Friday, February 8, 2013

Brethren, We Have Work to Do

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Brethren, We Have Work to Do, by D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Whenever we playfully talk about magic at home, my sweet daughter is quick to remind us, "Magic isn't real." Before accusing her of being an unimaginative realist (she does have quite the imagination), wait for her full message:

Magic isn't real; the priesthood is real!

When we go to the library we have to set limits on the number of books and videos our children can borrow; on a recent trip, the limit was five books and one video. The video my eldest son chose was of some Disney sitcom having to do with magic (not the priesthood). Being unfamiliar with the show, I told him that we could get it, but that we (the parents) would need to preview it first to see if it was appropriate for the children. When my wife and I started previewing it, we learned that it wasn't a feature-length movie, as I thought, but was a collection of episodes from the series. Nevertheless, we started watching.

Now, the overall message of the show was innocent enough, but what my wife and I got from it included:
  • Dads are idiots
  • Moms are always right (no argument on this one!)
  • Siblings need to be sarcastic to each other to get the laugh track

We ultimately decided to not have our children watch the show—turns out they forgot and were happy to watch My Little Pony instead—but I was reminded of the show as I reviewed Elder Christofferson's talk; particularly the message that dads are idiots.

In many societies today men and boys get conflicting and demeaning signals about their roles and value in society. . .

In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature, or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.

If my role in society, church, and the home isn't one of a nincompoop (at least not all of the time), what roles am I supposed to play? This is a semi-awkward topic to explore because my usual work at home and church may be seen as emasculating to some: my wife let's me cook (because I love it), I'm the Primary music leader, and the cub scout "den mother" (den leader).

Okay, I admit that some of the jobs I do fall into traditionally-effeminate categories, but I still try to be a man "that women can trust, that children can trust and that God can trust." Here is my response to the imagined questions that may come from the questionable roles I fill:
  • Family cook - I'm showing my children that a loving father serves in the kitchen as well as when mowing the lawn
  • Music leader - I model appropriate male behavior (even if while singing falsetto at times) and try to help the children—including the boys—learn and love the gospel
  • "Den mother" (Cub Scout Den Leader) - I work to help 8-9 yr-old-boys on their path to become men in learning new skills and loving service to others

The conclusion I draw from Elder Christofferson's talk is that despite the media's portrayal of men and fathers as simpletons, what I try to do is important—and it's important that I realize that the Lord doesn't want me to be an idiot, nincompoop, or simpleton: He needs me to "Rise up, O [man] of God!"

Or as Elder Christofferson put it:

The Church and the world and women are crying for men, men who are developing their capacity and talents, who are willing to work and make sacrifices, who will help others achieve happiness and salvation. They are crying, “Rise up, O men of God!”

(image origin)

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