Michel Foucault traces the West’s shift in concern from sexual acts to sexual desires to second-century Greek thought, a shift which was fully embraced and completed by Christianity, in his series, The History of Sexuality.  This transition to concern for desires, the interrogation of desires, the confession of desires, and the hermeneutics of desire inform the modern conceptualization of the self, specifically the idea that our desires, when they are properly known to us through the act of interpreting them, reveal the “truth” about ourselves. While the ancients had developed a system of regulating desires, the specific contribution of Christianity was the hermeneutics of the self.
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Women as the True Disciples and Apostles of Christ in the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark, written c. 65-70 C.E., is the earliest of the four gospels (even being edited and reused as a source text for the Gospels of Luke and Matthew), and offers a unique perspective among the gospels on the meaning of discipleship and following Jesus. [1]  Mark places heavy emphasis on the suffering(s) and death of Jesus, and understands true Christian discipleship in terms of literally following Jesus’ example through experiencing and enduring suffering and persecution for the gospel (Mark 8.34; 10.28). Continue reading “Women as the True Disciples and Apostles of Christ in the Gospel of Mark”

Neither Male Nor Female

Galatians 3:28 is certainly the most important biblical text in feminist and anti-feminist interpretation in the last century.  This text promises that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  The last pair in this list, male and female, has proven the most controversial.  While most comemntators accept relatively straightforwardly that social divisions between ethnicities and economic/legal categories have no place, the division between the sexes has proven more difficult to reconcile.  I offer a brief sketch of recent positions that have been taken on this text.

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A Feminist Response to Valerie Hudson

Valerie Hudson Cassler’s recent defense of heterosexual-only marriage offers a heteronormative account of human relationships that pits (heterosexual) women against homosexuals, where “the possibility of human freedom and peace” hang in the balance.[1] However, Hudson’s article suffers from the typical problems of heteronormative feminism, which as been critiqued since the 1980’s in American feminist circles,[2] not only because it denies the label of “woman” to the lesbian, but also because it restricts the possibility of women’s freedom as lying exclusively in the realm of heterosexual, reproductive relationships.

I would like to examine Hudson’s claims on alternative feminist grounds, critiquing not only her implicit gender essentialism which imagines women’s freedom as only possible within reproductive relationships, but her impoverished view of “gender equality.” Further, I intend to examine Hudson’s statist view of marriage which conceives of state power over marriage having the explicit goal of encouraging marriages which it deems to be in its interest.
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Enos Envy and Psychospiritual Development

The Book of Mormon’s first-person story of Enos, the inheritor of the prophetic mantle who lacked a testimony until his spiritual experience in the wilderness, contains within it a powerful narrative about spiritual development. It is an account of the libidinal drive for testimony after emerging from a latency period, which constitutes his prophetic subjectivity (leaving aside the particularly masculine elements of the narrative).
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Gender, Mormonism, and Transsexuality

The declaration that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” is presumably attempted to rebut the second-wave feminist articulation of the sex/gender dichotomy which sees sex as natural and gender as culturally/socially constructed, and therefore malleable. While it is perhaps unclear that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is theoretically sophisticated enough to be aware of the sex/gender distinction that emerged in the 1970’s starting with the work of Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (1970), it is nevertheless situated in a historical moment in which these terms escape easy definition. Indeed, the definition of such terms is in fact the most contested element of feminist theory, and the failure to articulate any precise definition opens the text up to multiple interpretations.
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Open Letter to Protesters of LDS Support of Prop 8

Dear Protesters,
It has been a frustrating week. You’re angry, maybe even irate. I understand. The courts recognized marriage as a right for same sex couples, and that right was lost in a close battle in the ballot box. Though Mormons make up a small amount of the total votes in favor of Prop 8, you hold them responsible for much of the fund-raising, canvassing, and phone-banking for the Yes on 8 campaign. Mormons seem like the easiest and most obvious targets for your anger. You have chosen to protest outside of Mormon temples and meetinghouses to express your anger, including petty vandalism, and to produce inflammatory commercials. I suggest that you seriously reconsider this doomed-to-failure strategy as accomplishing exactly the opposite goals that you intend.

It has been a long haul since Stonewall. Protests and marches have been a critical part of the gay liberation movement’s success. Though the courts have been an integral aspect of the movement’s strategy, public demonstrations remain a key element in consciousness raising and public relations. The problem in this instance is that protests only confirm the fears of the Yes on 8 vote.

I think that a major political miscalculation has been made by the No on 8 folks. While some, perhaps even a great deal, of the Yes on 8 vote can be reduced to homophobia or bigotry, the biggest reason for many religious groups’ opposition to same-sex marriage is the fear that they will eventually be forced to perform same-sex marriages in the future. This is quite likely an absurd fear, one not grounded in sound legal reasoning, but it is a sincerely-held concern. In this view, to vote in favor of same sex marriage is to vote against the future viability of religious freedom. Your job is to convince a majority of voters that this is not the case.

The problem with protesting Mormon places of worship is that it only substantiates these fears that homosexuals are out to destroy religious freedom. When you picket Mormon temples where marriages are performed, block the entrances, and yell at them as they prepare to worship, it seems to confirm the assumption that you are trying to tear down religious marriages and interfere with the free-exercise of religion. When you make inflammatory commercials, it raises the defensiveness of Mormons who have been vilified in American political life since their beginning. These actions are worse than ineffective in convincing the electorate to support gay marriage; they are actually extremely destructive to your cause. For years to come opponents of gay marriage will be able to point to the harassment of Mormons that has occurred over the last few weeks as definitive evidence that gay people oppose religion, seek to impose their marriages on religious institutions, and will choose to vilify religious people. This is a public relations disaster for you. Instead of being able to be the persecuted minority, you have begun to appear as the rabid haters of religion that many fear you to be.

I do not know who is organizing these protests, but I strongly urge any who will listen to stop and reconsider a cooperative approach that will ease the fears of religious people and institutions that same-sex marriage will infringe on religious liberty instead of enacting it.


[Added: This post is has some good coverage on the issue]
[Added: Some good news]