Consider yourselves forewarned and please keep the comments thereof private. Again: This is a rant. Thanks.
I have to get this out. I’ve had more than one person suggest this isn’t so much doctrine as it is encouragement if not expectation of our leaders. But this is, as I’ll show in a minute, not just some off the cuff remark because back in the day girls just didn’t wear more than one earring (and certainly no where but the ear) and boys – well, that’s just…weird.
To the uninformed,
Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young woman for a period of time. He cared for her very much, and he was desirous of making his relationship with her more serious. He was considering and hoping for engagement and marriage. This relationship was developing during the time that President Hinckley counseled the Relief Society sisters and young women of the Church to wear only one earring in each ear.
The young man waited patiently over a period of time for the young woman to remove her extra earrings, but she did not take them out. This was a valuable piece of information for this young man, and he felt unsettled about her nonresponsiveness to a prophet’s pleading. For this and other reasons, he ultimately stopped dating the young woman, because he was looking for an eternal companion who had the courage to promptly and quietly obey the counsel of the prophet in all things and at all times. The young man was quick to observe that the young woman was not quick to observe.
- Elder David A. Bednar, Quick to Observe, December 2006 Ensign.
To anyone who does not consider themselves Molly or Peter (or to the non-member), this is ridiculous. To a newly zealous member or reinvigorated member, this is wise counsel. This is a faith-promoting story. Do the piercings matter? Noooo. But following the prophet at all times does.
*hits head on desk*
Sorry, but if these ears could hold piercings without infection and I had three or four, I’d keep them. It would be of no disrespect to President Hinckley, but I hardly believe God cares if I have two earrings in one ear. For that matter, I used to want to pierce my eyebrow. If that was still something I wanted, such a story would propel me to get the piercing. This kind of petty stuff serves only to encourage rebelliousness and guilt to those who feel the way I do. "Geez, would I take mine out? What would Elder Bednar think?"
Because it's not about the piercing, is it?
I presume that some of you might have difficulty with my last example. You may believe the young man was too judgmental or that basing an eternally important decision, even in part, upon such a supposedly minor issue is silly or fanatical. Perhaps you are bothered because the example focuses upon a young woman who failed to respond to prophetic counsel instead of upon a young man. I simply invite you to consider and ponder the power of being quick to observe and what was actually observed in the case I just described. The issue was not earrings! (continued from article cited above)
Yes, I believe the young man was too judgmental and I would indeed add fanatical. I might even call Elder Bednar slightly fanatical for bringing it up along with other stories he speaks of in the same talk. We are worrying about the stupidest things. It’s an earring!
If I were that young woman’s friend, I would quickly tell her how lucky she is that her guy showed his true colors before they married. Can you imagine? What if she took a few extra steps on a Sunday? Okay, okay. Hyperbole. But how's this: What if she…now sit down…had an energy drink? *gasp*
I at least hoped this guy talked to the girl beforehand. Oy vey. “Sorry honey, it’s me or the earring.”
Now before anyone throws a fit, I get it. I really, really do and I really, really resent the implied guilt trip pointed at anyone who is doing everything they can – reading the scriptures, attending meetings, honest, chaste, true, benevolent, etc, etc -- and yet has an extra earring. Nothing, nothing is mentioned about this girl's character. Just her unwillingness to take out an earring.
Are we really this nitpicky? What really matters here?
I think the thing that bothers me most about this is that Elder Bednar spoke about it, and not just in the Ensign. This was originally spoken of at a BYU Devotional. Many consider the Ensign to be Scripture when an authority is the author. These little anecdotes only feed the Molly and Peter fires that take the general membership away from the message of CHRIST. For heaven’s sake, can’t we puh-lease talk about Christ instead of these stupid earrings or even the Prophet?
It is because of talks like these that young men and women (and grown men and women) are judged not on their character or heart but on a fucking earring. As an apostle, I would hope Elder Bednar would rather speak of how we can become more charitable. I would rather he spoke about Christ.
And don’t even get me started on beards. Someone suggested this is a BYU thing – well, not exactly. It’s not necessarily church wide, but I can't seem to remember ever seeing a General Authority sporting a good beard, at least not in the last thirty to forty years. In my stake, any male being extended a leadership call (boy scouts, YM, EQ, etc) are asked “How attached are you to that beard?”
My SIL, a very active faithful member, bristles when she tells this story. Nobody asked her, she says. It’s part in jest, but she likes her husband’s beard. Her husband, a laid back guy, doesn’t care. Out comes the razor. Heaven forbid a boy see his leader with a goatee, especially if he's aware - what does it say? What will others think?
I have a good idea of what he'll think: he'll grow up thinking anyone who has a beard is somehow unworthy.
I get that the outside should reflect the inside and we often assume it does – and most times we’re *wrong*. Lest I’m misunderstood, though, I get that it’s important to be clean. I get the importance in dressing nicely when we’re representing the Church (because we understand that when we represent the Church, we are effectively representing Christ. At least that’s how it’s been explained to me). It all makes sense, but if the beard is clean and the earrings aren’t ridiculous than who cares.
Moving on. Deep breath.
Tattoos. Many of our members sport a good tattoo (I'd like to know more who do!). I am curious to know if we have any members - men and women - who have tat sleeves. Are they called to leadership positions? Oh sure as long as it’s covered, but again: women. Would we ever have a Relief Society president who sported a couple tats on her arm (inked before her conversion), tats impossible to cover up? Would we insist on long sleeves each Sunday regardless of weather?
I’m not being facetious; this is for real. We are not to be robots. We’re not to be stepford children of God, there to emit the impression of perfection. We have this weird preoccupation of striving for perfection in a futile journey to be just like Christ in this life. If we were supposed to look the same, it would probably have showed up in scripture somewhere.
And this, I think, is where some of the “avoid the appearance of evil” crap comes from.
Enough with perfection! Should we go nuts? No! But allow a person some self-expression. Allow a person a tattoo if it helps them remember something that is important to them (watch Miami or LAInk if you don’t know what I’m talking about. TLC). Allow a person an earring for heaven’s sake without having to question their loyalty to…who again? The prophet?
I’m sorry, but I think our focus is a little skewed. We talk about the churchchurchchurch. We are to give all we can to the effing church, not to Him whom this Church is supposed to represent.
If you look hard enough, Christ is in all of us. Piercings, beards, tats and all.
It's stuff like this that makes me wonder why I have any hair left at all.