AKA The Talk I Gave In Sacrament Meeting Where I Voluntarily Discuss The Law of Chastity or "WHAT WAS I SMOKING?"
Every summer my mom created a playhouse on the back porch. It was practically real to a 6 year old. It had a kitchen, a bedroom and the piece de resistance…a “REAL” couch made out of cardboard and pillows. I spent the summers of my childhood hanging doll clothes up on the clothes line, washing pretend dishes and yelling at my brothers to go to work!!!! and make more money !!!!for our 3 crying children. It was heavenly. Sadly, the demise of the playhouse came when we forgot to clean up the lik-m-aid our “family” had for dinner one night and an ant infestation caused the health board, also known as my parents, to shut ‘er down.
Years later, I went to college far from home and settled into my first “REAL” apartment. I still remember how very grown up I felt when I put up my Depeche Mode posters and Christmas “mood lighting” for the first time. It felt real to me even if my furniture was still mainly made of crates and cardboard boxes. But on occasion when I would light an oven mit on fire while watching america’s funniest home videos or find a dust covered piece of clothing under the unmade bed, I would have the sinking suspicion that I was really only playing house.
Even now, over 10 years since that first apartment, I think often about the concept of playing house. Maybe you are like me when you read the proclamation to the world about the family and feel a little like we are faking it… just making due right now as we wait for the husband, the wife, the babies, the furniture not made of plastic…
One of my favorite scriptures is found in Alma “All is as one day with God and time only is measured unto men.” We are the only ones holding on to this artificial timeline for when our real lives begin. I’m sure that if we asked Heavenly Father he would tell us that we are already living REAL LIVES if we are working on our relationship with the Savior and moving closer to understanding our divine nature. But still there are some ways in which the analogy of “playing house” is helpful.
Have you watched kids play house? They are boundless, they have all power to do ANYTHING. They don’t limit themselves and their ability. Remember how when you played house you had a job, took care of 5 kids and could FLY??? The proclamation states “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” We are STILL boundless in our divinity as children of God. Our nature is powerful and divine and we can do all things that we are asked! If we choose too, we can tap into that power and energy now to work harder for the things of God. We do not need to limit ourselves or our missions. Play HOUSE! Acknowledge your innate capability as a child of Heavenly parents!
Another cool thing that happens when kids play house: They imitate the behaviors of those who are closest to them…If we believe that “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We must start to build or continue to build that foundation for our future happiness by choosing to let the Savior be a greater part of our current lives. We must learn to imitate or emulate Him in everyway. Want to be happy? Want to find peace and have joy? Play House!
When we were kids, playing house was sort of practice or preparation for the future. We can still prepare today… In the proclamation to the world we learn that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities.” I recently had an experience with a group of friends in which one friend revealed that she was struggling with some really deep emotional pain. We knelt down together and petitioned our heavenly father in unified prayer for relief and understanding and comfort for our sister and I knew at that moment that I was closer to my friends, closer to the savior and one step closer to being the kind of mother and wife that I hope to someday be. And here is the truth. We might not have kids yet, but all of the characteristics that are required for a happy future family life can be developed and practiced NOW as we “play family” in our personal relationships and friendships. Create families. Be a family. Play house!
When I get a little bummed that my mission companion has 4 kids and I have none, I think about how silly her husband is and if that doesn’t work, then I remember Goonies…You know that part in the wishing well when everyone wants to quit and get pulled up by Troy’s bucket and Mikey reminds them, “It’s their time up there…but down here…this is our time.” I testify that this is our time down here and it is a gift from a loving and wise Heavenly Father. A time to figure out who we are and how we fit into his plan. We will NOT HAVE TIME TO WASTE when our children finally come to us. They are the great ones. They will probably already know who they are and why they are here…they need us to be firm in our understanding of the Savior and the gospel so that we can guide them.
Thinking about future children reminds me that there are some dangerous ways that we can play house as single members of the church. The proclamation on the family is full of amazing truths and practical “how to’s” about building a righteous family in Zion. It also plainly clarifies misguided ideas about procreation and puts forth powerful warnings about the misuse of our procreative energy. “We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of it’s importance in God’s eternal plan.”
Elder Oaks quote “ The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid it’s misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan.
The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ‘in the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love.”
Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful, degrading perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women.”
It is natural and OK to want the full benefits of married life. But just as we can trust heavenly father to be keenly aware of our righteous desire to create families…satan too understands and manipulates it in myriad ways. Telling us that we can’t really ever have the real thing…so we might as well accept the imitation while it’s still available. Give up. Give in. There is no other way. Settle for a couch made of cardboard boxes and lik-m-aid for dinner…
This train of thought can seem completely rational. I mean, we’ve watched an entire society embrace it, so it must have some power of persuasion… but it is not true.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS…THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER WAY. We believe in a Father in Heaven who provides for his children, who showers us with miracles if we’ll open our eyes to see. Moroni 7:27-29 Hopefully we are able to say as Nephi did “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded for I know that he giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” WE DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT SATAN’s PATHETIC IMITATIONS. If you don’t have hope that something real exists for you, seek guidance from the one who knows you best…ask him to give you enough hope to sustain you. Ask him to help you understand the Atonement and Christ and your role in this great plan. Moroni 7:41
I am intrigued by the word PROCLAMATION. To Proclaim something means to announce it officially and publicly. The word comes from a latin root of Pro meaning forward and claim to cry out. Proclaiming is active! I’m sure there are some bad proclamations, but in this case, I like to imagine the heavens shouting for joy at the sanctity of family!
It’s Christmas, so of course I have been thinking about the Savior and his earthly family. I imagine that Mary and Joseph spent a great deal of time cultivating their personal relationship with diety in order to fulfill their amazing familial mission on this earth. No doubt Mary spent a few childhood hours playing house and practicing for her role as a mother. May we all think about the best and good ways to play house as we read the proclamation from our God to the world about families.