Polygamy and Feminism and Jesus and Mitt Romney

I was just looking to see when the new season of Sister Wives was starting (I really want to know if they are making a baby-growing contract or not!) and I stumbled across this blog all about the show, polygamy, and Mormon fundamentalism.  And so obviously I got completely sucked in and read about seven or twenty posts in a row.

And let’s be honest about one thing really quick:  I grew up in crazy southern baptist churches where they would play animated videos about what Mormons believe and focused really heavily on the race issues [and something about underwear you never take off, I think, but I was only like eight so it’s hard to remember]* and so I know that my unquenchable interest in everything polygamists do is just an unhealthy result of those experiences but, seriously, one husband having three wives is kind of insane, right?  And then there’s the race thing, which is totes bad.  Moving on…

I discovered a quotable sentence in one of the blogs that made me really think.  And I wanted to share it here because — I mean, seriously, do we really think H is going to listen to me go on and on about polygamists and feminism and religion and such for more than about twenty seconds without turning on the a any game?  Probably not.  Here it is:

“Male domination was the curse of the garden, but the price for sin was paid upon the cross and the curse was lifted!”

I would obviously make some edits to this sentence.  Number one, the garden itself was not a curse — exile from the garden was the curse.  But I know, I know, don’t quibble about words when you want to talk about meaning.  So, is it true that Eve’s curse was male domination?  And if so, did that curse end on the cross?

This concept feels revolutionary to me, so I’m assuming none of my southern baptist pastors ever mentioned it.  [ha!]  But, I’ve been in other more progressive and/or feminist religious settings during the past four years, and I’ve still never come across this idea:  that Christ’s sacrifice listed the curses of sin from us including the domination/separation/distinctions between male and female.

And perhaps I’m making too much of this single sentence in the context of something not-quite-holy-and-mostly-gossipy, but I’m kind of interested in where this idea might go, or where it originated.  And I’d love to hear thoughts on it if anyone has any.  [Especially you, Mrs. Pankhurst, and you, G.]

 

*If you are Mormon [or a Mitt Romney supporter] and this blog offends you, I apologize for stepping on your giant overly sensitive toes.  I am the most politically correct person from Tennessee I have ever met, and I hope you understand that this is not intended to be offensive.

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19 Comments

  1. Jessica

     /  February 2, 2012

    Mary Beth, I’m loving your blog! I also love questions like this because it causes you to seek out why you believe what you believe. It also exposes things that could potentially be man-made traditions. While I’m no longer a Southern Baptist, I still do agree with some of their teachings about family. Something I believe is a relevant fact is that Eve was different than Adam before the curse (there was also work before the curse, which sometimes shocks me! lol). She was created out of his rib to be a helper to him. There is debate about whether or not Genesis 3:16 is referring to a woman resisting her husband’s authority as a result of the curse or referring to male authority being a result of the curse. AKA the complementarian vs egalitarian debate. The New Testament also provides information about this. Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives and there is still a clear distinction between the two. This is after the Lord paid for His people’s sins. Men lovingly leading and women respectfully submitting gives a picture of Christ and the Church.

    Sorry for writing a massive paragraph on your blog. :) I really do love discussing stuff like this.

    P.S. I would love that link you mentioned about the Mad Men slip. :)

    Your cousin,

    Jessica

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jessica! I guess I honestly have only really considered the resisting authority approach and have always felt quite resistant! :).

      If you trace the subjugation of women through historical Christian doctrine, it is often based on Eve’s weakness to resist temptation aka her inherent sinfulness and ability to ruin the goodness of man. I learned this in college but promptly forgot everyone’s name but Justinian. :).

      This whole dogma ignores the point that Christ’s sacrifice cleanses us of that sin. And so, knowing that we are free, should we also continue to carry the scarlet letter of Eve’s original sin? Perhaps not. But I’m kind of rebellious when it comes to subjugation, so maybe I’m not a good judge here. Haha.

      Reply
  2. Howdy.
    Going back to the passage in Genesis 3, I believe that the conflict between man and woman is a direct result of the fall. 3:16b says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” It’s the same wording as in 4:7b, when God tells Cain, “Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” As a result of the fall, woman seeks to master man, but man masters woman instead. That was not a condition of creation. In creation, God created woman to be a helper for man, and the two were to become one flesh–a true partnership. Ruth Tucker (I think) and others argue that the word for helper–ezer–is not necessarily a word that implies subjection or being “less than” man, as the Bible calls God Israel’s ezer at times.

    In the New Testament, Paul tells wives to respect their husbands, and husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. He also tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:21-33). In 1 Cor. 7, Paul gives the wife authority over her husband’s body, just as her husband has authority over her body. In 1 Peter 3, Peter instructs husbands to give their wives honor as the more delicate vessel. All of these things were totally countercultural and a real reversal of the “ruling over” of the Fall. I believe that ongoing attempts to use the Bible to subjugate women indicate not only a poor understanding of marriage–how can you abuse and belittle someone who is “one flesh” with you?–but also a sinful surrender to the fallen flesh. Every instance in the New Testament where the wives are to submit to their husbands is a command to the wives, not to the husbands. The wives are to make the choice, take the action; the husbands are to love their wives and not demand or force submission. Christ doesn’t force submission from the church; He loves the church and gives her freedom.

    I absolutely believe that male domination is a condition of the fall and should be countered as we counter pain in childbirth and everything else cursed in Genesis 3. Male domination is sinful and destructive–when you read the Old and New Testaments, you can see its results throughout. Women’s scheming is also sinful and destructive–and should be countered by a robust faith.

    This is actually a subject that could fill books. I am open to continuing this discussion and engaging in some dialogue. :) Thanks for the invitation!

    Reply
    • I’m going to think on this before I respond but I like it.

      Reply
    • I like this. I think what you and Jessica are both basing your comments on is the nature of sexes in creation. And it is hard to know what that is in while simultaneously having the skewed view of a human marred by sin and not quite sure what man and woman would have been without sin.

      Did you take that class with Dr. Richardson on gender? I remember (and I can’t confirm this on the train from my blackberry) tracing the development of who women were to scholars something like this:

      First, women are bad.
      Then, virgins are good and married/nonvirgin women are bad.
      Then, women have a different, limited roles that are less important and inferior to those for men.

      I wonder how much our dialogue today is rooted in the remnants of these ideas, which were premised on information that ignored the impact of Christ’s sacrifice on Eve’s sin.

      And, I remember hearing in my new testament class that women should not counteract the pain in childbirth because it is our destiny or something. But I already knew that wasn’t right. :)

      Reply
      • Yeah, the creation story is pretty foundational. There’s really no telling what we might have been without the Fall. Have you read C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy? He does quite a bit of thinking about maleness and femaleness and their roles, and it’s pretty thought-provoking.

        I didn’t have Richardson on gender. That must have been really interesting. I do think we still tend to see women out of those three lenses, especially conservatives. You might be interested in Ruth Tucker’s Women in the Maze. She looks at the history of women in ministry, and she has some fascinating objections to the typical pigeonholing of women. I read parts of it, and it made me too feisty to deal with the particular context I was in at the time, so I had to put it down. Take it with a grain of salt and a good dose of historian’s skepticism. I’d be interested to hear what you think, if you read it.

        I still think that a lot of what people think has to do with women as originators of sin somehow, possibly from I Tim. 2, where it talks about Eve being deceived and Adam sinning. They tend to forget about Adam and blame women. I would argue that when we trust in Christ we become children of a new Father, no longer children of Adam. We are born again in a very literal sense and have a new nature to which old laws and the old reasoning no longer apply. Yes, the old man must be killed and put off again and again, but we are still new creations in Christ. I think our distinctions as man and woman still matter, but that we should be more creative than ever in trying to find ways to minister to others and to honor each other. We should be testing to see what pleases the Lord and being tremendously innovative in how we set all Christians free to do ministry. In I Cor. 5 we are all called ministers of reconciliation–men and women. There should then be a sense in which we all take each other’s roles as ministers very seriously, regardless of gender.

        As to the pain in childbirth thing–did a man say that, or a woman? If a man, does he work in the fields and obtain his bread by the sweat of his brow? Just saying.

        Reply
        • Love this.

          Woman. Probably homeschooled. But professor responded that some believed women who could not give birth could not be saved since they cannot endure that pain either. Also, same male professor said Beth Moore was inappropriate because she let men buy tickets to her events.

          It was kind of a turning point for me, that class. Haha.

  3. That would have killed me. I heard Beth Moore once, and she spent several minutes tracing all of the different authorities she was under, just so people would know she was under authority.

    Reply
  4. Montana

     /  March 1, 2012

    This has been going on too long, it’s a good start but our law enforcement has a long way to go.

    When someone hides behind religion to do or say something that is wrong we should stand up and point it out (right the wrong).

    When I was a kid I lived in Utah, and the Boy Scouts was taken over by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). This, so called religion, practices underage polygamy, they send the boy s off on missions to divide the underage sisters among the dirty old men of the clan. Now when these underage girls get pregnant, these same dirty old men, send them to the state to get their welfare checks. You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks. By the way this is the newest religion that was created right here in United States of America.

    Reply
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