Monday, September 7, 2015

Reverence vs. Silence

Reverence in Sacrament Meeting is a hot topic among lots of people.  Of special concern for some is the fact that children are allowed to attend in the LDS church, and that means there are times when the noise level in Sacrament Meeting is obvious and, sometimes, distracting.  Some people argue that every child who makes any noise should be removed from the meeting, while others allow their children to play and be noisy to an extreme degree.

I believe neither extreme (forced, complete silence, through the removal of children, if necessary and bedlam) is charitable, desirable, uplifting, enlightening, etc.

I also believe that we do a grave disservice to the principle of reverence when we tie it strictly to and define it simply as silence. Reverence is an attitude of respect and awe, and it can be present amid noise and activity just as much as total silence.  It’s just like the simplification of modesty (moderation) to only a dress code. Neither aspect is the entire principle – and our over-simplification of them is more of a problem than anything else, in practical terms.

It’s not that we fail to enforce silence; it’s that we fail to teach and value reverence fully. That failure is just as much in the laps of the silence Nazis as it is in the laps of parents who struggle with non-silent children. In fact, I would argue that many of those parents are struggling explicitly because they understand the fuller meaning of reverence better than many of the silence Nazis – and that they are trying to teach their children reverence, not just silence.

1 comment:

Firebyrd said...

Wait, there are people that object to kids in Sacrament Meeting? That's one I've not encountered before in our church. It's one of the things I love, that we profess to be about families and we back that up by having families together during the most important meeting. Sure, it was a lot easier to concentrate and be reverent in the student wards I was in for a few years that had few to no children. However, what would it teach children for them to be segregated from their families during the most important meeting? How would they learn to be reverent? For that matter, how can we learn to be good at being reverent if there aren't distractions? It's easy when things are silent. It's not when they aren't and that gives us a chance to grow. Having the kids segregated during the service made me very uncomfortable when I've visited other churches, even before I was a parent.