Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adventures in Sunday School: My Answer FWIW

For part one (the question) see here

I gave my answer in four parts; and with the ensuing discussion we had a very different lesson than I originally planned, but very productive all the same. I like to think the kids came away with something to think about which is really my goal with the class, to get them to contemplate their testimonies on a deeper level so that when the challenges come to them in the future they can better withstand the storm.

Part 1: Why is it there?
They are trying to make the point that spirits can be foreordained to great things, and that we as potential parents should keep that in mind when we chose to have or not have kids. That is to say your future child could literally be a prophet one day and if you chose not to have said child think of the possible loss.

To put that in perspective it was not all that long ago in the church where the unofficial prevailing belief that it was a sin not to have as many children as possible. If you where to do a quick Google search on Mormons and Birth Control you would easily find some quite harsh quotes to that effect.

(I didn’t share this in class but here is an example)

Joseph Fielding Smith

Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world...are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they...

Part 2: What I believe to be the understanding today
How many children you have comes down to three people, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You, your spouse, and the Lord. If all three of you are in agreement about your decision then nothing else matters.

(Again here is a quote I have looked up since then class expressing that opinion)

Church Handbook of Instructions
January 1999

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many chldren to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

Part 3: Where I share a personal example.
My first three kids were boys all approximately three years apart. We got surprised by number four 16 months later but she was our beautiful little girl. Lisa and I both came to the conclusion that we were done, complete now that we had a daughter. So it was all well and good between us but we forgot to include the third partner in the decision. So over the next few months started getting strong impressions that we were supposed to have one more. I just dismissed it as buyer’s remorse and I would get over it soon enough. Then I started getting even stronger impressions that we would have one more and it would be a boy. Still I wasn’t convinced and just kept it to myself. Then one day I was reading a book and as clear as day I knew I was supposed to have one more child, that it would be a boy, and his name would be Joseph Talmage.

I finally decided that I had to go revisit the decision we were done having kids with Lisa, which wasn’t easy due to us having four kids including two under two (and both in diapers). But as soon as I said I think we are supposed to have another baby and it would be a boy Lisa immediately said she had been getting the same feelings as well. Then I shared that his name had been given to me and even though she hadn’t had that feeling yet, as soon as I said Joseph Talmage she knew that would be his name (i.e. the spirit confirmed it for her strongly). So 18 months after our daughter we had baby number five, another boy who we now call JT. And then we all felt we had reached the number of kids we were supposed to have.

Though I did share that if he had been a girl we were going to call him Josephina and be done with it :-)

Part 4: The follow up
I made it clear that the topic of birth control was one that a lot of people had very strong feelings about and that my understanding may not be the correct one, or one that their parents might disagree with it. I highly encouraged them to talk with their parents to see what they thought about the topic before reaching any conclusion for their own life. Following class I made sure to visit with each of the parents in the foyer and shared parts one, two, and four with them and that I asked their kids to discuss it with them.

I have since heard from several of the parents that they have had some really good talks with their kids about the subject. I think it overall I would call this a teaching success.


Lena said...

See! That was a way better than I would have done. But I will totally use your answer if it ever comes up.

Grandpa and Grandma B said...

Great Job David!!