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...and don't let the tent flap hit you on the way out.



I would like to share with you the kinds of things I think about when I'm prepping for my classes.

I teach two religion classes each week: Gospel Doctrine and Institute.

Now, you should know, I absolutely LOVE the scriptures. I'm the woman who sucks all the fun out of the room in those "Getting to Know You" games by sanctimoniously declaring that, unlike you sissy "Pride and Prejudice" lovers, my favorite book is Isaiah. One of these days those fed up Jane Austen fans are going to take a chapter out of Acts and stone me.

Anyway, a couple of years ago I taught Old Testament in Institute. And while I was slogging through Leviticus - great stuff, if not a little rules and regs intensive - I came across a verse in chapter 18 that had to do with women and their *ahem* "lady weeks". Specifically, the men were being commanded to stay away from them during that time on the calendar.

And I thought, "You know, of all the commandments listed here, I bet that was the easiest one for those Israelite men to keep."

Can't you see them, sitting in their meetings, being instructed by Moses?:

Moses: "OK, now that we have the 10 big ones out of the way, the next agenda item is....food."

Israelites: "Watch, he's going to take away our Big Macs."

Moses: "Manna. That's it."

Israelites: "D'oh!"

Moses: "Next, we've got stick collecting. Don't do it on the Sabbath. I mean it."

That one guy who always has to pipe up in meetings: "What'll happen if we, you know, forget?"

Moses: "I can't emphasize enough the importance of not forgetting."

TOGWAHTPUIM: "Yeah, but..."

Moses: "Seriously. Shut up."

TOGWAHTPUIM: "I just..."

The Israelite sitting next to TOGWAHTPUIM: "Brother, if you forget about the stick thing, God will do to you what I'm gonna do to you if you raise your hand one more time..."

Moses: "OK, next item: Women."

Israelite men (waking up): "That's more like it."

Moses: "When your wives are, you know, having that, you know, that week..."

TOGWAHTPUIM: "Wh--? Ow! Geez, dude, that hurt!"

Moses: "...the Lord wants you to just leave them alone."

(long, thoughtful pause)

Israelites: "That's it?"

Moses: "Yep. Don't touch 'em."

(further pondering, the occasional furtive glance, one or two 'beats me' shrugs)

Israelites: "Ahem. To clarify. The commandment says 'Thou Shalt Not Touch The Shrieking Hormonally Insane Prickly Pear That Possesses Thy Otherwise Lovely And Perfectly Reasonable Spouse One Week A Month'?"

Moses: "Words to that effect, yes."

(slow dawn of understanding)

Israelites: "Well, gosh, that's EASY!! We were BORN to keep that commandment!"

(fist bumps all around)

So, as I was pondering upon this scene, I began to consider what it must have been like to live in those conditions for forty years.

Remembering that for that week, women were considered unclean (read "scary and kinda mean") and were therefore sent outside the main camp to simmer down and write their apology notes, I started running a few numbers. And let me tell you, the math is downright terrifying:

Assuming there were two million Israelites, and assuming that exactly half of them were women, that's one million women, total.

Now, to keep things simple, assume that half of them either were too old, too young, or too pregnant to have 'one of those weeks'.

That leaves 500,000 women eligible for, well, you know.

Now, divide that number by four weeks of the month, and on any given week you would have (are you ready for this?) ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND WOMEN ripping their tents apart looking for chocolate and threatening to burn the next pair of socks they found in the middle of the floor when there is a perfectly good hamper right there in plain sight although of course everyone else in this family is blind and DO YOU ALL HAVE TO BREATHE SO FREAKING LOUD??!!

Now, take it a step further, and consider that this also meant that there were 125,000 women in a P-leasant M-ental S-tate, and another 125,000 laying their eggs, and......well, let's just say these were dark, frightening times in which to live. A war with the Philistines was a walk in the park by comparison, as it gave the men a chance to get out of the house for a few days.

It could be argued that the wisest thing Moses ever did was send these women to "Girls' Camp".

In my home, there are three females of hormonal eligibility, which means the three men in the family have been under siege for nearly a decade. How nice would it be, these days, to be able to announce to that 14 year-old currently shredding her little brother for walking into the living room while she was trying to nap, that it was time to start packing for camp?

"Leave early," you could suggest, "Pick up Shelby on the way. Her mom says she's been bawling since Wednesday."

Yes, there are a lot of inspiring things we can learn from the scriptures. I'd love to share more of them with you, but from the sounds of overturned furniture coming out of my daughter's room, it looks like I need to find a suitcase.

I wonder if the Philistines are in town...

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DeNae has spent the better part of the last twenty years serving as a Gospel Doctrine, Seminary, and Institute teacher, as well as a music composer, arranger, and teacher. In her spare time she does free-lance writing, and has published one book, "The Accidental Gringo". She is working on two more books; one fiction and one collection of humorous essays. When she's not lobbying for a law making it illegal to bring up Diet Coke when discussing the Word of Wisdom, she stays busy with four nearly-grown kids, the boy next door whom she married 25 years ago, a house that refuses to stay clean, and a dog who somehow manages to shed twice her own weight in fur every single day. You can read her stories and essays, most of which are true or at least marginally plausible, at "My Real Life Was Backordered", the blog she started a year ago as an excuse to ignore the laundry.

 
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