Not Coveting My Neighbor’s Wife (and other feminist concerns)

I’ve always thought that the rule against coveting my neighbor’s wife was a good one. It seems like a very useful sort of prophylactic measure against adultery. Coveting a neighbor’s wife is probably the initial act in many (or most) cases of eventual adultery. But as salutary as a find this commandment, I also wish it were phrased in a less misogynistic way.

The commandment is clear, both the good and the bad:

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

What a problematic formulation! The rule is a great idea and a very useful rule — possibly the best defense against the greater sin of adultery; a foreshadowing of Christ’s statement that men are not to lust unlawfully after women. But it is phrased in a way that suggests that the real purpose is not protection against adultery, but simply property-rights protection, where the neighbor’s wife is just one of his more interesting or useful pieces of property. And so “neighbor’s wife” is certainly on the list . . . right after “neighbor’s house,” prior to “manservant,” and as a component of a list that ends with “nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” In addition, the list appears to go in descending value order, suggesting not only that the neighbor’s wife is a piece of property, but also that she’s less important than the real estate. (No Monty Python jokes about “tracts of land,” please). What a way to make clear the worth (or lack thereof) of women!

Finally, the ugliness is compounded by the authorship of the phrase. There’s little room to quibble about misinterpretations or ideas of men; this is part of the Ten Commandments, directly from the finger of God. Not only does tribal, patriarchal Israelite society think that women are worthless, God apparently agrees. Or rather, they aren’t entirely worthless — they’re simply a man’s second-most-valuable piece of property, directly following his house. Lovely.

Of course, modern church leaders adapt this rule to its present use, which is as a general building block for the law of chastity. We know that coveting is part of a package that includes sexual sin in general, in its many manifestations — adultery, fornication, pornography, and so on. And without disagreeing with that adaptation — which seems like a great reading — I must admit that the original formulation of the rule still bugs me. Yes, I know that it can be put to a very good use. But it seems like, as originally given, it wasn’t put to that use. So I’m wondering — should I just be happy that we can cheerfully apply a modernist, non-offensive reading to this rule without too much violence to the text? Isn’t that a bit disingenuous? How much should I let the problematic framing of the original rule bug me?

46 comments for “Not Coveting My Neighbor’s Wife (and other feminist concerns)

  1. Julie in Austin
    January 30, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    Interesting post.

    However, I think you are a little quick on the draw with the ‘directly from the finger of God’ idea. See Matthew 5:26-27 for a little revision of the Ten Commandments, which is not to say that the big ten weren’t God’s will for Israel, but rather that they are not a perfect, final, or complete expression of God’s will.

    See also Mark 10.12 for Jesus’ feminist revision of the OT divorce laws.

  2. Julie in Austin
    January 30, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    Actually Mark 10.5 makes my point better than I did.

  3. January 30, 2005 at 8:45 pm

    I respectfully disagree. The commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is the basis for the law of chastity, not “thou shalt not covet”.

    Rather, “thou shalt not covet” has more to do with gratitude for that with which we have been blessed, rather than always thinking that the grass is greener, yada yada….

    I will agree with you, however, that it seems odd to have placed wife second to house. No doubt my wife is far more important to me than any house ever could be. I would be curious to read the original Hebrew and see if the translation we have is accurate, or if words have been misplaced or what have you.

  4. Matt Evans
    January 30, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    Well put, Kelly. I agree that this commandment has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with contentment and gratitude for the good things in our lives. People covet spouses for many reasons unrelated to sex. This should be pointed out to those teaching that this scripture is about sex, as Kaimi has apparently seen happen from time to time.

  5. Kaimi
    January 30, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    Matt, Kelly,

    That’s an understandable approach (and hey, it goes along with the whole women-as-property problem, too!), but the opposite approach (this is all about sex) has been used in some statements by church leaders.

    For example, this one from David B. Haight:

    Marriage is a covenant. Two of the Ten Commandments deal directly with preserving the sanctity of marriage: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.”

    (See ).

  6. January 30, 2005 at 10:29 pm

    Ah, but here Elder Haight is clear that it has to do with the marriage covenant, not sex. Having been married 20 years, I can assure you there is a lot more to marriage than sex.

  7. Mike Parker
    January 30, 2005 at 10:32 pm

    “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding” (D&C 1:24).

    God works within the cultural understanding and limitations of the people he’s dealing with. The Israelites could barely be kept from worshipping golden cows — you think they’re ready for women’s lib?

    In fact, the Mosaic Law was a huge step upwards for women’s rights. It required that man who divorced his wife give her a written statement of his reasons and send her out of the house (Deut. 24:1), rather than, say, simply have her killed. An unmarried woman impregnated is entitled to have the father as her husband to support her (Deut. 22:28-29), as opposed to simply leaving her to fend for herself.

    The concept of a woman as an equal partner in a marriage relationship is a relatively recent notion, and is found today only in Western nations. I would suggest you not be so critical of the Law given to Israel: God was doing the best he could with the resources at hand.

  8. January 30, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    It seems to me that if someone is coveting their neighbor’s spouse they’ve already objectified that spouse and are thus treating them like property. i.e. part of the problem seems to be that whole approach towards sexuality.

    On the other hand I think reading too much into the Law of Moses is dangerous. It wasn’t written to a people like us. It was written to a people one step away from conducting human sacrifices and who had just gone back to worshipping a golden calf. Complaining that it isn’t enlightened enough tends to miss the context of the original audience.

  9. Matt Evans
    January 30, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    Kaimi, I wanted to point out too that while I agree it’s possible to read the commandment as saying the wife is the husband’s property, that interpretation isn’t necessary. We always use possessive pronouns when speaking of spouses. Lori is my wife. I am her husband. Mardell is your wife. That’s why I can say, “neighbor’s wife,” as in, “I finally met my neighbor’s wife,” without anyone thinking my neighbor owns his wife.

  10. annegb
    January 30, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    “How much should I let this bug me?”

    Not much.

  11. Jack
    January 30, 2005 at 11:30 pm

    Shall we assume that women are free to covet their neighbor’s husband since nowhere in the commandment are they expressly forbidden to do so as interpreted through a modern reading?

  12. Nate W.
    January 30, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    “On the other hand I think reading too much into the Law of Moses is dangerous. It wasn’t written to a people like us. It was written to a people one step away from conducting human sacrifices and who had just gone back to worshipping a golden calf. Complaining that it isn’t enlightened enough tends to miss the context of the original audience.”

    I couldn’t agree more. However, doesn’t this suggest that the Ten Commandments are too dated to express God’s will for the modern era, and therefore inappropriate for, among other things, posting in classrooms and courthouses?

  13. January 31, 2005 at 1:41 am

    Kaimi, I always struggle with this question too, how much should I let this bug me? I can’t claim to have found the perfect answer, but the balance for me seems to come in acknowledging the injustice and ugliness of it all, while not allowing it to make me bitter. Add to that a resigned acceptence of the inscrutable nature of everything truly important, and that is what sustains me.

    Now if that isn’t the most useless bit of hog wash ever written, I don’t know what is.

  14. Christian Cardall
    January 31, 2005 at 6:30 am

    A question for experts on the Old Testament in its times (Melissa?): Was the definition of adultery strictly property-centered in the time of Moses? That is, were relations only defined as “adultery” if the woman belonged to another man?

    It seems that this must be so, if the Law of Moses (a) allowed polygamy, (b) punished “adultery” by death, and (c) “punished” impregnation of a single woman not by death, but by requiring the man to take her as a wife.

  15. lyle
    January 31, 2005 at 8:39 am

    What about the scripture/saying re: taking/finding offense where none is intended? What role does that play in interpreting the no covet commandment? Could it be that we shouldn’t infer offense from God where they intended none? I find it disengenious (s/p?) to question God on the basis he is a man while simultaneously omitting the fact that God is also an office.

    Alternatively, mayhap the commandment speaks to the “natural”/base nature of (wo)men? i.e. that both women & males tend to covet/lust after that which they have no right or privilege to? Why isn’t the commandment simply a statement of priority, reminding mortals that they tend to covet private property/a big house first & foremost, followed closely by coveting sex/whatever other benefits might be derived from the spouse of another?

  16. Christian Cardall
    January 31, 2005 at 11:39 am

    Mike (#7) and Clark (#8), without question the “working within cultural limitations” approach is an indispensible piece of equipment in the modern thinking believer’s toolbox; but DC 132 presents a case of tension between the ideas of Restoration and Continuing Revelation makes it tough to apply the “cultural limitations” argument to Kaimi’s present dilemma.

    Section 132 is presented as the word of the Lord in first person, and the entire tenor of it seems entirely consonant with the Old Testament-era idea of wives-as-property. It speaks repeatedly of `giving’ wives to men. Just a couple of examples: David’s wives being `given’ to another comes across like a simple transfer of chattel. The phrase “whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth” (v. 48) suggests thinking of women as objects (whatsoever you give), compared with the men receiving them being conceptualized as people (to whomsoever you give). The formulation (v. 61) “he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else” seems to agree with a property-centered definition of adultery I wondered about in comment #14.

    This language (and the conceptualizations the language may reveal) appear in a revelation in which the Lord’s stated purpose is not to incrementally improve the prevailing culture, but to “restore all things” (v. 40). Recall that in the 19th century, polygamy (along with slavery) was considered by the culture at large as one of the `twin relics of barbarism’; its introduction in the 19th century was not a novel progressive development, but a reactionary restoration.

  17. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    But Christian, Joseph clearly saw his work as a restoration not only (or perhaps even not primarily) of the primitive Christian church but also of OT covenant religion; in the BoM and elsewhere OT prophets are constructed as types for the latter-day Joseph. Joseph’s understanding of polygamy, of covenant, of fecundity and of many other matters was mediated through his understanding of OT religion and his concept of his work of transhistorical restoration. I don’t have time now, nor the expertise, to develop my argument–but in short I do think that cultural mediation makes its way even into D&C 132 precisely by means of OT models.

  18. Mark B.
    January 31, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    Of course, the commandment can also be read as an insult to men, since they only are deemed sufficiently wicked to require a specific prohibition against coveting another man’s wife. Apparently women have risen to such an exalted level of spirituality that such grubby passions are beneath them. (Unless, of course, you consider some of the female residents of Park Slope, to whom this commandment may in fact be relevant.)

  19. Mike Parker
    January 31, 2005 at 12:39 pm

    Christian (#16):

    I think it’s hard to compare the giving of the Ten Commandments with the laying down of the law behind plural marriage. The former was the foundational event in creating a covenant people; God gave the essentials for moral behavior of his covenant people. The latter was an extension, not a foundation, of a latter-day covenant; a better comparison to the Ten Commandments might be found in D&C 42.

    However, note that within D&C 132 there are certain controls placed upon the practice of plural marriage: A man had to get his first wife’s permission before taking another, etc. (although we know that this wasn’t always practiced as ordered, even by Joseph Smith himself — however, the commandment was still there).

    Also, while early 19th century America wasn’t quite at the “woman as property” state of ancient Israel, it was a lot closer to it than early 21st century American notions of marriage.

  20. Mike Parker
    January 31, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    One other comment on the “cultural lens” issue:

    It’s commonplace for modern readers to take the Bible (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter) in hand and view its characters’ lives as being pretty much like our own. In fact we do this in every circumstance: We think that everyone in the world today thinks and feels the same way we do. And so we’re shocked when we see a terrorist blow himself up in an Israeli market, because we can’t relate. Or we’re horrified that a destitute Cambodian family would sell one of their daughters into prostitution to keep the rest of the family from starving to death. Now, I’m not going to argue those things are right to those people (moral relativism), but I am saying that we need to see the world not through the lens of our own (limited) experiences, but to view it from the perspective of others’. Only then do we begin to understand what motivates them and how to work with them to improve our world.

    A few years ago there was a presentation at Sunstone by a woman who was horrified at Nephi’s killing of Laban and how her family felt that he did the just and necessary thing. Looking through the lens of modern Western culture, of course Nephi’s actions would be unconscionable. But from the perspective of 7th century B.C. Jersusalem, they make perfect sense and are right in line with acceptable practice, given the circumstances. (Remember the story of Nibley’s class of Arab students who were confused as to why Nephi waited so long to kill Laban?)

    God gives different commandments to different people in different times depending on their circumstances. His commandments are always calculated to make them better people. But he can’t pull them radically out of their own culture and time; he has to bring them step by step (line upon line, precept upon precept, as we would say) to the best they can be at that time.

    So, Kaimi: Don’t let the wording of the tenth commandment bother you. If God gave the Law afresh today, he would certainly word it differently. In fact, he has:

    “And if any man or woman shall commit aadultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church…” (D&C 42:80).

  21. Christian Cardall
    January 31, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    Rosalynde: Joseph clearly saw his work as a restoration not only (or perhaps even not primarily) of the primitive Christian church but also of OT covenant religion…[and] transhistorical restoration.

    I agree completely. I’m just pointing out that precisely because of the notion of transhistorical restoration, Kaimi’s dilemma is bigger than discomfort with OT-era cultural perspectives on women that the Lord had to temporarily work with circa 1700 B.C. (or whenever Moses lived).

    Joseph’s mission of `restoring plain and precious truths’ (including Christianity all the way back to Adam) is a pillar of the Church’s identity and rationale, one that will not comfortably admit (I mean that word in both senses) importation of grevious error along with the restored plain and precious truths. This is particularly problematic in this case, where what some consider a grevious error (polygamy) is inextricably intertwined—in history, doctrine, and even current practice with respect to sequential multiple sealings—with a most cherished `plain and precious truth’ (eternal marriage).

    Personally, I find seductive the idea that even Joseph’s very concept of transhistorical restoration was merely imaginative elaboration of cultural influences (several can be identified), and not grounded historical or cosmic reality. But it’s hard for me to see how this could be anything but devastating to the Church’s self-conception. It’s a slippery slope—and I fear I’ve slid nearly to the bottom.

    As for expertise or lack thereof—you can see that doesn’t stop me from spouting off! Perhaps (once again), however, you can help me see something in a different light. (I’m shamelessly trying to engage the discussion by arguing that `missionary work’ does not entirely presuppose expertise. ;) )

  22. JL
    January 31, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Let’s not forget the ten commandments were written down by man thousands of years after they were given to Moses so they had plenty of time to be humanized.

    Mark B. ,
    I am intrigued by your slander of Park Slope women, do tell.

  23. M.J. Pritchett
    January 31, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    My own personal interpretation of the commandment is as a warning not desire another person’s spouse (or my own spouse) in the way I might desire other things I might want to own. To me it is not merely (or even primarily) a protection against adultery or sexual desire.

    This commandment reminds me that I might desire another person not merely because of my sexual desire, but because I might view them as status objects to be owned or controlled. And it says to me: this is bad, don’t do it.

    I, of course, also think it applies to both sexes equally.

  24. Christian Cardall
    January 31, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    Mike (#19 and #20):

    Just a quibble on the ‘controls’ in Sec. 132—Joseph, as the one holder of the keys, was exempt from the ‘law of Sarah’, and Emma was threatened with destruction.

    I think you can see from my #21 that I’m sympathetic to the `cultural lens’ viewpoint—perhaps too sympathetic, in that it’s hard to see where to stop with it. Which of the current doctrine, ideals, practices, etc. will turn out to be cultural flotsam and jetsam? Will polygamy turn out to be jetsam, or a pearl of great price to be hidden and restored at the proper time? Either way the consequences are uncomfortable, and the stakes can only be high when it was once touted as a necessary and most sacred principle.

    And now I’m probably threadjacking, and won’t speak for awhile unless spoken to.

  25. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    Christian, I’ve got sick kids today and basement stairs to scrub, but I will return to the discussion later, promise.

  26. January 31, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    Rosalynde , while I agree that one notable thing about Joseph and the restoration was the breakdown of the large “divide” between the New Testament and the Old Testament. Nibley’s famous for writing about this back in the 60’s and 70’s when the Dead Sea Scrolls was “new stuff.”

    Of course Joseph was hardly alone in such views. There were many religious movements in the 19th century America that saw the OT in much more positive terms than the major religions of the time.

    What I think is somewhat unique in Mormonism though is seeing the OT as positive yet simultaneously holding a rather negative view of the Law of Moses. In a sense it was the attempt to recapture what that original law Moses brought down from the mount might have been. Thus the emphasis of the OT imagery isn’t the culture of the chidlren of Israel, but the religion from before Moses. Even in the Book of Mormon, a people much closer to the children of Israel, there is that sense of anticipation of the completion of the Law of Moses and a rather negative view of the state of religion back in Israel. Even the OT text seems very open to criticism with lost books and a general attack on the way Jews expected their scriptures.

    So there is definitely an odd dualism at work. Further I’d note that the Book of Mormon is notoriously innovative over the Law of Moses with regards to sexual law. (Jacob 2 being the obvious example)

    It would be very interesting to see just how the Nephites viewed these passages. I suspect that they would be interpreted in a fashion fairly different from how I supect the Jews did – even up to the Talmudic era.

  27. Mark B.
    January 31, 2005 at 2:36 pm


    Remember that truth is an absolute defense against a charge of defamation, so . . . there’s no slander.

    The reference to Park Slope (the neighborhood, not the ward) was to its large lesbian population, who perhaps might be more likely to covet their neighbor’s wife than non-lesbians.

  28. M.J. Pritchett
    January 31, 2005 at 3:26 pm


    Re: Your Park Slope neighbors

    I remember well walking across the UC Berkeley campus on my way to the law school in 1980, recently married and recently arrived from BYU.

    It was a warm day and walking towards me was was a very attactive young woman, dressed in flagrant violation of BYU Dress and Grooming standards. I watched her closely as she came closer (feeling somewhat guilty, of course), but I also noticed that she had caught the attention of the two women walking slightly ahead of me (one older and the other about my age). After the attactive young woman had passed the three of us, I overheard as the older woman ahead of me said to her companion: “Don’t look at straight girls dear, it will only cause you heartache and pain.”

    I realized instantly that this was very good advice for a young married man, as well as for a young lesbian, and it still comes to to mind on occasion as I walk to work on warm summer days.

  29. Mark Martin
    January 31, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    When one of you figures out Kaimi’s puzzle, let me know. It may help me understand Alma’s concluding words to the people of Gideon in Alma 7:27. It merely puzzles me, but doesn’t bug me. I can wait another few hundred years, if necessary. :)

    “And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess, your women and your children…”

  30. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Christian– First of all, I have neither

  31. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    (sorry, blogging baby)

    The comment is a long one, but it’s coming.

  32. Mike Parker
    January 31, 2005 at 5:54 pm

    Christian (#24): Which of the current doctrine, ideals, practices, etc. will turn out to be cultural flotsam and jetsam? Will polygamy turn out to be jetsam, or a pearl of great price to be hidden and restored at the proper time? Either way the consequences are uncomfortable, and the stakes can only be high when it was once touted as a necessary and most sacred principle.

    This is a good question, and there are no easy answers to it. Many people have left the Church because they felt that this or that change in practice or doctrine was wrong (e.g., polygamous Mormon offshoots).

    My best answer — and perhaps it’s a less than satisfactory one — is that the Lord wants us to be obedient to his commandments, regardless of whether or not we see the reason behind them.

    Joseph Smith: “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted–by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God commands is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.
    “…As God has designed our happiness–and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has–He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances.” (TPJS 256.)

    This is difficult for humans because we don’t like change very much, and especially if we don’t know the reasons behind the change. God wants us to trust him and do what he asks us to do. If we do, sometimes he lets us in on why things happen the way they do. (“Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” Then the explanation, etc.)

  33. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 6:18 pm

    So as I was saying, I have neither desire nor intention to defend the practice of plural marriage; I am appallingly ill-versed in church history, and my views on eternal marriage and polygamy are somewhat unorthodox, I suspect. So I offer some scattered points in lieu of a proper response.

    On social constructionist views of religion generally: I, like you, am highly susceptible to the charms of elegant constructionist argument; unlike you, apparently, I have never encountered any that reduce Joseph fully to cultural symptom. Social constructionism (or the recognition of cultural limitation, as it has been framed earlier in this discussion) is a highly useful method of performing historiographical and sociological inquiry, although it has proved markedly less successful in predicting the course of future social drift; it has a very long and distinguished history in Western thought, periodically re-outifitted and renamed, of course, and it remains a central element of my personal outlook. But it has its discontents, even among godless academics. Constructionism is ineluctably reductive, and its reliance on a system of resemblance between text/context or object/environment has an unfortunate tendency to produce unjustifiable causal narratives–not to mention inattentive reading! Furthermore, social constructionism is particularly weak in its treatment of human choice and conviction–that is, it is unable to account for precisely those phenomena that figure into religious experience. Social constructionism tells lovely stories–but those stories must be understood from the outset to be incomplete, reductive and partial.

    Now for section 132. Yes, the language is gender-biased–“if a man marry a wife,” etc–and yes, men are generally (though not exclusively; see the discussions of adultery and consent, though these are not particularly comforting) the active agents and women the passive. It seems to me that this has more to do with the allocation of priesthood authority to men than with a concept of women as property, however. Section 132 presents the new and everlasting covenant as the earthly apogee of priesthood achievement, and thus there is a certain logic to its orientation toward the holders of the priesthood–men. That men hold the priesthood and women do not may be troubling in itself, of course, but it is (in my view) more easily dealt with than the problem of women as chattel. This is not to say that women-as-chattel vocabulary does not make its way into the section; it does, as you point out, but only after verse 34 where the topic shifts from the new and everlasting covenant to specifically OT models for plural marriage (and I draw a sharp distinction between these sub-sections). It’s not surprising to me that sexist language shows up in this portion of the revelation; what would be surprising, if God really intended us to understand women as property, is the fact that it is absent from the rest of the section. Take-home point: priesthood, not property, defines the parameters of gender in this section.

    Finally, you are distressed that Joseph’s restoration did not include a fully equitable system for understanding gender and managing sex–and so am I, to a certain extent. Believe me, I’d love to belong to the first church ever to solve the most intractable social problem in history. But let’s be clear: when it comes to gender relations, there simply *is* no pristine and equitable earthly model for Joseph to restore! God’s descriptive “curse” on Eve at the explusion from the garden predicts the pain, strife and confusion that has surrounded a whole constellation of issues involving sex, gender and reproduction across history–including during the originary Adamic dispensation of the gospel. I don’t know how to explain this–though, being me, I have a few ideas!–but I’m not willing to fault Joseph’s work of restoration for not restoring what has never existed.

  34. January 31, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Wow Rosalynde, thanks for the meaty commentary!

  35. Trenden
    January 31, 2005 at 7:01 pm

    The Law of Stewardship is taught throughout the scriptures. Spouses and children fall under our stewardship so it’s from that perspective that I interpret Alma as well as the OT comandments. My wife and children aren’t my property but I’m sure I’ll answer to God for my treatment of them as part of my stewardship. And I shouldn’t be coveting my neighbors stewardship! From this perspective these scriptures are pretty clear to me.

  36. Larry
    January 31, 2005 at 7:18 pm


    Think back for a moment. When you went through the temple for your endowment, who performed the initial priesthood ordinances? (That is a rhetorical question for those who might jump the gun.)
    This is not a typically discussed topic (obviously) but I believe it has some merit.
    Men hold the priesthood but so do women. The differences are ones of administration not whether or not one holds the priesthood and one does not – IMHO.

    Reference D&C88:13. The priesthood is the power of God and it is given equally to men and women, but clearly, with differences. One requires ordination, the other does not. One requires keys to function, while for the most part the other does not. That is why one is not complete without the other. Don’t forget that Joseph F. Smith’s mother administered to her oxen while crossing the plains. That was not a sacriligious act on her part.
    The point being that women are not chattel in any sense of the word. They clearly have a function that men do not have.
    From another perspective, if anyone is getting short changed, it is the man. The one most dearly clung to and acknowledged for all that is good by their offspring, is the woman. What is the benefit to the man after all is said and done?
    As for section132 – women are still not chattel. One of their roles is to bring the spirits from the pre-earth existence into mortality (in partnership with God). The fact that one man has the opportunity to marry them makes you wonder what happened to all the other men that didn’t have the same opportunity. What about them?
    Priesthood is not just about who is ordained and who isn’t. It is about carrying out the work of the Lord. Men have their place. Women have theirs. Vive le difference!
    Ergo, the fulness of the priesthood comes when a man and a woman are sealed for eternity and not one instant before, for either of them.

  37. Rosalynde Welch
    January 31, 2005 at 7:40 pm

    Larry, I appreciate the spirit in which your comments are offered. And I agree that while women do not hold office in the priesthood, they do (very occasionally) officiate in the priesthood. But it still seems absurd to me to argue that the priesthood is somehow distributed equally between the genders; it is clearly not. Both genders are blessed by the priesthood, yes, and both can receive the highest degrees of exaltation through priesthood ordinances, of course. I can even make a pretty good argument that power is distributed equitably in LDS versions of patriarchy, and I am certainly not campaigning for the brethren to start ordaining women. But to argue that in the current arrangement both men and women hold the priesthood is highly unsatisfying to me.

  38. Christian Cardall
    January 31, 2005 at 10:16 pm

    Mike, Rosalynde, enjoyed your thoughts. I’m beyond serious response tonight and will try tomorrow. (Gym, Family Home Evening, and `24′ again.)

  39. Sheri Lynn
    February 1, 2005 at 12:25 am

    I’ve been reproved for my suggestion that males are on probationary status from the start, required to accomplish many more positive and strictly defined acts in order to attain celestial glory than are women. They must hold and exercise the priesthood and in a certain way. Their gate is straiter, their way narrower, or so I believe. I see women in the Church as having both more freedom and less stringently defined obligations (if no less demanding or important!) At any rate I’m told I misunderstand something very important if I can believe that. Still my understanding of the concept of “probation” seems to apply to masculine roles in the Church.

    So I’ll let that go and say that I’ve coveted and been coveted, and it’s not always easy to be properly sorry for that! As long as it’s a passing thought, a compliment, a polite pass–and not outright stalking!

    “House” used to mean something more than it means now. Now it is a usually mortgaged residence and few of us expect to stay there for life. Our rights to use the property are severely limited by government in many ways. We must pay taxes and interest, or we will lose what we call “ours,” and we must paint it acceptable colors and maintain it to code. Once, owning a house was like having a kingdom to rule. Once, a patriarch fully ruled over one’s household and all who lived there. To have no home or to be at the mercy of a landlord was to be in terrible condition indeed. It’s not like that any more. If the value of women has changed, so also has the value and meaning of the house.

    I drive past a lovely little bit of acreage every now and again. There is a perfect house on that place, a great shop building, a nice pond, other buildings and small barns I know I could use. It’s exactly the kind of homestead I’ve always wanted. Am I coveting that property? Maybe. But it also just gives me pleasure to see something so well done, so well cared-for, so obviously loved. It’s just beautiful, nearly celestially so. Someone is indeed a worthy steward of what the Lord has given him or her, and I don’t want to TAKE it away and have it for myself. I just think, I’d like to have a place like that someday. I’d like to earn it.

    Goodnight all.

  40. Mark Martin
    February 1, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the stewardship perspective on Alma 7:27 and OT commandments. That makes a lot of sense.

  41. Kaimi
    February 1, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    Your comment made me laugh, Sheri.

    I’ll remember that coveting is okay, as long as it doesn’t devolve into stalking.

  42. Christian Cardall
    February 2, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    Mike (#32): My best answer – and perhaps it’s a less than satisfactory one – is that the Lord wants us to be obedient to his commandments, regardless of whether or not we see the reason behind them.

    Thanks, Mike. This is probably one of the few answers one can arrive at from within a fully orthodox perspective.

    I have trouble relating directly to the experiences of Adam and sacrifice, and also Abraham and Isaac; while they willingly obeyed apparently strange commands, at least they knew for certain it was God doing the commanding. With obedience to prophets, there’s an added layer of uncertainty as to the source of the commandment. Wondering why God would make determining who (if any) the true prophets are such an important part of this mortal probation is a question that impacts my faith, because it doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with what we’ll supposedly be doing in eternity, and therefore strikes at the heart of the rationale for the plan of salvation. It seems like a diversion from the more relevant issue of testing our ability to become charitable. I’m bewildered as to why our ability to become charitable couldn’t be tested without a veil over premortal memory, with a more open heavens, etc. In this light, things like the veil over premortal memory, the method of `chosen vessels’, etc. seem like convenient (but spurious) artifices.

    As for Joseph and the flexibility of God’s commands: Lucky for him, as the one holder of keys, he could do and implement what he felt was compelling, and was free to interpret whatever seemed compelling to him as `revelation.’ He wasn’t much in the habit of `counseling with his councils’ when it came to revealing and implementing new ideas.

  43. Christian Cardall
    February 2, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    P.S. Rosalynde: I will respond to your weighty #33, but am taking some time to think about it.

  44. Rosalynde Welch
    February 2, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    Christian, I can put up with almost anything, especially from you, but “weighty”?

  45. Christian Cardall
    February 2, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    LOL, Rosalynde, maybe a totally accidental and subconscious cross-influence from the other thread—but I assure you I speak only of intellectual heft!

  46. Christian Cardall
    February 3, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Rosalynde (#33): I have neither desire nor intention to defend the practice of plural marriage…my views on eternal marriage and polygamy are somewhat unorthodox, I suspect.

    Do share, sometime, please!

    [More later on your #33—can’t get enough of that thang, that weighty (or should I say weighty) #33—but I’m beginning to get addicted to this new blogging thing, and I just spent most of my newly-self-imposed-quota this morning over at M*.

    I’m sure it’s been done ad nauseum, but perhaps many could benefit from a refresher discussion on help with blog addiction, or maybe from a HELPFUL HINTS FOR THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF BLOG ADDICTION (Important-Please read before reading any comments) posted just above the COMMENT POLICIES (Important – Please read before making any commments [sic]) on the sidebar.]

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