Eschew

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been overwhelmed by a lot of questions, especially in regards to my religion lately. Last week, we were taught a beautiful lesson in Relief Society about the prophetesses in the book of Judges. As soon as the topic was brought up, I knew I’d have to do some separation between the patriarchal position in which a lesson of this sort would inevitably be taught, and the literal interpretation of what is actually present in the scriptures.

The prophetesses found in the book of Judges were discussed with great admiration and respect within our little group of Relief Society sisters. Finally, there were prominent, inspired leaders that were easy to connect with and relate to. I was ecstatic- at last, I was feeling empowered during a church meeting, and as consequence, was actually engaged in the lesson (after I shared my excitement on the Young Mormon Feminists Facebook page).

I was so ecstatic because never in my 19 and a half years of membership in the LDS church had I even heard of these inspired women in the Bible. Admittedly, that’s partly due to my slack in scripture study, especially the Bible. If I’m honest, I don’t feel that we as a church focus enough on the bible. We have the Book of Mormon, ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ, but I feel that sometimes we treat it as the only testament of Jesus Christ. Even so, I had Seminary classes in High School that were Bible based. We even had a whole year dedicated to the Old Testament. Even within that class, I can’t say I recall ever discussing the Prophetesses of the book of Judges.

Why? Because of the patriarchal structure of religion. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that these women have been purposely disregarded from Sunday school discussion, or any religious discussion for that matter. The discussion and recognition of powerful, inspired female leaders is so rare that it takes some of us two decades to even learn that they existed.

My testimony has been hanging by a thread these past few years as I realize more and more how misogynistic and patriarchal the church’s structure (perhaps, more fairly, culture) is. However, had I known of these prophetesses and been versed in what divine roles they played, and felt like I was in an atmosphere that was willing to help me investigate and answer my questions in regard to inspired women, perhaps my attitudes toward my church would be different.

I want to know why the term ‘prophetess’ is now extinct from our vocabulary. I want to know why the title of prophetess no longer exists, and if it will ever return.

I posted similar questions to these on my Facebook page, looking for others’ insights on the matter, and not surprisingly, the idea of a female prophet was instantly shot down. One ‘friend’ gave me the answer that ‘prophetess’ in Hebrew means “wife of the prophet.” However, we have no record that Deborah was even married, so I’m disregarding that explanation entirely.

Even throughout the lesson, the teacher (female) reinstated that these women were not literal prophets. However, their prophecies were fulfilled, and they received inspiration from God, so what about that makes them not literal prophets? The only way these women differ from ancient prophets is the fact that they were female.

Although it is frustrating and disheartening that female prophetesship is impermissible within my religion, and female leadership is very limited, I am choosing to believe that these women were literal prophetesses of God, in the purest sense of the word, and that gives me strength.

M.

Desideratum

Recently, I was contacted by a reader who completely chewed me out, claiming that I am practicing feminism wrong, and that while I claim to advocate for equality, he claims that I am “leaving others behind,” and that “subconsciously [I] do not believe in equality unless in this moment [I] realize that my actions are not all in line with [my] beliefs and [I] start to change.”

He also told me that my “feminism isn’t about equality, but rather about self-preservation” and that my blog proves it. He wrapped up his ignorant rant-fest by expressing his sorrow in my not fulfilling my own potential and that I could do great things if I just opened my eyes to my own prejudices.

I have been stewing over this young man’s declaration of criticism for a couple of days now, and I even resolved to remain passive, but my frustrations have gotten the better of me, so here I am.

Clearly, the intent of this blog has not been as vividly outlined as I would wish it to be. I welcome opposition to any opinions expressed here, and I even held my tongue long enough to hear this man out. I even refrained from verbally abusing his condescending ass. (New Year, New Me.) But rather than have any more incidents of misunderstanding, I’d like to make a few things clear to you, my dear readers.

I have never, nor will I ever, claim my writings on this website to be a whole representation of my belief system. If it were, it would be a hell of a lot more detailed, researched, and academic. Nay, rather, this website serves the purpose of being a platform for me to document my impressions, thoughts, and feelings as I navigate through life.

We are all guilty of being selfishly concerned by things that affect us directly. The things that affect me directly are what dominate my thoughts, ergo my writing. If my objective with this website were to express my belief system in its entirety, you better believe I would be discussing my frustrations with racism, classism, homophobia, etc. as well as sexism.

Because of who I am (a white, middle-class female) I am predominately concerned with issues in which my gender is treated differently than any other. That’s what has the most effect on my life. Think of DownWithTheNorm.com as an edited, polished-up, online diary. Because that’s what it is. I’m not here to bore you with my standpoint on every issue incorporated into my belief system.

This young man spoke to me as if by reading a post or two, he knew exactly who I was as a person, and once he decided the kind of person I am, he felt entitled enough to advise me to align the way I live my life with my false-claimed belief in equality. You, sir, have no right to point fingers or criticize anyone but yourself until you are clean of all prejudices. Good luck with that, pal.

I’m about to get all biblical up in here. One of my new years’ resolutions is to study the New Testament, and focus especially on Christ-like characteristics that I need to improve in my own life. I came across my favorite scripture, Matthew 7:1- “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

So homeboy who conceitedly dared to point a finger at my prejudices, Jesus says not to judge others. That’s God’s job. Yours is to try to figure out how to love everyone as He does.

Matthew 7:1.

M