And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.”489
Collective decision-making (the vote of the people) is not necessarily rational or “righteous.” The content of collective decisions is often determined by the particulars or processes of the decision-making process, not by any consistent set of values or morals. Sometimes the outcome of a collective decision can be changed by changing the order in which the choices are presented to the deciding group490, or by changing the paths in which the information flows within the decision-making organization491, or by changing the penalties that individuals fear from being on the wrong side of an eventual outcome492—or by many other factors all procedural or emotional determinants that have nothing to do with right and wrong. Hence, it is easily imaginable that the time may come when the “voice of the people doth choose iniquity.” Simply by recurring to the “voice of the people” does not wash an iniquitous choice. In 1859, Mormon apostle (later president of the church) John Taylor reinforced this teaching:
“We talk sometimes about Vox populi, vox Dei—the voice of the people is the voice of God; yet, sometimes it is the voice of the Devil, which would be more proper by Vox populi, vox diaboli, for the voice of the people is frequently the voice of the Devil. In the first place, it should be the voice of God, and then the voice of the people.”493 Yet in California, the church has made precisely this appeal on the grounds of “religious liberty”:
In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2 008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.494
The decision of the California Supreme Court was based on the fact that the California voters had chosen a measure that violated the state constitution495, specifically its passages that mirror the US “inspired” Constitution. They had, in Book of Mormon terminology, attempted, without the device of a proper constitutional convention, to “alter a few particular points of the law.”496 Given the supremacy of the Constitution and of constitutional law in both law and Mormon theology, this is disturbing. The dangers of such entanglements can be read in some words of former church President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I know of no other writing [besides the Book of Mormon] which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.”497 Within this context, the 2004 First Presidency “Statement on Same-Gender Marriage” and its surrounding events, which occurred during a time of “terrible wars,” can be seen at their most problematical. The “Statement” was issued, as noted earlier, just weeks prior to the US presidential election of 2004 at the height of the campaign between incumbent President George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry. The two central issues of the campaign were “moral and cultural values” and the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush won the election in substantial part based on “moral and cultural values,” and eleven states at the same time ratified measures outlawing same-sex marriage.498 The truth can be derived from these facts is that the neo-Christian (including neo-Mormon) definition of “moral values” and “morality” is mostly if not entirely sexual: stem-cell embryos, abortion, same-sex marriage--and nothing more. The fact that there was nothing said about war, for example, being a “moral” issue demonstrates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a campaign issue, but only a political issue—not one of the "moral" issues. "Morality" has become a code word for “sexual.” “Political correctness” now means “sexual correctness” and “marital correctness”—and when coupled with politics, “martial correctness.”499 The difficulty with this, speaking in doctrinal terms, is that it is symptomatic of Babylon. Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley writes about such correctnesses:
“A favorite trick [of Satan] is to put the whole blame on sex. Sex can be a pernicious appetite, but it runs a poor second to the other For example: We are wont to think of Sodom as the original sexpot, but according to all accounts ‘this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom’: that great wealth made her people cruel and self-righteous. The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism.”500 Thus, in place of, or in addition to, the political power of the “military-industrial complex,” we now have the sexual-religious complex, the purpose of which is to enshrine heterosexual romanticism and correctness in the law. When coupled with the “awesome power of sex,”501 and when promulgated by activist churches, such religious and ecclesiastical correctnesses, like political correctness, become a religious test as qualification for office and public trust, contrary to Article VI, clause 3 of the Constitution, but of almost unbeatable power and tenacity.
Such tests take many forms. The modern equivalents of tests, such as peer pressure, enforced orthodoxy, and subscription to a particular set of religious mores or tenets, demonstrate the same sacrilegious denial of faith by the “faithful.”502 This is something new, something of a departure from traditional thought about religious tests. The test question today is not so much “Do you subscribe to a particular church or sect?” but “Do you subscribe to a particular orthodox tenet shared by a majority of sects?” In other words, the question posed is not Are you churched? But Are you correctly teneted? Do you hate the right people? Do you share the right enemies? As globalization and global corporations (including the global corporate churches) have transcended national boundaries, so also has tenetism transcended sectarian boundaries. It is now tenets that matter more than denominations. We are witnessing a nationalization of tenetism. We recall the words of Mormon apostle Russell M. Nelson cited earlier: “If the state allows dominance of any one religious institution over another, discrimination results, allowing unequal treatment and regrettable restriction of other religious societies.”503 This is very carefully crafted to avoid the reality (and the problem) of the state yielding to the inclinations not of particular sects or denominations but of their shared tenets.
Professor Bradley notes that in the early American Republic, the chief function of the ‘Christian only’ sign at a public office door was to identify the shared religious commitment of the people, thereby defining them as a community.”504 He notes that this was a “contitutionalized Golden Rule…’Constrain yourself as you would constrain others,’”505 because, as a Massachusetts cleric put it: “most of men, somehow are rigidly tenacious of their own sentiments in religion, and disposed to impose them upon others as the standard of truth.”506 Hence, Article VI was an expression of the idea that the “instinct to be free of oppression is stronger than the temptation to oppress.”507 A moment’s reflection, however, reveals how such governmental-political devices are exactly contrary to the statement of Jesus: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples indeed, if ye have love one to another.”508 The test of a political oath is a stigma, not proof of a Christian “community.” The only true test is love. In the specifically Mormon context, such impoverished political definitions cannot be squared with the teachings of either the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants. As but one example, D&C 98:16 and 105:38 et seq. command the people to “renounce war and proclaim peace,” even to an enemy who has attacked them:
“And again I say unto you, sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; And lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth; And make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you, according to the voice of the Spirit which is in you, and all things shall work together for your good.509 Paul wrote to Timothy: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”510 This echoes the “peaceable things of the kingdom” spoken by Jesus in Mormon scripture.511 The Book of Mormon teaches that the proper action toward prisoners of war is to “preach the gospel to them.”512 This might be thought to follow ineluctably from the appellation of Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace.”513 Yet during the 2004 campaign (and much more the 2008 campaign) nobody in the churches (Mormons included) raised any points along these lines. Peace was not on the agenda. There was nothing said about the wars said in the church’s October general conference. For the last two weeks leading up to the election, only the “Statement on Same-Gender Marriage” appeared on the church's Web page so as to instruct the faithful how to vote—while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the genocides in Sudan and countless similar places) raged on, as did HIV/AIDS, poverty, rape, famine, pestilence, and murder. It is difficult to argue that the idea of “moral values” is not confused here. By definition, the meaning of “moral” in Mormon scripture is far broader and encompasses much more than sex. For example, in discussing the nature and meaning of constitutional law, with particular reference to human bondage and slavery,514Doctrine and Covenants 101 states that conduct must be:
“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
“That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”515 References to the “divinely inspired Constitution” are common in Mormon doctrine516, as is the duty to obey the law. Those “wise men” whom God raised up for the purpose of framing the Constitution built into that document and the government it created the separation of church and state, and made it the “supreme law of the land.”517 “[H]e that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”518 The new “moral agency” that reifies the fullness of “morality” to mean sexuality is the new circumcision, the “continuation of the [male] seeds forever,”519 and the new shibboleth—in other words, the new “religious test.” In this climate, a religious test is a sexual test, and vice versa. It takes the eye off other and more pressing questions of morality (war, for example), and it has its roots deep in Biblical and Mormon patriarchy, and, like the Shibboleth of old, it is the modern form of identity politics. It is the precise vision of these male sexual images—the vision of penises—to which we must now turn.
Chapter 8: Penile Correctness & Knowing “Where It Goes”
“The criminal law regulates, sanctions, and provides a legitimate satisfaction for the passion of revenge; the criminal law stands to the passion of revenge in much the same relation as marriage to the sexual appetite.”520
At this point, it becomes necessary to speak, write, and think plainly, even graphically, and not euphemistically, about sex—about “body, parts, and passions”—about the law’s power to regulate and sanction these, and even about revenge. We must here be sexually explicit and run the risk, but also incur the necessity, of writing somewhat indelicately and perhaps thereby offending those who may be squeamish about such things. Nevertheless, it is “not a day of many words”521 and “plainness” is the necessary method of discourse.522
All Biblical religions are grounded in sex, stories of sex, and acts of sex. From the Genesis account of (pro)creation to the synoptic gospels’ accounts of the virgin birth, sex is the sine qua non of the founding stories of these religions. They cannot be taught, discussed, or theologized without reference to sex, and this in turn requires a reference to marriage. Mormonism reifies this basic paradigm by positing a married Jesus and a married Father God. Ever since Yaweh first commanded Abraham to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin523—indeed ever since Adam first “knew” his wife Eve524—the biblical religions have been looking at penises and operating on ecclesiastical testosterone. The penis circumcised and uncircumcised—the “circumcision”—became a central metaphor in both Jewish and Christian teaching to classify and divide people.525 Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with the man, not the woman,526 or if with the woman also, then by a symbol that she could never manifest. To be “circumcised of heart” became associated with love and service to God.527 It is a strictly male image, until, perhaps, Paul writes that “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”528 Even then, the focus is still and always on the penis. As the Waiter says to the young Jewish teenager and others in Arthur Miller’s play, Incident at Vichy, when they are about to be interrogated individually by the Nazis: “They’re going to look at your penis.”529 Nazis always look at penises. For all Abrahamic religions, the penis (and penile correctness) is the religious test par excellence. But it is not just the penis qua penis that matters. It is the lingam, the phallus—the ritualized and reified penis in use, the penis deployed, the penis in place—and the place, the only place, is the vagina. This truth is present everywhere in modern society, and it is especially true in modern religion—its doctrines, its architecture, and its practices. Mormonism is no exception. The monument which the church erected in 1905 to the memory of Joseph Smith at South Royalton, Vermont, near his birthplace, was a granite “polished shaft typical of a perfect man.”530 Indeed, it is said to be “one of the largest polished shafts in the world.”531 Brigham Young’s birthplace at Whitingham, Vermont, is marked by a stone tablet describing him as a “man of much courage and superb equipment.”532
In her short story, “Brokeback Mountain,” Annie Proulx tells of a homosexual love story between two cowboys.533 In the background, narrated in the sparsest prose, are events that reveal the ambient homophobia of the society in which they live. Two of those events are relevant here. The first is a story about a homosexual couple a generation earlier, one of whom was murdered by other men. “‘They’d took a tire iron to him, spurred him up, drug him around by his dick until it pulled off, just bloody pulp.’”534 The second occurs after one of the cowboys dies and the other goes to visit his parents, the homophobic father of whom is a “not uncommon type with the hard need to be the stud duck in the pond.”535 Proulx narrates a reminiscence about his boyhood, when he was three or four and his father beat him and then urinated on him because he had dripped urine on the bathroom floor. “No way to get it right with him after that.”536 What remains of two protagonists’ relationship is the Faulknerian image of two shirts, one belonging to each, the one carefully worked down and hidden inside the other, “the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one.”537 In these stark images, Proulx captures the centrality of the crucial penis and the male angst over how the penis is deployed.
On November 27, 1995, the Hawai’i State Commission on Sexual Orientation and The Law issued a draft of its report on same-sex marriage.538 The Commission was created by the Governor and leading legislators to study the issue after the preliminary ruling in the pending same-sex marriage case, Baehr v. Lewin539 and related legislation. The Commission recommended that legislators change Hawai’i law to allow same-sex couples to marry.540 The Commission also proposed a domestic partnership alternative that would grant all gay and lesbian couples all the rights enjoyed by married couples. The draft was adopted by a majority of the Commissioners in a 5-2 vote. The minority report called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. I was a member of the Commission as well as legal counsel to the Hawai’i House of Representatives at the time.
During several weeks of hearing testimony from members of the public, the Commission had allowed testimony from virtually any citizen who wished to speak. One young presumably heterosexual young man, speaking in opposition to same-sex marriage, told the Commission this: “I’m just glad that every morning when I wake up, I know where it goes.” He spoke this sentence in all seriousness and then sat down. Although I heard him clearly, it took me several minutes to realize the impact of the street slang that he had spoken: He knew of a certainty (presumably unlike homosexuals) every day of his conscious life that “it” (his penis, or penises generally, the lingam) “goes” properly only in a vagina541, and that he was a knower of such knowledge and therefore, by implication, privileged to be in the moral right, along with all others who possess and use such knowledge. At the moment, I was inclined to laugh; indeed, at a break in the hearings, several of us adjourned to a hallway, recalled the incident, and broke out in great laughter.
But as I have pondered the comment through the exigencies of the intervening years, I have come to realize that it captures the essence of a profound and grave truth that circumscribes law, morality, politics, and religion into a single epigram. Those who “know where It goes,” and can project that knowledge, possess and can assimilate to great credibility and political power. They are part of the majority. They possess sacred, powerful, even magic knowledge. Indeed, they possess the “key of knowledge.” Knowing where It goes is the coin of the realm. It is the hidden subtext of genitals in many rather loftier and seemingly nonsexual pronouncements regarding “family,” “family values,” and “marriage.”542 This knowledge holds that the phallus/lingam is mightier than the Word, and it returns the focus of attention away from the New Testament’s emphasis on the mission of Jesus and back to the Old Testament’s focus on the circumcision of the flesh543and the appearance and manipulation of the penis as tantamount to righteousness in the Abrahamic covenant—forgetting all the while that in the gospel, “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God”544, and is in fact done away in Christ.545 It is a form of religious and ecclesiastical voyeurism if not pornography. It is akin to “onanism”546 and masturbation in obsessive focus. It is the imagistic basis of the traditional criminal sodomy statutes prohibiting any sexual intercourse “per os or per anum [by mouth or by anus].”547 To be penised is to be invested, blessed, sanctified, and deified. Power in the state and power in the priesthood become power over the penis and power of the penis—the power to tell all who have a penis what to do with It. “It” should always be written with a capital letter. This is particularly true in Mormonism where God is seen as “an exalted man,”548 i.e., a penised individual. This explains in part the debate over “godless evolution” on the one hand, versus “creationism” and “intelligent design” on the other. Creation, as told in the book of Genesis and other Mormon scripture, is an act by a penised “exalted man” to create another penised man “in our own image,” who then “knew his wife” (King James euphemism for having sexual intercourse with) and make her pregnant.549
This is why the word “marriage” in Mormon and other religious discourse about same-sex marriage functions only as a code word. Most people would accept the definition of marriage offered by Justice William O. Douglas in the US Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut. He wrote:
“Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.”550 This vision of a complex social institution provides an apt warning to all sides in the SSM debate about the misuse of marriage for “causes” and “political faiths,” and it sets an ideal of harmony and loyalty in intimacy to which anyone might aspire. Indeed, one might wonder why should not everyone in society be encouraged to participate in such an “association.” Yet this larger meaning of marriage—the institution itself—is not what is threatened by SSM. No historically polygamous church like the Mormons could ever seriously claim such a threat. To do so would be an exercise in misdirection. What is, rather, threatened, is the narrow voyeuristic image of the genital aspect of that intimacy and the authority of the church to control it. This single aspect of the “fit” between penis and vagina—the “marriage” of one penis and one vagina—as the only appropriate patriarchal model is what is at stake. “Marriage” is its metonymy. Any different (i.e., deviant) paradigm as a sexual “way of life,” such as same-sex marriage, deconstructs—and therefore terrorizes—this very precious, holy knowledge of “where It goes.” Indeed, “proper” sexual intercourse goes by the patriarchal551 name of “knowing.”552 Adam “knew his wife and she conceived.”553 She did not (could not) “know” him. It is the meaning of all the “begats” in the Bible (only a man can beget; the woman conceives), and the reason why, even after committing adultery and murder, David could feel assured that “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell”554 and why David is still justified.555 David knew where It goes.556 So, also did God himself when he “begot” his “only begotten son.” Brigham Young said: “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost…. The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action…. [Jesus] was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.”557 God the Father did it “instead of letting any other man do it.”558 The scriptural works and Mormon doctrine are full of phallic imagery: the “sticks” of Judah and Joseph559, the “rod of Aaron.”560 Aaron and the priests of Aaron were men, and it is men who possess the rod. For a man to be sexually penetrated is to render him powerless, deflowered, non-innocent, a woman—an object instead of a subject—with bodily orifices which were never intended to be penetrable.561 To the male elders of the early church embarking on their proselytizing missions, the Lord said: “ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach….”562 And among those things which they were to teach was “the voice of the Lord [which] is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated,”563 as well as “the word of God [which] is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,”564 and the piercing eye and still small voice of God.565
This is the great secret behind much of the euphemistic debate about what constitutes “marriage” and the incessant arguments about “consummation” and “procreation.” It is in this sense, truly, that religious (i.e., patriarchal) freedom is threatened. In its 1987 case of Turner v. Safley566, the US Supreme Court held unconstitutional a Missouri prison regulation denying inmates the right to marry except for "compelling reasons." The Court struck down a marriage ban that applied to a population with no legal right to procreate and that provided an exception for pregnancy, thus undermining any claim that marriage is fundamental because of an inexorable connection to procreation.567 Speaking for a unanimous Court, Justice O'Connor wrote:
“Many important attributes of marriage remain ... after taking into account the limitations imposed by prison life. First, inmate marriages, like others, are expressions of emotional support and public commitment.... In addition, many religions recognize marriage as having spiritual significance.... Third, most inmates eventually will be released by parole or commutation, and therefore most inmate marriages are formed in the expectation that they ultimately will be fully consummated. Finally, marital status often is a precondition to the receipt of government benefits ..., property rights ..., and other, less tangible benefits.... Taken together, we conclude that these remaining elements are sufficient to form a constitutionally protected marital relationship in the prison context.”568 Jamal Greene, analyzing these points in Turner, states: “The burden for same-sex marriage opponents is to articulate how, from the individual's perspective, these remaining elements apply with any less force to gay Americans than to imprisoned ones.”569 The answer of course is that opponents of same-sex marriage cannot articulate any difference except in terms of “knowing where It goes.” But for that single element, there is no logical or legal argument that can be based on the Supreme Court’s tests. These points are illustrated in a recent “sodomy case” ruling by the Hong Kong High Court.570 A 20-year-old homosexual man challenged the Hong Kong statutes which made it a crime for two gay men to have sex under the age of 21, but permitted heterosexuals and lesbians to have sex at age 16.571 For “buggery” under age 21 by two men, Section 118C of the Crimes Ordinance recommended life in prison. For “gross acts of indecency” between two men, Section 118H prescribed a two-year sentence. Plaintiff challenged these statutes as contradicting the rights of equality and privacy under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance572 and Article 25 of the Hong Kong Basic Law,” which provides: “All Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law.” Plaintiff won the case. The point to be made, again, is that the differential treatment in the statute was all about “knowing where It goes.”573 Unlike heterosexuals and lesbians, two gay men together present two penises, neither of which bears this priceless knowledge.574
It is no simple coincidence that the genitals are called the “privates.” The zone of privacy usually thought of as quintessential is the body and that part of the body, yet that is precisely what is invaded when the law concerns itself with knowing “where it goes.” All these are male sexual images of hegemonic power. In a complex analysis of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Christopher Peterson nicely details the ways in which this power works. He writes of how the “patriarchal model of kinship—exemplified by the Christian tradition—requires the return of the father’s seed to himself in order to save him from death and preserve his immortality” for the sake of the “preservation of the father/spirit’s immortal presence.”575 It is a disavowal, denial, and avoidance of death by disavowing difference (“alterity”) and avowing the biological kin and structure of the normative family reproduced by normative reproduction. This paternal/patriarchal project is based upon the “divine family” and represents the father’s transubstantiation into spirit. Same-sex desire, like miscegenation and incest, threaten to contaminate this by threatening “materialization of spirit.” Name, lineage, and paternal line all remind us that “there is more than one possible inheritance.576 Peterson writes:
“The reproduction of reproduction requires that normative heterosexuality name itself as its own heir, that it produce itself as its own offspring. This reflexivity which normative heterosexuality always returns to itself suggests that heterosexual reproduction immortalizes itself as compensation for its failure to reproduce the self without remainder. If one’s presence cannot be secured beyond one’s death, reproduction might preserve itself as the immortal spirit of its own impossibility. Same-sex desire, then, emerges as the fallen specter of this immortal spirit: a ghost that is made to bear the material residue of heterosexuality’s own failure.”
Similarly, we find the central Mormon text on sexuality, D&C 132 (the revelation and law on polygamy), speaking of “a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” for those who participate in such marriage,577 and an eternity as “ministering servants” for those who do not.578 A revelation to Joseph Smith and other leaders of the church says: “Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you [males], with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage….”579 Mormon scripture further notes: “And death hath come upon our fathers; nevertheless we know them… For a book of remembrance we have written among us….”580 As Peterson further notes, this is the “paternal line” with all the restrictions and exclusions of difference that such linearity implies.581 This is the copula, the copulation that reproduces reproduction. This is the quintessential Mormon patriarchal scripture because there are no “mothers” present, no mothers upon whom death has come because in this hegemony; they never lived; they did not count. This is, to return to Annie Proulx’s pithy phrase, the power and desire and fear of the “stud duck in the pond.” The problem can be illustrated by a simple exercise. If asked, most active Mormons can probably name at least one or two of Joseph Smith’s brothers.582 The most famous and important is probably Hyrum, who was assassinated with Joseph in 1844 and with him became a martyr: “In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!”583 Next, perhaps, is Alvin, who is the subject of D&C 137.584 The others, Samuel Harrison, William, and Don Carlos, are mentioned occasionally but are much less well known or remembered except, perhaps, to specialist students of church history. But even if members cannot give the names of these latter three, they will surely know that Joseph Smith had at least some brothers. The contrast arises when Mormons are asked about Joseph Smith’s sisters. Even if they know at all that he had sisters (and many do not know this), chances are they cannot name them. His three sisters--Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy585—are simply lost to most of the official (i.e., patriarchal) church history—the priesthood history. The sisters played no important role, left no lasting impression, and their biographies as well as their names and their posterity are unknown, and uncared about, to most mainline members.586 If they are known at all, it is not as individual women but only in their patriarchal relationship as sisters to Joseph Smith. All three died in Illinois, having never migrated west with the church led by Brigham Young. Much less are most Mormons able to give the names of any of Joseph Smith’s plural wives except his first, Emma,587 and his children, if they are known at all, are known mostly as apostates. It would be difficult to find any Mormon who could name even one of his daughters, whether born to Emma or one of his other wives. A few women have been prominent in Mormon history for their accomplishments or the powerful husbands to whom they were married, and today women are being made more visible in the church’s public meetings. But women do not and cannot “hold the priesthood,” which is the “key of the knowledge of God” and the governing power and councils of the church.588
The closed and hermetic world of the all-male priesthood is indeed what David Noble has described as a “world without women” in the received Christian and other patriarchal religious societies,589 having roots largely in the Second Century, which is the origin also of what Mormons call The Great Apostasy. By combining an obsession with authority and an obsession with orthodoxy, the bond of brotherhood of the holy priesthhood created an elite within the church, a strict separation between the clerics and the laity. Joseph Smith created the all-male School of the Prophets, the oath and covenant of which was the greeting, “Art thou a brother, or brethren?”590 Friendship, fellowship, and brotherhood are coterminous in their status. Obedience by the laity to the clerics became essential. In some sects, physical separation of males and females became the norm—a practice preserved today in Mormon temple activities. But more than this, Mormonism maintains the absolute divide between male and female along the coextensive axis of priesthood and non-priesthood. Even though Mormon scripture urges the male faithful to take upon themselves both the mind591 and the countenance or image of Christ592, still Jesus “cometh not in the form of a woman.”593 The invitation is extended only to the “brethren of the church.”594
In sum, patriarchy is the male claim of male power to dictate how its stockpiles of “Its” shall and shall not be deployed, to decide who shall be castrated and who shall be circumcised, and what all these things shall mean—and to urinate on and rip off any that do not comply. Women, who have no possibility of entering into this holy covenant because they have no Its and cannot be priests, are merely the receptacles—they matter because they are necessary to make more male Mormon priesthood holders. This is nowhere more evident that in the casting of homosexuality as “gender confusion.”595Gender is usually thought of as that cluster of physical and emotional characteristics by which people think of themselves as male or female.596 It is a combination of the physical genitals plus the roles that society and culture assign to define the binary called male-female.597 In reality, what is suggested here is not confusion about one’s actual gender but about one’s gender role—again, the problem of “knowing where It goes.” It is roles that patriarchy defines: Real men to this but not that; true women do that but not this. The terms “gender confusion” and “gender” (as a noun) do not occur in Mormon scripture. “Gender” does occur as a verb meaning to cause: “foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.”598
And strifes are the central problem of politics and law. Because of its male bias, patriarchy casts the household of faith as the “church militant” in eternal warfare, with the “soldiers” and “people” of the church being assimilated to the generic “brothers”:
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;