Finally Feminist–and How

Susan Wise Bauer has a review of (what sounds like) an interesting book.

Stackhouse, the author of Finally Feminist, presents an exegetical model for understanding the oppression of women in Christianity. His way out of patriarchy and into egalitarianism–while still maintaining the authority of scripture–is one that does (and should) appeal to many evangelicals. And it isn’t hard to see how, with minor tweaking, his argument could work in a Mormon context. I’d love to see y’all explore in the comments here how that might play out.

Bauer’s reflections on the relationship between women’s rights, gay rights, slavery, and the slippery slope argument are also intriguing.

That’s all I’m going to say–I want you to go read the review and then return and report.

5 comments for “Finally Feminist–and How

  1. January 21, 2007 at 2:07 am

    The argument isn’t needed nearly as much in the Mormon context because the Mormons rely on a living prophet rather than on the primacy of the Bible. I would guess that Mormons worry much less over puzzling biblical passages because of this.

    As for the slippery slope, she seems to me to be sidestepping rather than engaging that argument.

  2. Julie M. Smith
    January 21, 2007 at 11:11 am


    I think the argument could work with slight modification in a Mormon context: God can’t completely override a living prophet’s cultural baggage and/or the baggage of the Saints and/or potential church members. Of course, there are times when I find this argument less than compelling: you mean to tell me that God could override the culture by telling the prophet to ask the people to take more than one wife but couldn’t override the culture to ordain African Americans? Doubtful!

  3. January 21, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I think the argument made by the book and review is quite convincing. That’s exactly what I already believed, though without the detailed knowledge of scriptures shown. I think the argument will be a positive force among Protestant Christians, because they take scriptures as their only living prophet. It’s interesting to me that the Sikhs, who do the same, trace a line of gurus from the founding of the religion, down to the guru now which is their scriptures, yet equality is a founding tenet of their religion, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. It would seem that in the right circumstances, God can teach people higher principles in a more explicit way than he’s able to convey them to others.

    Perhaps this argument explains why the various religions don’t agree in all their tenets. Each prophet is able to accept and understand a different subset of the fullness of God’s message. Why our LDS prophets have been given the keys and priesthood authority, I’m not sure, though I expect there are different powers granted to other religions, too. God never promised us he would *not* grant powers outside those we are given.

    Who knows why and to what extent God decides to override local culture. This may have something to do with the particular mix required to not press any soul further than it can bear. It seems to me that God works with us only in ways that are fully collaborative, so edicts must be rare.

  4. January 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Julie, very interesting review. I am already familiar with Bauer as we have used many of the ideas she presents in Well-Trained Mind in our homeschool, so hearing more of her point of view was welcome. I agree with your thoughts and much of what Bauer said as well although, obviously, our world views are quite different.

    Yes, we have a living prophet, but we also have a precedent that shows that God very rarely changes course without those prophets making the first move. How many sections in the D&C were the direct result of a prophet’s question to the Lord? How many were instances where God just decided that he had to set things straight and sent someone to inform us of the error of our ways?

    Generally speaking, God seems to initiate the instruction when it’s crucial to his plan, not when the result will make it more convenient for a few folks in Idaho.

    In other words, as I’ve said before and as far as I can tell from what is revealed publicly, the traditional gender division in the church has been accepted as the appropriate and correct model. While I realize that the Council of the Twelve doesn’t publish it’s meeting agenda or minutes, I haven’t seen an indication that anyone who is in a position to make any such changes, has ever **questioned** the division. And if they don’t, we aren’t likely to see a change–even if it might be allowable or warranted.

    When I was a child and began to understand the implications of the gender differences in the church, I also began to wonder if the scriptures and God’s promised (and commandments!) actually applied to me. I have heard prophets declare that they do apply to women many times, but the truth is, only SOME of them do–and usually there isn’t some flashing red light that says, “OK, everything applies to you but THIS part.” I just have to trust that somewhere along the line someone with authority actually questioned the cultures from which these exceptions filtered and that it was confirmed to them that they should continue AND that if they asked the same questions today, the answers would be the same…even though I have no record of it and even though discussion of the issue in our church is usually deemed just a tad heretical.

  5. January 21, 2007 at 10:43 pm


    I think your argument about polygamy is very compelling. It is odd to my sensibilities that the Church overrode the prevailing culture in a serious way in that case while showing what seems to be to be little leadership (to put it mildly) on issues surrounding race. I wonder how the growth of the church would have been affected if we had rallied around ending slavery and civil rights rather than polygamy.

    While I certainly agree that there are passages of the Bible that are a reflection of the culture rather than inspired, or perhaps inspired with the intent of simply not rocking the boat, it seems to me that if the scriptures were intended to be applicable well into the future that it would be prudent to simply be silent on such subjects, or even a little forward looking.

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