One man from Meadow, Wash. back in 1899 tries to answer Geistweit’s question . . .
The question is asked by Brother Geistweit, how it is possible that women will listen, for a moment, to Mormon missionaries, when the heaviest burdens of its woe fall on themselves. First. It is ignorance of the Bible and ignorance concerning the history and tenets of Mormonism. The majority of people (women as well as men) are satisfied to take their knowledge of scripture second hand. A small minority search the scripture to see if these things be so. Again, books like Mrs. Stenhouse’s life and “The Faith of Madam La Tour,” are not found easily accessible through church or Sunday-school libraries for the instruction of our growing youth. No one could read these books or others like them, and have any desire left to join the Latter Day Saints.
Second. False ideals of marriage abound. The notion of the “ewig mannliche and ewig weibliche,” borrowed by the German poets from the mists of paganism, are foreign to Christian ideas on this important subject. Yet some of the books in our Sunday-school libraries to-day rave about the eternity of marriage. God said: “The twain shall be one flesh” and the proof thereof is that death, or sin its equivalent, should be all that had power to dissolve the relation. The very word sex implies a division of power. This belongs only to our earth life, for the inner man, regenerated and growing toward a perfect manhood in Christ Jesus has never suffered a division of any of its powers.
Third. The doctrine, old as sin and strong as death, that man rules woman by divine right is believed. Gen. 3:16 is taken not as a prophecy to Eve, but as a command to Adam to subdue his wife. The absurdity of calling the curse the original condition of woman is apparent. As long as God’s law was unbroken, peace and harmony prevailed. As soon as it was broken another law began to operate, called all through the word: the law of sin and death. This law is in evidence all around us and works out the survival of the fittest (brute). The law of Christ which is to restore all things is love. By the self sacrifice of the strong for the weak a more glorious harmony than the original will be brought about.
The D.D.’s and L.L.D.’s who taught in our Sunday-school helps that the text “wives submit yourselves” proves that nature and revelation are against the equality of the sexes, lost an excellent opportunity of teaching the very essence of Christianity. For no one, male or female, bond or free–who has not learned self-submission for the good of others has yet at all learned Christ. Self-submission is indeed the heart of a Christian life.
It was Phillips Brooks who said: “One-half of the world was never meant to rule the other half: each is born to serve and each is born to rule.” This sounds enigmatical to the world, but not so to spiritual ears.
It is not only important to discriminate between inspired word and inspired record, but also between the literal acts and the principles contained in the same. The former are local, the latter universal in power of application. That this doctrine of woman’s subjection is ingrained in the natural man (both male and female) does not need assertion. To call the disorder of sin, the order of God bears its reward. Also that the teaching of this doctrine does aid the Mormons in reaching women cannot be denied.
It has also been said (by men) that if women had only presented a united front against polygamy it would have died at birth. The history of this people shows us that polygamy was first openly promulgated on the plains out of reach of hindrance or help from civil law. The women who rebelled had the choice of death from starvation, Indians or wild beasts. Escape there was none. Some had children whom they could not bring themselves to forsake. Others again hoped against hope that their husbands would remain true and faithful to one wife. Alas, the greatest number discovered that law alone had kept them decent! Remember polygamy was never taught (except to a trusted few) outside of Utah, only in the case of the emigrant party, of which Brigham Young was himself a member. Hundreds of woman whose eyes were never opened until they reached the “promised land,” went mad; some committed suicide, some even first killing their children. Only the judgment day will reveal the horrors, sorrows and intense miseries of these deluded women. That their daughters suffered less is no doubt true, for the familiarity lessens the ugliness of sin.
We fear the Chinaman with his joss house, but the Chinaman could make a shining and worthy citizen compared to a member of the Mormon Church–who dares not keep any oath to his country, which conflicts with the fearful oaths he has taken in the Endowment House.
We need to awaken! The best literature at any price, should be sown broadcast throughout the land. We should send so many missionaries that every ward in their cities and towns, every district and country hamlet could have at least one consecrated individual to speak with no uncertain sound on the Christian marriage relation. To help them now to the bread of life is to save our country alive; with all that this means to us. Liberty to serve Christ, not license to sin. – S.L.W.C.
– Taken from The Standard (the Chicago Baptist Weekly, May 13, 1899)