Enter the shower.
I do a lot of my thinking in the shower. This morning I think I had a breakthrough.
I think I should preface this with a few disclaimers with the hope that I offend as few people as possible. If you still find yourself offended, please realize I am not so much concerned with some person as I am with a long-standing idea/way of teaching and the point of this post is certainly not to offend but rather to grabble with the idea and way of teaching. So, if for some reason you still find yourself offended, tell me and I'll make you cookies.
Disclaimer 1: I do not have any female children, however I have been around them and I am a female myself.
Disclaimer 2: I was never taught the idea I take issue with at home so I do not have experience with how it is taught in the home, so perhaps in the home its made more clear than in 1 hour lessons on Sundays.
So now that everyone is dying to know what I'm talking about and totally ready to be offended, lets do this.
I really, really find a frequent way of teaching about the temple to young women problematic. Here is how I reacted every time I heard temple marriage talked about in terms of castles and princesses before this morning's shower,
"No, the temple is NOT a 'castle' and you, young woman, are NOT a 'princess.'"
Then the more I thought about it this morning, I realized the problem, or reaction I had come to, ie don't call the temple a castle and don't call young women princesses, was also wrong because, while the temple still isn't really a 'castle' young women actually are princesses in a sense.
Alright then, what gives? Why still the annoyance with the teaching?
Because we teach girls they are princesses and then we don't teach them what a princess is. We leave that, very foolishly, to Disney or fairytales. We need to distinguish between what the world teaches about princesses and what the gospel teaches.*
Could we perhaps teach the relationship between the temple and their 'royal' responsibilities and inheritance a little more clearly and doctrinally? Could we teach them that the role of a princess and potential queen and priestess is far more similar to that of Ester-to rescue, to be courageous in the face of persecution and to follow God than it is of Cinderella-get a make over, fall in love, have the perfect castle wedding and live happily ever after? We could even talk about King Benjamin who worked all his days even as, or rather, especially as, king versus King Noah who did no work and glutted himself on the backs of the people. Could we teach them that what truly makes them a princess and potential queen and priestess is not looks, grace, charm or a 'prince charming' but their willingness to make and keep sacred covenants even when they feel and look more like Cinderella pre-makeover? Could we teach them that marriage in the temple is the beginning and not the culmination of their royal coronation? That there is learning to be done, stewardship to be justly, mercifully and righteously performed and covenants to honor?
I realize it is a lot to teach. I realize its much more of an investment than a few trite, sugary phrases left in the ears of our young women who then supplement them with worldly understandings and images from childhood. I realize that perhaps they won't understand it all at once. But wouldn't it be worth it to give them a foundation not just for temple marriage but for living life as one who has a temple marriage?
My main hope is that we consider how we as leaders of young women and parents to young women teach them about their royal nature and its relation to the temple. That we teach their temple marriage not as the culmination and crowning proof of their royalty but as the beginning of their learning, working and practicing how to become queens and priestesses so that one day they can be queens and priestess whose inheritance is eternal life, lives, and all the Father hath.
*Now, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with little girls playing Disney princesses. I do however have a problem with girls 18 and on playing Disney princesses.