Thursday, July 2, 2015

An Interesting Take on Wives Giving Themselves to Husbands in the Temple

I have read and been in involved in multiple conversations in my life about the wording in the temple where the wife gives herself to her husband and the husband takes her unto himself.   I know quite a few women who don't like that wording - who feel that it is sexist and offensive, since the husband doesn't give himself to his wife, as well.  I would have no problem whatsoever if the wording was changed to a more modern version of how most people view marriage now as a mutual giving and taking, but the following has helped me not be upset in any way about the current wording. 

I am not a young man by any stretch, and I know a woman who I think is old enough to be my grandmother.  I would guess she is in her 90's - which means her parents were born a few years before or after the turn of the century - around 1900. Those parents had grandparents who were alive during the Nauvoo period.

I asked this woman once about the temple wording addressed in this post, and the following is what she said, in my own summary wording:

Back then, they talked about sex in terms of taking and giving. They believed consent couldn't be "taken". Rather, it had to be "given". If a woman wasn't willing to "give herself" to a man, sex with her was not appropriate - since she would have been "taken" without permission. It was a way to put power in the hands of a woman in a physical situation where she most often could have been powerless.

Thus, in order for a marriage to be seen as legitimate, the woman FIRST had to "give herself" to the man BEFORE that man could "take her unto himself".

I thought that was fascinating - that what we tend to see as discriminatory against women was seen by this older woman as a wonderful construct to give her power and protection when she wouldn't have had those things otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find myself in agreement with your grandmotherly friend. As I read her comments, I thought of the Annunciation. Growing up as a Protestant, I was taught that Gabriel was sent to Mary to tell her what would happen, but it seems to me that hit was sent to obtain her consent. Both the sealing ceremony & the Annunciation are couched in the terms of the day, but taken together, they seem to show that Our Heavenly Father cares deeply about the consent of His daughters.