Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feminine Feminists

The class was American history, the teacher was Warren Jeffs, and the subject was suffrage for women.

“Are men more important than women in the kingdom of God?” he asked us. “If you think so raise your hand”. As we twisted in our seats looking around to see who would raise their hands I was surprised. The lone person in the room with their hand up was my sister. I don’t know if anyone else thought the same and were bashful, but I certainly didn’t.

(photo: Susan B. Anthony)

Despite what some people might think, women and men are different. When a child comes into the world, that child comes through a mother. The bond between a mother and child is one a father cannot know. Mothers are usually the center of the universe to their children. I envied that bond with my children and their mother. There is no bond like the one I have with my mother here and I can only imagine the one I had with my Mother in heaven.

The first womens association in America, and perhaps in the world, was created on March 17, 1842 in Nauvoo Illinois. It was called The Women’s Relief Society. It was created to “provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the community." (Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 Mar. 1842) The founding officers of the society were the wives of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

Some people think that if polygyny was decriminalized, than society would crumble, but I think very much the opposite. For although it is true that if every man had two wives, then there wouldn’t be enough women to go around, but that would not necessarily be a bad thing. If polygny was not despised as it is, then women would have more ability to find a good husband if that is what she wanted to do. And could do what she wanted to do outside the home without worrying about leaving her children with strangers.

As is the case in many families in and out of the FLDS, women have interests outside of the family.
Brigham Young said:
“We believe that women are not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds and raise babies, but they should stand behind the counter, study law or physic, or become good bookkeepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation” (JD 13:61)

Now in monogamous only society (which is really perpetual polygamy), if a lady wants to have a family and a job, then she has to hire a non-family daycare to tend and teach her children while she is gone. But in Polygyny, that is not a problem because there is always a mother in the house. Most FLDS ladies have no desire to leave their children at all and would gladly mother all of her husband’s children.

Then there are men. Gather any group of men anywhere, and put them in a room, and swear them to secrecy from their wives, and ask them if they think they could handle Polygyny. 99% would say yes. But so many men are irresponsible, and so many men are unfaithful. There will be much more women than men in the highest heaven. Polygyny is much harder on the man, than on the women, for he must raise his esteem with the ladies to qualify the respect that is necessary to be the head of his dualistic family. Men who engage in Polygyny must be BETTER men than those who only have one wife to report to. It would make for better men all around, especially if men, who were unfaithful to their wife or wives, could see how easy she could leave and find a better one.

Mark Twain visited Utah and wrote, (jokingly): "The man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity, and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence."

In 1870 the Polygynous Utah territory became the first place in the world to allow women to vote at the ballot. In 1875 a petition signed by 22,626 women in Utah asked Congress to repeal the 1862 Morrill anti-bigamy act. But to "preserve the purity of women" the ability for women to vote was removed by the anti-polygamy Edmunds-Tucker act of 1887.

When the Supreme Court upheld the overturning of the First Amendment in 1879, the New York Times editorial insulted women by saying: “The woman is naturally the weaker vessel, as St Peter has declared, and has oftener been coerced into polygamous marriage than she has sought it of her own free will” And then as if women were incapable of speaking for themselves: “Delegations of Mormon women, assiduously “coached” by the Mormon lobby, have waited upon the wife of the President, beseeching her to use her influence wit her husband so that the law may not be enforced to their disadvantage”

It matters less how you feel about polygny than it does about the freedom others should have to the lifestyle of their choice. Women should have the right to choose polygyny. The best women on earth, including my mother, have and will continue to exercise that right whether you allow them to or not.

My sister now knows personally that motherhood is every bit as important as fatherhood, and Patriarchal Priesthood is only as great as Matriarchal leadership allows it to be. Women do look to men for leadership, but men always look to women for home. That is what Warren Jeffs taught us.


EllaJac said...

I have long wondered something.. If you keep to this Principle and it's associated theology... Isn't it inherently discriminatory? I may be missing something (I'm no scholar), but if a man must marry more than one woman to have a chance at the Celestial Heaven (or even maintain position in FLDS?), then it stands to reason that (unless baby boys are few or celibacy also celebrated) many or most men who grow up FLDS must leave the faith, or settle for a lesser reward... I find myself questioning a faith that, by it's own tenets, 'stacks the deck' against it's own men. What say you?

Anonymous said...

A quick question...

Is there a difference between polygny and polygamy? Or are the terms interchangable?


Anonymous said...

The judge did all she could legally and I thank her for that! Lori gets her children back--all of them--and gets to stay with them, albiet in custody but this is so much better for the children!!! I hope and pray they all get to be with them for the sakes of these little ones.
Call and write all that the Common Room blog posted and beat down their doors for judicial fairness and due process!!

Pligchild said...

The FLDS believe there are a lot of good people who will be converted in the next life. More women than men. See lost boys math- (link list)

Polygny is one man several wives, olygamy is either-or.