This evening, my wife (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I were having an interesting discussion about the topic of her forthcoming Relief Society lesson. I thought that I would improve the average quality of the posts here by passing on her thoughts and questions. She writes:
I have recently been called as a Relief Society teacher to teach the David O. McKay lessons. Next week’s lesson is on worship, and starts out with a single sermon (a rare thing in these manualsâ€”most of the paragraphs are chopped up bits and pieces from a variety of sources) on reverence. Pres. McKay states “…irreverence is the lowest state in which a man can live in the world.” He goes on the exhort parents to teach their children well in regards to reverence. “Parents, Reverence (sic), as charity, begins at home. In early childhood children should be trained to be respectful, deferential — respectful to one another, to strangers and visitors — deferential to the aged and infirm — reverential to things sacred, to parents and parental love.”
So I’m thinking about this lesson as I was sitting in Sacrament meeting today. And I started looking around at what I saw, at the Mormons worshiping together. Since we were late (a bad, bad habit), we were sitting in the overflow with many other families. The family next to us had three children, all of whom were drawing with elaborate craft supplies: markers, colored pencils, activity books, etc. The family on the other side had an older child who, as far as I could tell, was creating Valentines using either a secret language he shared with his friends, or some other bizarre made-up language that he used just to entertain himself. The child behind us, a younger child I would peg at about 15 months, was busy ferrying books from one seat to another. At one point, I heard a low buzz like angry bees growing next to us. I realized that the older children sitting there were bickering in low hisses, at which point their mother hissed loud enough for at least three rows to hear, “Don’t you dare fight at church!” In the words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.
So, is this how we teach our children to be reverent? Is this worshiping the Lord? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not exactly in a position to judge those I just described. As I was observing this scene, my own not-yet-three-year-old was under our chair, dive bombing Aquaman into Wonder Woman, making Mr. Incredible give Batman a high five, and grinding the crackers we had brought as a snack into the carpet.
Ok, so everybody is going to agree that no kid can be expected to sit through something as long and potentially boring as Sacrament meeting, and the question of whether or not one should even bring children to church is answered by saying that if you DON’T bring them to church, then they will really never learn how to be reverent, or worship. So I guess my question is to the Bloggernacle at large (and my Relief Society next week) is how do we teach our children to be reverent? And if reverence is so vital to worship and living a higher law, as David O. McKay implies in his teachings, how do Mormons worship? What is it, exactly, that we do to worship our God? And as much as my son would like to think so, I’m pretty sure Superheros are not exactly part of the equation.
Discuss amongst yourselves.