Much has been written on Mormon Blogs about the awful object lessons given to young women during chastity talks. While having never been a young women myself, I’ve heard of several. Most have a common theme. Something nice and pristine is shown the girls. Then that item is desecrated or fouled in some manner. Then they are asked if they still want it. The implication, often said explicitly, is that object is their body, and if it is ever defiled no man will want it. The ones I’ve heard about are:
- Chewed Gum: Teacher has a piece of gum, asked who wants it. Then puts it in her mouth, chews it, and then offers it to the girl that wanted it.
- A nice piece of wood is shown the girls. Then a nail is hammered in, and it is said this is them breaking the law of chastity. They repent so the nail is removed, but the hole remains.
- A cake is baked, and is placed on the table. The girls are told they get a piece after the lesson. During the lesson, the cake is likened to their bodies, and then the teacher puts her hand in it and completely destroys it. Nobody want s apiece now.
Even Elizabeth Smart talked about how the lessons she received in YW contributed to her being unwilling to leave her captors.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
All these objects lessons are a product of the antiquated belief that a women’s value is in her virginity, and that once taken (or give) can never be restored, thus the “damaged goods” belief. All of them completely ignore the atonement, and the teaching that you can be made completely whole after a sin. If the nail in the wood lesson was to be given with the atonement in play, then after the nail was removed, the hole would be miraculously filled in and made whole. I could see a teacher taking the board with the nail hole in it, putting it away and bringing out a new piece of wood, and telling the girls this is them after repentance, with no trace or remembrance of a hole ever being there! What a wonderful lesson!
But now on to the subject of this post, the worlds worst object lesson, which I played a part in! It was a Sunday, sometime in the early 1970’s, and church had just gotten out. I was probably 16 at the time in Priest quorum. Unknown to us Priests, the YW of our corresponding age (Laurels) had just finished a lesson with the cake example listed above. As us Priests were leaving the class and entering the foyer, a young woman was carrying the now destroyed cake through the foyer to the trash. Several of us approached the young woman and asked what she was doing with the cake, and she said she was throwing it out. So, being hungry boys, we proceeded to take handfuls of the destroyed cake and eat it there in the the foyer. While so engaged in eating the cake and getting frosting on our faces due to the messy condition of it, in came the rest of the young women and the YW leaders who had just finished the lesson. The YW laughed, while the leaders looked on in horror. The object lesson was completely ruined! Not only will boys want a YW if she has been defiled, they will eagerly devourer her! Being immature at the time, any sexual overtones of what was happening was lost on my 16 year old mind, but I’m sure the YW leaders realized the total disaster the lesson had become!
Do you have any personal experiences with bad object lessons, or maybe some good ones?
SMASHED BIRTHDAY CAKE BY JASONSISK USED UNDER A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE