhere.
(4) I think she could have avoided some misunderstanding if she had better fleshed out the “best” language: I am sure she didn’t mean it as a slight against non-member mothers or as a guilt-inducer for members. (See TftC for more on this.)
(5) The entire talk was bookended by the larger theme of transmitting faith and testimony to the next generation.
(6) I am pleased with the emphasis on having children (something she also mentioned last week at the RS meeting)–I do think the heresy is creeping into some quarters of the church that children are optional or at least delay-able and I think that that is a shame.
(7) I’ve been complaining for years that the general thrust of messages to women in the church is “you’re doing great–keep at it!–don’t pressure yourself” There is a real subcurrent in the church of women not striving to want to do better. An example: at a HFPE about cooking, one of the sisters expressed that she wanted to do better nutritionally by her family and was instantly shouted down with a chorus of “give ’em a bowl of cereal!” and “fish sticks never killed anyone.” She asked for help in doing better and was made to feel like a fool for wanting to “raise the bar.” There is a time to comfort the afflicted and a time to afflict to comfortable. I’m glad to see President Beck speak twice in a week to afflict the comfortable.
(7) Her section of leadership was actually a little radical–consult most sources and they’ll tell you that men should be leading out in family prayer, scripture study, FHE, etc. Pres. Beck said that mothers “who know” are leaders in these areas–as equal partners with their husbands.