"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." - Harold Wilson
Question #91401 posted on 06/13/2018 12:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So I’m kinda having a hard time dealing with the view that God (especially the Old Testament God) only cares about Women’s bodies. It’s like whenever there’s an important woman it usually describes how beautiful they are as if God only cares about women’s bodies. I just think about Sarah being so ridiculously beautiful she was still drop dead gorgeous at 65. It almost seems like well God thinks she’s the hottest woman on earth so she deserves to be the first Hebrew matriarch. Then really similar with Rebecca and Rachel how they were unbelievably gorgeous. I could give other examples like Esther. Like could you imagine if Trump divorced Melania and decided to have another miss America pageant and the winner was Mormon and had to marry Trump. That’s kinda what happened with Esther. And then the first thing that came to Nephi’s mind when he first saw Mary mother of Jesus in vision was how attractive she was. Then I guess the best example was Rahab who according to legend was so hot...never mind I don’t want to say what apparently happened to most men who saw her. However she was saved and it just makes me wonder if God just thinks the prettiest girls are just more pleasing to Him or if they’re just more equal. Is God sexist and lookist and only cares about women for their bodies. It just feels that sometimes going through the Old Testament again?
My Question Here.

-Definitely not a Sarah

A:

Dear person,

Hey there. I identify with this question quite a bit because I have spent an excessive amount of time worrying about the nature of God in my life. I worry about whether God cares about the feelings of women generally. Some things in the scriptures feel very coercive to me and that freaks me out. I'm also probably not the most orthodox in my beliefs, so if what I say sounds over the top to you, no worries - I'm not an authority on any of this, just a random internet stranger. 

The thing that has helped me is to start by making assumptions about God and then interpreting the scriptures in light of my assumptions, not the other way around. During my better days/weeks/years, I can assume that God is not coercive and does care about women's feelings. Whenever God in the scriptures says something at odds with that assumption, I throw it out the window and don't believe in it. I do this because I think it's more important to believe in a good God than to believe every single last word that has been recorded by men and canonized by men as scripture. If God is mad at me for this and sends me to hell because of it, then that's honestly for the best because I wouldn't want to be with Him anyways. 

One of the most hopeful scriptures that I know of is Mormon 9:31, which reads: "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

This scripture makes it clear that there is room to interpret scriptures, to take parts that feel wrong with a grain of salt. I feel very comfortable saying that you are not an object, and if anything in the scriptures depicts women as objects, that part is wrong. I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. The end.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear you,

So I was going to write a lot of stuff, and then life happened, and here we are, 366 hours later. Here's just a few thoughts that I hope will help:

  • God allows slavery in the Old Testament, but today we know that God is not on board with that.
  • If a woman was raped and didn't scream, she would be stoned. But today we know that fight or flight aren't our only responses to danger: many women (and men) shut down, freeze up, "play dead" essentially when faced with danger such as assault and rape. I don't see that commandment being from God, just a rule men made up, because if God did, he knew that most of the women who were raped would be killed. In the same vein, I don't see a lot of events or specific rules being from God, but from men trying to control women or establish an ordered society. 
  • Men wrote the Old Testament, not God. Imagine God has only a typewriter with pre-existing phrases on it, and many of them are racist or sexist, but He has no other way of writing. Or it's his servant writing down all the events of the servant's life and God's interventions in it, and the servant's interpretation of what God is doing. I imagine the Old Testament would be so very different if it was written from a woman's point of view.
  • I much prefer going off of what Jesus Christ said to women in the New Testament. They were the first witnesses of His miracles, His divinity, and His resurrection. They were never judged by their looks, but by their faith and love for God. I think the biggest difference we can see is how the New Testament describes Mary (faithful, ponders things in her heart, travels far to visit her cousin, shares beautiful words of faith and love for God, chosen of God) and how Nephi describes Mary (fair, or more beautiful than any other virgin). 

Ultimately, I think it comes down to what you feel in your heart. I feel that God loves women for themselves. It can be hard to remember that when you have certain things in the scriptures, from the Old Testament to D&C 121, saying differently. But ask God. It can be scary—I took several months to directly ask Them about polygamy, because I was so afraid that it was true. But it's worth it. From that I know that God loves His/Her daughters beyond compare, and love them for their individual characters, not just for their bodies. Sexist things have been written, but because of personal revelation we can know for ourselves that they aren't true.

-guppy of doom

posted on 06/21/2018 7:34 p.m.
Don't forget that we also have scripture that says man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Perhaps when these women are described as fair and beautiful it is talking about their spiritual beauty and devotion to God.