Are you an Eliza or an Emmeline?

by: Hedgehog

November 21, 2013

Eliza R Snow (right) and Emmeline B Wells (centre) with Elizabeth Ann Whitney (left)

Eliza R Snow and Emmeline B Wells both served as General President of Relief Society: Eliza (born 1804) from 1866 to 1887 as the second General President, and Emmeline (born 1828) from 1910 to 1921 as the fifth General President. Both women were prolific poets. However, what intrigued me were the different attitudes they would appear to have had to a woman’s place in relation to men, which appear to be rooted in their interpretations of doctrine.

I was recently asked to give a brief presentation on the role of Utah women in women’s suffrage as a part of a RS lesson. In the course of my research I came across a couple of BYU Studies papers about the women: “Eliza R. Snow and the Woman Question” by Jill C. Mulvay, and “Emmeline B. Wells: “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister”” by Carol Cornwall Madsen.

As General Relief Society President, Eliza’s signature appears with others on a document thanking the then territorial governor of Utah for signing a bill which granted suffrage to women in Utah in 1870, but she was not a supporter of the women’s rights movement. Mulvay writes (quoting Eliza) as follows:

“Eliza never would have led her sisters in an effort to take the right of suffrage by storm. She distrusted “that class known as ‘strong minded,’ who are stenuously [sic as found in Mulvay] and unflinchingly advocating ‘woman’s rights,’ and some of them at least, claiming ‘woman’s sovereignty’ vainly flattering themselves with the idea that with ingress to the ballot box and access to financial offices, they shall accomplish the elevation of woman-kind.” She explained, “Not that we are opposed to woman suffrage. . . . But to think of a war of sexes which the woman’s rights movement would inevitably inaugurate, . . . creates an involuntary shudder!””

Eliza died in 1887, the year of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which amongst other things disenfranchised the women of Utah.

Emmeline B. Wells was a prominent campaigner for suffrage, having first been sent with Zina Williams to attend the National Suffrage Convention in 1879, and was long-time editor of The Exponent magazine. Madsen writes (quoting Emmeline) as follows:

“Appraising the broadened opportunities for women that had occurred during her lifetime, she linked those achievements with the purposes God had for his children. “The inspiring influences that have been causing this uplifting,” she wrote in a 1902 Relief Society handbook, “are all in the program marked out for the children of our Father in Heaven; let those who dare, deny it! but as sure as the Scriptures are true, and they are true, so sure woman must be instrumental in bringing about the restoration of that equality which existed when the world was created. . . . Perfect equality then and so it must be when all things are restored as they were in the beginning.””

Emmeline died in 1921, after polygamy had ended, and had been instrumental in getting women’s suffrage into the Utah state constitution.

Whilst Eliza was grateful, and indeed happy to take what was offered, in improving the lot of women, whilst defending a male-dominated society, Emmeline believed women had a vital part to play in restoring equality between the sexes.

The Doctrine, of course, goes back to garden of Eden, where Eve is seemingly made subject to Adam, on having first eaten the fruit, and told that:

“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)

Eliza apparently believed that order was the first law of heaven, and in that order men came first; that the fall resulted in a curse for all women, requiring their submission to men. Mulvay writes:

“Eliza Snow stressed that women would benefit if they would obey the priesthood in whatever they tried to accomplish. She was advocating not passivity, but righteous submission. “As sure as the sisters arise and take hold of the work,” she exclaimed, “the brethren will wake up, because they must be at the head.”… her consistent instructions to all Relief Society sisters: “We will do as we are directed by the Priesthood.””

According to Mulvay Eliza felt that the actions of feminists were futile, and that:

“Latter-day Saint women did not admit that just any man could guide and direct woman. It was not the mere fact of masculinity; it was the righteous exercise of priesthood which gave a man wisdom and power that was from God and thus qualified him as woman’s leader and protector.”

By contrast, Emmeline, though not present when Relief Society had first been organised in Nauvoo, viewed the turning of the key by Joseph Smith, as a turning for all women everywhere, and the start of female emancipation. Madsen writes:

“The organization of the Relief Society, Emmeline noted years later, opened “one of the most important eras in the history of woman. It presented the great woman-question to the Latter-day Saints, previous to the woman’s rights organizations. The question did not present itself in any aggressive form as woman opposed to man, but as a co-worker and helpmeet in all that relates to the well-being and advancement of both, and mutual promoting of the best interests of the community at large. For Emmeline and other LDS feminists, the nascent woman’s movement was but a secular manifestation of the organization of Mormon women, both heralding a new age for women. Looking back at the two events, she was persuaded that “the key of knowledge was turned for her [woman], and men no longer had the same absolute sway.”… Emmeline Wells could conclude that the women of the world were “acted upon by an influence many comprehend[ed] not which [was] working for their redemption from under the curse.””

Though, Madsen writes of Emmeline:

“It was not the partiality of God, she affirmed, that created inequality of the sexes but the denial of opportunity to women to develop and utilize the rational powers with which they had been endowed. Any artificial barriers to individual growth and development were deplorable. No limits are set for what men can do, she observed. Women should enjoy similar freedom. “It is this longing for freedom,” she explained, “that is inspiring . . . women . . . to make war against the bondage with which they have been enslaved, and seek, by every available means, to inspire a universal feeling among men and women for equal rights and privileges in the sphere God has assigned them.””

Both women had to deal with the then doctrine that redemption from the curse necessitated marriage, and in particular plural marriage. Whilst Eliza appears to have wholly subscribed to this, Emmeline looked forward to the day it would no longer be necessary. Mulvay writes that Eliza believed that:

“The right to “holy, honorable wedlock” was the right of all women, not just a few. By this means alone could women be redeemed and since plural marriage was the only system in which all women could have the opportunity to marry righteous men, “those who stepped forward as volunteers” were laboring “in the cause of woman’s redemption.””

… “The Lord has placed the means in our hands, in the Gospel, where by we can regain our lost position. But how? Can it be done by rising, as women are doing in the world, to clamor for our rights? No. It was through disobedience that woman came into her present position, and it is only by obedience, honoring God in all the institutions he has revealed to us, that we can come out from under that curse, regain the position originally occupied by Eve, and attain to a fulness of exaltation in the presence of God.””

Madsen quotes George Q Cannon:

“In a sermon on celestial marriage given in 1869, George Q. Cannon confirmed the principle as the route to redemption. Plural marriage, he said, “will exalt woman until she is redeemed from the effects of the Fall, and from that curse pronounced upon her in the beginning.” On another occasion he prophesied that “as the generations roll by nobler types of womanhood will be developed, until the penalty that was laid upon woman in the beginning, that ‘thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee,’ will be repealed, and she will stand side by side with man, full of that queenly dignity and self control which will make her his suitable companion rather than his inferior.”… Subscribing to at least part of his argument, Emmeline Wells urged women to educate themselves for that day. “The very genius and spirit of the age is in keeping with the cry of woman, for recognition of her position by the side of man,” she wrote. “It is the consciousness in woman everywhere, if even a latent spark of her inherent divinity lingers, that the hour is hastening when the curse will be removed.”

Madsen further quotes Emmeline:

“Do you not see the morning star of woman’s destiny in the ascendant? Why the whole civilized world is becoming enlightened with its beams. . . . There are some wise men who recognize the star, and who even say “peace and good will” to woman, and take her by the hand and welcome her to their circle, and would fain assign to her all that nature gave her intelligence and capacity to do, would lift her up to their level . . . and say there is room for us both, let us walk side by side.”

The contrast between the two women reminds me of the polarisation we have seen in events over the last year, as we come up to the Wear Pants anniversary. So a couple of quotes in closing:

Mulvay on Eliza:

“Women should be helpmeets to the priesthood, and they should assist their brothers in Eliza’s imagery, “like the devout and steadfast Miriam in upholding the hands of Moses.” Unlike her national contemporaries, Eliza was not even anxious to give woman the last word. Happy to see brethren at Relief Society meetings and conferences, she invited them to speak last. Relief Society president Margaret T. Smoot from Provo explained, “Sister Snow says it is proper for us to speak first, and let the stronger follow the weak, that if we say anything that needs correcting it can be corrected.””

Madsen quoting Emmeline:

“Women may be found who seem to glory in their enthralled condition, and who caress and fondle the very chains and manacles which fetter and enslave them! Let those who love this helpless dependent condition and prefer to remain in it and enjoy it; but for conscience and for mercy’s sake let them not stand in the way of those of their sisters who would be, and of right ought to be free.”

Discuss.

Tags: , , , ,

38 Responses to Are you an Eliza or an Emmeline?

  1. Nate on November 21, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    What a great post! The different perspectives of these two women couldn’t be more stark. I wonder how they got along in their presidency.

    I believe in the principle of submission, but obviously we need people like Emmeline to challenge injustices which exist.

    As far as Eliza’s view on Eve, I do think that Eve sinned, but I think Adam also sinned equally, in that he chose Eve over God, unlike Abraham, who chose God over his son. So both Adam and Eve should have been equally in the doghouse. Instead, Eve got the short end of the stick. We still have this in the temple today, and in the current role of women in the church. I’d be glad to give women the priesthood, but until the authorities bring it on, I will submit to their will. But maybe femminists in the church today still have a role to play in future changes.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  2. hawkgrrrl on November 21, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    “Any artificial barriers to individual growth and development were deplorable. No limits are set for what men can do, she observed. Women should enjoy similar freedom.” Well said. I’m definitely an Emmeline. Some of these Eliza and George Q. Cannon quotes are deplorable.

    Submission is the codependent partner of oppression. So long as human beings are fallible, submission to the arm of flesh leads to corruption and tyranny.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 9

  3. hawkgrrrl on November 21, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    To add: “The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.” Stanley Milgram, of the infamous Milgram’s experiment.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  4. Howard on November 21, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    “Do you not see the morning star of woman’s destiny in the ascendant? Why the whole civilized world is becoming enlightened with its beams. . . . There are some wise men who recognize the star, and who even say “peace and good will” to woman, and take her by the hand and welcome her to their circle, and would fain assign to her all that nature gave her intelligence and capacity to do, would lift her up to their level . . . and say there is room for us both, let us walk side by side.”

    Prophetic!!!

    Excellent post Hedgehog!

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  5. Jared on November 21, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Excellent post. Lot of useful information and argument to create understanding of these mighty sisters views.

    However, I am concerned for those who get caught up in ordaining women to the priesthood. They appear to miss out on what the Lord makes equally available to men and women–the gift of the Holy Ghost, while they wrongly pursue something the Lord doesn’t authorize. There looking beyond the mark and will stumble.

    14 Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

    (Book of Mormon | Jacob 4:14)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  6. Howard on November 21, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Jared,
    I generally enjoy your comments and I appreciate your faithfulness but you’re exceeding your stewardship by stating they wrongly pursue something the Lord doesn’t authorize. There looking beyond the mark and will stumble. You don’t know this and it isn’t helpful to suggest they will stumble, the Holy Ghost provides spiritual conformation to many people regarding specific things that are contrary to LDS church practice such as the ban on blacks and today some feel that they are receiving conformation on pro women and pro gay issues. Church practice is the result of general advice that comes from the brethren some portion of which apparently comes from the Lord and they make up the balance, spiritual conformation to individuals by the Holy Ghost is specific and the two need not completely agree and sometimes will not. .

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 9

  7. Hedgehog on November 22, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    Nate #1, I can agree Adam and Eve were both culpable. I don’t like submission though.

    Hawkgrrrl #2&3, Agreed and agreed. I like the Milgram quote. The only kind of submission I can swallow, is submission to God, as directed and confirmed by the Holy Ghost, and even then I argue first. Human beings can whistle, priesthood leader or no, without that confirmation.

    I’m definitely with Emmeline on this one.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  8. Hedgehog on November 22, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    Thank you, Howard #4. I agree with you on that quote. Both women have at various times been decribed as a prophetess however, although I don’t recall where I read that.

    Jared #5, like Howard I appreciate your comments. I can understand your concern, but my view tends to be that sometimes agitation is required, and that individuals have different roles. I don’t suppose everyone is called to agitate, but that doesn’t mean those who are doing so are not following the Holy Ghost, or not pursuing the paths they are called to take.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  9. ji on November 22, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    I didn’t think any woman here will admit to being an Eliza — it would be so contrary to expectations, and she probably wouldn’t feel very welcome.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  10. Sarah Zarate Braudaway-Clark on November 22, 2013 at 5:07 AM

    I wonder if we set up a false dichotomy in asking if someone is an Eliza or an Emmeline. Obviously, they had opposing opinions on the role or place of women, at least in the quotes presented here. However, I think they had a common goal of the advancement of women and are separated by a couple of decades of thought. Not a huge generation gap, but one is there.

    If I look at my life, I can say that I have been an Eliza and I am an Emmeline. Like the “line upon line” concept taught in the scriptures, I think my Eliza period was a necessary stepping stone to my more progressive Emmeline views of today. Even though Eliza supported a more patriarchal structure than Emmeline did, she still moved the course of women’s rights in the church forward from those who would say women shouldn’t lead, speak, or vote. She was still a progressive, even if her glass ceiling was set lower than those who followed. Perhaps Eliza could have moved the status of women farther forward, but if it was forward enough for Emmeline to stand on her shoulders and get us farther still, I’m willing to give Eliza credit for her part.

    I’d say in any woman’s progression from entrenchment in the patriarchy to fully formed feminist, an Eliza period is probably a helpful transitional point. She steps forward a little, still espousing some of the former beliefs. Once enough cognitive dissonance reveals that the two cannot exist together, she’s ready to advance to Emmeline’s point of view. It can be really scary to make that shift, so for me, I’m grateful for the time I spent as Eliza as a preparation for Emmeline.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  11. Jared on November 22, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    Howard and Hedgehog-

    Thanks for you’re thoughtful responses. I understand in part what you’re saying. My perspective is riveted in the word of the Lord.

    This life is temporary but sets the stage for our opportunities in the future life (Abraham 3:24-25). The message of the Lord is to seek diligently for the Holy Ghost (Moroni 8:25-26).

    If men and women will be faithful they will become K&Q, P&P (Rev 1:5-6) to God. What more could we desire. The way is narrow but when we look beyond the mark we could stumble.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  12. Howard on November 22, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    I suspect when the Spirit prompts some to oppose the church’s practice it’s because God whats the conversation/debate to (eventually) take place not necessarily because one side is clearly right and the other wrong in a black and white sense rather as we as individuals begin to grow the body of the church begins to change with us. As Sarah put it I think my Eliza period was a necessary stepping stone to my more progressive Emmeline views of today. This change is NOT led by the brethren because of the unchanging nature of institutions in spite of the living (growing) gospel it offers as a product and because of the generation gap between our leaders new marriages and because they seem to romanticize the 50’s US culture and because of their Utah-centric peculiar people in-the-world not of the world mindset that could easily leave Mormons looking like Quakers in the future if they don’t wake up or die off! Once upon a time the complementary male female roles of marriage were something of a necessity and a standard but that has changed in the developed world and there is nothing evil about it, it’s just different. Physical strength and fear control are no longer necessary to provide the basics of life, birth control and home automation make homemaking something quite different than it was in the past and as a result Father Knows Best is an era of the past. This has caused women to adapt to the workforce and it is beginning to invite men to a higher level of consciousness that includes treating women with respect and having better access to their feelings which is also a path to greater personal awareness and greater spirituality.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  13. hawkgrrrl on November 22, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    There were some interesting early Christian frescoes revealed this week. They show women apparently preaching. The Vatican of course denies that’s what they show, but other scholars are asking the obvious question (that Origen hinted at too): were there female priests in early Christianity? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2510473/Vatican-unveils-frescoes-Catacombs-Priscilla-paintings-FEMALE-PRIESTS.html

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  14. Will on November 22, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Hedgehog:

    This post represents the dichotomy, in some sense; we currently face in the church. The church is a Kingdom with Christ at the head – it is not a democracy or a business where positions are esteemed – at least they shouldn’t be. The Apostle Paul taught the church is the body of Christ, where each of us play our role (part of the body) and when we do so properly we embody Christ (I was surprised to see Hawgril post this, I thought she was more of a feminist).

    With this in mind, “leaders” should be servants not bosses or governors as taught in my favorite section (121st) of the D&C when Christ discusses leaders that actually think they are in charge when he says ‘as soon as they get a little authority AS THEY SUPPOSE’. In other words, they are not in charge, Christ the King is. They should, as taught in this section, follow the will of Christ and not their vain ambitions. Correspondingly, this is the same lesson Paul gave about men and their relationship to Christ; and, women in relationship to their husbands. The same promise made with the new and everlasting covenant in a temple sealing.

    This push for “equal rights” is thus an eye-rolling experience for those that truly understand the purpose of the kingdom; and a waste of time and vain ambition for those that don’t. Time should be spent focusing on how to better fulfill your God given role rather than petitioning for someone else’s role. It is as offensive as those that run for Bishop.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  15. Howard on November 22, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Will wrote: …where each of us play our role… and women’s role is sub servant to men’s roles? This push for “equal rights” is thus an eye-rolling experience for those that truly understand the purpose of the kingdom Since you appear to know, what truly is the reason for LDS women to be sub servant to LDS men?

    …‘as soon as they get a little authority… Shall we assume the brethren are equally vulnerable to this divine insight into human nature or do you see them as somehow exempt?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  16. Heber13 on November 22, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    If George Q Cannon is a priesthood holder with teachings like this:
    “In a sermon on celestial marriage given in 1869, George Q. Cannon confirmed the principle as the route to redemption. Plural marriage, he said, “will exalt woman until she is redeemed from the effects of the Fall, and from that curse pronounced upon her in the beginning.” On another occasion he prophesied that “as the generations roll by nobler types of womanhood will be developed, until the penalty that was laid upon woman in the beginning, that ‘thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee,’ will be repealed.”
    …then why do we not teach the same thing in our church today?

    I think because we progress, and understand differently, interpret differently, and experience life differently in our society then the priesthood leaders did back in generations past. It doesn’t make them wrong then, but perhaps not as right for us now.

    Because of that, it is not offensive or wrong to push for “equal rights” in our time. What is eye-rolling is when people cling to the rhetoric of the past, without context in our lives today.

    I am glad in today’s church we speak of Eve’s choice in the garden as one of leadership and progressive wisdom to enable the human family, not the sin for which all women are cursed and must be saved in order to bring them up to their husband’s side.

    Since things change, then priesthood leaders today should realize change will continue, and be open to the spirit guiding us on what is right, not the traditions of our fathers, or the interpretations of scriptures from the past.

    If the Lord knew we were all ready for women to be ordained, it could happen. There is no other doctrine that settles the subject. It could happen. But until a revelation like SW Kimball’s comes to a male prophet who is asking for that change, we will be stuck in our current system, which while it is imperfect, is still good and still allows women to apply their talents in almost all the same ways as men…but not entirely equal.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  17. Jeff Spector on November 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    It’s always pretty interesting to watch people interpret the past based on today’s social construct. To read into the words of those who wrote and spoke as though they had today’s perspective, which they certainly did not. While we can all probably agree that the roles of the two women in the history of the Church had a profound effect on it, I think it unwise to overly project the campaign to get women the right to vote too far. Especially in context to the role of women in the Church. They are really two totally separate things.

    Proof texting and elipsing the words of Emmeline Wells to conform to a modern day feminist agenda does great disservice to her. Not that she didn’t have a progressive attitude for the time. There is no indication, even is those short quotes that she was outside the practice and doctrine of the church regarding the role of women and the role of men. I see great consistency in those comments with both the scriptural record and words of the modern Prophets. Nothing like what we read and hear from some more activist women.

    After all, she was a leader in Relief Society for many years (under the direction of the Brethren) and a plural wife.

    And, while we are at it, we should not underestimate (or belittle) the role Eliza R. Snow played in the Church and continues to play. We sing her hymns (and with it, her revealed doctrine). that is about as much influence as any woman has had on the Church including Emma Smith.

    I have a the utmost respect for the faithful service of both these Sisters.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  18. Will on November 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Howard,

    I guess it depends on your perspective. I think of the quintessential life question posed by our Lord: “What seek ye?”. Riches? Power? Esteem? Or, righteousness?

    I cannot think of a more sacred event than creating a human life and the corresponding birth. The close second, in my judgement, would be the nurturing of that life. A proper implementation of the latter results in a panacea for most of our social ills. This is the primary role of mothers.

    If you see this as sub-standard, I suppose that is your choice. I see it as an exhalted role and part of our Fathers work and glory.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  19. Howard on November 22, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Will, I love your second paragraph but the truth it contains does NOT offset the place of women in the church, for example the male leadership “forgetting” for a mere 182 years (!!!) to invite women to pray in GC. I do not consider it seeking “power” to wish to be more considered than that by the hierarchy and one self correcting method is to simply make women a meaningful part of that hierarchy.

    I had dinner recently with a bright young well educated Saudi who feels it’s fine women in his country aren’t permitted to drive. Would your wife mind not driving? Does God mind if women drive? Does God really mind if women are church leaders or is that some hold over from the past?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  20. Hedgehog on November 23, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    #9 ji, one point I was trying to make with the post was the difference in views even amongst the RS general presidents, a point worth making at a time when events have been seen to cause polarisation, even though I might feel more kinship with Emmeline.

    #10 Sarah, Interesting comment and perspective. Thank you. In my case I tried to conform as an Eliza for 15 years after attending the temple. I guess I learnt something from it, but my inner Emmeline got back out in the end. I was feministy in my views prior to that, and always arguing with my youth leaders, and in YSA RS lessons.

    #11 Jared: “My perspective is riveted in the word of the Lord.”
    I’ll try not to read that as a criticism that if we don’t agree, it must be because I’m ignoring the word of the Lord. I certainly agree this life is temporary and sets the stage for the future. I also believe that just because it is temporary doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working to make this life better, or striving to achieve a more heavenly existence whilst we’re here. Nor would I suppose you believe we shouldn’t either, but we each read scripture in the light of our own experiences, knowledge and understanding.

    #12 Howard: “I suspect when the Spirit prompts some to oppose the church’s practice it’s because God [wants] the conversation/debate to (eventually) take place not necessarily because one side is clearly right and the other wrong in a black and white sense”
    That tends to be my view too. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think it all needs discussing properly, without the usual knee-jerk responses. It feels to me that the progress Emmeline was envisaging has stalled.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  21. Hedgehog on November 23, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    Will #14,
    Paul also taught we are each given different gifts that we bring to that body. One of the things women like me are so frustrated about is that from YW onwards what those gifts are has been dictated to us. For those women for whom this a good match that isn’t a problem. For others, like myself, who simply cannot recognise ourselves in that description, it’s a huge problem.
    I am a SAHM, even though my children are now teens. I can see that they benefit from what I do. But does any of this nurturing come naturally to me? No. Even now I have to view situations as a problem to be solved and work out the best way to proceed, in a scientific manner. I’ve learnt a lot I’m sure, but that still doesn’t make it my gift. It was the last too many years I had to spend in primary, which I did not enjoy, even though I tried my best, and the sheer panic I felt for my daughter then about to enter YW that drove to the internet, and ultimately resulted in my Emmeline breaking back out.
    I’m pretty sure no-one in their right mind would seek for church office. I would like greater access to callings that are a better fit for my natural gifts however. And nurturing roles (which I’d hope include Bishop) aren’t it. I’d like to see better representation of women from across the spectrum of gifts.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  22. Hedgehog on November 23, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    #16 Heber, Interesting perspective.

    #17 Jeff, I’ll gladly admit to my shortcomings. I am not a historian and I don’t have access to the source material, but I did try to read as much as I could find on the topic I was asked to research. This was something peripheral which jumped out at me as I read. The women who wrote the papers I linked are historians. I tried to give some background sense, whilst at the same time keeping the post to a reasonable length. I will be doing a post looking at the arguments used for and against getting the right for women to vote into the Utah constitution. Meanwhile my comments are also informed by reading of the following issue of the Utah historical quarterly: http://utah.ptfs.com/awweb/main.jsp?flag=collection&smd=1&cl=all_lib&lb_document_id=34303&itype=advs&menu=on
    We all of us to some extent have our hands tied by not having been there, both in our reading of scripture and of history.
    Emnmeline was a plural wife. So was Eliza, though for some reason she seems to have been referred to as Miss Eliza R Snow. According to Madsen, Emmeline refrained from comment on the priesthood (unlike Eliza, who appears to have commented frequently), and found polygamy difficult to bear. I have no difficulty seeing in her comments a hope for a better future, in which women and men stand side by side, and Nate is right, that given current temple ceremony, we aren’t there yet.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  23. ji on November 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    “I would like greater access to callings that are a better fit for my natural gifts”

    Me, too! This is not a male v. female matter. But the only way to achieve this is to invite people to apply for callings — I’m not ready yet to advocate for that solution.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  24. Jared on November 23, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    #20 Hedgehog et al

    Jared said: “My perspective is riveted in the word of the Lord.”
    Hedgehog replied: I’ll try not to read that as a criticism that if we don’t agree, it must be because I’m ignoring the word of the Lord.

    When I wrote, My perspective is riveted in the word of the Lord, I didn’t realize you could somehow interpret it as criticism. But you clearly did. It is not my intent to create contention, my hope is to reason and persuade using the word of the Lord (2 Tim 3:16, Helaman 3:29).

    With that in mind I would like to advance a few thoughts for you to consider.

    1. According to the scriptures what is the most important thing a church member can do while in this life?

    2 Based on the teachings in the scriptures what evidence does a follower of Christ have that the the life they are living is acceptable to the Lord?

    3. Does the word of the Lord provide examples to support the efforts of feminist seeking or demanding ordination to the priesthood?

    4. Do the scriptures support the idea that the gift of the Holy Ghost inspires the prophets in one way and feminist in another?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  25. Will on November 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Hedgehog,

    You are implying our roles and are gifts are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, in fact, were given heavenly gifts to accomplish our Devine roles.

    Your comment further insinuates said roles are confined to are church callings. Again, just the opposite. The church is a temporary organization, while our families and gifts of the spirit are eternal. Use them to better your life and the lives of your family members. THAT is why you have them, NOT for vain ambitions inside our outside the kingdom.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  26. hawkgrrrl on November 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Jared – there is a HUGE difference between women (please drop the term “feminist” if you only use it to vilify) “seeking” and “demanding.” ZERO women associated with the Ordain Women movement have demanded anything. They are seeking female ordination when God ordains it through his existing leaders. They have prayed and received personal revelation that this is the path they should follow. This is according to their own site. This is nothing like a protest / demand / whatever straw thing people are trying to cook up. It’s really insulting to see that constantly trotted out, especially given how anti-activism the church has become.

    If you don’t think Jesus was a feminist, think again. He surrounded himself with strong women. Women ran churches out of their homes in early Christianity. Even Origen criticized the early Christian church as a church for women.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  27. ji on November 23, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    My lesson from Hedgehog’s posting is that different Latter-day Saints can have different thoughts on matters of public policy, and it is not necessary to normalize them all. It isn’t necessary to say that one or the other is right or wrong. Both of these women lived their lives and they will both have their reward.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  28. Hedgehog on November 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Will, of course I use my gifts in a family setting, in addition to trying to do the things I find hard. I was addressing the issue of the body of the church you raised. I do object to the assumption frequently encountered at church that as a woman I must posses a particular set of gifts. I do my best in my callings, but they frequently don’t make best use of my gifts. I don’t seek aggrandisement and frankly to suppose I do is insulting. Matching callings to gifts simply means I serve more effectively, if serve I must.

    ji, one of the benefits of broadening the callings available to the different sexes would be the larger pool of both men and women available, to the benefit of those of both sexes.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  29. Jared on November 23, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    hawkgrrrl, et al,

    I’m for whatever the Lord wants. The followers of Christ can adapt to anything the Lord requires. It may not be easy but it can be done.

    With that said, the Lord has an established way to bring forth change to doctrine.

    Polygamy is example. A prophet initiated it and terminated it. President Kimball’s pleading petitions to the Lord over an extended period of time resulted in a revelation not only to himself but most of the apostles regarding priesthood ordination.

    If there is to be a change to who is ordained to the priesthood it will come about in the Lord’s way.

    I can’t find scriptural precedent to justify showing up at a priesthood meeting hoping to be seated as an inspired approach–more of a subtle demand.

    Now, I doubt you and some others will agree with me. That’s OK. My hope is that we can accept one another’s differences with understanding.

    We have God given agency and that creates division. I believe that followers of Christ should look to the scriptures to measure and evaluate cultural trends and philosophical debates.

    As I do this, I don’t find the Holy Ghost inspiring a group to move in one direction and the prophets to go in the opposite direction.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  30. Howard on November 23, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    …the Lord has an established way to bring forth change to doctrine. Well according to SWK the Lord’s method doesn’t typically include tapping LDS prophets on the shoulder and suggesting minor course corrections: I believe most revelations would come when a man is on his tip toes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there bursts upon him the answer to his problems

    Agitation preceded both OD1 & 2 and President Hinckley allowed that women could hold the priesthood but he didn’t (at that time) see agitation for it! Citing that LDS women were happy, implying that were there agitation some change would be possible! So I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this ongoing discussion/debate about women’s roles IS participation in the Lord’s established way to bring forth change.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  31. Jeff Spector on November 23, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Hedge,

    “I have no difficulty seeing in her comments a hope for a better future, in which women and men stand side by side, and Nate is right, that given current temple ceremony, we aren’t there yet.”

    I see those comments and I see nothing inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church, then and now with regard to the equality of men and women. If the practice of some leaders shows inconsistency in honoring that equality, is a shame and not keeping with the doctrine.

    And, I would also add that anyone who sees subservience of women in the Temple ceremony may not fully comprehend where the ultimate responsibility and burden actually lies.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Emmeline was a seventh plural wife, the last one, not the first. So it would make any objection seem odd since she very well knew what she was getting into.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  32. Hedgehog on November 24, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    ji #27, also Jeff,
    From my reading I don’t get the sense that Emmeline divided world (public policy)/church, given that she saw all progress for women as a part of the restorative process.

    Jeff, Emmeline married more than once. Her first husband had apostasised and deserted her by the time she was 16. At 17 she became a plural wife of Newel Whitney (then 55) who died in 1850. She then married Daniel Wells, yes, as his 7th plural wife, and was forced to be independent. Just because she lived by the then doctrine doesn’t mean she had to like it.

    It does strike me, reading of her experiences, that grim as it was, living polygamy did give women the space to show men what they were capable of, at a time when it would otherwise have been a lot harder to do so (though perhaps made for an easier life in some ways). In that sense alone, I can see that perhaps polygamy did have a role of sorts to play in freeing women from ‘the curse’. It pains me to see how we as a church, would seem to have regressed from or forgotten that knowledge, especially given the price these women had to pay.

    And from my admittedly modern perspective I do find the statements of both George Q Cannon and Eliza R Snow to be horribly manipulative, though I am prepared to accept that they may have seemed much more redemptive to women at the time.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  33. rah on December 1, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Jared,

    Your reading of Mormon history on the changes to polygamy and the priesthood expansion is weak in my opinion. Both those changes came after much internal and external pressure and tension which caused leaders to go on extended, deep inquiries to the Lord. Its not as if the prophet woke up one day and received a revelation out of the blue. The question of women’s ordination in the church seems to be playing out roughly the same pattern so far. Building external and internal pressure, while leaders fortify current practice and use existing scripture and past justifications for the status quo. There is no indication that Pres. Monson or Pres. Hinkley has gone to the Holy of Holies every day for weeks and months on end seeking specific authorization to expand the priesthood to women. That is what it took for Africans. Even then it is clear in the historical record that Pres. Kimball had long felt that this was the right step but refused to push it through without unanimity among the 12. It was forging this unanimity that held the change up and even then the two strongest hold outs were absent from the temple the day of the penticostal experience. Elder Peterson was in South America. Elder Stapely was in the in the hospital. So as far as I can tell your reaction and those like you in the church seem to be really consistent for what happens in changes to priesthood expansion.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  34. rah on December 1, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    More generally. I think the depiction of Eliza in that article needs to be revised to some degree. Eliza was in a very, very tricky situation with Brigham Young. It took a lot for her to get him to even start the RS again. BY had dismantled it due to his extreme dislike of Emma and her use of the RS to fight both polygamy and his succession to head of the church. Another take on Eliza is that she was walking on a razor edge between pushing the envelope and showing “submission” to BY who could have with a single stroke have again disbanded the RS has he had done in Nauvoo. So it doesn’t surprise me to see Eliza publicly towing the BY line on women and BY believed strongly in the submission of women to their husbands and husbands as the “lords” of their wives.

    For example, keep in mind that BY is the one who finally wrote down the temple ceremony and only just before his death. We actually have very little evidence about what the ceremony was like in Nauvoo. Most of what we have are a few accounts from those who ended up leaving the church in that period. However, some of those accounts reference the innitiatory as annointing women to be “Priestesses unto God” not “Priestesses to their Husbands” as it was eventually written by BY and as it still exists today (no really ladies go do some innitatories if you don’t believe me). Eliza herself uses the Priestesses unto the Most High God line herself in some of her speeches and writings. This goes against the ceremony as it existed in the SLC endownment house.

    Emmeline on the other hand was in a much different situation. The RS has been long established in her time. It was in strong financial health and was functioning independently of the priesthood (remember correlation wouldn’t come for quite some time). Brigham was long dead and theocracy was no longer the state of affairs in Utah.

    Both Eliza and Emmeline were incredibly smart and incredibly gifted political and organizational actors. I think we can safely say that both were committed to the church to the death and thus playing the long game. I think that needs to be taken into account when comparing these two women.

    If I was to make a comparison, I would say you would see a lot of Eliza style behavior in wards and stakes where strong-handed and very traditional leaders come down on women who consider questions of women and the priesthood and more types of Emmeline style discourse in places where those conditions don’t exist. I think belief probably follows rhetoric to some degree but I also think belief and rhetoric tend to become more decoupled where hierarchy is willing to assert itself against more progressive rhetoric. That has been my observation anyway.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  35. hawkgrrrl on December 1, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    rah: insightful Of course comments like yours leave me even more disgusted with BY But I appreciate the context you’ve added.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  36. Hedgehog on December 2, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Thanks for your comments rah. I find Eliza something of a puzzle. She did marry BY afterall. Are you suggesting she did this to consolidate her position? She also outlived him by 10 years, although it was after his death that Emmeline and Zina were sent to the national suffrage convention.

    I did read there had been less formal contact prior to that time, and 1870 when Utah women were granted suffrage there were some, such as Sarah Kimball (younger than Eliza, but older than Emmeline), who were then willing to identify themselves as women’s rights women.

    My take on Eliza is that she hadn’t really had to fight so much to get to do the things she wanted to do, having been properly educated growing up, and taking herself to those places (including the church) that granted her those opportunities. A great gift, I don’t deny. And I do think her encouragement of women to make the most of their opportunities was important. But because she herself hadn’t had to fight for those rights of education and so forth, she perhaps expected that improvements for women would simply fall into place – of course she died the year Utah women were disenfranchised, and had she been younger and living in that period, she may have felt differently, although the threat of disenfranchisement had existed for some years, and was the reason given for the formal engagement with the national suggrage movement in 1879, so…

    I haven’t found anything to suggest she changed her stance after the death of BY in 1877.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  37. Hedgehog on December 2, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    * that would be suffrage not suggrage in the above.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  38. Woman’s Place | Wheat and Tares on December 5, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    […] on from my previous post, this post is also prompted by observations noted during my research for a presentation I was asked […]

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

Archives

%d bloggers like this: