I was in a right hurry when I grabbed the receipt out of the cashier’s hand—on my way home from work to cook dinner for three waiting, gaping maws.  Hooking my finger through the sack of produce, I barely glanced at the lady behind me as I walked towards the exit. Two steps away it hit me: the lovely middle-aged woman with silver temples against dark hair and a soft face was one of my Young Women leaders oh-so-many years ago.  Did I stop? No. But I smiled to myself as I raced across the parking lot.

To put the finest point on it, this sister was one of the sweetest, most gentle women I’ve ever met; generous to a fault and truly kind. She also came up with some of the most hilarious and memorable object lessons I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing in my entire life. 

The mutual night when she took a bowl of cinnamon lips gummy candy and passed it around the group. We all took one. Then she took one lip out of the bowl, sucked on it, spit it back into the bowl and had us pass it around to the other girls for seconds. Naturally, we all declined. “That,” she announced, “Is how boys feel when they find out you’ve kissed another boy, they don’t want you anymore.”

Oh, sister!

The night we sat in her living room as she handed around a plastic wrapped package of raw pork: Boston butt. “Please,” she pleaded, “Do not call it a ‘butt.’” We dutifully passed the package.
“Call it a derrière, or a bottom, but not a butt! A ‘butt’ is a piece of meat,” she finished with a sob.

Oh, my sweet sister!

Listen, I had really great Young Women leaders and I gave them an undeserved hard time.  (I gave them such a hard time that when I was called many years ago to be a Young Women leader, I took a very deep breath. “Will you accept?” asked the counselor. “Yes, I’ve been expecting this because it is Karma, and it is my turn,” I said, knowing full well that we don’t believe in Karma. Mostly.) I can’t wait to run into that lovely woman again at the neighborhood shop.  I’d really like to say ‘Hi’ and thank her for putting up with all of us rotten children. I probably won’t tell her that I remember the Boston butt.

I still savor those object lessons, possibly for the wrong reasons, to this day.  And I can’t be the only one.

Please, my sweet sisters, share with me your favorite object lesson. I can’t be the only chewed cinnamon lip out there.


  1. Andrea R.

    April 20, 2009

    During one of the (in)famous chastity lessons, one of my YW leaders passed around dry cake mix in a pan, cake batter in a pan, and a fully baked cake. Then she explained that having sex was like frosting a cake and she had us try to frost each of the cake demos. She told us that you shouldn’t frost a cake before it’s ready and you shouldn’t have sex before you’re…fully baked?

    (Are you looking for GOOD object lessons or BAD object lessons?) 🙂

  2. Emily U

    April 20, 2009

    I had the classic man-handled flower lesson:

    Two roses, one poked and prodded the night before, the other left alone. Next morning, one is droopy and brown, the other pristine. You know the interpretation.

    (Not to cause a threadjack here, but I’m guessing a lot of these object lessons will be about chastity, so I just want to say that I wish my YW lessons on chastity weren’t focused on keeping myself clean for someone ELSE, but rather on how the law of chastity could work for ME. I.e. giving myself space and time to get clear about what I wanted from relationships, setting up a foundation of trust between me and a future husband, protecting myself from heartbreak, things like that…)

  3. Carina

    April 20, 2009

    Bad ones.

    They’re the best.

  4. MomBabe

    April 20, 2009

    yeah, mine was a chastity thing too. a piece of chewed up gum because “nobody wants a used piece” Pretty awful, huh?

  5. cms

    April 20, 2009

    Ahhhh, the flower lesson. We had that one and then all heck broke loose as one of the laurels started openly weeping because it turns out she was pregnant. (We lived in an abnormal ward with at least four pregnancies while I was in YW.)

  6. kshaw

    April 20, 2009

    I actually like the one about the cakes. Its kinda clever.
    Yeah the others, such as the gum, and the flower, are way harsh, and very insensitive. I had a YW leader that just told us that we should be the kind of woman we would want our future daughters to look up to, and that while we could make mistakes, we should always try to do what was right. And that repentance, while available, was a very long and hard process to go through. It was easier just to “keep our noses clean” so to speak.

  7. Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia)

    April 20, 2009

    That’s classic.

  8. Tiffany

    April 20, 2009

    No random object lesson but I remember a leader telling us the age old, “The Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight” and then following it up with, “And do you know who comes out?”

    Satan? we replied

    “No”, she said, “Angel Hormoni”

    hilarious. I have never forgot that.

  9. Alta

    April 20, 2009

    I had the white rose lesson too. And once our leaders staged an elaborate wedding (not in the temple) and each “character” in the wedding talked about how horrible it was that the young woman wouldn’t be with her family after she died.

  10. Carina

    April 20, 2009


  11. j

    April 20, 2009

    Re: movies, media, etc.
    YW leader made delicious brownies and passed them out.

    (Insert here that I was one of those “tough guy” YW, i.e.,not easily pricked and very suspicious of YW leaders… {Post note: I’m sorry!} So I wouldn’t eat mine.)

    After everyone had almost finished, the YW leader said:”Oh, I thought I should mention that while I was mixing these brownies, I turned my back for a minute on the mixer and when I turned back I saw the remnants of a ground up cockroach in the batter.” {Yikes, I lived in AZ and those suckers are easily more than an inch long!}
    Then in everyone’s stunned silence and grimacing and some spitting into napkins, she continued: “I tried, but I just couldn’t separate it or fish it out. But don’t worry, most of it is great–there’s just that one little part that’s bad.”

    (I’ve also heard this “done” as “poop brownies.” EW)

  12. Michelle

    April 20, 2009

    When I was 17, I had a sunday school teacher decide to “act out” the lesson topic (a la charades) and have us guess what we were going to be talking about. She stood still for a moment and then collapsed on the floor (although she bounced off one of the priests on the way down). We all thought she’d had a heart attack or something, until she opened her eyes and looked up at us from the gound. “Falling away! I fell!” she said. It was a lesson on the apostasy. Definitely memorable.

  13. rookie cookie

    April 20, 2009

    In my last ward, we had a guest speaker/teacher come in and talk to the girls about modesty and morality. At the end of the lesson, she passed out a basket of candy bars. But each of the candy bars was open and had a bite taken out of it. Her explanation was that no one wants a candy bar that has already been used. And no boy wants a girl that has already been used.

  14. FoxyJ

    April 20, 2009

    I honestly don’t remember any object lessons from YW. I actually don’t remember much about YW at all, to tell you the truth. Especially not the Sunday lessons. A few weeks ago in sharing time I was a bit uncomfortable when the other leader had the kids lie down on the floor and pretend to be dead, and then one of the teachers pretended to be Jesus and had them all stand up and be ‘resurrected’. It was kind of weird.

  15. Jinxie

    April 20, 2009

    My “damaged goods” lesson involved a Twinkie. Our teacher mashed it up in his hands and then offered it to the unsuspecting student volunteer.

    I had a boyfriend who likened kissing to frosting. The fewer people you kissed, the more frosting you had. I was his first. He was not mine, and, by his standards, I’m probably all out of frosting now . . .

  16. Laura Williams

    April 20, 2009

    When investigating the church I attended one Fast Sunday. I didn’t realize what fasting was, or that it was happening. When I went to YW that day the leader was teaching a lesson on temptation and she popped some popcorn just before class began. I sat there the whole time wondering when she was going to give us the snack. I thought she was mean and cruel when our time was ended and she never gave us the treat. Thinking back on it now, I remember how good that popcorn smelled and how tempted we all were by it, and how appealing Satan can make sin appear.

  17. Blue

    April 20, 2009

    YMMV, but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of boys who are fine with a girl that has already been “used.”

    i agree with comment #2 by EmilyU…it’s not about being virtuous for someone ELSE…it’s entirely about doing it for the right reasons, which benefits YOU first and foremost. i love the new focus on virtue in YWs, but hope that virtue is not consigned to the YW only. It’s benefits are extended to all, both old and young, male and female.

    and now back to object lessons. i can’t think of a single one, but i’m enjoying yours! ♥

  18. Tiffany W.

    April 20, 2009

    No memorable object lessons that come to mind. Although I remember being pretty furious when we were taught that a girl should get the best education she could because what if you lost your husband. While I admit, it is one reason to get a good education, it certainly isn’t the most important reason.

    I’ve been trying to be more charitable to my past leaders as I’ve made some of my doozies. I recently taught a lesson in primary about walking along the straight and narrow path and choices we make. I talked to the kids about everything, including temple marriage, when one little 8-year old girl piped up, but you don’t have to get married in the temple. Her mother, who is married to a non-member, and happens to be a delightful woman whom I like and respect, was there. I just fumbled around, not knowing what to say. I didn’t want that girl to feel bad about her family, because they have a good family. Her father is a very good man and they are happy. But on the other hand, we’re supposed to teach the ideal???? Yikes! I still cringe.

  19. Emily M.

    April 20, 2009

    So these are funny and sad, and even oh my! But now I wonder what kind of object lesson actually works well for chastity or other topics. The bad ones are funny (and the meat! that was a hoot); what makes a good one?

    Also, I wonder if it’s better to just talk plainly about chastity than turn it into an object lesson.

  20. Melissa M.

    April 20, 2009

    The one object lesson I had in YW that stands out didn’t have anything to do with chastity (although I do vaguely remember passing around an unwrapped stick of gum and being asked to eat it after everyone else had handled it–no wonder some of our young women have a difficult time adjusting to intimacy in marriage!).Our teacher, Sister Vaughn, brought a beautiful cake to mutual. It was elaborately frosted and decorated with sugared roses–it looked so delicious. Then she asked one of us to cut into it, and it turned out that the “cake” was just a cardboard box frosted with shaving cream. We had a great lesson on appearances vs reality and the strategies Satan uses to make sin appear desirable. Very effective. I hope to use it myself in one of my YW lessons.

  21. Tiffany

    April 20, 2009

    I think that first one about frosting the different stages of cakes is a GOOD object lesson for chastity. I don’t think it is a good idea to teach YW to be chaste just for their future husband or to refer to girls that do whatever as damaged or used goods — I think the concept that when you are mature and grown (fully baked and in a married relationship) you will be able to handle it. And I agree that a lot of girls have a hard time with the transition to intimacy being OKAY.

    I just remembered a seminary lesson we had that was GOOD. A teacher brought in a delicious homemade frosted chocolate cake. She sliced a beautiful piece and presented it on a lovely piece of china to a student in a loving and generous way. And then another student came up for some cake and she had another cake she had “thrown together, forgot some ingredients, didn’t bake enough etc” and grabbed a handful of it barehanded and kind of slopped it into the kid’s hand.

    She then talked about how we present the gospel to others. Do we cherish it and serve it up beautifully or do we just grab a handful and carelessly offer… It was a good lesson.

  22. Jamie

    April 20, 2009

    I went to a great LDS therapist for a long time, he’s very well known, and he helped me to see that the object lessons for many are what causes alot of emotional issues. We all sin, all different choices and consequences, and when we internalize those “object” lessons at a young age, we decide something about ourselves and others; When we dont always remain “perfect and unscathed” many of us end up feeling like damaged goods, and feel we’ll never be good enough, and no matter what we do “the scars will always be there” and we’re “dirty and unwanted”.
    In fact, the Savior made it possible for us to be able to repent for our sins, and make us clean and whole again.
    OF COURSE we should strive to live a clean life, free from sin. I do think that these object lessons have their place, (like the seminarys donuts story) but many of them actually end up not being for the cause they were intended for, and causes more heartache and or confusion.

    I am now happily married and have two girls of my own. I am a little scared of what the world can teach them now, but I decided the most important lessons are taught in the HOME, and those discussions just HAVE to be had. My parents never talked to me about anything, and relied upon my well-meaning leaders to educate me.
    I hope this doesn’t offend anyone – or that I’m off-topic, but sharing what I went through I just hope that some that didn’t experience a similar thing will be more apt to want to have discussions in the home (of course in a loving way – not what my mom told my sister “if you get pregnant I’ll kill you”. What a pep talk on chastity – eh?

  23. Sue

    April 20, 2009

    Love the one Tiffany just shared…and also cracked up about the Angel Hormoni story.

    In general, those old-time chastity lessons were TERRIBLE, though I do like Andrea R’s “frosting on various degrees of cake” one, that comes from a different angle.

    I honestly can’t believe the rose, chewing gum, etc. type lessons we used to get. Even at the time, I knew they were inappropriate and in direct opposition to what I’d been taught about repentance. And I found them offensive. I was actually insulted on behalf of any girls to whom it might be applied.

    I personally prefer the “straight talk” chastity lessons.

    As far as offering my own best object lesson, this is probably it:

    As Dr. Covey stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.”

    Then he pulled out a one-gallon wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Next, he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, Is this jar full?

    Everyone in the class said, Yes. Then he said, Really? He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel.

    Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

    By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

    Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

    “No!” the class shouted.

    Once again he replied, “Good!”

    Then Covey grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. As he looked up at the class he asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

    One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

    “No,” Dr. Covey replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

  24. Faith Not Fear

    April 20, 2009

    One of the lessons/activities I remember most was when our Laurel teacher invited us to use her extensive wardrobe (which I always admired!) to do a stylish AND modest fashion show for our mothers!
    It felt so good to know I could look wonderful and modest, and that someone cared enough to show me how!!! I remember her teaching us that we needed to choose our wardrobe wisely now so we wouldn’t have to throw it all out when we went through the temple — I went home and threw out that pair of way too short shorts I once thought were “cool” — yikes!

  25. Jordan (MamaBlogga)

    April 20, 2009

    Every year at girls’ camp, the fourth year girls were supposed to come one day early, and that night the leaders gave us . . . the cookie talk.

    (My mother was one of said leaders.)

    They would give one of the girls a cookie, have her smell it, talk about how good it smelled, etc.etc., and finally take a bite—and stop there. (My year, however, either they forgot to tell her or she wasn’t listening when they said she wasn’t allowed to chew or swallow it, but she wasn’t supposed to chew or swallow it.)

    And then they proceeded with the lesson, which I think was basically about how we shouldn’t be experimenting where “the line” was with boys, temptation, whatever. The girl had to hold that bite of cookie in her mouth the whole time, which got pretty gross. She really wanted to chew it up and swallow it (except this girl had already done that, LOL) or spit it out. I think the moral of the story was the more you think about, talk about and try to push the limits, the harder it is to stay within those limits.

    And also, a bite of cookie gets gross really fast.

    Oh, one last point: Alma believed in karma. Alma 40:15: “For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored.”

  26. Cindy

    April 20, 2009

    I remember my beehive teacher bringing in a beautiful red jello in a clear crystal bowl–and then dumping the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag on it. It was awful–such a visual contrast. But even then I knew that there was something wrong with the analogy–and later I realized that her analogy made no provision for repentance.

  27. Leisha

    April 20, 2009

    Thank you Jamie! I agree. How can we truly believe in the Atonement when we’re taught we’re nothing but used goods!? Disgusting in my humble opinion. Did the Young Men ever get taught with crushed up roses and spit up candy? I have resented those object lessons and chastise friends who consider recycling them today. Sin is painful and should be avoided but COME on! I love this discussion. It had been a thorn in my side for years.

  28. Leisha

    April 20, 2009

    P.S. When I had infertility issues and couldn’t have children I initially thought it was because I’d gone “too far” with boys of my past. I mean sure, crack whores and child abusers were having children non-stop….but I was “used goods ” and being “punished” for it. So absurd…but those lessons get deeply ingrained!!!!

  29. Keri Brooks

    April 20, 2009

    I remember a really good object lesson from when I was about 13 or 14. We were each handed a Lego airplane kit, minus the instructions. Our teacher told us to try to put the airplane together. The point of the lesson was that without the instructions, we’re not likely to succeed. She then reminded us that the scriptures are the instructions for our life and that we need to study and use them.

    (I managed to get the airplane put together correctly anyway, but the lesson still stuck with me.)

  30. FoxyJ

    April 20, 2009

    Maybe I’ve come too far from my youth, but I’m really not a fan of object lessons. I generally try to stay away from them. I don’t get why people do them so much instead of just talking about things straight up. Although I do concede that the idea of trying to put things together without instructions could be pretty effective.

  31. Anon (still) mortified daughter

    April 20, 2009

    I’m going anon on this one because it involves my mom, who taught the only bad object lesson I can think of. I was a Beehive and I don’t remember the lesson topic, but it involved two girls reading two descriptions out of the manual; one of the descriptions detailing the actions of a good, righteous young woman, and the other detailing actions of a young woman not on the straight and narrow. The description of the “good girl,” my mom left the same. But the description of the “bad girl,” my mom rewrote it to be more “modern”…describing ME. The “raunchy” music I listened to, the “naughty” things I regularly said, the “revealing” clothes I wore, the “bad” friends I hung out with, the “liberal” thoughts I had on church policy. My mom picked a by-the-book “good” girl classmate to read the first righteous description…and picked me to read the second supposedly unrighteous description. I skimmed it before reading it aloud and was mortified (sure, I wasn’t a Molly Mormon, but I was a good kid) so I changed the descriptions to describe a true “bad” LDS teen. My mom got annoyed, asked me to read it how she wrote it, and when I refused, she snatched it from my hands and read it aloud. AWESOME MEMORY.

  32. The Rookie

    April 20, 2009

    I still cringe at the seminary object lesson in which darts were thrown at a target, each representing a mistake made that week by the students. Then, after the dart-throwing competition had subsided, the teacher turned the target around to reveal an image of the savior. While I appreciate the motive behind it (teaching that Christ suffered for each of us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross–and how does one sober teenagers to that fact, really?), I think it is object lessons such as this one that distorted my understanding of the atonement (and the subsequent unreasonable quest for perfection and the torturous guilt when said perfection was not obtained). It wasn’t until well into my 20’s that I realized the atonement is a message of good news set in place for imperfect, but improving, people.

  33. Geo

    April 20, 2009

    Oh, I remember the chewed gum class alright. And now that I am a YW leader myself, I feel personally responsible to thump HARD anybody who tries to “objectify” the young women with such a hurtful and untrue lesson. Lemme at ’em!

  34. Erin

    April 20, 2009

    I remember the corkboard and thumbtack lesson. The thumbtacks represented sins. We can pull them out of the corkboard but there will always be a mark/scar of the sin forever with us. Wait, what?! That seriously haunted me for years. That is not how the atonement works and why in the world were these crazy things taught to us? Maybe Oprah should visit our compounds… (lame attempt at joke)

  35. anon

    April 20, 2009

    I have a sister who has not gone to church since her YW days. I’m not sure exactly what offended her but over the years I have found out that Seminary and YW lessons really bugged her. She is now 35, married, has nothing to do with the church and has no children, by choice. She is certain that God would punish her or her offspring because of bad choices made as a teen and young adult. It makes me sad when sometimes these well-meaning object lessons can go so terribly wrong and influence people to the point they think there is no return.

  36. eljee

    April 20, 2009

    This is not an object lesson, but an analogy that many people use, and it makes me NUTS. I hate it when people who are trying to teach their children to make good choices use the analogy of being on Heavenly Father’s team or Satan’s team. Especially with young children! I’ve had several neighbors teach their children this way, and those children always come over to my house and tell my kids this garbage. I remember one such kid telling my 4-YEAR-OLD that he was on Satan’s team because he had done something that this older kid perceived as wrong. I don’t put up with that kind of talk, and I always correct kids who say it at my house. All children are good, all children are on Heavenly Father’s team. All children make mistakes sometimes, but they are never, ever on “Satan’s team”. Young children are not even accountable, and even after the age of 8, I still don’t agree with this way of explaining things.

  37. Dovie

    April 20, 2009

    Emily U. AMEN.

  38. Justine

    April 20, 2009

    I haven’t read all the comments, but has anyone mentioned the gross cleaning sponge that is decorated with frosting and beautiful decorations to deceive everyone into believing they’re going to eat a beautiful cake, but when you cut into it, you find a gross sponge?

    That’s all I got.

  39. Melissa M.

    April 20, 2009

    To Anon (still) mortified daughter:

    I’m so sorry you had that experience! I don’t understand it. What did your mother think she would accomplish with that lesson? I feel bad for you and for the other girls in that class–but especially for you. I hope I never humiliate my children to such a degree.

  40. al

    April 20, 2009

    These are great!

    eljee–I have young children and promise never to use that analogy. I’ve never heard of it, but that would seriously bug me if someone told my son he was on Satan’s team.

    I just remember one mutual night where the whole activity was trying on wedding dresses. What? The boys got to play basketball and have a bonfire that night and we had to try on wedding dresses! Lame.

    I think leaders use these just try their best to really get through to the girls but I’ve certainly gained an appreciation for looking at object-lessons and examples from all angles before delivering them. I’m glad this was talked about. I’ll certainly be careful if I’m ever in YW. 🙂

  41. bekah

    April 20, 2009

    At my very first Standards Night as a Beehive, our Mia Maid advisor (who happened to be a sex-ed teacher with a Master’s in Public Health, I believe) used a great object lesson. She passed around a tray of beautiful hand-dipped chocolate truffles. After we tried them, she informed us that they were made with unsweetened baking chocolate. She then compared the bitter truffles to sex before marriage, and talked about how marriage can give us the Lord’s blessing and the deeply committed relationship with our spouse that makes sexual intimacy “sweet”.

    The most memorable part of the evening for me, however, was when one of the Laurels raised her hand and asked “Can you please define ‘necking’ and ‘petting’? We are always told not to do them, but no one has ever told me what they actually are.” The Mia Maid leader glanced at the bishop before answering, and he mouthed “No, not with the Beehives here.”

    During the refreshments, I was hiding away in a corner eating my cake, when the Mia Maid leader gathered the Laurels around her nearby. She huddled them close around her, and said, “I don’t care what anybody else thinks–if you’re old enough to date, you HAVE to know these things.” Then she proceded to give them a detailed description of necking and petting, which I listened to intently. I have always respected that YW leader.

    As an adult, I have come to have even more respect for her, especially as I have met and talked to other women in the church. As a RS president, I counseled with several sisters who were sexually abused and have heard from them how traumatic some of those less accurate object lessons can be to someone who has been abused. The last thing they need is to feel like they are a chewed up piece of gum, etc.

  42. wendy

    April 20, 2009

    When I was a beehive, our advisor had a 5×7 picture of a girl our age and as she said mean things about the girl, she stabbed the picture with a knife. When she was done, she revealed a picture of Christ behind the photo, also stabbed through. I’m sure she related it to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies burying their weapons of war.

  43. Emily F

    April 20, 2009

    In a teacher development class, my teacher brought a beautifully decorated chocolate cake, on a pristine, white cake stand. He was talking about presentation, and how your lessons should be carefully prepared. He then grabbed a plate and used his hand to rip off pieces of cake and hand them out to us. Nobody wanted to eat it–but we got the message. Presentation is important.

  44. Mrs. Organic

    April 20, 2009

    Did no one else have the object lesson of the beautiful wedding dress that someone splashed with ink/muddy water (to symbolize sins against chastity)?

  45. traci

    April 20, 2009

    Wow ladies – talk about good intentions being steppingstones……
    All those ladies meant well I’m sure, but….

    The only thing I can remember was in Biology class and we were learning the biology of plants. We were growing ferns from carrots, vines from potatoes – we were told to write this down, because we were married our joys would come from these things because we would never have the money for anything else because of having children. Boy that really intensified the idea of having kids. She said mothers had nothing, no new clothes, no possessions no time – only their vocation.

    Gee thanks

  46. Kerry

    April 20, 2009

    you mean, like our rolls as women?

  47. Carina

    April 20, 2009

    Kerry, I loved that post.

  48. mormonhermitmom

    April 20, 2009

    I think I remember one by a seminary teacher. He had a degree in Chemistry. He had a pitcher of water. He poured in a red liquid and equated it with sin. He poured in another liquid and equated it with the atonement and the redness disappeared. I think he paired it with Isaiah. Tho your sins be red as scarlet, they will be pure as snow kind of thing. I wish I knew how he did that.

  49. kadusey

    April 20, 2009

    I always enjoyed the following object lesson about baptism and repentance. You take a jar of water (I saw it done with a white shirt once too, but I don’t know exactly how they did it). You add drops of food coloring to represent sins or mistakes made. Then, talk about the power of the Atonement and repentance as you add some bleach to the jar, mixing it in. The water goes back to being clear again.

    Not perfect, but one of the better object lessons I’ve had. The rocks, gravel, sand, water one is also pretty good, got that one in Seminary.

    I think I’ve blocked out most of the really bad object lessons I’ve seen.

  50. jendoop

    April 20, 2009

    You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here! I agree most of the time using an object lesson to teach chastity is someones way of “teaching” an uncomfortable subject. In today’s world I say the more detail the better as far as chastity goes.

    For now I teach in primary and there are just some concepts that little kids have a hard time grasping. Remember the hand and the glove object lesson to teach about the body and the spirit? There is also an object lesson on the internet about testimony gloves- what the 5 points of our testimonies should be. I did that at a primary activity and it still helps me. (Like when the stake pres. called on me this Sunday to bear my testimony, augh!)

    I made a batch of cookies for YWs once, but told them I didn’t actually read the recipe, I just made them from memory. I compared it to actually reading your scriptures daily. Using object lessons for concrete concepts works better.

    And as far as I know we should never have someone act out being the Savior or God at church, it’s “in the handbook”.

  51. Anon (still) mortified daughter

    April 20, 2009

    Melissa M.: My mom and I have never had a good relationship. She dealt (deals) with her kids in a very passive aggressive way. I never really respected her as a teen and, because of it, never listened to her disciplines or opinions of my actions. So she took to criticizing me in a public manner. I dealt with it by making everyone laugh and turning it into a big joke, targeted at my mom.

    Clearly, we have a very healthy relationship.

  52. Shalissa

    April 20, 2009

    So I’ve been sitting here thinking, “What do I do next time I’m sitting in a YW lesson and I here ANOTHER leader giving the ‘damaged goods’ chastity lesson?”

    I want to immediately correct the doctrine and save the girls (and oh, there are many hidden abused among us) without offending or embarassing a trying-very-hard leader.

    Here’s what I’ve come up with. I think I would say,

    “You know, I’ve always thought of this lesson in a slightly different way. I don’t actually think of the damaged flower [cake, etc.] as representing the SINNER, because Christ can make any truly repentant person beautiful and clean and whole through the atonement. I like to think of the flower [chewing gum/cake] as a great representation of how we will experience SEX ITSELF. Do we want to experience it the way God created it, or after it has been mutilated and destroyed by Satan?”

    This way I think we can head toward discussing sex as a good thing, not a bad thing and acknowledge and appreciate any diligent preparation of another YW leader. We ought to convey this redesigned image to all our husbands, friends, family who are working with young men, too!!!!

  53. stephanie

    April 20, 2009

    I think it goes against some form of good blogging manners to link to your own blog in a comment, but i’m doing it anyway


    basically- as young women, we are all cherry pie to be eaten…..

  54. Fairchild

    April 20, 2009

    Did nobody else have the airplane youth activity? After being told we were going on a tropical vacation for a joint activity with chairs set up in rows like airplane seats, boarding passes, our leaders doing the flight attendant spiel and giving us drinks and snacks, the plane crashed and we all DIED. Cue going around the building to visit different rooms decorated like the telestial kingdom, terrestrial kingdom (with lighting getting brighter), and finally into the chapel where our parents were waiting all dressed in white. It was actually a huge bummer when you thought you were gonna have a way fun activity and then it was all depressing and spiritual and awkward. I couldn’t figure out how all the adults had white clothes.

    And can I just mention that though not an object lesson, my first midweek activity as a Beehive was making baby quilts for OURSELVES! Freaked me out big time. Here I’m barely 12 and I don’t want to be prepping for a baby! Eww, gross!

  55. La Yen

    April 20, 2009

    “Back rubs in the front room lead to front rubs in the back room.”

    And I HATED that airplane activity. I ended up sneaking out of the Telestial kingdom’s window and going to the Sev.

  56. Laurel

    April 20, 2009

    The comments are just as good as the post!
    It’s amazing we all turned out so well…(grin)

  57. Marge Bjork

    April 20, 2009

    I don’t think we ever got a chastity talk in my YW, there were only three of us. But I do remember our leader had to convince one of the girls that her husband would still find her sexy in garments.

    I don’t believe in object lessons so much, more of what Bekah’s YW leader did. Don’t talk about pies and cakes, talk about what actually happens. The more you know about what is actually going on the more likely you are to make better decisions and reverence yourself and those around you.

    What always gets me is that movie, Pioneers and Peticoats. I have always hated it. If that’s not a brimstone and hellfire and hypocritical way to encourage girls to be modest and attend YW then I’ll be–

  58. Blue

    April 20, 2009

    i’m now in my hotel room (been in Florida, New York and California since this morning) and reading the comments. #54 and #55 made me laugh completely out loud! Wow! that’s so unbelievable.

    but it’s nice when i laugh out loud. that’s not an every-day event. thanks!!! ♥

  59. Melissa

    April 20, 2009

    Shalissa, I like your idea. Great way to turn the discussion around.

    We did the 10 virgins ruse in our ward a few years ago, where the YW all went around and met five foolish virgins and five righteous ones. It ended with the “bridal feast” in a lace-draped room with a picture of the Savior. I was asked to play one of the foolish virgins but was told I’d have to wear more makeup.

  60. La Yen

    April 20, 2009

    My husband wants me to point out that, in a certain unnamed couple’s case, front rubs DID spring from back rubs…

  61. Carina

    April 20, 2009

    And my husband read all of your comments and said, “Those all didn’t really happen, did they?”

    I emphatically informed him that yes, indeed, ‘those’ things all happened.

    And then I asked if the young men were ever on the receiving end of such lessons and he gave me the “Are you NUTS” look and vigorously shook his head.

  62. Tiffany W.

    April 21, 2009

    Fairchild, ah yes, the airplane activity. I was a very sentimental Beehive, so I spent a lot of that activity crying. I’m sure I would have more cynical as a Laurel.

  63. Tiffany W.

    April 21, 2009

    I have to agree with others that the damaged cake object lessons representing the loss of virginity really are harmful. And they really aren’t doctrinal. We do believe in repentance. And repentance is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

    Last month, I attended my sister’s sealing to her husband and baby. They had traveled a difficult road. But to see her, her husband and darling baby all dressed in white, clean and beautiful, being sealed as a family, was one of the most powerful and amazing object lessons about repentance and the atonement I’ve ever seen.

    So yes, while I want our youth to make good choices, I also want to remind them that the atonement offers us hope when we’ve sinned.

  64. Giggles

    April 21, 2009

    From reading all of the comments, it seems safe to say that we do not have any good object lessons for chastity, and that most repentance ones fall flat.

    Chastity should be taught for chastity’s sake, and not for the “saving yourself” sake. Because chastity and virtue are so much more than just not having sex till you are married. Chastity continues throughout your whole life, even if you are married. Chastity is individual and about your relationship with God. It is not about being “clean” for anyone else.

  65. Hayes

    April 21, 2009

    Best one I saw regarding chastity/repentance was involving a $5 bill (or $10 or $20 — the amount didn’t matter). The person held it up andasked the class if anyone wanted it. Everyone raised their hand.

    The teacher then balled the dollar up, stepped on it, tore it in some places, etc…

    He asked if anyone still wanted it.

    Everyone’s hands shot up.

    He asked, “why do you still want it?”

    “Well, because it still is worth the same amount, $5…”

    And, the overall point was that no matter what has happened in our lives, we still have value, people still love us, etc…

  66. j

    April 21, 2009

    I do like that one.

  67. Lori B.

    April 21, 2009

    Wow, Hayes, now that’s a good object lesson. And thanks everyone else for bringing to light that these precious chastity lessons should be talked about head on, with an assurance of the redeeming sacrifice of the Savior for a way back when we stray.

    When I was 21 and not married yet the Bishop asked me if I would consider serving a mission. I declined because I thought I wasnt worthy enough. To this day I regret not going.

    I do remember a good object lesson about “when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.” Our dear YW’s leader brought lemonade and lemon cookies. To this day I wonder if my cheerful attitude stemmed from that lesson.

  68. Malinda

    April 21, 2009

    One of our primary leaders used a toilet paper roll to illustrate how God speaks through His prophets. She held it up to her mouth and talked through it to show how the prophet is a mouthpiece for the Lord. I know what she was trying to show, but I just don’t think an object lesson should begin with “Pretend I am God and this toilet paper roll is the prophet.”

  69. anonymuss

    April 21, 2009

    I was the one who had been (and was still being) sexually abused at home–it was my deep dark secret–these object lessons confused me and made me feel even worse about myself. It’s no wonder I lost it and went off track for awhile. I was smart enough to realize later that my church leaders really were well-intentioned, but the message that I was “used goods” and permanently soiled has been hard to undo, whether it was my fault or not. Thankfully, I have built a healthy relationship with the Savior.
    These comments and stories have been HILARIOUS!

  70. Plain Jame

    April 21, 2009

    oh Hayes, I really liked that one too.
    It’s really nice to know that I was not the only one that was horrified – I didn’t know that it was such a common theme among the very well meaning teachers.
    I agree with Shalissa – great way to turn around the discussion – I’ll have to remember that if I’m ever in YW.
    I am surprised at how little the boys are taught – even today the importance of keeping yourself clean is really focused on the girls. My husband said that he was blessed to have a great bishop that spoke to him clearly and plainly. (something he NEVER got in his broken home).

    I think the common theme among the object lessons that I’ve heard and seen, is the lack of use of the healing powers of the Atonement, and how our Faith in him can make us whole again. Making it about creating that relationship with the Savior.

    Thanks for this – this has been really enjoyable!
    I really wasn’t a mashed up cake, chewed piece of gum, or damaged goods!!!!

  71. Andrea R.

    April 21, 2009

    Another one I heard when I was young was that sinning was like nailing a nail into a board. You could pull the nail out with repentance, but the hole in the board would remain. When I grew older and understood the Atonement better, I realized that not only could you pull the nail out, but the board would be good as new.

    I agree with the other comments that what a lot of the object lessons lack is the healing power of the Atonement.

  72. Tiffany W.

    April 21, 2009

    One other comment, not necessarily about object lessons, but it seems clear that there is a lot of confusion within the church about virginity and chastity.

  73. Sara

    April 21, 2009

    There actually was a death and doom comment told to me that worked! One leader mentioned that through repentance we are wiped clean of our sins for eternity but that while we lived on Earth there where still temporal laws that we couldn’t change. For example, having sex before marriage. You could repent and it would be wiped clean in Heavenly Father’s eyes but you are still not a virgin. Now if I had been sexually abused it probably would have been the most depressing thing I’d ever heard but for me it stuck with me and actually helped me to wait until I was married.

  74. elizabeth-w

    April 21, 2009

    I have loved all these stories! And have seen just about all these quote unquote lessons. How did they get passed around? I certainly didn’t grow up in Utah. How did they travel so far south without the use of the internet?! 🙂
    Two things I remember:
    When a YW, totally 100% joking, told the leader to go to outer darkness. It was hilarious, until the leader freaked out and sobbed. It wasn’t nice to say, but the girl was just being clever, not malicious.
    In Sunday School we were told that if we went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and we weren’t totally totally totally worthy to go, all those baptisms wouldn’t ‘count’ and the person wouldn’t really have had her work done for her. That messed me up for a long time, even though I knew that couldn’t be right. I was only about 12. If I’d been 16 I might have refuted it.

  75. ANON

    April 23, 2009

    I had a chastity lesson that nobody mentioned–

    My teacher passed a vase around and commented on how pretty it was. After it went through the room there were finger prints all over it. She wiped it clean to represent the atonement. I think it was a little better than a lot of the other ones, but really are women objects of any kind? I love the suggestion to talk about it straight.

    When I was in YW, I did not know what necking and petting were. I was totally confused and thought that I was probably doing all of those things and not even knowing it. Why couldn’t somebody just give it to us straight?

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I think I finally realize why it is I have felt so dirty all of these years. I, too, was abused a child and didn’t even think about it until now, but I felt horrible during the half-eaten candy bar lesson. In fact, I have always felt that nobody would want me. Thanks so much for pointing out that falsehood.

  76. JES

    April 25, 2009

    When I was a YW leader, I told a true story as my “object lesson”. I talked about my husband’s cousin who, as an inactive member, made some poor choices with her boyfriend and got pregnant. She chose to give the baby up for adoption. During the process and in the ensuing years, she became active, repented, married in the temple and now has children with her husband – an eternal family. But she will never have that first child with her in the eternities; he is part of a different eternal family. Point being that even though we can repent and become completely clean and worthy and have all the blessings of H.F., there are consequences for our actions that will always exist.

    So my question for you all is, is there anything offensive in there that I’m missing? I think, as people, we all look at things differently and don’t think about all the many different ways someone else might take a particular message. If the story is actually a horrible one, I’d rather know so that I don’t continue to use it.

  77. eljee

    April 25, 2009

    JES, I think your story is a great “real life” example to use, but I would share it in a bit different way. I’m an adoptive mom, and I feel like my children will get to have some kind of relationship with their birthmothers in the eternities. To me, sealing is a way to join people together, not tear them apart, so while my children are sealed to me, I think in some way they will still know their birthmothers, we will all be part of a very big family circle.

    I do think it’s great to share this as an example of how some effects of our choices cannot be undone, and some choices, even when followed by right choices, can still be accompanied by great pain. Both of my children’s birthmoms underwent indescribable anguish as a result of their choices, both before and after they placed their children for adoption. I know there are times when each of them still miss those children very much and wish they would not have had to go through everything they did. There will always ben those times. However, there is healing in the Atonement for that too. The Balm of Gilead can heal birthmothers too. I know my son’s birthmom feels like the adoption was a lifechanging experience, painful but overall positive as it set her on a different course, and without it, she would not be who she is today.

    But the kind of pain involved is something that NO person would choose if they had any inkling of how much it would hurt! I do think it’s important that young people understand that sex outside of marriage can bring consequences that are extremely difficult to bear.

    I would just be careful about joining the adoption with the repentance process, they are two separate things. Adoption is about doing what is best for the child and making choices for his/her future, spiritual repentance is a different matter, though it often happens along side the choices the mother is making about her child’s future.

  78. eljee

    April 25, 2009

    Oh, and you also might want to be sensitive if you have a young woman in your class who is adopted, who might be missing her birthmother at that point.

  79. Sara

    April 26, 2009

    I have to agree with JES, whether there is some connection or not with birthmom/dad, that child is not sealed to them. There is a huge difference between the two which is one reason why we should strive to have eternal families.

  80. eljee

    April 26, 2009

    I agree that there’s a huge difference between the two, but I just don’t think that I would focus on the “punishment” of not being with your child for eternity in this case, both because it feels cruel (kind of in the same way that saying someone is forever scarred with nail holes is cruel) and also because I don’t think that accurately describes the reality of it. They won’t be sealed to the child, but if they are in the celestial kingdom, they will be in a state of eternal happiness. There has to be a way for that consequence to be mediated, because people who are in the celestial kingdom are no longer “suffering” for their sins. So, even if the birthparent is not sealed to their child, and even if they don’t have a relationshp with that child (which I think they will), if they are in the celestial kingdom, that pain and loss will be removed, it will not hurt the person.

    That’s why, while it might technically be true that one consequence of this situation is not being able to be sealed to one’s child, I just don’t think it’s the best example to use in this situation. The other consequences of premarital sex/an unplanned pregnancy are more immediate, more clear, and more painful.

    Of course if that person is not in the celestial kingdom, they won’t be sealed to anyone anyway, birth child or otherwise, and that would probably be very hard to bear.

  81. jenny

    April 27, 2009

    I agree with eljee. (On everything, my friend :)) I am an adoptive mother and have biological children as well. I’m thinking about my daughter sitting through a lesson like that. (She’s only seven now.) I think it could be very painful. As we all know, the teenage years are FULL of angst, doubt, worry, emotion… Even though JES’s real life story illustrates the personal pain and eternal consequence of choice, I would just be VERY MINDFUL of my audience. That is a story I would choose to share with my daughter in a personal, private, intimate, and loving conversation. I would be saddened to hear that she listened to it in a group setting without the propper support.

  82. jenny

    April 27, 2009

    And Sara,
    I get what you’re saying about sealings.
    For me, I *feel* like she is my birthdaughter. No different than any of my other children. It is a comfort to me. I know she is mine.
    And as much comfort as it does and will give my daughter in her life, I think there will always be a few somewhat ambiguous feelings she has about it. Mothers are special. They just are. And just as my daughter will someday become a mother, she will have very tender feelings about how she came to be mine.

  83. Ardis

    April 28, 2009

    It might be better classed as a demonstration than an object lesson, but I remember this from a youth conference: The speaker asked for volunteers, one boy and one girl who didn’t know each other well but were very brave. He had them stand next to each other, and put something on the outside hand of each volunteer that measured their heart rate and displayed it on a screen. We could all see their hearts pounding for a minute until they got used to all the eyes on them, when the heart rates slowed down.

    Then the speaker went on talking about how physically exciting it is to be near a member of the opposite sex, but how we quickly got used to that and had to be careful about how fast we moved on to the next step. Every few minutes, he would tell the volunteer couple to first, hold hands (and we watched their hearts pounding, then gradually slow down); then interlace their fingers (ditto); then the boy put his arm around the girl’s shoulder (ditto).

    That’s as far as the demonstration went, but after watching on the screen how heart rates rose and fell, we all understood that the pattern would be the same with increasingly intimate behavior. Any of us who remembered that demonstration at least went from step to step with our eyes wide open, recognizing what was happening to us. I liked both the information and being fully responsible because of knowing.

  84. La Yen

    April 29, 2009

    I agree with eljee and Jenny, but maybe I am just feeling sensitive right now: I really believe that the family is ordained in heaven. And to imply that, because of a poor choice, a mother will not be able to be with the child that *should* have been hers kind of breaks my heart over my adopted daughter–my daughter was meant to come to my family, no matter how differently she came. I teach her that every day, and it would really bother me if she came home believing that her family was only her family because a woman made a bad choice. That she was the consequence of a mistake, instead of a treasured daughter whose birth was an answer to fasting and prayer.
    While I totally agree with the consequences and love this story, I have to admit I would be really bothered if my kid was in the class. So I would also advise to know your audience.

  85. JES

    April 29, 2009

    Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t looked at it from the perspective of the adopted child. I was trying so hard to make sure the girls understood that through repentance and the Atonement they could be absolutely clean and worthy again, but that there are always consequences/effects of our actions. If I’m in the situation again, I’ll be sure to keep in mind everyone’s advice.

  86. Heather F.

    May 1, 2009

    A very effective object lesson for chastity I saw as an adult was a YW leader who made it appear that she was going to start a fire in the YW room. She had wood, newspaper, lighter fluid, and a match. More than a few people were nervous! Then she talked about how beneficial fire can be for camping, cooking food, keeping warm, etc., but a fire in a building can be completely destructive. The comparison then was to sex and how it is very good and welcome in the appropriate time and place, but it can be devastating when it is out of place. I was impressed with the lesson because it taught that sex is not always “bad”.

  87. MLE

    May 12, 2009

    I wanted to share a chastity lesson I had once when I was in YW.

    When I was no older than 12 or 13 years old, the Young Women’s gathered all the YW together so that an older girl in the ward could speak to us against having premarital sex.

    This girl, who was several years older than us (about 17 or 18), told us the story of how she, a super popular cheerleader at the local high school, dated the super popular quarter back from the rival high school. Their romance was talk of the town and everyone LOVED that the QB and the cheerleader from rival schools got together.

    They progressively messed around until they had sex and she got pregnant. She then kept the baby and named it some “super cute” unusual baby name that everyone loved.

    I remember thinking — and STILL think — what part of that story was supposed to deter a bunch of Beehives from having sex?? Not only did we not know anything about sex, but the story of a popular cheerleader, a football player, and a baby with the cutest name EVER (lol) sounds like it’d encourage sex if anything at all.

  88. Shauna

    May 23, 2009

    One year at a Youth Conference we had a concluding fireside in the chapel and a high council member placed a chainsaw up on the stand. Then he proceeded to tell us that a chainsaw was a very powerful and useful tool but it could also be very dangerous. He then showed us that in order to use the chainsaw properly he had to wear the proper protective attire (hard hat, goggles, gloves) and the chainsaw had to be used by someone who knew what they were doing. After this demonstration he tried to tell us that this was like the law of chastity that sex was a good and useful tool but had to be done in the proper way with a proper person. I was a Laurel at the time and I remember laughing with my friends afterward saying, “so what you’re saying is use protection and do it with someone who knows what their doing?” I got his point but I didn’t think it was the most effective way to share that message. I also thought it was a little scary to liken sex to a chainsaw. I’m sure the scare factor was probably intentional. I still laugh thinking about that fireside today.

  89. april

    June 17, 2009

    My “favorite” object lesson was from girls camp one year. The had us go on a midnight hike with candles. Along the way, there were leaders next to various signs beckoning us to come up to them. The first sign said “disobey parents” so we walked over to them thinking they were going to talk to us about that, intead they blew out our candles and we had to walk on in darkness. The next station said something good like “pray daily” and they re-lit our candles.
    It didn’t take long for us to figure out we should avoid the “temptation/sin” stations, but since we were obnoxious, we went up to each of them (and since no other leaders except the first set had gotten to blow out candles, I think they were excited to have succeeded in tempting us) but when we got there, we hid out candles behind our back and mockingly blew at them, while they futilely tried to get to our candles.
    We thought we were hilarious.

  90. CR

    June 27, 2009

    My favorite object lesson is on peer pressure. I brought cheyenne pepper to class and put 1/4 tsp. is a cup with some water and drank it. I told the class that if they did the same I would give them a cookie. Usually, some of the boys will be tough and start. There are some who won’t follow and don’t care about the cookie reward. After everyone who wants to drink the cheyenne pepper has had a chance, I talk about peer pressure and how they would not normally drink spicy liquid just for a cookie. I gave the other kids a cookie also.

    This can lead to another lesson — repentance is the cheyenne pepper water — it is hard and it burns for a while, but after, you have a warm feeling (in your stomach) from the process.

  91. AP

    July 8, 2009

    I once heard a story about a civilization that was told by their loving maker they could come back to him when they died as long as they didn’t eat chocolate cake or wear red dresses. There was a tempter who was cleaver and introduced things like chocolate chip cookies and white cake to get them used to the idea of chocolate and cake. The tempter also showed movie stars in pink dresses and dresses with just a bit of red in them to make that seem appealing and to make the step of eating chocolate cake or wearing red dresses small. Does anyone else know that story? Does anyone know where I can get a copy of it? I thought it was really cleaver.

  92. Melissa M.

    September 20, 2009

    I just have to share one more chastity object lesson that I heard about just today. My daughter (in a BYU ward) said that their high councilman spoke about virtue today and told the congregation that when his wife teaches about chastity, she makes a big creamy vanilla milkshake, shows it to the YW, then puts a dead fly in it and blends it up again, and asks them who would like to taste it. I guess the high councilman didn’t read this post.

  93. Emily

    September 21, 2009

    My husband did an object lesson in Family Home Evening with our young kids. The lesson was obey your parents. He made some cookies with the kids, but he told them they didn’t have to obey some dumb recipe, they could do whatever they liked! He filled the counter with every kind of ingredient imaginable: floor, sugar and eggs, but also red pepper, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. He put in a few ingredients to make sure they would turn out like cookies, then let the kids add whatever they wanted. They actually added a cup of salt!
    While these “cookies” were baking he told the kids they would make some more cookies, this time following the recipe. He emphasized that this way took more time, more effort, and wasn’t exactly what they wanted to do.
    We have a hilarious home video of the kids tasting the cookies that were made “just the way they wanted!” After the kids spit out these gross cookies, he gave them a real cookie and emphasized that following what Mom and Dad say may be harder and more annoying, but will turn out better in the end.

  94. Melissa M.

    September 21, 2009

    Love that object lesson, Emily. Think I’ll use it for FHE. 🙂

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