Gender and Religion

There are several nonnegotiable tenets at the core of Mormon theology that provide an ideological foundation for promoting and securing family unity. The first holds that the father is charged with the duty of managing and expanding his kingdom here on earth, and ideally in the hereafter, by entering the institution of plural marriage (Musser, 1944).

A second tenet asserts that the father-son relationship is the core axis for the transmission of cultural and spiritual essence (Clark & Clark, 1991, p. 286). It is based on the belief of a Melchizedek priesthood whose lineage, extended back to Adam, is the only legitimate religious authority. It is also the primary legitimization of men's insistence that the only acceptable foundation of religious expression is a patriarchal social organization.

A third tenet holds that a man's celestial rank is determined primarily by his ability to live righteously and to adhere successfully to God's will, with the highest rank of virtue reserved for those who enter into a plural family. In contrast, women achieve salvation through obedience, first to their fathers, and then to their husbands by becoming a sister-wife (i.e., a cowife) within the plural family that is also a celestial family. Because the family unit extends beyond the grave into an eternal world, it is believed that everyone, especially cowives, must learn better interpersonal skills and increase cooperative behavior in order to achieve family harmony in this world and the next.

It the Montana Allred community it is believed that women have unique revelations not given to men (Bennion, 1998, pp. 51-53). In this community women believe in the idea of an exalted spiritual sisterhood. Moreover, they also believe in a "deity" called Mother Eve who was the mother of all living things and thus, because of her, women also formed a complementary relationship with all living things. This idea is not found in other polygynous fundamentalist communities.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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