Wednesday, July 1, 2020

D&C 25: The Fantastic Mrs. Smith

God has some words of instruction for Emma, the "elect lady" to whom the prophet of the restoration owes a great deal.  Spoiler alert:  this is not the most forward-thinking, feminist-allied, equality-driven text ever to be attributed to God.  I think we've all certainly heard much worse, but it's still not great.

Conditional Lineage
This section introduces an objectionable concept right out of the gate:

Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.

I'll say it again...God is a shitty parent.  Here, he explains that the reason he calls Emma his daughter is because she's accepted his gospel.  Look, my actual, non-spiritual, biological dad and I have had our differences, but he considers me his son because I'm his literal offspring regardless of whether I've followed in his footsteps or made life choices he disagrees with.  If God is really a loving parent, Emma should be called his daughter not because she's accepted the gospel but because she's his spiritual offspring.

Mysterious Ways
Verse 4 contains another one of God's non-answer answers to the concerns of one of his potential followers:

Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.

Wow.  Don't have concerns that you have no evidence for this stuff, because the very mechanism for which you have no evidence assures you that there's a very good reason for the lack of evidence.

With circular logic like this, who needs circular logic?

Women's Work
When God gets around to explaining to Emma what her role will be in building his kingdom it''s a bit disappointing (verse 5):

And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.

Uh, that's not a divine calling.  That's just being a good spouse.  And this does kind of come across as sexist.  If she's really such an elect lady, why is her job just to make the man in charge feel better?  Elect ladies can do other things in addition to being doting wives.  They can even get elected to things.

That's probably the sloppiest pun setup I've ever been guilty of in my entire life.  And that's saying something.

Women's Work II
God starts to get into more detail about Emma's duties and says some stuff that really doesn't sound like the kind of thing God would say through his apostolic mouthpieces these days (verse 7):

And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.

Oh, here we go!  Now she gets to do more stuff!  Maybe she really is elect!  Or maybe not?  The phraseology here is interesting.  Ordained?  Under Joseph's hand?  Sounds kinda like a laying on of hands to receive a priesthood office.  But she's a woman, so that idea is ludicrous, right?

Perhaps she's a glorified Sunday school teacher or something.  That's still cooler than "make Joseph feel better" but still underwhelming considering how awesome God says she is. 

Women's Work III
Emma gets a special assigning in verses 11 and 12:

And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

God's reaaaaally playing up that hymnal to make it sound like he gave her an important job, isn't he?  She can't serve a mission, she can't heal the sick, she can't lead men, she can't baptize (that we know of), but she gets to pick the hymns, so...she's got that going for her, which is nice.

This is definitely better than nothing, but remember that the office of her calling is to comfort her husband.

Parting Wisdom
In his closing remarks, God imparts this gem (verse 14):

Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him.

Be humble, beware of pride, and rejoice that your husband is super awesome.  There's a baked-in hypocrisy here considering that the same person telling her to be humble and beware of pride is the person on whom the stated glory will be bestowed.

But don't forget your husband is totally the coolest.  What a life for Emma.

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