Back when we lived in Utah County, my wife and I were herding our young daughters into church one Sunday when something horrible happened. It completely drove the spirit of worship away.
Actually, it’s only horrible if you’re some kind of decorum weasel, pervert or bottom thinker. But here it is.
I held the door open for my family and another young couple. When the wife of that family passed inside, I noticed she had blood on the back of her skirt.
Perhaps the proper thing would have been to report her to the bishop as “unclean.” Maybe I should have grabbed the woman by the arm and dragged her into the parking lot to prevent defilement of the chapel.
But the sight of blood — including the natural release of it — was something that, to me, had long become boring. So I quietly mentioned it to my wife, who whispered to the woman, who immediately went home and changed.
Perfectly natural functions of the body that should be allowed in a Mormon church have stirred up a debate of late, particularly that of breastfeeding a child in church.
In northern Utah, a woman says she was denied a temple recommend by her stake president because she refused to stop nursing her child in the foyer. Or maybe it was because she refused to cover up while doing it. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
The point seems to be that breastfeeding is a natural thing and shouldn’t be looked down upon or even called out, especially by men.
Well into my seventh decade of church, I’ve seen a lot of natural biological functions happen there. I remember when I was a kid and Sister Clammage, who was sitting behind us in sacrament meeting, hauled out a boob the size of small pig and stuck her kid onto it.
It was fascinating — certainly a hell of a lot more interesting than the droning from the pulpit. I stared until the Old Man noticed and cranked my head back around with a handful of hair.
Honestly, the sight didn’t seem all that untoward. A few weeks before, I had taken out my doodle in an empty church classroom and peed into a garbage can because the restroom was on the other side of the building, and I wasn’t sure I could make it.
Nobody saw me. God didn’t kill me. And I didn’t have a temple recommend to take away. Except for the person who had to empty the trash, no one was the wiser. A catastrophe had been averted because of my ability to improvise in a perfectly natural emergency.
Emergencies like that — and the needs of a baby — are one thing. But it’s also natural to release burps, gas, snot, sneezes and stomach gurgles (during fast Sunday) and nobody seems to get called on them.
When I was a kid, we had a guy in our ward who was so old that it was rumored he crossed the continent with Brigham Young. Brother Kedge frequently (always) fell asleep in church. Sometimes he snored. But that wasn’t what set him apart from the rest of the ward.
My theory is that sometimes Brother Kedge dreamed that he was still on the Plains, because he would periodically loose a fart audible enough to be heard on Mars. It wasn’t his fault. He was old. And asleep.
But it was hilarious to kids. Once, it was so loud that a deacon passing the sacrament collapsed in hysterical laughter. Several others got wobbly in the knees.
I don’t know whatever happened to Brother Kedge. We moved before he died. Maybe the bishop consigned him to the soundproof cry room. If so, I pity the women who nursed babies in there.
If there is a point to this column — and I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t find one — perhaps it’s that we should all be aware of the less-than-pleasant needs our bodies have and try not to make such a big deal out of nursing babies, which is actually a beautiful one.