A few weeks ago in Gospel Doctrine class, we covered the wisdom of King Solomon. One of the “talking points” of the class study guide is this: “Two women take a child to Solomon, who wisely determines which woman is the mother of the child (3:16–28).”
“Judgment of Solomon” by Gustave Dore
Now this story is of particular import to me because it was used as a scriptural example and justification for relinquishing my daughter for adoption. After all, a “real” mother would sacrifice her own “selfish wants” to parent her own child. A “real” mother would love her baby so much she would let him or her be raised by some other woman. Within the past few days, this same reasoning has been applied again to the John Wyatt case – if he really loves his daughter, he would “do the right thing” and let her be raised by someone else who claims to be her parents.
Just to refresh your memory, I have copied the entire text of this particular scripture, straight from the LDS edition of the KJV Bible.
1 Kings 3
16 ¶ Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she aoverlaid
20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the awisdom
of God was
in him, to do judgment.
An interesting bit of history: this story is the first recorded and published legal decision in all of the history of legal jurisprudence.
Hmmm…. The first recorded instance of a legal decision has to do with family law. Interesting.
So we read the story and the class started discussing how brilliant Solomon was and what it must have been like for him to come up with his decision. But I, being the constant questioner, the habitual wonderer, the inquisitive child, went wait just a second. (Mind you, this was in my head – I don’t usually raise my hand in Gospel Doctrine to point out things like this because that would bring down the fury and wrath of the LDS culture upon my head for merely questioning a policy of the church – not doctrine – but a policy. If there is anything you DO NOT do in the LDS faith, it is question, even honestly, a strongly held cultural practice. I mean, have you ever tried to suggest that green jello might be good with something else other than shredded carrots in it or that gasp, it might be good just all by itself? But I digress, back to the story.)
I thought to myself, “Did anyone else catch that?” And I went back and re-read the story again. Yep. There it is. I flipped to the front of my scriptures to make sure I had the correct LDS-sanctioned version of the Bible. Yep, I do. I flipped back to 1 Kings 3. Yep, it’s still there.
Who did King Solomon, in the wisdom of God (see verse 28) send the baby home with?
Was it his natural mother?
Or was it the woman who was so desperate for a child that she was willing to steal the baby of another woman and lie about being that child’s mother?
Oh. That’s right. King Solomon was wise enough to see through the ruse of falsified birth records AND to send that child home to be raised by his NATURAL mother (verse 27).
But wait just a minute…wasn’t that natural mother a single mother???? Oh and waaaaaaaaaaiiiiittt a second here – wasn’t she not only a single mother, but a harlot as well (verse 16)?
HANG ON AN EVER LOVIN’ SECOND: The wisest man in all of God’s creation, in a decision that has been heralded throughout time as a brilliant move of legal jurisprudence, sent that baby home with a SINGLE MOTHER who was a prostitute???????
Certainly there had to be at least ONE woman in all of Israel that was married, wealthy, and childless who “deserved” to be a mother, who knew all of the basics of child nutrition and discipline, who had started saving for the child’s education, who had a support system in place that would exist for the next 18 years, who knew of all the community resources available to help her, you know – the kind of woman who could answer all the questions from LDSFS the “right” way. King Solomon probably had a lot of them in his court! Why didn’t he just tell the natural mother that if she really loved that baby, she would let some other (presumably) more righteous, more wealthy woman raise her son? It’s about love, you know, and if she just loved that baby enough, she would let him be raised by someone else.
Because King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood the bonds of a natural family. King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood that societal position or wealth did not entitle one woman to take another woman’s child.
In the first recorded act of jurisprudence, the wise and brilliant King Solomon ruled in favor of family preservation.
So here is yet another scripture reference that I believed supported my decision to relinquish my daughter for adoption, but now with the clarity of the years, I realize it was telling me the exact opposite. In every case so far, except for Moses because he was about to be killed by the directive of his future adoptive father, God has ruled in favor of family preservation.
Oi. I think I need some Tylenol now.
P.S. As an interesting sidenote, when you click through the link for the cross reference to “wisdom” in verse 28, it takes you to a scripture from 2 Ne 21:2 in direct reference to Jesus Christ, the Great Healer and Physician, The One who can mend a broken heart and a broken life.
“And the aSpirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of bwisdom and cunderstanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;”
Sooooo…the folks who do the cross-referencing with the Book of Mormon thought this instance of King Solomon’s wisdom which ruled in favor of family preservation was important enough to reference to the wisdom and understanding that Christ possesses.
Hmmm…interesting. Very interesting.