A month or so ago I posted some pictures of prom (here).  It was such a fun night…fun for the kids and so fun to be their mom.

I noticed there was a lot of commotion going on on that post about Elle’s dress not having enough shoulder coverage so I took the picture and comments off until I could take the time to respond.  There were some valid questions asked that I’ve been thinking about ever since. 

The question was asked (in a few different ways), why do some Mormons think it’s ok to let shoulders show and others not?  Why, if we believe whole-heartedly in this church of ours, is it ok to let some shoulder show when it is written in the “Strength of Youth” pamphlet that they should be covered? (see that over here)

I think many wise blog readers have answered these questions perhaps better than I could (in the comments of this post…thank you for your responses!), but for what it’s worth, this is my take a little bit expanded:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the core of what Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) believe.  It is the “good news” that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  He came to earth and atoned for our sins because He loves and cares for each of us, dearly and individually, and wants us to return.  I love to stop and think about that amazing gift.

We are all imperfect in so many ways so boy do we ever need Him!  We believe this life is a time to strive to become more like that Savior of ours and to use the Atonement to help us through all the ups and downs that come our way.  

That is the gospel.

The church helps us with that “striving.”  It provides a place for us to go each week to be inspired and to take the sacrament to renew our covenants we made when we got baptized.  We have the scriptures to read to get all kinds of guidance from prophets of old, we get more guidance through General Conference twice a year and from church leaders in our communities.  We have great things for the youth like the “For the Strength of Youth” booklet to help them make wise decisions.  I’m so grateful because in this world of ours we need all the guidance we can get!  Reminders that social media can be dangerous, guidance to have a family night each week to keep our families in love and in tact in a world that can so easily tear them apart, reminders that we should love others as our brothers and sisters no matter what their circumstances or demeanor, and yes, reminders to respect the beauty of the human bodies we’ve been given through what we eat and what we wear.

All those things help to keep us on track and are certainly inspired, but they are not the gospel.  

When it is all said and done, and all that wonderful, inspired guidance is given, we are still just imperfect people doing our best to stay on track.  So if Elle’s prom dress showed more of her shoulder than anticipated, if someone has a bad thought about someone else, if someone is a little more addicted to social media than they should be, watches a movie with words or actions that dull their spirits, doesn’t have all the food storage stored up that they “should” or misses church here or there, we can just know that just like us, they have their own lives and backgrounds and thank Heavens we are not in charge of judging that.  

We have a friend who spent a lot of time with some church members at an extended church activity one summer.  They made it quite evident that they didn’t whole-heartedly agree with his way of life.  At the end of their time together this friend felt pretty looked down on by the leaders and proclaimed to Dave, “Those guys are going to be so mad when they see me in Heaven some day!”  Dave and I love that reminder that the ways some of us strive to do our best in life are different from the ways others do.  Even church leaders are human and being human=mistakes.

Sometimes it is easy to start thinking that the “guidelines” and rules and regulations are the gospel but they’re not.  They’re just the scaffolding.  They are all the “shoulds” that help us keep striving toward that number one goal: accept Christ as our Savior, use the Atonement he so miraculously gave us, and love each other as He would.  THAT is what brings joy.  And joy is the whole purpose of this thing we’re all in together called ‘life.”  

There are billions of people on earth.  Some are super strict with how they live their lives.  They see spiritual things in black and white.  They are stalwart in every way.  Others are more spirit-of-the-law kind of people.  They see a lot of gray.  And guess what?  I think both are right!  Because everyone is different. God created us that way.  Isn’t that awesome?  If we were all the same and lived the exact same wouldn’t life be dull?

I think it’s important to note the parenting factor here as well.  

I find it so interesting that the more mothering I have under my belt, the more I realize I don’t know!  The more I rely on the experiences I’ve grown up with and what I see around me.  Dave and I together try to cling onto what what we’ve seen work and stay away from what we’ve seen fail miserably.  We’ve seen parents raise children with an iron fist as to every rule and regulation, and we’ve seen those children back as far away from them as possible.  We’ve seen parents who simply do not care (many have too many of their own woes to worry about, or perhaps they weren’t raised with strict standards) who produce children who are as black-and-white as they come as far as rules go.  We’ve seen parents try to be “best buddies” with their children and others who have been so stern their kids are scared spitless to so much as tell them their own feelings.  And sometimes what you think is the best parenting in the history of the planet fails, and what you think may turn out to be a complete disaster works wonders.  As parents we can only judge from our past experiences because that’s what we’ve got to work with.  Sometimes it works out wonderfully, sometimes mid-stream we realize we are way off-track and need to re-calculate, but in my opinion it takes a whole lot of prayer and pondering and talking and more prayer.

And then more prayer again.

(Awesome post by my friend Sarah on that parenting teens topic is back HERE.)

Grace, Claire and I sat close to a great couple on an airplane the other day.  Somehow our conversation led to Mormonism and we found out they were ex-Mormons.  A pretty interesting conversation ensued that I keep thinking about (and that my girls and I have discussed a bunch).  They explained that they still have the best of friends in the church but that they were very disenchanted with all the rules and regulations.  The woman (I wish I had asked her name), told me twice, “I just think the bottom line is that everyone should be kind.”  

And she is so right!  THAT is the gospel.  The very core of it.  Although I don’t know for sure, our short conversation led me to believe that both of them had become so overwhelmed with all the minutia of the “shoulds” that good-meaning people were trying to enforce all around them that they began to think that was what the gospel was.  And really, couldn’t we all take or leave that if there isn’t love and kindness involved?

The core of the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t how many barrels of water you have stored in case of an emergency or how much family history you’ve done or how many body piercings you may have.  The gospel of Jesus Christ that I believe in teaches to exercise our free agency as we strive to do what’s right so we can return to God.  To accept others and the way they “strive” and interpret the “shoulds” and respect that their way may be different (sometimes vastly different depending on backgrounds and upbringing) from the way we do.

Although I think Elle looked lovely in her prom dress and was modest and pure in ways I am so proud of her for, I do apologize to those who do not think it was appropriate.  When I put our family out there in the Internet as a Mormon family, I should be extra sensitive to the fact that we are setting an example of what Mormonism really is.

But I do believe that all these girls radiate beauty and light.  They are kind and good.  Of course, just like me, they are not perfect.  They are learning on a beautiful journey which is magnified a hundred times over when you’re a teenager.

I’m grateful for the controversy that comes from things like this because it gives me the opportunity to talk to my teenagers (and my not-yet-teenagers) about such a range of things that we may never think to discuss otherwise.

Our discussions always come back to the bottom line, the core:  what matters is that we love God and Christ with all our hearts and strive to be like them enough to return to live with them some day.

Does that mean the “shoulds” aren’t important? Or that we should feel free to pick and choose which ones we want to follow?  Of course not.  They are the “steps” and guidance to help get to the real goal in life given to us by inspired counsel.  But when it comes down to it, we are all different so we are all going to interpret them differently from our own vantage points.  We need to constantly evaluate how well we are aligning ourselves with them and whether we personally are doing it in a manner that would please God. Those guidelines help us balance what’s important and bring me so much happiness.  Just how they made my parents happy and their parents before them.

How I hope I can share that happiness with my children as we strive to love all those around us unconditionally who are trying to do the same, sometimes so differently and on such varying paths coming from vastly different “starting points” every day.  And how I hope we can all remember that the reason we have them is to bring us to closer to Christ.

In the end we may all be surprised who we run into in heaven;)

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  1. Very well written! I'm no longer a part of any organized religion because of the hypocrisy I saw and the judgment made by those who should not be judging. Does it really matter what someone wears if they are a good person?

  2. Very well spoken. You are a GREAT example in so many ways and those things far outweigh the few decisions others would not agree with. You have to do what is working for you…and being an example in how to KINDLY respond to such awful judgement of your family is just one of the many great qualities about you that keeps readers like me coming back. Thank you for what you do, what you share and how you inspire mothers like me.

  3. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing. I also love the quote, Don't judge me because I sin differently than you do. We all have our own struggles. Some are big, some small. I feel bad that some people made a large issue out of such a small thing. Elle looked beautiful, and I would be a proud mama if that's what my daughter wore to a dance!

  4. Beautifully said! Thank you for sharing your lives with us through your blog. We love learning from you and your beautiful family.

  5. Very well said. I believe I'm not here to judge anyone. If I know nothing else, I know I was not put here to judge. The rest is what I've spent my life working on. Love your family so much.

  6. Reading your blog and your thoughts on motherhood, parenting, faith and the world is such a breath of fresh air. I'm not a mother yet but I have already learned so much from you about the kind of mom I want to be. I could prattle on for days about how much inspiration I draw from your posts and how even though I don't always agree I never feel like my personal ideas are 'wrong'. You are so right, God is the guy in charge, He knows our hearts and our thoughts behind our actions, I anticipate heaven being full of people we may not expect to see! Blessings to you and your family.

  7. Amen, amen, AMEN! I am not a blog commenter- I am also not a mother or a wife, but I am a 26 yr-old single Mormon resident of Provo, and I have to frequently remind myself that it is the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ that I love so dearly, that gives me strength and that allows me to repent and change and try to be a light to others along my imperfect path- and I do not have to accept or absorb the well-meaning but sometimes hurtful cultural habits and practices that often lead me to feel inadequate, looked down upon, defective… etc. because I am 26 and still without a family of my own. I love the church and I love the support it gives, even with the imperfect elements that sometimes have me feeling down- but it is the GOSPEL that I love and treasure above anything else. Thank you for this beautiful post that I will tuck away and keep to reread when I AM a wife with children of my own and need reminding that it's okay if I'm not yet perfect in all things. xoxo.

  8. Elle and her dress are beautiful! I just have to say that all of your kids radiate so much light and goodness (even in pictures) that I don't even notice what they're wearing. You are a great mom and an awesome example of our religion.

  9. You are always so sweetly gracious to people who disagree with you that I will have the temerity to do so. If we all pick and choose which items in For The Strength of Youth to follow, we will quickly lose our way. Kindness is very good, but we cannot overlook the importance of obedience.

  10. Love this and I think your daughter's dress was beautiful! As a fellow LDS I think it's so important to focus on Jesus Christ, the core of our gospel. I think modesty is so much more than shoulders and knees. It's humility and being decent and not being a braggart, etc. I will guide my children in their choices but I will also allow them to make their own choices too. I hope my daughters will be happy with a dress as modest and appropriate as your daughter's!

    1. I agree with your definition of modesty! It is as much about attitude as it is about hemlines. I've never met a truly modest person who judges another.

  11. I agree until you state that the ex-mormon on your plane "forgot that's what the gospel is." She's the one who said it! You are doing exactly what people have done to them, finding what *they* did wrong when in fact they were the ones reminding you of kindness. People can be good and are often more good when they are not doing it to win any religious points. Those people's hearts were probably as big as they come. That has been my experience. No membership or code words are necessary to feel God's love and give it out to other people.

  12. Shawni, you are a kind, caring person and you are raising your children in a way that is very admirable and that we can all learn from – you have shared some great wisdom and great ideas in your blog.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong or immodest about any of those dresses – all the girls look lovely. But I agree with Rachel. Several of them are showing their shoulders in varying degrees and your LDS book says they shouldn't show them. It's your chosen religion – so you and your family should follow the rules.

    It's not an "imperfection" or a "mistake" and there's no "striving" involved. The dress you choose to wear is a conscious choice – you go prom dress shopping and if your church says you shouldn't show your shoulders, you choose a dress that covers them. Period. If you get home and realize you made a "mistake" – take it back and choose one that matches your belief system.

    Again, I am not judging how the girls look. I think they look fine – but I'm not LDS so am not bound by that booklet. You and your children are. By choosing to ignore that "should-not" about the shoulders, you are letting your kids know that they really don't have to follow what the church "suggests" – in which case, why bother?

    So Emily (above) as a "fellow LDS" says that the dress is appropriate – so it's not important to "fellow LDS's" that your book says otherwise?

    1. Sadly she isn't going to start a branch of the LDS church and write an amendment to the shoulder issue on a pamphlet for the girls under 19 just so the shoulder issue becomes not mentioned. In a few years they may change the shoulder rule. The shoulder rule is to get the used to temple garments, which themselves have changed. There are shorts shawni wears her mom in her twenties after marriage wouldn't have been able to wear at the time. The hemlines on those changed since the 60's. You still can't understand the difference between guidelines and gospel. That isn't shawni's fault. And the "girls" are not all LDS. Thank goodness she teaches her children not to blindly follow every guideline even if it's from a church. Guidelines change. And they should. And changes of guidelines should come from the congregation. I predict strength of youth in twenty years will simply say make sure the shirt worn doesn't fall off and cleavage doesn't pop out. Earlier strength of youth pamphlets were concerned about girls wearing hair curlers out of the house and off the shoulder shirts. Off the shoulder shirts had short or long sleeves, it was the neck that way cut too wide. The guidelines will change with the times. And we have all seen her girls in curlers, on the web would be the same as out of the house today. But it's just not an issue now. But God is in his heaven and all is right with the world when it comes to high school students dressing for prom.

  13. I don't understand Mama Saurus why you need to keep discussing it. Shawni has apologized and explained her point of view and that is all she can do. Just because you view it one way does not mean that Shawni is not entitled to her own opinion as well. You even said you are not LDS… There are guidelines that Shawni explained and sometimes people differ. Don't judge people because they sin differently than you.

    I'm a mormon and I have two earrings in both my ears. Is that accepted as a good thing in my church? No, but I made the decision and just because I have double piercings doesn't make me any less of a person in our church because of it. I know that Heavenly Father forgives me and that nobody is perfect like Shawni said.

    I personally thought that Elle and her friends looked breathtaking and I would love to see the pictures reposted. She is a beautiful girl who shines her light everywhere she goes. I only hope someday I have a daughter like Elle, Grace, Claire or Lucy. They are beautiful daughters of God and what they choose to wear does not change the fact that they are daughters of our Heavenly Father just like you and me.

    We follow this religion because of what it teaches us. The Gospel is about love, forgiveness and accepting and striving to be like Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Shawni explained it perfectly. I think we need to all move on from the fact and accept that Shawni has done everything she can to apologize and we need to accept that apology.

    Nobody is perfect. I applaud you Shawni for how you handled this situation. You are a true representation of what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

  14. I did not bring this up. Shawni brought it up again in this post. I haven't said a word about it since the original discussion and had no intention to do so. I simply gave my opinion, as did Shawni. Yes we differ in our thoughts on this. What is your point?

    Love, forgiveness and accepting and striving to be like Our Saviour Jesus Christ are wonderful things and it's admirable to see a group of people trying to do that. But in my reading of that booklet, I did not see where it said it was ok to show your shoulders as long as you love and accept everyone. It just said it shouldn't be done. Love, acceptance, etc. have nothing to do with this suggestion. For people to keep bringing them up is just rationalizing what they CHOOSE to do.

    I have 3 holes in each ear, wear a toe ring and have a tattoo. I'm not judging those choices you have made. But if I joined a church that frowned on wearing 3 earrings at at time, I'd take them out. Heavenly Father no doubt forgave the fact that you had the multiple piercings done, but do you think he forgives you every day for wearing them when you could easily choose to remove them? Do you have to be perfect to take out an earring, or wear a dress with sleeves?

  15. Shawni, I appreciate your willingness to be so transparent and candid on the topic of modesty, especially as it touches your own family. It is a sensitive topic, indeed, especially among members of our church, since modesty is a well-stressed topic. I didn't see the comments on your last post, but I would still like to weigh in on this issue with some thoughts of my own.

    As a mother of five young children, 3 of whom are female, modesty is something I think a lot about. Contrary to what another commenter wrote, I DO believe that what we wear is important. I find myself increasingly discouraged at what seems to me to sometimes be a lack of courage, understanding, or conviction among the members of our church when it comes to modesty. I have a Muslim friend as well as many Catholic friends who (obviously, in the case of the Muslim!) dress much more modestly than me or my children do, and it sometimes causes me to wonder. I see Mormon youth so often embracing the trends of the world, instead of setting their own, more modest trends.

    Do you believe it is possible to have high standards of modesty as a family without being legalistic and pushing our youngsters away? My kids aren't teenagers yet, so I am asking this question in all earnestness. In my own, idealistic way, I want to believe that our youth are strong enough to dress differently from the world, and that that desire can come from within and not just be forced upon them by their parents. In a society so focused on the carnal and sensual, I want my own children to avoid even the very appearance of worldliness that so many of today's fashion trends portray.

    I so badly want this comment to come across in the spirit in which I've written it, because the topic of modesty really is so important to me, yet I mean absolutely no unkindness or malice! While I don't think we should unrighteously judge others, we DO notice how others around us dress, and we have to try to discern for ourselves and our children if we think it's appropriate or not. I do believe that we have the responsibility to weigh the effect that our actions have on other people, and consider the example that we're setting in our individual spheres.

    I appreciate your insights and the loving, kind way in which you respond to the readers of your blog. You truly are a beautiful example of Christlike love and I enjoy reading your blog and gleaning ways to be a better mother and daughter of God. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable in order to serve others!

  16. That was a very nice comment, Stephanie. I agree that the definition of "modesty" is not that of non-LDS people in this case – like myself. I think they are dressed modestly, but I am considered "worldly" to LDS people.

    To your point – are they dressed "modestly" as defined by the guidelines within the Mormon/LDS literature….?

    The main point here is that it is not difficult and takes no strength of character to find and wear a dress that covers the shoulders if that is what your church suggests. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the kindness of our Saviour, whether we accept and love our fellow man, etc. Bringing that up is a smokescreen to detract from the fact that people chose not to follow a church guideline

  17. This post is so well-written, so considerate, so educational and so demonstrative of who you are (from my blog perception anyway). I love your posts and your ability to continually be yourself, be true to your ideals while opening your eyes to others. Thank you for the lovely clarification (I didn’t need one when I saw your first prom post but this food-for-thought response to others was great) which served as an important reminder that humanity can use more kindness without regard to any other differences. PS- all the girls looked beautiful. Thank you!

  18. I am reminded of a saying – maybe in the Bible – people who are faithful and obedient to the small things are faithful and obedient also in the larger issues. I think by allowing young people to ignore the small things and justifying it by saying that they will be forgiven if they are kind and love people, a message is sent that maybe some of the "larger" more important rules about behavior and morality can also be ignored as long as you are a "good person".

    1. Mama Saurus I agree with you on this issue. Sadly many members in the church have made modesty a gray area instead of the black and white that it should be as stated in the For Strength of Youth Pamphlet. I thought the exact same thing you did about the earring comment as well. I love when people repeatedly say that no matter what they do God still loves them. While He loves us unconditionally He does not love when we knowingly disobey his laws. I take the pamphlet as well as other aspects of our doctrine as inspired council from our prophets and apostles. When the prophet speaks (or distributes a pamphlet filled with guidelines) it is from God and I'll be spending my life trying to obey with exactness.

    2. Good luck with that. Does your church think a parent isn't capable of using their own agency when it comes to wardrobe choices and the activity at hand? Can a 31 year not through the temple and no longer a youth wear a tank top daily? There is nothing sexy in a teens shoulder. We are also not talking about full members with the teen issue. They are not worthy yet to go through the temple and wear garments but get all these rules on them? They are completely making the choice to join the church yet it's clear if they can't decide on their own dress they really are not members of their own choice living the LDS life if parents insist on the dress code. Just look at the family all obsessed over a brother sporting a beard. He isn't at a BYU flavor. At one point beards were the norm. Let's say a pamphlet comes out making your hubby wear a beard. Do you make him? Or not let him have a beard if he has one and they make that a guideline? Pretty soon you are living like AUB and pulling earrings out of the ears of women and they walk around with holes in their ears.

    3. Obedience to the small things really does bring a greater ability to obey the bigger things. It's hard for me to argue this issue because it's never been a hard thing for me to personally obey. It's just not something I even think about, I would love to answer your questions, but I would ask you to read from the source first. Get on lds.org and read the pamphlet and see what you think. I love that the youth (and all of us for that matter) are asked to live a little differently than the world. Boundaries and expectations are not a bad thing. If I accepted a job that had a dress code, including how I wear my hair/beard and things like that I would follow the rules so I could keep that job. It's the same in the church. If I go to a church school like BYU I would shave my beard (ew let's hope I never grow one, haha) if that was their rule because I choose to go there and want to continue going there. As members of the church we have our agency. We can choose whatever we want to do. Angency is never taken away from anyone. It's the freedom to choose that might be taken away. That goes for anything in life. I can choose for myself, but I am not free to choose the consequence. God has set His standards and it's up to me to figure out how to align my will with His so that I might make it back to Him someday.

    4. People aren't choosing your church because they don't want to be micromanaged on issues so small. Not having a beard to attend BYU being an obedience things is just ridiculous. They can go out and baptize but they can't decide facial hair? Jesus had facial hair. The early LDS prophets had facial hair. It's just silly micromanagement of people because they can. I will get no pleasure or expect God to be pleased with me for following such a rule. But you see how a rule over a school code is in the heads of greater congregation and they are shocked and comment on the brother with the beard because of it. And he is not a missionary or student.

    5. Growing up, I was always counseled (by my leaders) that the "no shoulder" rule meant no bare shoulders, as in strapless. I was also counseled that we should "try" to follow these guidelines, to prepare us for life after the temple, and that they were suggestions. I wore a strapless dress to my senior prom. Some may have frowned upon it, but I'm still a worthy temple goer now that wears their garments….

    6. I guess I just don't get why, if you were a loyal, believing church member, that you would wear a strapless gown knowing full well it was frowned upon. Not judging you, but my "why bother" comment is applicable. Why bother joining a church if you can so easily disregard its teachings?

    7. Mama, madam. It's not a teaching. It's a suggestion. Her leaders told her it was a suggestion. She understood the definition of suggestion. A suggestion means she considers convering the shoulders. Not that she has to. That would be mandatory. The frowning from others did not include God, Christ or her own self. And the act of not covering shoulders didn't mess with her ability to obtain temple recommend a few years later. When it's a suggestion you are allowed to not bother. It you bother, great, if not that is fine too.

  19. I started reading comments then I got too aggravated that people can't live their own lives and need to bring others down at every chance they get and nit pick. As a young mother of two kids your blog is such inspiration to me. If the worst thing people are attempting to bring you down over is your child's shoulders, then you are doing way better than 99% people in the world. In my opinion you shouldn't even HAVE to take your time to try to explain yourself, this is your blog, your life and you are doing a fantastic job! Thanks for setting such a wonderful example for all the other mothers out there.

  20. Juliana, why not give your opinion on what has been said – specifically – rather than accuse people of bringing Shawni down?

    1. This is Shawni's blog, this is Shawni's opinion, not an open forum for others opinions on her life. But since you want my opinion I believe nothing was wrong with Elle's dress as it did cover her shoulder, so Shawni should've never had to write this post! 🙂

    2. I agree with you that it was modest. But what is the comment section for if not for others to express their opinion? The blog is about Shawni's life – so what are we supposed to comment on if not that? Not all opinions will be the same as Shawni's.

  21. Shawni, I love reading your blog and how you handle criticism thoughtfully and graciously. I think it's so easy to focus externals when the Bible says in I Samuel 16:7 that "the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." We need to remember that Jesus came out of love and offers us a free gift of salvation, not because we earn it or deserve it, but because His love draws us in. The more we allow this love to penetrate deep in our hearts, we will be changed into being more like Jesus. I think too many people are worried about appearances like the Pharisees Jesus scolded in Matthew 23. They were so consumed by the Law that they missed His love. Wouldn't we rather have our children be full of love, grace and mercy and to have the eyes of Jesus when they see others, rather than so harshly judging the sleeve length of a teenager? Your family seems real and authentic and while you are conscious of your example to others, you are not censoring yourself or presenting your family as something that it is not.

  22. Obviously the people who wrote the Strength of Youth Booklet were "worried about appearances" or they would not have taken the time to instruct young women on how they should "appear".

  23. Shawnie, you rock! You're a great mom & your kids are great kids. I love the focus you have on the gospel! Love! Love! Love! Leave the judging to God, just love! ♡ you give me hope for the church I no longer attend. Thank you for speaking up for love & for turning the focus back to God where it belongs! ♡

  24. mama saurus – above you said if you don't follow the guidelines, then "why bother". i don't generally comment or respond to comments on blog posts, but i felt moved to here.

    (before you read below, i just want to make clear that i am not trying to equate this shoulder "controversy" with many of the issues i will talk about. i am simply trying to respond to your question of "why bother" because i think it has bigger implications than you realized. and also because it is something close to my heart as i wrestle with it everyday)

    i was raised in a conservative catholic home. it was in high school that i was exposed to liberal catholic views. needless to say, my eyes were opened in a good way. i learned that a religion that is alive contains dialogue and struggle and debate. each church presents guidelines and teachings to the faithful. i believe most people, including shawni and her family, prayerfully consider those guidelines and what it looks like to live them out in their daily lives. i challenge you to show me one person anywhere on this planet that lives every single guideline of his/her church with perfection. it's just not going to happen. does that mean we should all stop trying?

    everyday people wrestle with much heavier issues than whether a dress covers the appropriate amount of shoulder. often, guidelines are cut and dry, right? so would you ask "why bother" to every person who struggles or falls short? would you ask "why bother" to the addict? to the person with an eating disorder? to the person with deep anger and resentment issues"? with your reasoning, those people had clear guidelines – don't do drugs; treat your body like a temple; be humble, forgiving, and patient – and they all fell short. why bother, right?

    we bother because we want to grow, improve, and become closer to christ every day. we bother because, as imperfect beings, we HAVE to struggle in this life – it's just inherent to human nature. it's better to struggle and strive than to become complacent. i think where we can often find jesus is in our struggles – he is there with us every step of the way. and truly, only god can judge our hearts, desires, and intentions.

  25. Kayla – I agree wholeheartedly with you – none of us is perfect and that is certainly not what I meant by "why bother".

    For an addict or a person with an eating disorder or other health or mental issue – of course they will fall short by no fault of their own – and should always keep trying to do better.

    But for making a conscious choice to buy and wear a dress that is sleeveless cannot be compared to the setbacks an addict would face! The addict can't help it – the person buying the dress, or choosing to wear multiple earrings – these people could have done differently – and didn't.

    I totally get where you are coming from – but there is no comparison at all – falling short due to mental or physical health issues is way different than deciding with a healthy conscious brain that you will do the opposite of what your church teaches.

    Shawni has never once said she or Elle or any of those girls made a mistake or fell short. All she has done is try to justify their choices by saying that as long as they are kind – IT IS OK.

    1. Her shoulder is covered so I'm not seeing the issue you're having here. What frustrates me about all your responses is that you do not allow people to have agency. The girls did not make a 'mistake' – they made a choice & it is their choice that does not have to be justified. You can criticize, condemn, etc. etc. but the reality is we all have agency, regardless of our church attendance. You seem to want all agency taken away based on a person's baptismal status – that's just not the way it works.

    2. Her shoulder is covered so I'm not seeing the issue you're having here. What frustrates me about all your responses is that you do not allow people to have agency. The girls did not make a 'mistake' – they made a choice & it is their choice that does not have to be justified. You can criticize, condemn, etc. etc. but the reality is we all have agency, regardless of our church attendance. You seem to want all agency taken away based on a person's baptismal status – that's just not the way it works.

  26. I totally agree with you Shawn and I was talking to a family member today about it and she's not a member she said this.. which totally has me thinking.
    " do we believe the prophet & apostles receive revelation for us" directly from God ?.. I said yes, then she said " well if you truly believe that and the first presidency issued the strength of youth".. and it clearly states cover the shoulders and no short shorts then why are we discussing it.. you are choosing to obey your leaders who you say get their revelation from God.. is God wrong ?… I never thought about it thst way.

    1. Don't your leaders also encourage members to use their agency? One girl won't have her girls falling out if the shoulder is three inches long, another needs the full four inches. You look at your kid and decide if he or she looks okay. When they hit 19 or maybe 18 if they seal in the temple and they agree to wear garments then the hemline thing will work around that. For a church that was determined not to have the absolute authority they think the pope has some are really overdoing the guidelines on the things that were not inspired. Speaking of the pope while everything he says should be considered, everything isn't infallible. If he makes a remark people should be less wasteful it's fine to do but you won't go to hell for tossing spoiled food.

  27. dresselfamily – EXACTLY – in keeping with Mormon teachings, if the Strength of Youth says cover your shoulders, then it's the same as "Heavenly Father" saying cover your shoulders. Right?

    It does not say "don't worry about this small minute detail about covering the shoulders as long as you love your fellow man and are kind and accepting".

    1. It's inspired council from God given to our church leaders and updated to fit the current issues facing the youth today. If you were to look back and compare old versions you would find that the core guidelines are all the same. The Lord's standards have not changed and will not change, it's that we are all imperfect people who sometimes need it spelled out! Navigating this world is tough for our youth today and there's great safety and power in following the Prophet. He knows the way!

    2. So God changed his mind about the public seeing girls in hair curlers?

      You are going to remain a church in the less than one percent of the population if you are going to micromanage people this way. I had no idea the tank and halter tops were issues facing youth. What a lovely world to live in when a billion people can't manage to eat every day of the month to be concerned about the length of shoulders on a sleeve which has nothing to do with morals or temptation. Like the person on the airplane said, too many rules and too much guidance about things that are not important to living properly.

    3. I actually agree with Shawn for the record 😉.. and even said to someone.. well the strength of youth us not scripture.. they said and maybe this is in correct but if it has the churches stamp .. it is.. same as the ensign , proclamation to the family etc.
      it's been really an interesting read.

    4. The curlers thing is news to me. I'll have to dig a little and see if an old version really had that included. The pamphlet does not just talk about clothing. It discusses sexual purity, education, media usage, health and wellness, etc. The thing I love about my membership in the church is that I want to be a better person because of its teachings. I strive to choose the right and constantly try and choose those things that would please God. I want to obey His words because I've seen the blessings in my life.

    5. That is so funny! Times have sure changed. Gotta check those curlers! I love Shawni's blog and have never commented before. I'm not sure I'll ever do it again! Haha! There are just a lot of misconceptions out there about the church and sometimes I feel the need to add my two cents! The internet world has really made it seem like all we do every week is measure hems and necklines, but geesh life is full of so much more! This is such a tiny issue and I feel bad that a picture of a great girl going to prom gets so blown out of proportion!

    6. That is way too much micromanagement about how I parent my child. How are we able to take credit for anything if we are not allowed to use agency but instead just follow a bunch of guidelines that are ever changing as if they were holy scripture? If it was meant to be gospel it would not be a pamphlet. I get from shawni its not as important as scripture but fine in people want to follow to the letter. I wish she would just say her daughter looks perfectly lovely in the dress and it's appropriate for the situation. Even for girls camp a swim suit doesn't have to cover the shoulders or continue down the leg. She isn't wearing a shirt sleeve shirt under her tennis uniform. Look at the BYU volleyball uniform. You can't run around in shorts like that normally. Prom isn't normal. It's a couple hours. When it comes to prom dresses you either spend an arm and a leg in the few places that carry ones that cover the top, bottom and back. Usualy designs have lots on the top and short or long but less on top. In twenty years she will look back on that dress as timeless unlike the rest of us 80's kids. Gosh that was just an awful time for prom dresses.

  28. I hope you will repost all the pictures, Shawni. Parenting is hard, and you and Dave are clearly giving it your all and seeking the Lord's guidance, learning and adjusting as you go. No one can do better than that, and I wish we could all reserve judgment for the Lord and give each other the benefit of the doubt! Thanks for sharing your life and family with us. I look forward to each and every post! 💖

  29. I guess I am flabergasted by this entire conversation?

    If it is such a big deal that people felt the need to complain to you, Shawni, why are there many photos taken at Bear Lake on this blog where girls and women are wearing bathing suits showing their shoulders in "public?" (well, on a blog for all to see?). If the teachings of your church do not agree with showing shoulders because the Lord, through your leaders, teaches modesty, why does this apply to a young girl in a prom dress and not everyone, everywhere? I'm asking as a non-LDS person, who is a Christian, observing with curiousity.

    Personally, I believe it ihas to be between God and a family. If you are proud of your decision to allow Elle to wear that dress at that time, then post the pictures and write that story. The fact that you are writing in a smaller font whenever you bring up this "controversy" makes me think you feel guilty or something…

    For the record: she looked amazing, you should be proud of what you decide for your family, and not worry/explain/make excuses/apologize at all. There are always going to be haters. Do your thing and don't be wishy washy. It's awesome.

    Just observing, not hating,

    Sonja (Christian mom, saved by grace alone, with three daughters who we (gasp) allow to wear bikinis!)

    1. And tennis and hiking clothes.. When it comes to temple garments the exception is activities like swimming. The prom is a dance. That is a physical activity. Adults don't go to prom. There isn't a single instance someone sees shawni or her sister in hiking attire with a shoulder partially exposed and said something about it. You are right. It's just teen girls responsible for the world going to hell in a hand basket. I'm sick of the dress shaming. People should wear sunglasses or move to some exclusive man island if they are so upset about a girls dress.

  30. Isn't there something in the bible too about beams and motes and worrying about your own sins? Yes, I know there is….I'm kidding. I'm a Mormon, born and raised, and it makes me sad to see all of these comments from Mormons who think it's their job to police what everyone else thinks, feels, believes and does about their own lives in the church. I'm so sorry Shawni that you and your family have to feel so judged:( And I'm so sorry for those of you who are not Mormon who will judge Mormons off of the comments they read here….Please know that this IS NOT Mormonism. The people in our church are not perfect but very human. Whether your shoulders are showing, you have tattoos, you smell like cigarette smoke or you show up to church in jeans, please know that at the very heart of Mormonism, you are welcome and loved. I have no doubt that even the prophet of our church would not have a thing to say about Elle's dress. He would tell her she looked beautiful and that her Heavenly Father loves her and he would leave it up to her and her parents as to how to judge her dress…which was beautiful. I've seen garment wearing women walking into the temple with the same sleeve and again, it's between them and the Lord. It would be so nice if everyone could look at their own lives and look at what they are doing and wearing instead of judging anyone else. It's just not their place. This wonderful family needs no further clarification, no explanation of what the church says about anything because it's not anybody else's place to do so. Hang in there Shawni…we love you!

  31. i think people enjoy cyber bullying you. it makes me mad! this dress/shoulder thing is so ridiculous! i wouldn't give them the privelege of having to create special posts just for them! i would IGNORE them, then hopefully, they'll go away. xoxoxox

  32. Your blog is an inspiration. I look forward to reading it because you are a great example and mother. Please ignore the Internet trolls and keep blogging and sharing your wonderful ideas.

    1. Why does disagreeing with Shawni and expressing my own opinion make me a troll? I have been very respectful in my comments. Sorry to have struck a nerve.

  33. This post was very well written. I agree with most of what Shawni wrote. And even though I do think Elle should have chosen a different Prom dress and I suspect in hindsight Shawni feels the same way, who am I to judge?? The Pothiers are not a perfect family and don't proclaim to be and frankly, if they were no one would be interested in their blog. They are real. They, like all families( LDS or not) are gonna make some mistakes and that's ok.

  34. Elle looks stunning as always!! Thank you for reposting a picture, I was dissapointed I missed the first one. I completely agree with Shawni….God knows what's in our hearts.
    Mama Saurus you remind me of a commenter on Shawnis blog from a couple of years ago…she never had anything nice to say either….makes me wonder why you read the blog?

    1. I just found this blog a few months ago.

      I didn't say anything that wasn't nice. I just disagreed. Now that I know that is not allowed I stand corrected. How's this: Oh, Shawni, you are so great and I love you so much, I want to be you when I grown up …." Better?

    2. I am reacting to the comments made about me. I have not said anything mean or disrespectful – I am expressing my opinion and asking questions about LDS practices. I seem to have struck a huge nerve – feeling guilty about clothing choices, maybe, when called out? If you choose to disobey, own it. Don't make excuses or attack me for questioning it.

  35. Was expecting something way worse than that dress. I think she did her best, so many girls through modesty out the window for prom, so it's great she tried.

  36. Beautifully said. She looks gorgeous and modest and I can see in her pictures and your posts that she is a wonderful daughter of God!

  37. Elle looks lovely (and so do her friends).

    Now…tell me more about the rules for storing up food! I learn so much from reading here! 🙂

  38. Seriously….Great job addressing it. Bottom line, we're all children of God and doing the best we can. And like it or not, modesty varies a great deal. Even among LDS families, people seem to have different ideas of this, (hiking attire and length of shorts, staying in work out clothes all day, swimsuits, etc.) My daughter has mormon and non-mormon friends, and their standards of modesty are different. And we as moms have different standards on how we dress. Bottom line, Be Kind. Stand up for what you believe, which is that we're all loved by a Heavenly Father.But don't belittle someone else for their choice. EMBRACE DIFFERENCES!! I want my daughter to love, respect and be kind to people no matter their hemline, their style of bathing suit, or their shoulders!

  39. I loved this post. I am a lifelong member of the LDS Church and was always quite stalwart in my obedience. As I grow older, however, I have become disillusioned with much of the culture of the Church and how strongly we often focus on issues that are so much less important. It's refreshing to read of someone who is focusing on the "meat" of the Gospel, and I appreciate your testimony.

  40. I'm a Mormon mom and I love your blog, Shawni. My oldest is just 13 and I love learning from moms just a little ahead on this crazy journey of motherhood! I think Elle looks radiant. I don't think modesty is black and white. We just do the best we can. I've tried on clothes at a store ans right they were very modest, then I get home and put them on and wear them for a little while and realize my garments are showing, or the neckline stretches weird, or something. I wore a two piece bathing suit as a child that was given to me, and after a little while I realized I didn't like how I felt in it. but if my mom had forbid me from wearing ut,I probably would have worn it forever just to spite her. We all make choices and learn from them. If you had this dress custom made in China and the shoulders were covered when she tried it on and she felt good, then later realized maybe they didn't quite stay as covered as she wanted, then that's just a learning experience and no reason to stress and not wear the dress. Just my opinion, modesty is about our heart and our intentions, not inches and hemlines.

  41. Oh heck. People are acting like she was dressed like a stripper in Vegas. FOR THE RECORD: I have garments that hit my shoulders RIGHT WHERE Elle's straps hit her. Just sayin'.

    I will never understand why people who don't know our religion, or even bother to ask with a sincere heart (and no inclination to judge) read your blog just to attack you at every point. Like…what's the point there? Sure you are a Mormon family. So what? Do they go around attacking other people's blogs who are Catholic? Who are Baptist? No one ever says anything about how Muslims wear certain clothes, or Jews but holy heck Mormons are oppressive because we don't show our shoulders. It drives me CRAZY that we are somehow held at a different standard than everyone else. It's ridiculous and unfair. We have never claimed to be a perfect people and holy cow how many times has someone in our church said we aren't perfect? It's said in ALMOST EVERY CONFERENCE TALK EVER. Lordy B. Quit attacking Shawni at every blessed point! If you have THAT big of an issue with her and her families choices—QUIT READING. That simple. Why fill your life with someone you consistently find strife with?

    THAT being said…I disagree that the Strength of Youth isn't gospel. The way I see it/was taught is that anything that comes from the Prophet is scripture/gospel/etc. Thus why The Family: A Proclamation the World, The Words of Wisdom and other publications are corner stones in our religion. However, I do think The Strength of Youth is more of GUIDELINES than it is hard and fast rule. I agree that it has EVERYTHING to do with intent. That guideline, I believe, was set to prepare the youth to wear garments and to also keep them in a more pure state of mind. You don't see Shawni waltzing about in a tube top & daisy dukes. Unless exercising, Shawni's always covered–as a temple recommend holder MUST be. If she wasn't THEN **maybe** I could see the reason for the uproar, but not over a teenage girl with smaller than average straps on a prom dress. Goodness gracious.

    Last time I checked nobody here has a deputy Jesus badge, so let's leave the judging to Him.

    I apparently had more thoughts about this than I thought.

  42. Elle looks beautiful (and smart, funny, kind, and caring!). Her dress seems modest to me – but why should it matter about what her dress is to us? If it fits her/your family's standards of modesty – I believe that is more important than the opinion of those reading your blog. I am sure Heavenly Father is proud of her, and THAT is more important than anything else.

  43. You should never have to apologize for something you felt was right. Elle should be proud of the young woman she is becoming. You should be proud for raising such a strong daughter with great morals. The apology should be from those commenting belittling things to a teenage girl who most likely already has insecurities. We should be building up the self esteem of our youth and not projecting our own problems and worries onto others. in a world filled with Hate we need to accept and love others…even if we believe they have faults…faults that are none of our concern.
    Shawni, I am a mother of 3 young boys and I will most likely not have to deal with what you are going through right now, but I wanted to applaud you for your response. Your blog so a family who work hard at raising outstanding young adults. You and your husband are consciously choosing to parent in a way you believe to be right and I don't think you should ever have to apologize to any about that, least of all people who hide behind a screen and attack a young girl who is beautiful and trying to find herself in this crazy world.
    It breaks my heart that Elle will most likely have read those comments and I pray she didn't believe any of them. what a way to break the spirit of our children.

  44. Elle looked beautiful, shoulders and all. Be proud! Thanks for being such an inspiration to so many of us. You always take the high road, and it's lovely that you share snippets of your family with your committed readers. Thank you! Thank you! I just wish those with ugly comments and jealousy would stop reading and spend their time doing something good in the world instead of attacking others. We answer to our God, not people like Mama Saurus. Keep on keeping on! I am so grateful for the joy and example you bring into my life.

  45. Elle looked beautiful and completely appropriate. I think she looked like a great example of how a modest LDS girl should look. I'm sorry that, in opening your family up to public scrutiny, you have to worry about being "perfect" to those who are definitely not themselves. I love your blog and think of you every day as an example for what I want to be as a mother.

  46. So beautifully, well-written! You have given me words to the feelings I have been having for a while now. Thanks Shawni!! (Elle looked beautiful!)

  47. I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how wonderful this post is! I will refer to it time and time again! Though I am not of the Mormon faith, I ADORE what you said here! Bottom line is, IT IS A HEART ATTITUDE. You and your family have a pure heart attitude and I cannot WAIT for you all to surprise people in heaven! My hat is OFF to you Shawni to what is one of the BEST posts I have ever read! Preach it sister!

  48. I've been through the Prom Dress angst – with 3 girls who are now all in their 30's. I think Elle's dress was fine, and you are wise to pick your battles.
    I am "card carrying" LDS with a strong testimony. I doubt a little bit of shoulder will keep anyone out of heaven.

  49. Shawni, it's very generous of you to address this issue. As a convert with a pre-teen daughter, I spend a lot of my time thinking about church gospel, guidance, and standards. I appreciate your point that the information shared outside of the gospel is guidance, and should be considered the scaffolding of our decision-making. As each of us are individuals, so too are the choices we make. The pamphlet says to avoid short shorts and short skirts. Who decides what "short"is? That's right – the individual. At the end of the day, we all make the best decisions we can, with the information at hand. As parents, you, Dave, and Elle made a conscious decision to have a beautiful dress made, one which had a shoulder covering. She looked lovely, clearly felt lovely, and that should be the end of it. Thank you for sharing this, and for generating such thought-provoking dialogue.

  50. That was really well-said! I love the reminders to bring our hearts back to the most important of virtues and intentions. When I saw your daughter's dress, I too had that question in my head. But it was not in the spirit of a judgment at all! It was actually a sincere question (as a mother to a 14-year-old daughter) of "I wonder what their family guidelines are as far as modesty…" Because I also wonder about how stringent to be about modesty: covered shoulders and short-length (and I notice that it must be hard to find clothes to cover Elle's stunning long legs!! 🙂 ) So, while your post was well-expressed, I still wonder if you could share YOUR personal philosophy on modesty with your girls. Do you give them the ultimate choice? Do they purchase the clothing if it's something you wouldn't choose for them? Do you tell them you just trust their judgment? Thanks!

  51. Reading these comments has made me grateful for my mom and the way she handled modesty. She basically left it all to me. I was a tomboy as a kid so it wasn't a problem then but as I got older I went through stages where I'd wear tank tops and pretty short shorts and I don't remember her saying anything at all. Then, I'd have experiences where I'd feel like I needed dress more modestly so I'd decide on my own to get rid of the short shorts. And then I'd have some tight/sheer shirts. It was a learning process for sure but it was my learning process. I also wore a sleeveless dress to a prom. Sometimes looking back at old pictures I have thought, "I wish I would have cared less about what people thought and more about living the standards." But really, I was doing the best I could and I never felt forced which I think is huge. I may have to rethink how I handle these things with my own daughters.

    I have to say that I really admire the way you handle these situations. You are teaching your children so well how to handle criticism gracefully. Thank you so much for blogging–I love the positivity you add to this little corner of the internet! 🙂

  52. As the mother of five daughters I have been really excited to hear your thoughts on this subject. I appreciate the wonderful spirit of your explanation. I recently went through the process of helping my daughter choose a prom dress and can testify to the fact that it is hard! I think Elle looked beautiful and it is obvious you tried to meet the standards. When I am tempted to judge I revert to the idea that almost all people are doing the best they can. That is how I want to be judged. Am I perfect? NO. Do I make mistakes? YES. Am I doing the best I can? Always. I believe this is what the Lord meant when he said that he "looketh on the heart." Not that our outward appearance doesn't matter, because it does. But that the Lord knows whether or not our desires and intentions are pure or prideful. And only He can accurately judge that. The rest of us are commanded to love and forgive.

  53. I had missed the original picture and comments swirl, but appreciate your message. Your daughter, and her friends, are beautiful and their dresses look gorgeous. More importantly, all of what you write about your kids, they appear to be good kids inside where beauty really counts.

  54. Love your testimony of the Savior and what the gospel is really about. if we could focus our kids on the Atonement and our Savior all else would fall into place. I have asked young women in our church what is most important in the gospel and often they say modesty. That makes me so sad because Jesus Christ is who is most important and his love for us. we must make sure that is what our focus is.

  55. One thing the internet doesn't need is more examples of "perfect" mormon families. Please don't think that you are not a good example of Mormon life bc your daughter's dress didn't have sleeves. That's totally ridiculous. Please stay real. Real examples of real Mormon families living and striving to keep the faith is what our religion and culture desperately need. Your daughter did not sin. That's totally silly to even imply. Guidelines are guidelines. Covenants are covenants. That's not a justification that's truth. The Savior never once taught that we should condemn people for not following guidelines, but rather He taught the opposite. He picked corn on Sunday and cast the money changers from the temple because even though it was against religious rules it honored the higher law. Without exception the Savior would condemn those who use the Internet to point fingers at a 16 year old child's prom dress. The Savior never once in his mortal ministry condoned people choosing to judge another person. He just simply said it was never okay to judge another person's worthiness. Just not ever. What the Savior taught is clear. Our hearts must be aligned with His and we must treat everyone we meet with forgiveness and love. The end. This strength of youth pamphlet bully is truly evil and should be treated as such. Next time someone attacks you or your daughter on your blog ignore them. Cast them aside, onto the rocky ledge of your path and keep pressing forward. In faith. To the end.

  56. I LOVE this post! As a mother of five, and a Catholic, I agree with every word of this post! Your children are so blessed to have you as their Mom!

  57. Wow! What a great conversation happening here! So many things to think about. I especially appreciate Mama Saurus's comments. It's interesting to me to see how these things are viewed from a perspective and life different from my own Mormon world.

    Shawni, I think you've done such a great job at pointing us all to what is real and lasting and the core of the gospel. I believe that if we are not careful, all of these other standards (as inspired and helpful as they are) can be a smokescreen, distracting us from the core of what is Christ – love, kindness, compassion, service.

    I also love that agency and revelation are part of God's plan for us to progress and grow. In my mind there is a difference between guidelines, standards and commandments. Commandments never change, not ever. Love god. Love others. God will never decide that it's actually ok to be mean, to steal, to judge others. Standards and guidelines are inspired direction to help us navigate modern day issues.

    I love that there is so much emphasis in the Strength of Youth pamphlet on seeking personal revelation and guidance from God to help youth navigate through the complexities of their modern world.

    My favorite part of that section in the handbook on Dress and Grooming is this:

    "If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”"

    That's really the heart of it.

    Anyway, so many great and thought provoking thoughts here. Thanks for getting this out there Shawni.

  58. I like that quote from the handbook. Thank you. I think that Elle should feel very comfortable wearing that dress in the Lord's presence. It is very modest and beautiful.

  59. Part 1

    It is interesting how we Mormons sift ourselves with posts like these for all the world to see and then we invite guests to tear down our faith. We have girls in our Ward who struggle with the battles that the scriptures predicted "shall rage in the hearts of men in the last days," yet, in the midst of these we still teach our Youth from the Lords standards. Our mantra, although not always followed by all our girls, is His mantra. Why would any woman commenting here think that they know better than the Lord as to what is best for His Daughters?

    It is sad how those that side with Shawni on this post because she preached the "love one another" so "justify" version of conversion, feels an affinity to disregard truth. Maybe we are missing the point. All religion teaches Love one Another and do not judge but The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to save souls. I know of no other religion that makes that possible. We save souls with "saving ordinances" which come only through the Temple. Only those who abide by the standards of dress and behaviour in the For The Strength of Youth are usually outwardly and inwardly ready to make but more importantly keep covenants. Any girl with a mini skirt or bare shoulders can make covenants but it is the keeping of it that is far more crucial. Satan does not just ask you to break major covenants. He does not hand over a knife and say," Kill!" He works patiently and slowly, little at a time, starting with encouragement in breaking the little rules, the ones that say it is okay to lie a little and steal a little and wear a shorter skirt etc etc.

    Shawni, you seem like a lovely Mormon lady and you are one of millions. The way you live your life and inspire online is the way of our culture. All faithful women in the Church parent the way you do, with love and patience and support in whatever corner of the world they live in. We all lift where we stand. You are no doubt not unique or alone in this and certainly by the sounds of it very appreciated for it. If you are going to pose to millions and project yourself as an active Mormon Mum online then you really need to have that backed by the Doctrine that we preach. When Joseph was asked why our Church is different to every other he answered unlike you. He could have said that we love one another and don't judge each other. He could have quoted Apostles like you did about not judging and sinning differently etc but he said instead "..the witness of the Prophets and Apostles that Jesus is the Christ.. that He continues to speak to us through Prophets. This is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. This is what makes us a peculiar people, that we hang on the words of the living Prophet, that we dress modestly, we look different, we speak different, we act differently, that we stand out, but more importantly, that we show the world a better way.
    I feel so sad that pride is such a huge element of these discussions on this post. No Mum is perfect and no doubt you were not being judged for your parental abilities Shawni, but it appears that you equate your daughters dress standards being questioned as a direct slant on you and your daughter. Rather, the real issue here is the somewhat mediocre standard of dress projected as Mormon standard and then others going on to justify it by tearing apart a piece of doctrine that many of us in the Church testify of. When we start to alter the doctrine set forth by the Lord, to gratify our vain ambitions and our pride, we fail to recognise the damage we do and how we start to frustrate and thwart the purposes of God. We start to sympathise with ex Mormons and justify their broken ties and lack of commitment with The Lord and blame and disrespect those that speak out and uphold the truth, the list goes on and on.

  60. Part 2

    Your comeback was entitled "The Gospel according to me" which is respected and related to by many reading your post but I could not help but notice how it took a sacred counsel from our living Prophets to our challenged Youth in the Last Days and made it a thing of naught.

    The beauty and the essence of true Christianity is to simply be and do as the Master. In all things Christ followed only the Father. He is perfect because He is obedient. He gave His life and lived with exactness in all things. "My Father sent me that I might be lifted up on the cross and after I am lifted up on the cross that I might draw all men unto me" We, in all things should show all children the way to the Cross, that the Saviour might lift them up because we showed them a better way by how we dressed and how we repented and how we changed our ways. We will never show anyone the way to Him if we tear down the standards and dissect and alter it to suit ourselves. How we dress is a huge indication of where we are in our covenant relationship with the Lord no matter how much we love others or how less judgemental we are towards them. Our behaviour as Mormons has a huge impact especially on a social network site. I would imagine that this is what Elder Bednar meant when he asked us to flood the Internet as with a Flood, to share goodness and show what we are about, to incite love and show the way home. As covenant members we stand as a witness of Christ and always remember Him by representing His "Prophet to the People," not our "Families to the People"

    1. You'd make a good nazi. It's just an expression. I certain don't think you are evil. A person above said her leader's while a teen, worthy or would not hold the calling, told her covered shoulders meant not strapless. Ellie hasn't made a covenant to wear and keep covered a garment. Whose hemlines could change. I think your church is wrong to put out a pamphlet on such a matter. Members really don't need that much help dressing a kid. You have pride in your peculiarity. It's not a virtue. Pride is pride. Dress shaming a girl three years away from her mission over two inches of strap on a dress that isn't going to fall off or fitting in a way for anything to fall out isn't goodness. It also is a contradiction to the notion your kids really chose to become a member unlike churches like mine that include infant baptism, though there are later stage of initiation where they are older and taking those baby steps themselves. Are they in charge of their decision or aren't they? Someone may say you going swimming out of wet suit is failing in your commitments. Like that other person's leader everyone has an interpretation. Even if it's different than yours. Where do the shoulders end and the arms begin? We started out with one rule. Don't eat the fruit. Then we were given over 600 positive and negative commandments. Then it got brought down to two. OT and NT.

  61. I love how this post of Shawni's has helped so many people really think about what some important things. I believe that it is so important for us to step back from time to time and really think about the standards we follow, the commandments they are based upon, and what the difference is between a guideline or standard and a commandment. I love what Saydi pointed out as far as the importance of personal prayer and revelation when it comes to determining what we feel right about.

    There is no way for any church leader or scripture or set of guidelines or standards to cover every single detail of what is right – so it is up to us as individuals and families to ponder and pray and come away with our own answers. And it's so important to remember that the answers we receive for ourselves and our families may not be identical to the answers that others feel good about. Mormon church members have many different ways that they celebrate the Sabbath day, even though everyone has received the same commandment about keeping the Sabbath day holy. Similarly, we all have different parts of different laws and standards that we take more seriously than others (for example, while most members of the church adhere quite strickly to the Word of Wisdom when it comes to abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, tea and coffee, many members don't pay a lot of attention to the healthy eating aspects of the word of wisdom which include a strong suggestion to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and to eat meat sparingly). God is not going to spell out every aspect of how we should live His commandments. He wants us to figure things out for ourselves and whenever we honestly answer the question of whether we'd feel comfortable doing (or wearing) a certain thing in the presence of God, we'll usually be able to come up with answers that we feel good about. It's not our job to judge others – it's our job to judge our own actions with careful thought and prayer.

    Even when church leaders spell out specifics regarding how to live specific commandments (as they do in "For the Strength of Youth"), there are still many specifics we're left to figure out on our own. For example, "For the Strength of Youth" does suggest that modesty includes covering shoulders. Dictionary.com defines a shoulder this way: "the part of each side of the body in humans, at the top of the trunk, extending from each side of the base of the neck to the region where the arm articulates with the trunk." According to this definition, Elle's dress covered her shoulders nicely. There are likely other "pfficial" definitions out there that vary slightly and it seems that say that many believe that the top part of the arm is considered part of the shoulder. But again, it is up to the individual or family to determine what definition to use and it is not up to any of us to judge each other for the ways in which we interpret the guidelines we receive.

    "For the Strength of Youth" encourages youth not to wear tight-fitting clothing or clothing that is revealing in any way. Somehow, I see a lot more LDS youth in very tight-fitting clothing, mid-thigh and shorter skirts and shorts, and low necklines than I see in sleeveless shirts. It's interesting to see which standards seem to be more fully embraced.

    In the end of it all, I believe God will judge each of us on our hearts and our intentions as he looks at how obedient each of us was in this life. I also believe He'll put a lot more weight on how much we strove to be like Christ than on details of how we dressed or the exact things we did on Sunday or how we lived the Word of Wisdom. It's important to try to be carefully obedient in every way we can. But while trying to figure out how to be obedient ourselves, it's very important to be carefully obedient to the big commandments of loving each other and not judging each other.

    Thanks to all commenters for the excellent food for thought!

  62. All these comments are certainly enough evidence to show that everyone has such unique views and backgrounds that lead them to their own opinions and answers to these questions. As we follow the guidelines we have been given we need to use the free agency (and prayer and personal guidance from Heaven) we've been given to do what we feel is in line with what God would want us to do as we maneuver our way through life filled with lots of black and white and gray.

    What matters in the long-run is that we feel comfortable with our own personal decisions as we align ourselves with he standards we've been given. Inspired standards that are the scaffolding with a sole purpose to help us cultivate the relationship we are building with God and accept the miraculous gift of the Atonement in our lives…the only thing that can truly save us and the very core of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for all the insight and thoughts that have spurred even more thoughts.

  63. @Mayandree Leadley-Yoward – You made some good points. I'm sure it won't happen, but I'd really love to hear Shawni's comments on the SPECIFIC things in your post you called her out on: (all quoted from her post, above):

    (1) If you are going to pose to millions and project yourself as an active Mormon Mum online then you really need to have that backed by the Doctrine that we preach.

    (2) Why would any woman commenting here think that they know better than the Lord as to what is best for His Daughters?

    (3) Satan does not just ask you to break major covenants. He does not hand over a knife and say," Kill!" He works patiently and slowly, little at a time, starting with encouragement in breaking the little rules, the ones that say it is okay to lie a little and steal a little and wear a shorter skirt etc etc.

    (4) No Mum is perfect and no doubt you were not being judged for your parental abilities Shawni, but it appears that you equate your daughters dress standards being questioned as a direct slant on you and your daughter.

    (5) Your comeback was entitled "The Gospel according to me" which is respected and related to by many reading your post but I could not help but notice how it took a sacred counsel from our living Prophets to our challenged Youth in the Last Days and made it a thing of naught.

    (6) We will never show anyone the way to Him if we tear down the standards and dissect and alter it to suit ourselves. How we dress is a huge indication of where we are in our covenant relationship with the Lord no matter how much we love others or how less judgemental we are towards them.

    What say you, Shawni? Specifically, not just in general "we all have our own views". This person made specific statements and some of us are curious as to how you answer each of these items.

  64. Mama…

    She is a mom who is LDS. Period.

    Elle made no covenant to wear clothing on down her arm. And even then the activity dictates when garments are worn.

    Basically "this person" is wrong and Shawni is right. 🙂

    And you are a troll. You really need to be atheist or join a once saved church.

  65. You fit the definition of a troll more than I do, kms. I didn't say who was wrong or right, and you can't say either. She believes what she said just as much as you do – and it appears that she actually is a member of the Mormon church – which you, although you think you are the authority on it – are not!

    I just asked for a response from Shawni. If someone said those things about me, I'd defend myself.

    As to my church of choice – I don't belong to one. Too many rules – and I like to show my shoulders. 🙂

    1. You think you are the authority and trying to make members change. You seem to have the same handle on right and wrong and you do for guideline and commandment. I hope you pick a church that has no rules cause you would be in a constant state of worry whether you were being correct in following all the guidelines and commandments all the time. That would not be good for you.

  66. Shawni, this post reaffirmed to me what a lovely person you are, and what a smart mother you are as well. I love the parenting aspect of this decision that you pointed out. I can speak from personal experience that forcing anyone to do x or y backfires – probably most especially with parents and teens. Everyone wants to feel that they have a choice rather than having something shoved down their throats.

    I also love Saydi pointing out how free agency really does come into play when contemplating how to implement various standards, and Saren's comment about what a shoulder is! I was honestly so puzzled by this whole thing. From what I see, Elle's shoulders are not showing. And, frankly…she is a minor. I am astounded – and outraged -that anyone thinks it is remotely appropriate to criticize or discuss her clothing or body! As far as I'm concerned, general good manners and common decency should have prevented this conversation from happening at all.
    Finally, I'm disappointed that extremists of all kinds are trolling your blog and ruining the normal, practical conversations that would otherwise be had. You are kind to respond to respond to them, but I wonder if addressing these people and calling the conversation "interesting" and "thoughtful" is now lending legitimacy these extremist views which are being offered up by anonymous internet malcontents.

    To the Mama Sauruses and the Mayandree Leadley-Yowards of the world: if you don’t like the fact that someone can be a Mormon and not be perfect or even follow all the rules perfectly, then go form your own church where you can make your own rules and kick people out for not obeying them all the time. That way you can do things your way and let others do things their way. Because right now your opinion on this is of no consequence to anyone.

    1. Part 1

      @ Elizabeth, I made my comment and made my peace ages ago but sadly you treat me like a fool because I don't share your sentiments. You give your support to your friend but in the journey you make it a battle between Mormons versus anti Mormons and anybody else. How sad for you that you judged me so wrongly. "And others he will lull away and pacify…. yea, all is well in Zion, yea Zion prospereth…" I think of this scripture when I come across members like you. Let me introduce myself. My name you know but my membership or testimony you clearly missed. I am currently the YW President to the girls in my Ward. I commented on the article written by a woman I don't know personally, but who saw fit to teach about a Principle, that gave a very false sense of understanding and hope to many who battle with the issues of modesty. As someone who has five children and teaches other people's children on a daily basis about the Lord's standard of dress and language etc, I think I know fairly well the standards set out by the Lord for His Daughters. So, when someone like Shawni is preaching the watered down version of the standards that many of us teach from, it really does frustrate the work of those that Heavenly Father is using throughout the world to bless His Daughters lives. Nobody in this post is disrespecting the writer at all. I can't see why so many have written to side with her and then go ahead to tear down others who speak out for the standard of dress code in the Church. Can you hear yourselves? Can you see which side you are on?
      Last week Elder Holland gathered all of us here in Europe and addressed us in a special Stake Conference. His message to us was this, "we will sift ourselves, we will be able to see the Goats from the Sheep, the Wheat from the Tares and we will see this everywhere especially in the Church." How do you think active members sift themselves Elizabeth? Surely they sift themselves in this way as well, by sharing their watered down versions of how they live the gospel and then inviting others to join the band wagon. We cannot teach anyone the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the way we raise our own families. We can inspire or encourage but we cannot convert and change the inner man without the correct principles or doctrine. Our circumstances, no matter how amazing we are as a family, will never offer succour or salvation like the Saviour can. We teach His standards and we teach His ways even though we are not perfect in it ourselves. Everybody's best is good enough for the Saviour but everybody's best is different before Him, for, it is He that will make up the difference, but only, after everything we can do. We have to therefore, make sure that when we teach His principles we do so from His expectations for his children, from his elevated position.

    2. Part 2

      We have girls in our Ward who are modest because they love God and want to see Him again. They want to be their best in this and we have others who don't want that but we still teach them the same truths from the same standards while we love them and continue to support them in their own choices. Posts like this and opinions like yours trample on the efforts and testimony of righteous young women all over the world because you want to side with someone you know, but, in the midst of that, you forget whose children these are. When you give your life to save someone then maybe you can decide what is best for them. I will therefore go with what the Saviour decided is best for our Youth in terms of dress standards. While the writer’s family might be your buddys and might be fabulous, I think I will still take my chances and encourage all those around me to follow the mandate set forth by His living Prophets. My point was that the For The Strength of Youth standards are not just a nice guideline that we can use on a whim. They are the Lords standards to lift His Youth to a higher place. They are His requirements to bless them further in His Holy Temple. Your laid back dress code might work where you are but here we try to help all our Youth to be their very best before The Master, not before Elizabeth or Shawni or all the other women who are comfortable with the "anything goes dress code" because "we all love one another."
      How sad when we have to use a dictionary definition as Sauri did to define what a shoulder is and then going on to spewing the same watered down teaching of a very important principle. Maybe we should do as Elder Bednar said in his Face To Face conversations with the Youth last month, and "elevate your questions!" We should not be asking where does my shoulder begin and where does it end so I can justify this particular dress today. Rather, we should be asking, "will my dress cover my garments? What is the sign I am giving to my Saviour? Where am I in my Covenant relationship to Him? These are the questions that causes a Young Woman to search her own heart and find her relationship with her Lord. We can do without endowed woman in the Church talking drivel about what their opinion is in terms of dress standard and then passing that on to the rest of the Internet to accept as a standard in the True Church. If some feel comfortable parading themselves online in a different code of dress then hey, each to their own, but let us not include the whole Church in this discussion and disrespect the millions of faithful and modest women in the Church worldwide by making light of something that is sacred to so many of us in our relationship with the Saviour.

    3. Part 3

      It matters to me how I dress before my Master. It matters to me that I am found respecting Him and myself by covering my body which is a gift from Him, one that He gave His life for. So yes, I very much think that it will matter to Him what dress code I adhere to. To infer that it matters not is to disrespect The Master and the work that He is trying to accomplish amongst His children. It is disrespectful to the Covenants in His Holy Temple where we promise Him to treat our bodies as sacred and keep it covered. It is to make light of sacred things and God will not be mocked!
      Shawni, while the article was yours to write as you expressed your feelings and experiences on the subject and how you raise your children, your "stupor of thought” was very evident for all the world to see because it put something as important as the For The Strength of Youth standards to be trampled underfoot of man. Rather than say nothing you invited members to sift themselves for all the world to see and others to disrespect and tear down those who are not of our faith. I very much doubt that anything I say will be seen as helpful by any of your mates here as I am sadly outnumbered, but in truth I would choose any day to offend any woman on this post than offend my Saviour by making light of something that He gave through His living Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I gave my two cents worth. Good luck with this.

    4. Is the LDS rule different where you live? Do children enter the temple and make covenants to wear garments? Are you another flavor of LDS? You know they changed the dress for missionaries because investigators often asked if they had to dress like them. Particularly sister missionaries. I think you are in danger of worshiping men instead of God.

    5. You are going to contact BYU and make sure they know their athletic uniforms don't conform to the pamphlet. They are in their uniforms longer than a couple hours on one day, like prom.

    6. Kms, I have no quarrel with you. My points were not a question of worthiness or being better than my fellow man and if that is how it came across to you then I am sorry as that was not my intention at all. I merely stood up for what I feel is council from my leaders that comes from God. The trick is to do as He requests. It is called organised religion. When you conform your will to the will of God then you put on his alter your obedience to Him in all things. When you start to measure sleeves and find another way to justify your unwillingness to do as He asks then you are clearly saying that you know better than Him. Maybe practice what we preach is a much simpler way to demonstrate what kind of Christian we are. Elle was put on show by her mother and called out on her questionable dress sense by whoever and the rest is history but in the process she put the LDS dress standards up for scrutiny and for all to dissect when clearly the standard of dress is not unclear to millions of us Mormons who strive daily to be just that little bit better in that as we reach out to our young women who struggle with this. Follow the Prophet is usually a pretty good mantra in my experience.

    7. @Mayandree Leadley-Yoward: I couldn't make it through everything you posted above – my apologies. Just wanted to set the record straight that I'm not Mormon, and I don't know Shawni and her family.

      I have to tell you as an outsider to Mormonism, you come across as a religious zealot. I don't understand why you think that you are the authority on this topic or why your opinion is more right or more valuable than Shawni's opinion or the vast majority of people, Mormons and non-Mormons alike, who disagree with you in these comments.

      I would also tell you that, again as an outsider, Shawni comes across as very down-to-earth, OF this earth, normal, and relatable. She's dealing with real things in a real way. She's inviting. You are, and pardon me if I'm causing offense here, but you are coming across as judgmental, extreme, and sort of scary. Most people aren't fans of extremism of any stripe. You may want to reconsider how you're getting your message across. Or not. I do not really care one way or the other. Have a nice night!

  67. Elizabeth – no one is perfect – but it does not take perfection to choose an appropriate dress. Maybe you so- called Mormons who ignore the shoulder suggestions should start your own church – called Reformed Mormons or something – where there are no rules about dress. Since it's obvious they are definitely not important to most of you

    1. There are several flavors of Mormonism already. I suppose the real reason there are over a thousand Christian denominations and loads of people home churching is cause some just can't get along with others insisting its their way or the high way. And the differences in the thousand denominations plus home churches are quite tiny. He came, he died, he rose, he will come again. There is Christianity in a nutshell. I highly doubt the leadership in the LDS church will excommunicate the parents cause their daughter wore a dress that some LDS find fully adhered to following a pamphlet and others find a scandalous cause it's not garment worthy, which she isn't allowed to wear yet. It's why several apologies are made annually by principals of high schools in Utah cause the person manning the door decided to apply garment wearing policy instead of school prom dress code policy. It's such a first world problem the attire of teens for a few hours at a dance. How many people don't have shoes or clothing appropriate for the weather and some decide to get concerned the world is going to hell in a handbasket because a girl had bare upper arms! The horror! They are a global church. In the extreme heat of some countries everyone and their sister has bare shoulders. Heck even nuns adapted their habits by color and style to fit the culture and climate. I would bet with all the crafty sewing LDS seem to do they probably do the pillowcase dress thing for kids in Africa. And don't fall over, but most pillowcase dresses don't have sleeves. But the girls in various places in Africa have real problems like having a dress free of stains and tears that fits properly. Not how they appear "worthy" to everyone around them. It was a bit creepy when we read things like "I think the girls chose modest dresses were lovely." when we see the group prom photos on the Mormon mommy blogs. Some kids are to LDS and where does the shoulder end and arm begin? It's judging anothers self based on your own idea of how they should look. Aren't we trying to get girls to not do that? It's treating the girls like objects to dress them up according to your desire. Creepy. You can't put JW, or LDS or Catholicism into a little box and everyone be exactly like the folks you would see in the book the Giver. Perfect sameness or release to elsewhere. Thankfully it's just a book.

    2. Mama Saurus – I'm actually not Mormon. So, maybe that will help explain why I think this fixation on a teenage girl's very wide shoulder strap is strange and alarming.

  68. KMS- please forgive me if I Am wrong, but you mentioned that you would not be acceptable in the LDS religion bases on your dress appearance. This is not true. We have many members who have tattoos and piercings. While it is not a general norm it is acceptable. And if anyone from this church made you feel less than I am truely sorry. Heavenly Father loves all of his children. We are imperfect and if we were perfect there would be no need for religion.

    Mama Saurus I find it interesting that you have no blog yourself and no profile. Who are you and why do you feel the need to call out Shawni and he family on LDS standards. Shawni has never claimed to be perfect nor is anyone's else. Their was only ever one perfect person in the life and it was Jesus Christ. He is the judge. He gave his life so we can all return back to Heavenly Father. While we believe in good works we believe in his infinate love, mercy, and grace. This blog is about her family mostly as a journal. While she does take time to answer readers questions this blog is mostly for the sake of recording the daily comings and goings of her family. If you do not enjoy what you read here no one is making you read. I do not understand what you are trying to accomplish here. Is it to say look here another imperfect mormon family who isn't living the gospel according to what they preach. I can imagine you must have been hurt by someone from the lds religion by the amount of energy spent here in the comment section. Yes, they are imperfect but no more or no less than anyone else in any religion or without a religion. The big secret is out. Can we now move on!

  69. Er guys…behind all this debate is an actual, real-life, 16-year-old girl.

    Remember what it was like being 16?

    Dear Elle, I hope you had a great time at your prom and took away a lot of happy memories. You looked lovely in that dress. Have a good summer. 🙂

    1. Amen! This is about a beautiful, real girl and she did absolutely nothing wrong. She wore a beautiful modest dress and had fun with her friends. With some of these comments I cannot help but think of the Pharisees in the bible who were so concerned with every little detail of the law but missed that their Messiah was right in front of them. They missed his message was of love and about the individual, not about washing your hands before dinner or how many steps you took on the Sabbath or on how wide the straps are on your prom dress.

    2. Cheryl, it appears you missed the boat. This post is not about Elle but about the standard of dress in the Church which her Mum brought up in an article she wrote. Your fanmail is irrelevant to the Gospel topic. Never mind the weightier matters of the kingdom for most here appear to have missed an important counsel from a living Prophet to the Youth right in front of our faces because we are too busy listening out for sounding brass and tinkling bells. How sad that many just don't get the Gospel which is to change behaviour so Christ can change hearts. Glad we don't get to teach this version of Church on these posts to our Youth but good luck with your good works.

    3. I thought gospel was the four books in the New Testament. Matthew Mark Luke and John. I thought scripture for LDS was BoM. Bible, and doctrine and covenants. Things that get an updated translation but not rewritten entirely. You need to reread the gospel. When the man spoke how awesome he was for tithing not only his income but held to the highest interpretation, tithing on all his assets.. He didn't come out too well but looked like a fool. Kids shoulders are not even scripture.

    4. KMS, you must be so exhausted now fliterring between taking sides, tearing down individuals and putting everything I say under a microscope and just being so mean about various Mormon Doctrine and disrespectful to others. You keep banging on about the irrelevant. My take on the whole dress thing is long over for me. I gave my few cents worth and moved on. Seriously, take a break and leave the living of the gospel to those of us that are busy trying to do just that. Just because I shared my testimony and conviction of something does not make me a bad person or one that is at war with anyone here. It is called standing as a witness to the Covenants that I willingly chose to make. I respect and saw every other point of view in a decent manner. Maybe you should return the favour. Gospel translated literally means "Good News" Interpret that however you will but I see no point in sharing "Good News" here further if this is the spirit in which it is received. I fear it may do nothing " good" for you at this point. You seem to think that you know me personally by judging me to be something I am not. I am not better than any other and at no time have I implied that I was. The proof of any religion is in the living of it. Please don't take the liberty to tell me what I live or believe. In genuinely wanting to know one should ask nicely without criticism and judgement. That way we can reason together peacefully. Maybe try a different etiquette of communication. It might get one further in the quest for truth if that is what is sincerely being sought.

  70. This talk by Marvin J. Ashton entitled "Pure Religion" is a good reminder of how we should treat each other when we disagree. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1982/10/pure-religion?lang=eng
    One of my favorite statements is: "This religion is not to retaliate, or to exchange in kind, evil actions or unkind statements. Pure religion encompasses the ability to cherish, to build up, and to turn the other cheek in place of destroying and tearing down. Blessed are they who strive to serve Him without wasting time faulting Him or those who serve Him."

  71. Dieter F Uchtdorf
    Page Liked · 29 May · Edited ·

    Every day, I carry two items in my pocket: my temple recommend and my copy of the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. These two items are connected—not only because they are similar in size, but also because they represent the same thing: your worthiness to enter the house of the Lord.

  72. I think the sexualiztion that occurs of our young women is more damaging than the one inch of uncovered shoulder. When we fixate on the minute details rather than the overall picture of what modesty is, we end up making our daughters out to be more of a sexual object than if we focus on the why behind it. The same goes for teaching our daughters to be modest so as not to tempt young men. In a way, this turns the young men into victims and gives our daughters an unfair burden. I want my kids to radiate the light within them-and that does include the way they present themselves. However, when we teach our children to make choices out of fear, the most modest dress is not going to cover the absence of love that they could feel for themselves and from their Father in Heaven. Mayandree Leadley-Yoward, you mentioned the dramatic possibility that we might one day find ourselves holding a knife ready to kill if we make poor choices. As a life-long member of the church, I know that what you are saying is that it is through a series of smaller choices that we sometimes find ourselves facing the most grievous of sins. But that happens because there is an overall choice not to include our Heavenly Father in our decision making. There is nothing in Shawni's blog that says their decisions about modesty (or anything else) are being made with disregard to the will of our Father in Heaven. I feel it is completely the opposite. In the end I think we all want the same thing and we need to accept that each of our paths might look a little different but most are headed in the right direction. I find that when I am completely at peace with why I make the choices I do, I don't feel threatened by the why of the choices that others make. Oh, and, to be fair, a person standing with a knife in hand ready to kill most likely made the poor choice of not taking their meds.

  73. D&C 10:63 – And this I do that I may establish my gospel that there may not be so much contention; yea Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err……

    The scriptures tell us over and over to love one another and not to judge… She looked beautiful and is kind.. Love one another that is it…..

  74. Wow. I've not been reading blogs much lately and had not idea that this had happened. When I saw the picture of Elle's dress I was startled–I'm a lifelong 5th gen member and I think it looks awesome.

    I hate that we as church members have conflated two different things–modesty, or not calling inappropriate attention to (in the case) your body, and dressing after going through the temple to show respect for the garment. I HATE when my 14 year old girls come home from another lesson in YW that gives them all sorts of guidelines for what modesty "is", many of which are inappropriate for 14 year old girls. I feel like I unteach modesty lessons regularly.

    I have no idea if you're even reading any of these comments, but I think the dress looked beautiful. And I wish we could stop being Pharisees…

  75. Since I am not Mormon, I couldn't care less about the "For the strength of the youth". Especially since I think that modesty means you show either legs or boobs, but never both (slight exaggeration). On the other hand I agree with Shawni's post and I have enjoyed the different opinions in the comments. As for the thought that one of the cores of the Gospel is love, isn't this Romans 13, 8-10: "Be in debt for nothing, but to have love for one another: for he who has love for his neighbour has kept all the law. (…) Love does no wrong to his neighbour, so love makes the law complete."? (Again I'm not Mormon, so I don't know whether Paul is part of your testimony.)

  76. Mayandree Leadley Yoward & Mama Saurus is one & the same person… A truly sad individual who finds pleasure & indeed the time, to belittle & point out the 'sins' of the owner of this lovely Blog, An innocent blog of a woman who seems to love her family. This troll is exactly the kind of being who will request for her church leaders to discipline Jesus for being too liberal – if He walked among us today!!

  77. This is so fascinating to me, as a convert to the Church in my late 20's, one of the biggest issues I had was not the concept of modesty, but the definition of it by Momos. You investigate and basically the missionaries tell you oh wait you are not modest, when in fact, my entire life, I have deemed myself modest, and modest by dictionary definition, just not by the Mormons TEMPLE endowed definition which they have taken and redefined. (In fact, I recall going to Vegas with girlfriends and stating that we were gonna be slutty in our dress attire for the weekend but otherwise, we were always modest by nature haha) That has and still bothers me, but I now choose to dress according to my redefined standards and as an endowed member, and I always describe it as more modest because in my opinion, my short shorts were never immodest to begin with, longer bermudas or capris are just MORE modest. My tank tops were also not immodest, but sure sleeves are a little MORE modest than my tanks. That said, before I was an endowed member, I'm sure I wore some sleeved items that were questionable or skirts and shorts that I couldn't now. I was still trying to be modest, and I think that's the point, the spirit of the law. In your daughter's case, she didn't choose a strapless dress or a backless dress, I think she's point on in the modesty department and I wish you'd show her made in China dress again. From what I could see, she looked beautiful. Sorry I'm late to the game, I haven't followed your blog in a few years but when I went to journal in my personal blog, I saw some posts about your son getting called to Taiwan and just clicked through some recent ones and saw this. Thanks for writing!!

  78. Hey! I know I’m very very late to the party here but my mom showed me this article and asked for my thoughts on it (man I love my mom), and I noticed that I couldn’t find any comments from teens (I’m assuming a lot of the comments are from mothers or older women than me) so I just wanted to share my thoughts, I hope I’m not too late.
    For reference I just turned 16, and wow life is pretty crazy (relative to my previous years). One of the biggest parts of my life right now is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know I’m pretty darn young but already I can see the blessings and happiness that come from striving to be like Christ. I love him so much and I’m trying my best to live his standards and become more like him. He’s such a blessing in my life.
    There is a lot of anger and hurt and pain in the world right now, and a lot of scary things. I see the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet as exactly what it’s called. The guidelines written in it are to keep me safe and happy and to strengthen me, not restrict me or make me miserable. I choose to follow what’s in that pamphlet not because I’m forced to (although I’m very grateful for the influence of righteous people who encourage me to) but because I believe that they are divinely inspired. The For The Strength of Youth book is filled with a lot of do’s and do not’s, but what I find most important is the WHY. I dress modestly to show the Lord what’s in my heart, that I want to follow him and live his standards. I’m definetly not perfect at this, it’s hard in this day and age, but I’m bettering myself and I want to grow. We’re all just figuring this all out. I try not to judge others because they make different choices than I do, but that can be hard also, so I work on that as well. Something in a book I read (definetly not word for word) said something along the lines of “If you keep your eye on Christians you’ll be disappointed every day of your life. Your hope is to keep your eye on Christ” and I think that’s right. Christ is perfect, he is just and merciful, and he shows the way, not me haha.
    It’s important for me to have a personal relationship with God so I can hear his voice and not just hear his voice through others. I love my God and his prophet and I’m very grateful for them both.
    I wish I knew all of you personally because it’s very hard to understand someone else’s point of view without knowing their whole story and their experiences, and it’s especially hard on the internet because conveying meaning and feelings is so difficult with only letters and punctuation. That’s why it’s good that God knows us all personally because he knows what’s really in our hearts and he loves us perfectly.
    Hope you’re all well and safe 🙂

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