Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: beliefs

Emma Smith: How Much Could One Heart Take?

Emma Smith is a source of contestation and conflicting viewpoints for many within the LDS community. A popular song (at least amongst missionaries I served with) about Emma Smith has the refrain “How much could one heart take?” as it’s main theme. The popularity of the song concerns me. Not because of hatred or ill-will towards Emma, but because the theme of the song seems to be justifying actions that move us away from the Church as long as our lives are hard. A sentiment that does not seem to be scripturally supported (God will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able, anyone?) and is potentially damaging.

image from here

This is not to say however that we should shift the pendulum to the other side and judge Emma or anyone else for their choices, because we do not understand what they are going through and what experiences led them to make the choices that they did. We should strive for a middle ground, where we seek to understand and empathize with others, without judging or justifying their behavior, two-sides of the same coin. Both of these place us in a position where we make a final determination about someone’s intentions or worthiness, which is well beyond our place as mere mortals, flawed and trying to find our way in this crazy world.

Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants is revelation specifically for Emma, however it closes with the following verse: “And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen” (D&C 25:16). All can draw from the counsel given to Emma and apply the principles in our own lives.

“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10). We can “lay aside the things of this world” by ceasing to justify or judge ourselves and others and “seek for the things of a better” by seeing the potential that we all have. We must look past the flawed choices that others make to find the intentions and motivations that drove them. We must seek understanding, so that we can love one another.

—Conor Hilton, Stance: Studies on the Family

Moroccan, Islamic Women and Latter-day Saints

When I first read the title “Moroccan Women’s Integration of Family and Religion,” I was at once piqued. I am always eager to learn new insights into other cultures and religions, and Donna Lee Bowen gives an insightful account of her findings from the women’s lives she submerged herself in.

image from here

Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco, making the majority of its population Muslim. As I continued to read the article, I was presented with facts about Islam, and the people who follow it, that I had never heard before in a history class.

A controversial topic in Western Society is the inequality of Muslim women. But as Bowen points out, when laws and customs are taken out of their social context of course they seem unequal. One law gives twice the amount of a wife’s inheritance to her husband than vice versa. To members of Western society this screams of gender inequality, but the purpose of this law is to give male family members more of the inheritance so that they can take care of the women. Not unequal, but a check to make sure everyone in the family can support each other. Pondering over this example, and other examples that Bowen gives, I began to see parallels between Islam and Mormonism.

Moroccan, Islamic Woman (image from here)

How much anti-Mormon literature takes quotes and statements out of context, using them to slander our religion? How many people have been turned away from the Gospel of Christ because of a misconstrued myth about Mormon culture? It happens all the time to Latter-day Saints, and reviewing what I hear on the news and other media sources it happens to Muslims, as well.

Now I am not saying that every Muslim custom is misunderstood, but I believe that a religion that champions family and equal family roles deserves understanding. Ignorance is the main cause of misunderstanding, but knowledge can bring enlightenment. After reading this article, I believe that as a Latter-day Saint who seeks to enlighten those who misunderstand my beliefs and culture, I must first enlighten myself to my misunderstandings of others.

—BrookeAnn Henriksen, Stance: Studies on the Family

Grande Mosque Hassan II, a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco (image from here)

What I Stand For: An Editorial Response Inspired by Former President Clinton

by Alissa Strong

On Tuesday morning, Former President Bill Clinton appeared on CBS and issued a no-holds-barred statement to Muslim activists. Clinton condemned the tendency to resort to violence when the Islamic faith is disrespected and claimed that the modern world is too diverse, too grounded in the principles of free speech, and too connected socially on the Internet for groups to avoid being offended at one time or another.

He added, “You can’t react every time you’re insulted. . . . You cannot live in a shame-based world. You won’t make it in the twenty-first century.”

I do not claim to subscribe to all the beliefs held by Former President Clinton. I do not agree with all of his political ideas, and I do not endorse all of the actions he has taken. However, I do recognize true and good words when I hear them, and I will proudly announce my agreement with such a statement, no matter from whose lips the words came.

I believe that Former President Clinton’s words are true, not only for Muslims but for all people. We live in a world where, for the first time, Internet communication allows us to know what other people from all cultures all across the world are saying and thinking about us.

It is no longer a matter of if we will encounter disagreement and ridicule, but when. 

Learning to allow others the freedom of speech and action that we desire for ourselves is part of growing up. Not that taking offense is always childish—quite the contrary. When others demean us or our innermost values and beliefs, they can cut deep into our hearts. It is our natural reaction to protect what is dearest to us. But as we grow, we must learn to protect those things appropriately.

I believe that there is a difference between protecting your beliefs and reacting violently. I come from a religion that teaches us from our youth to “stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Standing for what you believe in is an appropriate way of protecting what you value. It includes firmly but politely (also legally) doing what you can to uphold your beliefs in a situation where you can make a difference. Reacting violently, on the other hand, is an emotional and physical response that infringes on the rights of others and does not always have an effect except to harm those whom you have targeted. Such behavior is immature and unacceptable.

I believe that violent reactions are also ineffective. In 2002, approximately seventy Afghan refugees illegally seeking asylum in Australia sewed their lips and the lips of their children together to protest against the Australian government. The government did not react to their request and continued with their typical immigration processes.

Why?

Because if the government had granted the refugees what they wanted, future refugees would learn that self-harm to one’s self or children was likely to induce a wanted action. Behavioral psychology’s operant conditioning theory (introduced by B. F. Skinner) teaches that if a behavior is rewarded, we condition ourselves to continue that behavior in the hopes of gaining another reward. If a behavior is punished, presumably we will avoid that behavior in future to avoid future punishment. Thus, reacting to an offense with violence will likely make little to no difference to a cause because governments—or those we offend—are unlikely to acquiesce to such demands and encourage the likelihood of more violent protests in the future.

The world is changing, and not always for the better. But I believe that we can change for the better.

I believe there is strength and honor in turning the other cheek—in doing what we can to live and protect our beliefs, but also granting others the respect and courtesy to do the same.

I believe there is no honor in resorting to violence to protest when we are offended—be it physical violence or even simply bullying another via the Internet.

I believe that we have the responsibility and obligation either to solve disagreements like civilized adults—communicating clearly and rationally—or to look the other way and focus on the good that is in the world. To do any differently would defeat the purpose of standing for a greater good.