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Two Heads Are Better than One: Couple Scripture Study

Luisa Perkins from Cold Spring, New York, writes:

I am trying to find ways to have more regular and effective scripture study with my husband. We study individually and with our children, but I’d love some ideas on ways we can have the ‘companion study’ we both enjoyed on our missions. Does anyone have some light to share?

Kathy says:

Luisa, what a dynamite idea!! (a) it sounds like tons of fun, (b) it lends itself to huge “home improvement” implications, and (c) it will be an awesome model for your kids.

The power of the buddy system is obvious. Two heads are better than one in any situation (barring, maybe, conjoined twins) and a condition of service on a mission.

I think the Circle should take this idea to heart and help us make this ideal a reality in our marriages. I’m convinced your note was inspired.

I am impulsive and immature by nature. I like to think about the fun stuff first. Let’s assume we are looking at Alma’s fireside chats with his sons; Helaman, Shiblon, and poor little derailed Cori(anton). Those intimate father-son discussions are crammed with beautiful doctrine. What about Gazalem’s light, as one interesting thing to think about? In the same chapter, take a look at verse 37. I think it’s one of the loveliest, most comforting ideas, and the best advice in all the standard works. I am influenced by having first become aware of it as a ward choir arrangement by my genius brother-in-law, who has nailed a number of blue ribbon Ensign contests. I think this was one of them. Either way, set to music it is unforgettable, but my point is to look for something that takes you by surprise or makes you cry, or speaks to you privately and spiritually. Make it your “inside info” as a couple for a week or a day and do what any effective corporation does: find innovative ways to live your values. Tape it on each other’s steering wheel so they see it all day or all week. Stop three times a day to call each other and share “awareness” milestones. Remember to utilize this beautiful tool that Heavenly Father has preserved for us via a series of unimaginable miracles and a history of consecration and martyrdom. Think of obvious ways a loving couple might buddy up on the implementation process. Incorporate it into itself: “Counsel with the Lord. He will direct you for good.” Don’t you love it, already???!!! Luisa, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for thinking of this!! Just imagine the potential!!

I need to look twice at the reminder that those who are slothful won’t, can’t, don’t, and never will prosper. Nobody likes to think of herself as a slacker; but we can always buck up and make changes. We can empower our beloved spouses to help us look over our shoulders into our blind spots so Heavenly Father can make weaknesses strong unto us. We can become the chief private cheerleader who notices every tiny effort to make these changes, and rewards them with anything from a cookie to a cruise it doesn’t matter; it’s just the principle of couples taking turns giving each other a heads-up or a morale boost. I can’t imagine anything more intimate or trusting.

How about the simple and glorious reminder in Alma 38:5? That would make a nice pre-emptive attack against all the superficial hassles of an average day or week (or lifetime).

Corianton gets the long lecture. It is he who needs to take full advantage of the atonement, and his dad tells him every detail. Nowhere in the standard works is this process clearer. Notice there’s no scolding. Just the excellent advice to get to work and do a good job. What more can we do, regardless of how much or how little we have sinned?

This is just one random example. I think the power of the “companion study” you have mentioned is the trust and focus you can build, as a couple. This is your private, intimate opportunity to create a home that is purposefully, deliberately, aggressively, pro-actively engaged in the plan of salvation. It gives me goosebumps to think about it. It is so do-able. It just took a Luisa to think about it and to propose it in an international forum.

Alison says:

First, there is nothing I can possibly add to Kathy’s brilliant answer. Second, my mind is still in post-birth shrinkage trauma. Third, will someone tell me how they make time for this?

I’m not trying to sound discouraging and, frankly, I’m in total admiration of Luisa. We are really good at having our family scripture study devotional (7:00 a.m. sharp, in the family room) and I’m almost as diligent with my personal study. I really love studying the scriptures and sharing them with my children. But I can’t imagine where we would squeeze in another scripture study time!

On second thought, we have, on occasion, incorporated some kind of weekly couple discussion of various gospel topics with some level of success. Perhaps a more structured study of this sort would work out for us.

Readers, what say you?

A couple of great resources that I love:

Marking the Scriptures: Suggestions for Understanding and Using the Scriptures by Daniel Ludlow

Searching the Scriptures: Bringing Power to Your Personal and Family Study by Gene R. Cook

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • facethemusic August 6, 2007, 12:34 am

    Personally, I find the whole scripture study thing a little overbearing as it is. Don’t misunderstand, I love the scriptures. We do have family study every single night, no matter what. But, I find it hard enough to squeeze in personal study, muchless keeping up with Sunday School reading. We’re also suppose to be reading our Relief Society lessons ahead of time. And it’s not a matter of “making time.” If I get up early, the kids get up. I think they’re all part bat, because no matter how quiet I am, they can “sense” that I’m up, and next thing I know, I’m being bombarded by four hungry kids who are convinced they’re going to die of starvation if food doesn’t hit their stomachs within the following 60 seconds. And now “companion study”? I honestly find it hard to believe that anyone other than the bedridden have time to do all this. And how in the world do you keep things straight when you’re reading in different books? I don’t know anyone who’s ever read five novels at the same time but I guess there may be a few out there who’ve accomplished such a feat. Can you imagine though? “So Tracy, read any good books lately?” “Why yes, Karen I’m in the fourth chapter of Jane Eyre, the fifteenth chapter of The Brothers Karamazov, the twenty-third chapter of Wuthering Heights, I’m just about finished with Moby Dick, and being LDS I’ve been worried that I might get some disapproving looks from the angels if I get up to heaven and haven’t read Work and the Glory, so I started on that yesterday.” Hello?

    Ezra Taft Benson said that family scripture study should be from The Book of Mormon, and it should be everyday. And as soon as we’re done, we should start again. I’ve always interpreted that to mean that all the other study personal, church class related, etc., could be “all the other stuff.”

    Anyway, I think the only way I could really get all this reading done would be to combine everything. I’ve always tried to get my personal study in early in the morning. And I use that time to do the Sunday School reading. Though, since I have very little alone and quiet time, very often, it only gets done “whilst paying homage at the porcelain throne,” if you catch my drift. There’s something about Holy Writ being in the bathroom that doesn’t seem appropriate, but hey “at all times and in all places,” right?

    So I guess I could “combine” the couple study with reading the Relief Society lesson. I mean, does it really have to be couple scripture study? I think the lesson material, having come from the mouths of our prophets would count as scripture. The men study the same lessons in Elders Quorum anyway. So, I guess right before we go to bed, that would be a good time to go over the lesson together. Don’t know if that would stretch over a week, though. But if we included the questions at the end, read scripture references, I guess it could.

    I just hope I can keep everything straight. Otherwise, I might end up giving a Family Home Evening lesson that teaches my children that Heber J. Grant built a boat to take his family to the promised land, and that his evil brothers Cain and Judas were cast into the dungeon with Joseph Smith, but thankfully the lions didn’t eat them, then the wicked brothers were converted to the gospel and went about preaching the gospel and doing much good until the people of Council Bluffs, Iowa were so righteous that the entire city was translated and taken up into heaven.

  • klgreen1 August 6, 2007, 12:35 am

    Yours is now my all-time favorite reader response.

    Let’s just say “Ecclesiastes,” with a capital E. “To everything there is a season.” I was a lame scriptorian even as Seminary President and President of my Laurels class. (The latter doesn’t count, of course. Everybody has to serve a rotation as president in Young Women, even if you’re Madonna.) All through BYU still anemic. I’m only now gaining a tiny bit of altitude. My current position in life is live-in caretaker for my parents during their final illnesses. I am, at last, devouring the scriptures in the way that I think the prophets have tried to get me involved all along. I can promise you that they do, in a magical way, transform you. For the first time in my long life, I see why bishops tell the parties to embattled marriages to drop everything else necessary and get their noses into the scriptures. That advice always seemed so medieval to me!! Now I get it.

    But I wanna be in your book club/study group group! I love your bed-time story!!! I am just enough of a gentile to think it would be fun, as a couple, to take one principle, gleaned from anything directly prophetic, and play with it for a while. Just to create an emphasis. Sort of like an inside joke or private love language. When the dear little bats in your family belfry become a bit more daring in their daily orbits, you will have more time to feast on the Word. Trust me; you will be sad when the Cheerios lose their savor. (Or, more to the point, their clientele.)

    Thanks for reading Mormon Momma. Isn’t it fun? We have some very lively readers and writers.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 6, 2007, 12:36 am

    Tracy, I’m laughing so hard that I can’t even see to type a response! Even bedridden, I’m not sure I can work it out! Excuse me. I have to go dry my eyes.

  • Reader Comment August 6, 2007, 12:36 am

    An anonymous reader writes:

    Tracy is like the Mormon Erma Bombeck!!! You rock!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 6, 2007, 12:37 am

    I’m back, just to correct Kathy. No, not everyone has a stint at Young Women class president. Kim Jacobsen was the president of our class every single year that our age group was “in the running.” It’s amazing that I still like her!

  • SilverRain August 6, 2007, 4:18 pm

    Speaking on this topic, my husband recently pointed something out that made me think. Why is our scripture study so heavily weighted to the Book of Mormon, if we truly believe it is only part of the revealed scripture? It would seem like other scripture, particularly the New Testament, ought to be given equal study time.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 6, 2007, 6:20 pm

    I have a couple of answers:

    President Benson’s words
    The Book of Mormon was written particularly FOR us

    Still, I agree that we often under-read the others. Once when I taught YW, I was talking about scripture reading to the Beehives and one of them said, “But we’re only supposed to read the Book of Mormon!” I nearly fell off my chair. :shocked:

  • mlinford August 6, 2007, 6:35 pm

    It would seem like other scripture, particularly the New Testament, ought to be given equal study time.

    Elder Ballard recently encouraged us to spend more time in the Bible. Pres. Hinckley also mentioned the NT (esp. John) in his talk to the YW, I think.

    That said, I think a focus on the BoM is not inappropriate; we need a specific testimony of the Restoration as well as of the Savior, and the BoM is the tool for that foundational testimony.

  • SilverRain August 7, 2007, 4:56 am

    Not inappropriate, no. But part of me also feels that if we knew our Bible better – if we preached reading it – other Christians would understand and accept us better, too. In addition, some of the most beautiful concepts of scripture are found in the Bible.

    I know this is heresy, but the Book of Mormon often gets scripturally dull when I read it straight through without any reference to other scripture (and I include Church History in that.) I’m not sure how to put my finger on what I mean, but I often feel I’m trying to sew a blanket with one eye closed. It’s not that it is bad to close one eye, but unnecessary.

  • facethemusic August 7, 2007, 9:57 am

    Heretic! Burn her at the stake!! :jumping: he he– just kidding :)

    Though it wasn’t specifically stated, the counsel to study ALL the scriptures was discussed in the thread, and can be logically deduced.
    If we’ve been counseled to study the Book of Mormon daily with our families, but we’re also supposed to have personal study time, AND we’re supposed to read the scriptures for the Sunday School lesson– then it’s pretty clear that we should be studying from all the standard works.
    In addition to Alison’s suggestions, I think another reason why we’ve been given the counsel for daily family study to come from the BOM, is because it contains all the truths of the Bible (whereas, the Bible does not contain all the truths of the BOM– maybe it did orginally– but it’s gone through so many hands, and so many translations…) and is therefore the keystone of our religion. So studying the BOM every night helps to give children a firm foundation in the faith. And even though kids are reading the BOM every night with their families, they should be getting good doses from the Bible through Family Home Evening and primary lessons. Then, when they turn 14, they go into seminary where they really start diving into the scriptures– so they’ll study the New Testament in great depth and detail for an entire school year. Then they’ll move on to the Old Testament for a year- and so on. And this continues into adulthood — every adult in the church is studying the New Testament right now for an entire year.
    I LOVE the New Testament– it’s what I’ve been studying in my personal study time. (As Kathy said would happen, the kids have grown up quite a bit since my response to this question, and I’m able to read every morning in peace!) I’m in Ephesians now and Paul is one of my favorites to read from.
    I remember when I first went to the temple, I was studying the Old Testament. Suddenly, things became very clear for me. People often talk about how much of the endowment session is in the Pearl of Great Price– but it’s also in the Old Testament. Only– you don’t know necessarily know what they’re talking about until you’ve been to the temple. Then you read in the OT and you’re like– oh my gosh! That makes a lot more sense, now!
    I do agree though, that there ARE some members who don’t seem to know the Bible very well– which certainly shouldn’t be the case. But then again, those exist in EVERY religion.
    And honestly, those are often the same people who don’t really know the BOM very well, either, or have a deep understanding of the gospel.

  • mlinford August 7, 2007, 1:07 pm

    SilverRain,
    Then I’ll just go back and appeal to Elder Ballard’s talk from this last conference. :)

    Also, FWIW, I’m not a straight-through reader. In fact, I think the only time I’ve done that in nearly the last two decades is when Pres. Hinckley asked us to read the BoM in 2005. My personal study is almost always topical, based on what I’m thinking about, feeling, or needing. I usually use the BoM as my home base, but cross-reference all over the place. I love that.

  • SilverRain August 7, 2007, 7:08 pm

    is because it contains all the truths of the Bible (whereas, the Bible does not contain all the truths of the BOM

    See, this is also part of what I never understood. It has always seemed to me that there are a couple of eternal truths the Book of Mormon doesn’t mention that the Bible does – such as polygamy, baptisms for the dead, and the three degrees of glory. I always thought that the Book of Mormon was the keystone of our religion, but more because it proves the reality of revelation, even in our time and the truths that are contained in it are more clearly spoken to us. Also, it acts as another witness to show that God loves all His people and that He truly exists and that Christ truly did live again.

    I suppose it just bothers me when some people “bear their testimony” on the fact that they have read the Book of Mormon seventeen times, backwards, and yet have never read even a single entire book in the Old Testament. Granted, the “begats” are not fun, but neither are some of the chapters in the Book of Mormon!

  • facethemusic August 7, 2007, 9:55 pm

    It has always seemed to me that there are a couple of eternal truths the Book of Mormon doesn’t mention that the Bible does – such as polygamy, baptisms for the dead, and the three degrees of glory

    Too true Silver– that’s what I get for answering in haste. I worded that horribly and wasn’t thinking about what I was saying.
    The difference is that the Book of Mormon acknowledges the truth of the Bible, and acknowledges
    the two “sticks” coming together. It also acknowledges the truth of the words of the other tribes which have yet be revealed. Many of the books of the Bible DO prophesy of Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon- but it doesn’t mention them by name. We only know to what they’re refering because of the restoration and modern revelation.
    When Lehi took his family to the promised land, they TOOK the books of the Old Testament with them. Nephi built the a temple after the manner of Solomon’s. They were already DOING temple ordinances, receiving the endowment, doing baptisms for the dead, learning about the different glories, etc. And it was THEIR ancestors in the Old Testament who’d been practicing polygamy. Do you see what I mean?
    You ARE correct though– the Book of Mormon doesn’t specifically mention these things.
    And it only shows why studying ALL scripture is so important to our faith, and proves how accurate our prophets are when they say that they go hand in hand, each supporting and proving the other.

  • kiar August 8, 2007, 9:31 am

    hello all, I am new, and have loved reading everyones comments. you sure are a bright group of ladies!!
    one thing that my hubbie and I have done to make it a little easier (read less stale) is to look at the number of the day that we are on, and then “flop” open our scriptures to a chapter and read the number that coincides. we do that in each of the books, New and Old Testaments, BOM and D&C. We have found some very interesting coincidences and some huge “hey I am the Lord and I am going to hit you over the head with a two-by-four so you get my message” kind of things!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 9:54 am

    kiar, welcome, welcome to Mormon Momma! We hope to hear a lot from you!

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