Valerie Hudson Cassler is a feminist—and “as a feminist, I remain a steadfast member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church. Hudson Cassler, who converted to The Church of Jesus Christ from Roman Catholicism, writes, “How remarkable and in some senses ironic it still seems to me to have experienced ‘women’s lib’ by conversion to Mormonism!”

Men and Women are Equal Before God

 Hudson Cassler shares what she believes are “the main points of doctrine that make Mormonism the most feminist of all the Christianities.”

 “The Restored Gospel teaches that the term ‘God’ means an exalted woman and an exalted man married in the new and everlasting covenant (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20—the Doctrine and Covenants is a book of modern revelation). We are taught that there is no God without men and women loving each other as equals. …”

“The Restored Gospel teaches that all will have their male or female body forever. It is not a curse, but a great gift and a blessing that each soul had to prove itself worthy to have. … And the Restored Gospel also teaches me that I will be married forever, and that I will have children forever, and that the life of being a woman married to my sweetheart and having children forever is the life that will bring me the fullest joy in the eternities—as it is here on earth.” Also, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ “teaches that men and women are equals before the Lord and before each other. ‘Equal’ does not mean ‘identical.’ …”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, a late president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ, said: “In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”

Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (a governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ) said:

 “There is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.”

“What an incredible vision, especially for a Christian denomination, many of which believe in some type of doctrine of submission of wives to husbands. The [Latter-day Saints] do not preach submission of wives.”

 The Garden of Eden

Hudson Cassler also shares her insights on the revolutionary doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ through the story of the Garden of Eden—told from a Latter-day Saint viewpoint. There are 3 main points of difference from this perspective:

“Number one, [members of The Church of Jesus Christ] do not believe that the Fall was a great tragedy. Rather, we believe that the Fall was foreordained, that it was for our  progression, and thus the Fall was a blessing. Number two, the [Latter-day Saints] do not believe that Eve sinned partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And number three, because the [Latter-day Saints] do not believe Eve sinned, we also do not believe that Eve was punished by God for her role in partaking of the fruit, but rather rewarded.”

Eve Highlights Women’s Divine Role as Mothers and Nurturers

test cslewiseducation mortality lfThrough Eve and her daughters, all of Heavenly Father’s children who proved worthy will receive a body and come to earth. What an amazing contribution! “It is through women that souls journey to mortality and gain their agency, and in general it is through the nurturing of women, their nurturing love of their children, that the light of Christ is awakened within each soul….”

But what of the “transgression” of Eve? Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“When Adam and Eve received the first commandment, they were in a transitional state, no longer in the spirit world but with physical bodies not yet subject to death and not yet capable of procreation. They could not fulfill the Father’s first commandment without transgressing the barrier between the bliss of the Garden of Eden and the terrible trials and wonderful opportunities of mortal life. For reasons that have not been revealed, this transition, or ‘fall,’ could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a law. [See Moses 6:59. The Book of Moses is in the Pearl of Great Price, a book of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ.] This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose. …

“Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.”

Eve Was Blessed—Not Cursed

 Mother Eve, then, was “the best among women! She was the most courageous, the most full of faith.”  And she was the most deserving of the title “the Mother of all living.”

“Did God curse Eve? We know that the ground was cursed for the sake of Adam and Eve—is this a cursing of Adam and Eve? In the teachings of [The Church of Jesus Christ], we do not believe that that was a curse meant to punish them—it was a curse meant to start that law of opposites that undergirds agency (2 Nephi 2:11-13 in the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ and a companion scripture to the Bible). Eve was told she would labor in childbirth—was this a cursing of Eve? Again, from the [Latter-day Saint] perspective, absolutely not. To have children, to be able to fully give the gift of Eve, is one of the most soul-satisfying parts of a woman’s life that she will either experience here or in the hereafter if circumstances have prohibited it here.”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and his wife, Marie, wrote:

“The incorrect idea in Christian history that wives should be dependent began with the false premise that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a tragic mistake and that Eve was the primary culprit. Thus women’s traditional submission to men was considered a fair punishment for Eve’s sin. Thankfully, the Restoration clarifies Eve’s—and Adam’s—choice as essential to the eternal progression of God’s children. We honor rather than condemn what they did, and we see Adam and Eve as equal partners.

Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to ‘rule over’ Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. A ruler can be a measuring tool that sets standards. Then Adam would live so that others may measure the rightness of their conduct by watching his. Being a ruler is not so much a privilege of power as an obligation to practice what a man preaches. Also, over in ‘rule over’ uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over.   … The concept of interdependent equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel.”

 The Family is Central in God’s Plan

The family is the divine organization, and, as the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ have said, husbands and wives lead the families as equal partners. President James E. Faust, then a member of the First Presidency (a governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ) said: “Every father is to his family a patriarch and every mother a matriarch as coequals in their distinctive parental roles.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“There might be wards (congregations) and stakes (administered groups of congregations) in heaven—I don’t know anything about them—or there may well be some other organization that we don’t know much about. What we do know will exist in heaven is families. And most of what has been revealed about our afterlife, our eternal life, our celestial life, focuses on family organization. …” [Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, LDS Church, February 9, 2008, p. 12]

Hudson Cassler concludes:

“I remain a steadfast member of the Mormon Church because, for the first time in my life, I understand why it is not a curse to be born a woman, and how it can be said with a straight face that men and women stand before God and before each other as true equals. I understand now that women [and men] are that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25).”

About Lisa M.
I am a wife and mother of 4 beautiful children in a small town in the mountains of Idaho. We ski as a family in the winter and camp, fish, and go to the beach in the summer. I’m a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I am grateful for the Savior and the blessings of the gospel in my life.

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