Zelophehad’s Daughters

A Partner to Adam

Posted by Lynnette

In describing the honored place of women in the plan of salvation, LDS leaders commonly cite the narrative found in Genesis 2, in which Eve is created as a helpmeet to Adam. They often emphasize that in order to be a true helpmeet she would have to be the equal of Adam, and reference the symbolism of Eve being created from Adam’s rib as pointing to her role as a full, contributing partner, one neither superior nor inferior. And not infrequently, the fact that Eve is created at the very end of the story is cited as evidence of her elevated status.

Though I have appreciated these sincere efforts to assure women of their significant role, I have always had a somewhat negative reaction to these kinds of assertions. For years they left me feeling uneasy, but uncertain about the cause of that unease. My own reaction puzzled me–why would statements which emphasized the infinite worth of women, and explicitly used language of equality, leave me feeling in fact more secondary, more unsure about my place? And this reaction of genuine bewilderment is one I often encounter now when attempting to articulate my concerns about gender—how could an LDS woman have worries about second-class status, when these kinds of statements, these reassurances, are so common?

But I see a fundamental problem with these reassurances.  While this description of Eve’s role does indeed give her equal standing with Adam in some sense, an exclusive focus on this aspect of the story overlooks a more basic issue: the very structure of the narrative already places women in a secondary role, one which no subsequent assertions of equality can undo. Adam is not created for Eve; Eve is created for Adam.  Adam, who has already named all the living creatures, designates this new being “woman” (and later in the account, names this woman “Eve.”)  He is the actor, the one who names; she is one of the things to be named.  The very existence of Eve is explained with reference to Adam; she is not an independent subject with needs of her own, but rather something given to Adam in response to his needs. Even if they are endowed with equal capacities in order to work as partners, they are clearly not on equal footing.

And the value of women more generally sometimes gets described in similar terms.  How can anyone question the importance of women in LDS teachings, I often hear, when men cannot achieve exaltation without them?  But in such a way of framing it, men are the subjects, while women are the partners who accompany them and enable them to get where they want to go. Put another way, men exists as persons, while women exist as roles. It becomes necessary to reassure women of their equal  status precisely because the structure already calls it so deeply into question.

To put this in somewhat flippant terms: I cannot finish my dissertation without the help of my computer.  It is therefore extremely valuable to me.  Is it my equal?  Is it an adequate helpmeet?  There are certainly a number of  things I do better, it is true. But in some areas it is actually my superior. I can think creatively, for example, but it can quickly perform tasks that would take me hours and hours. Because of our different strengths, we have different responsibilities–and it is in fact these differences that allow us to achieve more together than we could ever achieve separately.  One might fairly say that we are so fundamentally different that it is nonsensical to compare us–apples to oranges, and all of that.  In the end, however, a crucial distinction is that I am the agent, the actor, the one with a goal—and it is the partner, the support that helps me get there.  It exists because I need it, and not vice versa. I realize there are problems with taking this parallel too far. But the point I am trying to get at is that this is not an issue of equality in any particular ability; it has to do with the underlying structure of the relationship.

This is why I find reassurances about the valued place of women not only unhelpful, but sometimes deeply disturbing in the way they are framed. Eve may be the crowning jewel of creation, one of infinite worth, and she may hold an honored place in the plan of salvation.  But it is one thing to be a crowning jewel, and it is quite another to be the person for whom such a jewel is created.

68 Responses to “A Partner to Adam”

  1. 1.

    Succinctly put. I feel the same way. When do we hear talks or reassuring language for men that they’re of infinite worth? Thanks for this wonderful thought.

  2. 2.

    This reminds me of that one Dilbert cartoon where he is fooling around on his desktop computer and ignoring his girlfriend Liz. She says “Sometimes I think you love that computer more than you love me!” He protests vigorously “I do NOT love this computer more than I love you!”, while the thought balloon above his head says “Don’t ask about the laptop…don’t ask about the laptop!”.

  3. 3.

    I appreciate Hugh Nibley’s take on the creation story .

    Eve is definitely the one doing the acting:

    Eve is the first on the scene, not Adam, who woke up only long enough to turn over to fall asleep again; and then when he really woke up he saw the woman standing there, ahead of him, waiting for him. What could he assume but that she had set it all up—she must be the mother of all living! In all that follows she takes the initiative, pursuing the search for ever greater light and knowledge while Adam cautiously holds back. Who was the wiser for that? The first daring step had to be taken, and if in her enthusiasm she let herself be tricked by the persuasive talk of a kindly “brother,” it was no fault of hers. Still it was an act of disobedience for which someone had to pay, and she accepted the responsibility. And had she been so foolish? It is she who perceives and points out to Adam that they have done the right thing after all. Sorrow, yes, but she is willing to pass through it for the sake of knowledge—knowledge of good and evil that will provide the test and the victory for working out their salvation as God intends. It is better this way than the old way; she is the progressive one. She had not led him astray, for God had specifically commanded her to stick to Adam no matter what: “The woman thou gavest me and commanded that she should stay with me: she gave me the fruit, and I did eat.” She takes the initiative, and he hearkens to her—”because thou hast hearkened to thy wife.” She led and he followed.

    In my own life as a “stereotypical” Mormon woman, I also do much of the acting. I’ve proposed when to have children, initiated our interest in serving a mission, etc. I don’t think we are relegated to serving as mere tools.

    I have great sympathy for women who feel second-class, but that has not been my experience.

  4. 4.

    …the woman that though gavest me…

  5. 5.

    I make you, Adam, lord over all things, which would therefore include Eve

  6. 6.

    But it is one thing to be a crowning jewel, and it is quite another to be the person for whom such a jewel is created.

    Expert summary—the crowning jewel of this discussion.

    As you point out, there are ways in which the Creation story gives woman secondary placement. By talking only about the ways it gives her equal footing—however much of a stretch some of those are—while ignoring the inequalities, we present the Creation story as an eternally-applicable ideal representation of woman’s role, and then we’re forced to accept all the negatives that come with it.

    This kind of apologetic gymnastics creates many problems, including numerous contradictions, for example (I realize this isn’t your argument, btw),

    …Eve being created from Adam’s rib as pointing to her role as a full, contributing partner, one neither superior nor inferior. And not infrequently, the fact that Eve is created at the very end of the story is cited as evidence of her elevated status.

    So which is it: Eve is equal or Eve is elevated?

    While I’m not even sure the story was meant as a commentary on gender roles—and thus extracting that information is problematic—if I am forced to consider gender roles in the Creation account I prefer looking at them culturally: the setup in Eden is incredibly progressive compared to nearly any past or present culture. In other words, Eden wasn’t the ideal, but it was headed in the right direction.

  7. 7.

    Sally, Eve is a “thing”?

  8. 8.

    Hunter, even if she is not a thing and not included, Adam is specifically made lord and there is no partnership – Eve is on the sidelines with that one.

  9. 9.

    Um, good point.

  10. 10.

    Funny you bring this up when this is on lds.org

  11. 11.

    One thing that brings me around when I start to overly dwell (not that you are, but I do it easily) on things of this nature in the Bible, is that the story if Eden is almost completely symbolic. And it is a symbolic story written by MEN living in a very man driven society. When they were writing this stuff down, they probably weren’t concerned with how the women felt about it all. If women had written it, I can’t say they wouldn’t have delegated men to the secondary role. We don’t know exactly what happened with the creation, or the Garden of Eden. In fact, I’d say we know exactly nothing as to how it actually happened. We can speculate till the end of time, but we won’t know until then how it all worked. It also helps me to remember that the stories are ones that were handed down for generations orally before they were ever put to “paper”, by men. They have become myths and legends, and we don’t know what actually happened. Even the Gospels weren’t written until 40 years after Christ’s death. So there are many, many things in it that are the opinions of the men who wrote them, and not revelation. I guess what I’m trying to say is to not take the Bible, especially the Old Testament, literally. I have to remember when I read the Old Testament not to take the stories literally, because they have probably become shadows of the truth, with a lot of philosophies of men thrown in. There are so many contradictions in Leviticus and Deuteronomy regarding the rules everyone is to live by, especially those regarding women, that I personally can’t believe that they had been given to the leaders of the Jews by God. They probably used God as an excuse to start following that rule, or they truly believed that is what God wanted, but the laws are so contradictory, that to me it seems obvious that men wrote those rules, not God (I’d quote some, but I’m too lazy to go upstairs and get my scriptures).
    I have learned that to keep my own sanity with this part of the culture of the church, I have to filter everything I hear through my knowledge (that I have found and am in the process of finding) that Heavenly Father really does see me as equal to my husband, and to everyone else. I don’t need my husband to fulfill any of the commandments except the one about multiplying and replenishing the earth, if I want to do that one right. I can do them all on my own, without him. And that also testifies to me that I am equal to him, because he also doesn’t need me, except for that one. (Unless I am mistaken.) All I know for sure, is that Heavenly Father loves me just as much as he does my husband. I am equal to him in all ways, and I have just as much potential to bring Him glory as my husband does. And just as he can’t get into the Celestial Kingdom without me, I can’t get in without him. So that makes him my “thing” given to me to enable me to get to where I want to go. We are both each others key to the door in that sense.
    Sorry for the ramble. Please don’t take this as me thinking you should just “get over it.” I’m glad there are women out there continuing to fight for more equality within the church, however that might turn out. Keep it up, please! I just wanted to share what works for me, and what I have learned in my own struggles with it (and might actually remember on a good day).

  12. 12.

    Bah, and now it looks like a giant run-on sentence.

    I hope it makes sense.

  13. 13.

    Naomi, your thoughts are what I have to turn to also. But I still find it difficult since the temple teaches these things. I can’t understand why the temple would teach a false premise. It the temple taught equal partnership, I would have no trouble with the OT being messed up.

  14. 14.

    My husband asked me what I was reading so I was trying to explain it to him. The way I finally said it that made him understand was this “Did God create Eve so that he could have a daughter? Or did He create her so that Adam could have a wife?”
    He asked, “why can’t it be both, and the same for Adam?” I responded that it *could* (and I hope it is that way), but based on what is in the scriptures and how things are said all the time it certainly sounds like Eve is strictly God’s daughter-in-law.
    This is something that leaves a pit in my stomach every time I think about it. I keep telling myself that these are stories written about men, for men, by men, and I dearly hope that those sealed plates were written about women, for women, by women.

  15. 15.

    The Hebrew word traditionally rendered “rib,” tsela, fundamentally means “side.” This allows a lot of interesting interpretive possibilities. One is that man was originally created as an hermaphrodite, and the creation of woman was basically cutting the first man into two separate, complementary beings.

    Another is discussed by Ellis Rasmussen, former dean of BYU Religious Studies, in which as I recall he argued that woman was created from a side of man’s personality.

  16. 16.

    But I still find it difficult since the temple teaches these things.

    Naomi’s comment that the Bible “is a symbolic story written by MEN living in a very man driven society” applies to the text of our temple ceremony too doesn’t it?

    BTW — Joseph Smith taught near the end of his ministry that all of our spirits are beginningless. So regardless of our temporary situations here on earth women can always point to that. No spirit was created to be a helpmeet to any other spirit because no spirit was ever created at all. Spirits are uncreated.

  17. 17.

    Great post. Very good at pointing out the difficulties.

  18. 18.

    Geoff J, I agree–the doctrine of the premortal life is a clear challenge to any notion that women were created ex nihilo for men. Though I do find it striking that women are absent in our narratives of premortality. Adam is Michael, involved in creating the world, but Eve only shows up in mortality, when Adam needs her. That’s a jarring disjunct. Her existence in the premortal life–somewhat like that of Heavenly Mother–is a logical deduction, rather than that of an actor. And I find it troubling that one of our most central narratives leaves the question of full female agency so ambiguous (though I would certainly concede that you can make a case for such agency on the basis of other LDS teachings).

    Naomi, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your perspective, and I think we’re probably in a similar place in terms of belief. I’m not sure what to say about the question of symbolism. Like you, I don’t have a problem with a non-literal read of Genesis. But I wonder whether a symbolic read might actually raise more difficult questions than a historical one–because then it seems to me that we can’t get away from asking what message this story is attempting to convey about gender. In other words, if I saw it as simply a kind of newspaper report of how God created the universe, I might think, hmmm that’s interesting (and kind of strange) that God did it that way–and okay, I’d doubtless still be bothered that he makes Eve for Adam. But if it’s symbolic, then it’s not just a story about Eve–it’s a story about what it means to be female. Maybe a better way of putting this is that I’m less concerned with the literal vs. symbolic question than with the theological implications of the fact that we use this particular narrative to, in some basic sense, convey what it means to be human. (And there’s my run-on comment for you!)

  19. 19.

    Thanks, Alisa and Kaylana–I appreciate your telling me that. Starfoxy, I really like the way you summed up the problem in that question. (Also, I like your idea about the sealed plates. Let’s get the war in heaven from Heavenly Mother’s perspective!)

    I think Ann and Sally make good points about the prevalence of this language. I’d note that it’s a model that shows up of our sealing ceremonies as well, and in a way I find that most troubling of all, since that’s meant to represent our highest, celestial ideal.

    BrianJ, I appreciate your crowning jewel of a comment. That’s a very good point–placing women in an eternally elevated status is a bit incoherent if the idea of equality is to have any teeth. And you raise a question I hadn’t really addressed–are we meant to extrapolate something about gender from this narrative, or is gender incidental to the story? That’s certainly a fair question, though I think my response would be that I’m not sure we can get away from the implicit messages the story is conveying about gender, regardless of whether that’s its intended purpose.

    Naismith, I can certainly see the appeal of Nibley’s interpretation. Though I don’t think he’s really grappling with the aspects of the text that I find problematic.

    Mark, lol. What isn’t clear in the Eden story is the moment when God created laptops.

  20. 20.

    Kevin’s observations reminded me of another question I think might be useful to raise in this context. Is there a reason to privilege the version of creation in Genesis 2-3 over the account in Genesis 1? The latter is much less troubling when it comes to gender–male and female are created together, in God’s image. I’d just as soon use that as our standard narrative, and let the second version fade into obscurity. I realize there are some reasons why that might not be possible, given the fact that elements of both versions show up in the Pearl of Great Price, and especially given that the Fall–which plays such a central role in LDS theology–is in the second account. But from a feminist perspective, I’m honestly not sure Genesis 2-3 is salvageable.

  21. 21.

    Matt W.–I’m not sure what your point was in linking to that talk of President Hinckley’s, but I remember thinking when he gave it that it was a very fine example of some of the problems of Mormon rhetoric about women. Women are praised for the ROLES they play, for the ways they enable the lives of others around them, not for their own qualities (except to the extent that self-abnegation is a quality). The examples he cites from the scriptures are cited because they are the wives or daughters or associates of important men in the scriptures–he doesn’t use Deborah or Huldah or Anna or Abish or any of the (few) women who appear on their own as central figures in the narrative. It’s a very, very sweet talk, especially the part about his wife, and I have no doubt that President Hinckley loved and valued his wife and his remarkable daughters in praiseworthy and righteous ways, but the fact that in trying to praise women he reproduces the structure that marginalizes them shows how deep the cultural problem runs.

  22. 22.

    Lynnette: Though I do find it striking that women are absent in our narratives of premortality.

    Well again, our main narratives of premortality come first from the Bible and then from modern revelations and liturgy (the latter of which seem to build on the Bible to me). So if we grant Naomi’s position that all of these narratives can be accurately described as “symbolic stor[ies] written by MEN living in a very man driven society” then we have at least a way to explain this absence as compatible with a universe where men and women are co-eternal.

  23. 23.

    One is that man was originally created as an hermaphrodite, and the creation of woman was basically cutting the first man into two separate, complementary beings.

    A number of old texts teach that theme, that man and woman were originally one, and were divided, and in the division is where sexual (or gender) identity arose.

    Interesting, as is the way people filter narratives.

    And you raise a question I hadn’t really addressed–are we meant to extrapolate something about gender from this narrative, or is gender incidental to the story?

    The Ish/Isha recap of the story makes it appear that it was man+woman that created humanity in the image of God, which means that the specific genders of the players (who are figurative) is incidental.

    But if it’s symbolic, then it’s not just a story about Eve–it’s a story about what it means to be female.

    – but what it means to be female in a fallen world, vs. what it means to be female in a perfect one.

    Many of the things that I think make people uncomfortable are evidences of the fallen state of the world, not the way things should be, or so I think.

  24. 24.

    Kristine: I am not unaware of these things, just amused by the irony.

  25. 25.

    I love the computer analogy, Lynnette. That really brings your point home to me.

  26. 26.

    I have pondered this dliemma for many years (life-long member, mid 50′s) and yes, the church does have a real problem with its treatment of women.

    Background – 29 yr. temple marriage to a ‘good’ man, in numerous leadership position,ya-da,ya-da. Had nine kids, still raising last one. Divorced because of his deeply held belief that I was HIS, all of me, based on Genesis, Temple, church teachings. I was his sexual toy and meant to do his bidding, All based on scripture, CHI, etc. My worth to him was in what I did for him and my family. He was sick. And I do feel many LDS men, in their hearts feel somewhat this way about women.

    Now am remarried to a no-mo and very happy. Am temple worthy, but am searching for answers to many questions about the church. No one in the church can tell me, with a straight face, that women are men’s equals. Not with what I’ve experienced, heard, and seen.

    My most deeply held belief is that how women are treated will not change until we, as a church, ackowledge our Heavenly Mother, in all her glory and feminity. Because She has been hidden, ignored,and disposed of, women will never regain their rightful and intrinsic worth.

  27. 27.

    Matt,

    Ok, I was confused by your link too, but I now see that video is featured on the front page of lds.org right now.

  28. 28.

    Women are praised for the ROLES they play

    First of all, I am not sure this is more true for women than men. How often do we hear about men equated with priesthood, rather than any praise of their particular characteristics and qualities?

    (except to the extent that self-abnegation is a quality).

    That is just so ugly. Why the hell should I try to have a conversation with you, and understand your concerns, when you just slap us down like that, with stereotypes that may or may not be true?

    The church routinely takes stances in which a woman’s skills are valued above that of their husband. A few years back, a mission president had to be released so that his wife could serve in the general relief society presidency. I’ve known some senior missionary couples in which the husband reported to the wife because of her superior skills (auditing, public affairs).

    Those of us who don’t have a problem with the church’s policy toward women include some very strong women with good sense of self, thank you very much. Self-abnegation is not an adjective that most folks would use to describe us.

    Why should we care about your concerns, when you portray us that way?

  29. 29.

    Naismith: If you’re not interested in others’ concerns, please refrain from participating in the conversation.

    Nobody has called you “self-abnegating.” Kristine suggested that the specific language in one particular talk is emblematic of a problematic tendency in Church discourse generally (to define women by roles, and to praise women for self-abnegating qualities). If you find this unpersuasive and wish to construct a counterargument, you might start by referring to the specifics of the talk itself.

  30. 30.

    .

    Today in our ward, during RS/Ph, we had the Joseph Smith lesson on Relief Society. Lynette taught RS and in Ph we had special guest star Susan teach.

    I had hoped when I asked the RS to provide a teacher for this lesson that we could get into some of the issues raised here. There was an opportunity for me to quote this post about two minutes to the end, but it didn’t really seem like that would allow enough time for discussion.

    I realize now that bringing Susan in alone wasn’t really fair. Especially if my secret hope was that we would dig a little. If it ever happens again, we should have an RS panel. And Lynette — you’re already invited.

    The good news is that our quorum can handle this kind of discussion. (The bad news is that the high priests invited themselves to our meeting this week to hear from Susan.)

    Susan focussed mostly on the RS’s history which was interesting and insightful and I wish we had had more time to build on that foundation. But alas.

    Maybe next time.

  31. 31.

    Lynnette,
    Thanks for this post. The computer analogy is superb. I’ll have to remember that. (It’s not really a secret that I read ZD looking for ammo in my fight against the patriarchy. I almost always find something for my arsenal).

    Recently I’ve been reading Valerie Hudson (and someone else’s) book Women in Eternity, Women in Zion. Their take on the creation story is very much like you’d described, dividing the roles of Adam and Eve even further and examining how Eve’s choices brought the fall and thus woman ushering the spirits of God through the veil.

    I like the balance that they find by reworking the plan of salvation (it’s more of a circle, with woman’s role of bringing spirits into life and being “caretakers of the Light” while men with the priesthood guide them through to the next side of the veil as “caretakers of the Word”). What I don’t like, is their take on Eve’s curse.

    I’ve heard others discuss the curse of Eve as more of an explanation of the state of a fallen world. These authors simply redefine Eve’s curse into a blessing. That was where I put the book down. I can handle the bending of the story/doctrine to a shape that I like, but to turn concepts completely on their heads so that I have to suspend disbelief is too much for me.

    As for the question if gender is an essential focus of the story, I’m with you, it’s hard to read it as a woman without seeing the effects of gender. However, I’m not sure men read it the same way, so I’m glad that you’ve written this post as it could be eye opening for men who don’t understand why the comforts from the church on this matter aren’t exactly comforting.

  32. 32.

    I think Facebook has spoiled me — I keep looking for the “Like this” button. (If it existed, I would have clicked it for, let’s see, Lynnette’s original post, Starfoxy, Kristine, Jessawhy . . . )

  33. 33.

    Th., when I heard that Susan had been recruited to teach the elders, I was kind of sad that I was teaching RS so I couldn’t sneak in and hear her lesson. But thanks for inviting me to your future RS panel–such a thing would be really fun. I didn’t get into these kinds of issues in my own lesson–actually, at the moment I’m not entirely sure what we talked about, but people made a lot of interesting comments, which is always a good thing.

    Teaching on gender-related topics at church is something I really struggle with. I want to keep it appropriate for the context; I have no qualms about raising issues on the bloggernacle that I’d be more hesitant to bring up at church, because I see church as having a rather different purpose, and I don’t want to detract from that (even in a ward like ours, which I think is unusually open to less traditional kinds of questions). At the same time, I do want to be honest about my own experience, and sometimes I feel disingenuous when I just dodge some of the more difficult topics. I’m very much muddling through on that one, and find that I usually have mixed feelings whatever I do.

    Also, since I’m going on tangents (and since it’s my post, why not?), someday I really should blog about the experience of blogging when there are multiple members of your ward reading the bloggernacle. Obviously a sign of a good ward, you might say ;) , but it’s a convergence that I’m still getting used to.

  34. 34.

    Okay, I want to go back to this issue of the narratives being products of a fallen world. As several have pointed out, it’s hardly a great surprise that texts written by men end up being androcentric. And when it all comes down, I’d have to say that’s generally my take on things. But I also have some uneasiness with my own acceptance of that approach. It seems too easy to use “we live in a fallen world” as a way of simply ruling out things we don’t like. To put this another way, to what extent is it legitimate to appeal to the Fall as a way to critique our sacred texts? And how exactly should we make use of this lens (aside from a general willingness to consider that the texts inevitably reflect human error?)

    This seems a particular problem when grappling with the Eden narratives, because those are the texts that tell us there was a Fall in the first place. If they also reflect the errors of a fallen world, how can we be confident that they themselves don’t misrepresent the Fall–thereby throwing in doubt our critiques?

    That said, I should probably clarify that in this post I wasn’t actually attempting to advance an argument about the eternal theological status of women; I was simply trying to point to what I see these narratives conveying about women’s status, and why I find that message disturbing. The question of what then to do with these narratives is perhaps a somewhat more complicated one.

  35. 35.

    LucySophia, thanks for sharing your story–it sounds like you’ve grappled with some very challenging life situations. I’m interested in your proposal that things won’t change until we have a stronger sense of Heavenly Mother. I’ve had some intriguing conversatins recently with my sisters about the issue of the “feminist linchpin”–is there a particular problem that you see as core, one from which others arise? In some ways it might be a problematic question to ask, given the extent to which various doctrines/practices are interconnected. But I’ve found that despite some past cynicism about the whole Heavenly Mother idea, I’ve been playing more and more with the possibility that our absence of a substantive HM doctrine is in fact a core (if not the core) problem. Bringing this back to this post, the disturbingly unanswered question is–is HM an agent in her own right, or is she a kind of sidekick to HF, one whose primary role is to support him and his decisions? And as Eve (that is to say, my sister Eve, not the original Eve) asked me recently, when we talk about inheriting all that God has, are women in the category of those who inherit–or are they in the list of things that men inherit?

    Jessahwy and Ziff, I’m glad you appreciated my computer analogy, for all its flaws. Jess, I agree that re-interpreting the curse to be a blessing is the kind of move that makes my head explode. I should look at that book–I think I can see the appeal of describing things with that kind of balance and symmetry–but I also have some uneasiness with it, for reasons I probably need to articulate better. But I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.

    Kaimi, just imagine me clicking on “like” in response to your comment.

  36. 36.

    Jessawhy, 31:

    it’s hard to read it as a woman without seeing the effects of gender. However, I’m not sure men read it the same way,

    This post points out the danger to women of reading the Fall narrative(s) too literally/universally. But that perspective also creates problems in how men are perceived, artificially elevating them to a status (lords) that they don’t really hold. Yes, men probably read Genesis differently than women: they come away with an inflated ego. I’m not trying to make an argument about which portrayal is worse, but rather to say that both are inaccurate.

    (Put another way: If I have to choose between inflated ego and feeling under-appreciated then I choose to view the text as flawed.)

    Lynnette, 34: I realize that I just appealed to the explanation (“the text is fallen”) that you’re uneasy with. I guess I’m not uneasy with it, perhaps because I don’t feel that I’m using the Fall as a critique of our texts so much as a mitigating factor.

  37. 37.

    BrianJ, that’s a good point. If I see this model as conveying disturbing messages about women, the flip side of that is that it’s also conveying disturbing messages about men–that they are are the real humans, so to speak, they are the ones who matter–and women are their accessories. Which isn’t any more spiritually healthy.

    My experience is that many many more women find themselves troubled by the text. And to be fair, I don’t think that’s because most LDS men are thinking, yep, that’s how it is; I’m the significant one here, and my wife is the support that has been given to me. Instead, I’ve been surprised to realize how many men don’t actually notice that there even are gendered messages. (I’ve been fascinated to hear, many times, from men that they hadn’t even realized that the temple ceremony is somewhat different for women until someone mentioned it to them.) Reading your earlier comment made me think that might be at least partly because they aren’t seeing the text as actually intended to convey anything about gender.

    I’m still thinking about this critique vs. mitigating factor–do you mean something along the lines of, the text is wrong, vs. the text should be read with that factor in mind?

  38. 38.

    Lynnette’s post is a provocative response to the continuing rhetoric on the Edenic narrative.

    A few thoughts:
    1— I would hope that LDS women are not truly caught in the Catch-22 that your feelings of “unease” signaled in your original post. I agree with your conclusion:

    “This is why I find reassurances about the valued place of women not only unhelpful, but sometimes deeply disturbing in the way they are framed. Eve may be the crowning jewel of creation, one of infinite worth, and she may hold an honored place in the plan of salvation. But it is one thing to be a crowning jewel, and it is quite another to be the person for whom such a jewel is created.”

    but I’m not sure about the negative implications. True, the Genesis 2 narrative depicts Adam as the prime agent/subject and the namer, but his depicted dependence on Eve stands in contrast to the absence of Eve’s stated dependence on Adam. Eve’s independence of thought and agency are evidenced in Genesis 3, and LDS scripture is unique in portray the Fall as a positivistic transition initiated by Eve. If more pro-woman rhetoric is starting to emerge, I’m hopeful that it will correct some of the misogynist thought and behavior that has been too much a part of Mormon culture– something akin to ideological affirmative action.

    2— I have always thought that this narrative is ambiguous enough to leave room for both feminist and misogynous interpretations– it could serve as a great litmus test in conversation!

    3— I liked your Eve-as-computer metaphor. It was a good vehicle for communicating the reason for your unease, but I think that computers are logistically and essentially more dispensable than Eve, and a computer is a flawed, continually obsolete, man-made device that in no way approaches coequality with humanity. So, I guess I’m missing the relevant point of comparison; it’s hard for me to come up with a workable metaphor for Eve that doesn’t demean or objectify women along the way. This said, even without the metaphor, I think it IS possible to infer that Eve is an object (“crowning jewel”) who is gifted to Adam and is thus his tool and possession, but (as my feminist husband observes) it’s also possible to interpret the narrative as a portrayal of Eve as a coequal agent whose name is a cosmic identity that Adam is charged to receive/accept rather than a label that he invents and initiates by and for himself (as he does with the animals). The other contextual note that I try to remember when I’m rattled by misogynist interpretations of Genesis 2 & 3 is the LDS notion of Christ as creator, and its easier for me to access the clear instances of Christ’s pro-woman behavior from the Gospels. Of course, the unique LDS, non-trinitarian view of God that posits Christ as the God of the Old Testament doesn’t help the rest of the Judeo-Christian universe that has traditionally viewed the Edenic account as proof that women are in league with the devil.

    4— Stories like LucySophia’s are deeply disturbing, and too prevalent in an institution that would like to be more-widely accepted as the “true church.” Abusers operate in their own warped reality– apart from Church leaders’ praise of women and far removed from Mormon feminist thought– they make their own code of ethics. As I watch my mother continue in an abusive temple marriage after nearly 50 years, I think that abusive men operate outside of any true religious path even if they may quote scripture out of context to suite their own purposes. Religious abusers who treat women as their property would likely behave the same with or without an Edenic account to reference– they would behave just as poorly even if they had no experience with the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon or any other religious text.

    5– As some of the dialogue between the respondants to Lynette’s original post reveals, perhaps the future success and survival of Mormon feminism and feminist reading of scripture depend upon a more- balanced rhetoric that gives fair shrift to the generation of pro-woman, male members who are nearing middle-age and filling the leadership positions that were once held by the pro-patriarchy old guard. One of the legacies of 1970′s Mormon feminism is a generation of LDS men who aren’t misogynists and are so secure in their pro-woman outlook that they are offended by the need to “prove” themselves to the rising generations of feminists who continue to enter the conversation that these men were raised within. I appreciate feminist readings of scriptural texts, and I also wonder when it will be time for women to accept our place beside men without having to fear that pro-woman rhetoric proferred by a male voice is merely a smiling mask that conceals the misogyny beneath? I don’t have any easy answers, and the hardest project facing the current generation of feminist critics may be to invent a non-sexist, feminist rhetoric that includes and legitimizes feminists of both genders.

  39. 39.

    Lynnette: I don’t think I was totally clear. You said, “that [men will think] they are the real humans, so to speak, they are the ones who matter—and women are their accessories. Which isn’t any more spiritually healthy.” I’d hope that a man coming away with that message would realize that he’s a #$%@ing #$%#@! No, my concern is more that a man thinks women are spectacular, but that he is LORD over all the earth—as though he owns and controls the place. This type of LDS man is more common, in my experience, than the one who denigrates women. He may even say that women are better than men, but men are still in control.

    It makes sense to me, then, that more women than men are troubled by the text. The text puts both men and women in the front seats (as opposed to the bed of the truck with all the beasts and cargo). Man is always the driver and woman is always riding shotgun—and you know everyone likes to ride shotgun.

    Reading your earlier comment made me think that might be at least partly because they aren’t seeing the text as actually intended to convey anything about gender.

    I’m probably in the minority (among men and women) holding this view; i.e., except for a few lunatics, everyone thinks Eden is about gender.

    I’m still thinking about this critique vs. mitigating factor–do you mean something along the lines of, the text is wrong, vs. the text should be read with that factor in mind?

    Yes, that’s what I meant. Using the Fall as a critique, I’d have to point to specific places where the text is wrong; i.e., this word should be “X” instead of “Y”—kind of like a JST approach. That’s pretty difficult to do with any certainty. Reading instead with the Fall as a mitigating factor, I’m able to let some things slide—like how we all treat the teachings of Brigham Young. {grin}

  40. 40.

    Of course, I realize that what I cling to and what I let slide is a bit arbitrary, or is based on what I already believe and not what the text says. And that’s just one more concern that I let slide. :)

  41. 41.

    .

    Lynette—

    The ward/blog convergence is something I think about as well. Every once in a while someone surprises me by mentioning something I wrote about on my blog. Although my posts are usually, mm, esoteric enough that those who might be less pleased with, say, musings on the religious significance of semen, don’t tend to hand around long enough to discover how sketchy I might actually be….

    Not that I’m actually heretic. I have a very low ratio of heresy to orthodoxy. :)

  42. 42.

    I know I’m late in responding, but since the discussion is going so well without my input ( :D ), I will just have to respond to some very early posts, and then try to catch up. It’s making for an interesting read!

    13. Sally, I also have a difficult time with the language the temple ceremony has in it for the covenants I make. I would much rather them be a one on one thing, instead of what it is. I haven’t yet prayed about the why on this, but then, I don’t go very much to the temple anyway. I truly believe that my covenants are with God, and only God, and I know He’s okay with this. So, my comfort, or my denial, is that the ceremony was also written by men, and I bet they didn’t bother to ask for the input of women on it. BUT, as for the temple, someone recently pointed out to me how much it is that the women workers actually do. Except for the very end, women take care of everything for the other women. They have the same power given to the male workers. There’s more that gives me comfort, but I don’t think it’s right to talk about here. But the separateness that is involved has given me the idea that we are actually more separate from men than we think. Not separate but equal, but on two completely different planes of existence, parallel to each other, crossing over sometimes, but traveling completely separate paths. I may just be avoiding the whole problem with this neat little idea, but it does help me focus on my personal salvation more, and worry less about the salvation of the church as a whole (which I believe is beyond help in many matters).

    18. Lynette, I understand your struggle with the symbolism. My personal belief with the whole creation story, all of them, is that it’s a complete myth. No one alive on earth today was there, and we don’t have the things that Adam wrote down (though it may not be in there either, as he may have forgotten about his time in Eden as part of the fall). I believe that those stories, and how they are worded, were written as a way for the male leaders to say to the women “See? This is how it happened, so therefore, you are under us. God says so.” The stories also explain why women have periods, why it hurts so much to give birth, why we are so physically different from men. They didn’t know why, and when they were asked, this is what they came up with. A curse. I mean, loss of blood means you are sick or wounded, and seeing that must have been confusing to them, since we didn’t die, or even get sick or weak from it, and it happened once a month. So we must be cursed, right? Cuz that CAN’T be normal! And having to go through that much pain to give birth, that must have been scary too. And to see women survive it! Multiple times, even! They can’t even begin to imagine that kind of pain. That can’t be normal either, so we must have done something terrible to “deserve” it. Pain equaled punishment to them, IMO. I think that women and how they work have always scared and confused men, (a very big generalization, VERY big) so they delegate us to a subservient role so that they don’t have to think about it too much. Heck, I confuse myself sometimes, I can’t imagine what my husband must be thinking!

    Basically, I don’t believe the symbolism is God-given either. I’m not sure why, but I think the leaders of our church want us to be more accepted by the world than we are, and strive to do so, even as they talk about how much pride we should take in being a “peculiar people.” When Joseph Smith was around, the church was actually derided for the kinds of freedoms women were given! Now we are derided for the freedoms we aren’t given. The women of the church are put on a back burner by the leaders, because, IMHO, they don’t think our issues are a priority. So, they take them up occasionally, but I don’t think they are desperately waiting for a revelation concerning Heavenly Mother or anything else. But, I do believe that will change, as more men raised by women with more feminist leanings start to take leadership positions. The language used to describe us as women in the church will change, our concerns will be more likely heard. Things will change. Whether I will be around to witness it, I don’t know, I certainly hope so. At the very least, I hope my daughters will be. But I do believe that it will change, and I take a lot of comfort in that. There’s so much more I would LOVE to talk about, but I’ve said way too much already.

  43. 43.

    Jimmy Carter addressed this idea “women created as a helpmeet: in his address to the Baptists in The Age, “Losing My Religion for Equality”.
    He stated:
    “Baptist leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
    This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.”
    He also stated that many churchs, including LDS, tend to become more rigid and narrow in their definition of the role of women as they progress, which makes Naomi’s earnest wish in #42: “that it will change”
    is less likely to occur. The first step in change is to acknowledge that there is a valid concern. How often have we heard our prophet state something to the effect of:
    Women in our church are happy with their role, and there are no complaints.
    In seeking a change in social justice, one must first recognize that there exists its opposite, injustice. Many of the church leadership and men in the priesthood are not even aware of their own bias and the impact that bias has on women in the Church.
    We are currently at this first step, where the official policy is that there is no complaint, concern or injustice. The Church does not wish to uncover whether any groups or individuals have been marginalized or have had undue priviledge because there would then be pressure to clarify the situation and bring the light of truth to the problem that we lack social justice in our religion and need to change.
    How to achieve social justice was described as by two main methods (as cited in Natasia, 2008) by Nelson and Prollethensky. The first method is transformative, the second, ameliorative.
    A transformative approach deals with changing institutions from the top down. Think of the decree to allow black Americans the priesthood in 1974, after Jimmy Carter’s influence on addressing racism.
    An ameliorative approach deals with individuals and individual situations that occur and how they are addressed in an organization. Think of the result of “case law” on laws in a state.
    How breastfeeding in public was dealt with over the years would be an example as laws prohibiting public breastfeeding tended to be developed from specific cases, where mothers were arrested or forcibly removed from public areas for feeding their infants in public.
    Implicit in these views is the choice, whether we reform institutions to meet the member’s needs in a fair and equitable fashion or maintain the status quo, allowing “unfair advantage” to members due to gender, birthright, Utah culture or other group factors.

    Our Prophet and Priesthood leaders have the option to ask of God, through prayer, to determine if change is needed as promised through BOM scripture.
    Moroni 10:4 – 5
    And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

  44. 44.

    He also stated that many churchs, including LDS, tend to become more rigid and narrow in their definition of the role of women as they progress, which makes Naomi’s earnest wish in #42: “that it will change”
    is less likely to occur.

    Well, poop. I’m still hoping that eventually it will. That Heavenly Father will drop a brick on somebody’s head, somewhere, and it will change. We can’t stagnate as a church, or we will die. And this is a problem that can’t be ignored forever. I will keep praying and hoping for it until the day I die.

  45. 45.

    To add humor to my last comment regarding case law as an ameliorative approach with breastfeeding as the example:
    Those who wish to decriminalize public breastfeeding are called Lactivists.

  46. 46.

    Back to the idea of Heavenly Mother being the lynchpin of equality for all women. Think about how refreshingly different EVERYTHING would be if we were taught that from the beginning. HF and HM – equal, parents (plural) powerful, co=creators. If we knew what SHE was like as we know what HF is like. A true role model for women. Our scriptures would contain more teachings from and about women. Women would be in leadeship positions and have a say in doctrine, principles, and programs. Men and women would understand each other better, jave more compassion for each other instead of the male centered approach and measurement of life i.e. men have no monthly periods, therefore woman do and that is an abberation form normal etc. I may not write as clearly as I would like to, but I think you get the idea. Just begin imagining life if we knew HM in all the places we know about HF. The world would be a better place.

  47. 47.

    lynette, you’re brilliant.
    have I told you that before?

    this particular post really resonates for me as I am (just for kicks) in the process of re-inventing the whole garden of eden/ adam/ eve/ god story for myself. Personally, I find no precedent for accepting the scriptural version as literal and binding… so I’m having a little fun with the re-telling of it.

    thank you for all your inspiration.

  48. 48.

    I am really enjoying your perspective Lynnette in the original post. I love that you put a name on the problem, the same problem I have sensed when I think of the Adam and Eve story: that Eve is created for Adam, the laptop analogy, etc. It is a HUGE problem for me to be put in a secondary/accessoried role as opposed to the primary one in such a story (whether literally true or not), when it is so central to finding my place in God’s eyes/Church’s eyes. It is in the scriptures, the temple, etc.

    We are supposed to imagine ourselves as Adam or Eve when we go to the temple. How can this NOT create a problem for women on some level? It is fundamentally different for men and women to hear the Adam and Eve story respectively. When women are seen as act-ers, central, involved, do-ers, is when I will feel more comfortable in Mormonism. As it stands, no wonder I have always felt peripheral.

  49. 49.

    It is fundamentally different for men and women to hear the Adam and Eve story respectively. When women are seen as act-ers, central, involved, do-ers, is when I will feel more comfortable in Mormonism.

    kmillecam, not sure if I understood you correctly, but I will just say that I don’t think that Adam is portrayed as much of an “act-er” in the temple (and I’m a man).

  50. 50.

    I don’t think that Adam is portrayed as much of an “act-er” in the temple

    brianj, now I don’t know that I understand you correctly; isn’t adam portrayed as michael who assisted God in the creation of earth?

  51. 51.

    BrianJ, Do you mean he’s a bad actor? :D

    No, I should have been more clear. I was drawing my own parallel between how Adam is portrayed as the central figure in the Adam/Eve story, and how men in the church now are also the central figures in the Church, IMO. If I ever feel like I have just as solid a place in the Mormon church as a man, it will be a happier day for me. But now, in almost every way, I feel like a laptop.

  52. 52.

    I really hate when men say “Eve ate the apple” with that smug smile. Makes me homicidal. Have I mentioned that in my stake women aren’t allowed to give the opening prayer in meetings? I’m surprised they don’t have a priesthood holder in to give the opening prayer in RS.

  53. 53.

    kmillecam: For as long as I can remember, I always thought of Adam as react-ing, not as the driving force. That is what I meant.

    G: I guess so, but whatever he did as Michael was before he “became” Adam—and how he (re)acts as Adam is what is on my mind as we discuss gender roles in the Fall account. In other words, I wouldn’t think to compare Eve (the only woman in the story) to Michael any more than I would compare her to Jehovah or Elohim or any of the other men in the story. If we’re going to discuss the gender role of Michael, then I’d just as soon discuss the gender role of Heavenly Mother in the story….

  54. 54.

    Precisely my point – Heavenly Mother is NOTin the story. She should be right up there with Elohim since (I was about to say – since Jehovah is their son but oopps – Mary is his mother. I guess there must be polygamy after all)

    Maybe that’s why HM does not appear much in Mormon theology – because there are so many of them/her? Deep theology here – but I still strongly dislike polygamy. Its practice seems to make women more of a “tool” like the laptop, to be used to produce children, run the household, fend for themselves. I much rather like the idea of beloved and exclusive equals in a marriage.

  55. 55.

    I think we should be discussing the gender both of Heavenly Mother and of Michael.

    Michael/Adam is known even in his preexistent state. He helps create the world. In contrast, not only does Eve not appear in this section of the story at all–she only shows up to fill a need in Adam’s life, and is later effectively silenced–even Heavenly Mother is absent from our creation account! A number of creation stories from around the world suggest male and female unite to bring the universe into being together. Not Mormonism! We have not just one, but multiple males fashioning the cosmos on their own.

    We’re the ones saying gender is eternal. But we have no canonized stories of preexistent women and only one example of a named post-resurrected woman (Eve in 138). Gender is eternal and the word on the street is that there are approximately zero females in the eternities. That can’t not be significant.

  56. 56.

    While I have been stating my reluctance to compare Eve to Michael, I can certainly see the value of comparing the gender roles of different pairs of act-ers in the story:

    Adam : Eve
    Elohim : ________
    Jehovah : ________
    Michael : ________
    Lucifer : ________
    etc.

    In other words, my point wasn’t to deny the significance of the absence of other females, but simply to say that (in my mind) the only character Eve can be compared to is Adam.

  57. 57.

    Lynette, I agree with G that you really are brillant!

    I am sorry again that I missed your relief society lesson and intrigued by the idea that there are other local bloggers out there (although this idea truly scares me).

    I admire your willingness to has issues in and outside of the ward. To the post, at this point with so many ideas, it is hard to comment.

    However, I will say that I think the GAs elevate women because they know they are not and do not feel equal. So to hear Pres. Hinckley say he hears no complaints almost feels like a blatant lie. I suspect priesthood leaders have heard a lot of complaints either directly or indirectly. However, I know that I am more likely to write a blog entry than to write church headquarters.

  58. 58.

    A number of creation stories from around the world suggest male and female unite to bring the universe into being together. Not Mormonism! We have not just one, but multiple males fashioning the cosmos on their own.

    It’s not Mormonism, it’s Christianity. Every Christian religion believes/follows this story as the creation story. Just sayin’.

  59. 59.

    I would argue that the absence of the female is striking in our liturgy in a way that it is not in other retellings of the Genesis accounts. We believe both that God is specifically male and that he has a female counterpart. But Heavenly Mother was apparently not invited to the party. (Perhaps she’s not capable of doing what even a preexistent spirit like Adam can do?) Also, we believe that Adam/Michael played a role where Eve did not.

    That’s a nice way of framing it, Brian. I think I see what you’re getting at.

    One of the arguments I made in my Sunstone paper was that we’ve taken what in Genesis is a two-tiered structure–Adam-Eve–and integrated it into an eternal, divine system including everyone–the chain of command now goes Elohim-Jehovah-Adam-Eve. One effect of doing this is to give the entire system a divine imprimatur suggesting it is far from merely a temporal state of affairs. Another is to exclude female divinity entirely as a category of thought. As my sister Eve has pointed out to me, Heavenly Mother doesn’t appear in the temple perhaps because she can’t be slotted into this system: divinity is supposed to be at the top where femaleness puts one at the bottom. She allegedly possesses both, so she defies the very categories on which the structure is based.

  60. 60.

    She allegedly possesses both, so she defies the very categories on which the structure is based.

    Interesting perspective.

  61. 61.

    Thank you for the thoughtful subject and posts about the story of Eve’s creation.

    After reading through the daunting 60 replies here and having carefully considered the initial post, I have provided in response my own interpretation of the Adam and Eve creation story.

    You’ll find on my blog (in September articles 2 and 3):

    As indicated in the article on my blog, my goal is to “provide an interpretation that does not slip into the inequality-effacing equality assertions that Lynette finds so disturbing while still emerging with a beautiful picture of the complementary relationship between man and woman, husband and wife.”

    My interpretation takes the discussion in a new direction, and I welcome feedback from everyone who comments on this site.

    Respectfully yours, Laura

  62. 62.

    [...] This story of Eve’s creation has been the subject of intense discussion in a recent post in the Zelophehadsdaughters Blog by Lynette, titled “A Partner to Adam” on Aug. 7, 2009. http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2009/08/07/a-partner-to-adam/ [...]

  63. 63.

    Well, I found this thread and this forum long after the thread essentially was “put to bed”, pretty much.

    However, I still wanted to comment on several points.

    One is that the account in Genesis does not have to be just literal or just symbolic. It can be, and much of it is, both, I believe.

    For example, Adam and Eve had navels (meaning, when it says that Adam was made from the earth and Eve from Adam’s rib, the first means that Adam’s body is made from the elements of the earth, and that Eve was born of man. Both came out of “a mother” who had a physical body as they did. I will not venture further on that line, because, frankly, that is all I know, and going further is impossible, besides being likely to be unfruitful in finding details more than that (in this mortal sphere, anyway)!

    When it says that “man” is lord over the whole earth, I think that applies to “both” ‘men’. ‘Men. and ‘Wo-Men’ (the latter, supposedly coming from the concept that a woman is a ‘man with a ‘womb”!

    Next, I think that the idea that “the woman was made for the man” is not necessarily that she was/is an afterthought, nor that man is more important. But rather he has the role to preside, or, in a ‘gentle’ way, to ‘lead’, or to ‘rule’.

    The “rule” part, though, gets so many people hung up. We all are jealous of our agency. We bristle at the thought of anyone else “commanding” us. But, if we are, as the Book of Mormon suggests, “easy to be entreated”, then ‘submitting’ to the request of another is not necessarily taken as one overlording the other, if we comply happily, willingly, cheerfully. (When it says, “The Lord liketh a ‘cheerful giver’”, I have a sneaking suspicion its not just talking about paying tithes and offerings. Getting people do DO needed stuff, is sometimes like pulling teeth!

    As the husband of a very good woman, and also of nine children, I have found that the problem becomes one of others even taking suggestions, hints, requests, or otherwise. Since, unlike LucySophia’s ex-husband, I do not try (anymore, at least) to demand anything. I want to keep my wife. I want to keep my children.

    However, what I have found is, that, unless I make a lot of money, no one will listen to me much at all (“remember, you CAN have EVERYTHING in this world for/with MONEY, at least according to ONE voice)!

    The economy being what it is, it is tough to both get enough business to always make ends meet (without going further into debt), and to get anyone in my large family to help. I use to try to impress some into service here and there (like my Dad made me & my older brother do, in helping to do surveying on Saturdays) when we were growing up (we had no choice, we had to work).

    But, my wonderful wife, who grew up on a farm in the Midwest, bristles at anyone trying to make others help, like her father did with members of their large family on the farm.

    The world should be like what we see on TV, right? Ward works, comes home to June, Wally and ‘the Beav” (Leave it to Beaver) The house is nice and clean. Ward makes ample money, working 8-5 or so. And Ward and June deal with two boys, which is an extremely light load (compared to some of us).

    Just this morning, I read a 1973 Ensign article on supporting the patriarchal order in the home. Something that was brought up in the first of that article was the diminishing authority of husbands and fathers in the home, and how that is not how things are suppose to be! I am betting that wouldn’t appear in the Ensign TODAY!

    In a way, its a lot like home teaching. For years, home teachers have been badgered about how they could be better, should be better! But no one talked about ‘Home TeachEES’!?! Ever try to get an appointment to see even a family active in Church? So many say, “oh, we’re fine, go ahead and count us”!

    Of course, the reason is, I believe, is because “June” works outside the home, and the double duty on evenings and weekends is too much to fuss with someone coming over to the house!

    As a Church, we ignored Presidents Kimball & Benson. When Sister Beck hinted at us doing similar things a couple of years ago, there was essential mutiny! Women of the Church work outside the home in droves. Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law professor, co-authored a book a few years ago about how two income families are ruining America.

    Of course, now almost no one has usually any more than four children, five at the outside. (And, THOSE are considered LARGE families)!

    Last night, I attended ‘Evening of Excellence’. Some of the Young Women got up and told, among other things, what they were worknig towards. Interestingly, NONE of them, as one might guess, said they were working towards “getting married and having children”. They use to, many, many, MANY years ago!

    And, on the Mother in Heaven thing, I believe that we have to deal with our Father in Heaven for several reasons. One of them being “sexual”. That is, if we talked of a ‘mother in heaven’, the lust aspect would sooner or later, i believe, enter in (which it has for millennia in religions that have a goddess or goddesses in their pantheons).

    The other reason is because of the difference in the nature of men and women. Eve was deceived in the garden, though that was part of Heavenly Father’s plan. He knew it would happen, and allowed it ot happen. But while men can be and are gullible (I have been and still am too often). We are, generally speaking, less guliible or likely to be fooled in many things than women are, I believe.

    I’ve never held a position higher than a counselor in a HP group, or one in a Stake Sunday School presidency. I sometimes have my issues with “priesthood” (at the ward, stake & higher levels). However, I also value my membership in the Church. And will not jeopardize it. I will submit to their authority.

    I am sure that most of you will likely disagree strongly with some things I’ve said. But I am telling you the way I see it. I am seeking the truth, and trying to convey it best I can.

  64. 64.

    The “rule” part, though, gets so many people hung up. We all are jealous of our agency. We bristle at the thought of anyone else “commanding” us. But, if we are, as the Book of Mormon suggests, “easy to be entreated”, then ’submitting’ to the request of another is not necessarily taken as one overlording the other, if we comply happily, willingly, cheerfully.

    In other words, as long as we’re happy with our subordination, we’ll be happy with our subordination?

    As Eve has pointed out to me, the Book of Mormon also says “because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you” (Mosiah 29:16). I’m not sure why that doesn’t apply to women and their husbands. It’s easy to exult in the necessity of making sacrifices that you yourself aren’t actually asked to make.

    And, on the Mother in Heaven thing, I believe that we have to deal with our Father in Heaven for several reasons. One of them being “sexual”. That is, if we talked of a ‘mother in heaven’, the lust aspect would sooner or later, i believe, enter in.

    That’s why I had to stop praying to Heavenly Father and switch to Heavenly Mother. Just feeling too much cosmic lust! ;)

    You’re right that I disagree with much of what you’ve said, Dave. But I actually agree with you that the Church is changing on gender issues (we just seem to have different attitudes to those changes). In any case, I hope you and your family are enjoying a peaceful holiday season.

  65. 65.

    “cosmic lust”?!
    What a coincidence, that’s the name of my all girl klezmer/punk band.

  66. 66.

    Ahh. You must be the ones who sing “Men With Wombs” and “Resisting the Gullible Goddess.”

  67. 67.

    [...] save.”  This, says the Hebrew scholar on our blog, is a dubious interpretation.2 And as I have posted in the past, whatever the meaning of helpmeet, the fact that Eve was created for Adam is already a [...]

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    [...] I am indebted to Lynnette of Zelophehad’s Daughters for this [...]

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