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Part Two: Women, Perfection, and Veils


In part one, we discussed the speculative idea that women and mothers hold inherent keys given to them (see D&C 132:63-64) from the pre-earth life. We discussed the possibility of why women are women and men are men. In summation, it has to do with the type of attraction the part of them that is eternal (co-eternal with God) has towards the light of Truth (see D&C 88:6). If you wish to reread or if you missed part one, you can find it here or listen to the podcast here.

Let's renew the dive.



Much of the theologically repugnant ideas surrounding women in the ancient Christian tradition derives from the story of the Fall from the Garden of Eden. Protestant and Catholic Christianity have a view of the fall that was not so fortunate. This has resulted in slandering 'The Mother of All Living' through mostly well-intentioned ignorance.

For example, the language surrounding Eve being a 'help meet' (see Moses 3:18) for Adam has often led the uninspired to conclude that women have a lesser role in the Kingdom of God than men do. That is actually putting it rather politely:

"In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell." –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

"Woman was merely man's helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God." –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

"The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes." –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

More statements can be cited, but the idea is evident. This all makes me want to exclaim: "What a breath of fresh air the Restored Gospel is! Here one and all the words of my mouth! There is a light intensity to the divine role of women!" 

James E. Talmage puts it very well:

"Woman shall yet come to her own, exercising her rights and her privileges as a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God. Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God." ("The Eternity of Sex." Young Woman's Journal 25 (1914): 602-3)

To further rinse our pallet from that rancid words about women that have existed for centuries, these statements from prophets and apostles ought to fill our soul with light:

"It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive exaltation in the kingdom of God and receive authority and power as queens and priestesses." - Joseph Fielding Smith (“Relief Society—an Aid to the Priesthood,” Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, 5–6)

"... you sisters who have dwelt in reflected glory will shine in your own light, queens and priestesses unto the Lord forever and ever." - Melvin J. Ballard (Conference Report, October 1934, p.121)

"The nature of male and female spirits is such that they complete each other." (Handbook 2, 1.3.1)

WOMEN AND PERFECTION

Many of us read the word 'perfect' in scripture and get bent out of shape. A lesser number see that word and understand that it means 'complete or fully developed'. Even fewer of us understand the rich meaning it fully has in its Greek origins:

"... the Greek word translated into English as "perfect" in Matthew 5:48 is teleios. This important word is used in Greek religious literature to describe several things, including the person who has become fully initiated in the rituals of the religion. Teleios is "a technical term of the mystery religions, which refers to one initiated into the mystic rites, the initiate." Other forms of this word are used in Hebrews 5:14–6:1 to distinguish between the initial teachings and the full instruction ("full age," "perfection"); and in Hebrews 9:11 it refers to the heavenly temple. Generally in the Epistle to the Hebrews, its usage follows a "special use" from Hellenistic Judaism, where the word teleioo means "to put someone in the position in which he can come, or stand, before God." Thus, in its ritual connotations, this word refers to preparing a person to be presented to come before God "in priestly action"...

... Most intriguing in this regard is the letter of Clement of Alexandria (written ca. A.D. 200) describing the existence of a second Gospel of Mark, reporting the Lord's doings as recounted by Peter and going beyond the public Gospel of Mark now found in the New Testament. This so-called Secret Gospel of Mark, according to Clement, contained things "for the use of those who were being perfected [teleioumenon]. Nevertheless, [Mark] did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic [initiatory priesthood] teaching [hierophantiken didaskalian] of the Lord, but . . . brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils." The copy was read "only to those who are being initiated [tous muoumenous] into the great mysteries [ta megala mysteria]." Thus, although almost nothing is known about these sacred and secret teachings of Jesus mentioned by Clement (who died A.D. 215), there can be little doubt that such esoteric, orthodox teachings existed in Alexandria and that some early Christians had been "perfected" by learning those priesthood teachings." - John W. Welch (Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, p. 75-76)

With that in mind, this statement from David A. Bednar may take on increased meaning:

"The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other." (World Wide Leadership Meeting, 2006)

Even further, the Hebrew origins for the term 'help meet' is enriching. Sherrie Mills Johnson has written that 'help' in 'help meet' comes from the word 'ezer' and that it does NOT mean one who is subservient to man. This term is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament and in sixteen of those instances it is referring to God. In addition, the word 'meet' in 'help meet' is translated from the word  'neged' which means "to make to be face to face" (see Strong's #5046). It is self-evident that this term has deeper meanings than our conventional reading.

All this taken together suggests that women hold the 'key' to perfection. Full initiation into the temple ordinances (i.e. perfection) cannot be done without the woman. This might explain why Boyd K. Packer said the following: 

"No man receives the fulness of the priesthood without a woman at his side. For no man, the Prophet said, can obtain the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord.6 And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She shares in all that he receives. The man and the woman individually receive the ordinances encompassed in the endowment. But the man cannot ascend to the highest ordinances—the sealing ordinances—without her at his side. No man achieves the supernal exalting status of worthy fatherhood except as a gift from his wife." (1)

WOMEN AND VEILS

A veil always is used to cover the glory of something celestially resplendent. For example: 

  • Exodus 34:34-35, Moses puts a veil on to cover up the glory of his transfigured face 
  • Exodus 26:33, a veil is put up to separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle
  • D&C 101:23, a veil is upon the earth which hides the glory of the Lord.
Jasmin Gimenez from Book of Mormon Central asks: "What might this say about someone who is within a veil or wearing a veil?" She goes on to explain in the most straightforward and beautiful way the significance of veils:

"... women who wear a veil, especially in temple settings, signify that they have now obtained the knowledge and preparation necessary to exude the glory and power of godliness." (2)

Sherri Mills Johnson puts it in a different way: 

"... the veiling symbolically represents for all women, married or not, mothers or not, the power woman adds to a man’s priesthood authority that conforms them to the image of God." (3)

The late apostle, Erastus Snow, brings into focus what women are holding 'within the veil':

"... there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female....
As I said, man was created, male and female, and two principles are blended in one; and the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord; and there is no Lord, there is no God in which the two principles are not blended, nor can be; and we may never hope to attain unto the eternal power and the Godhead upon any other principle." (Journal of Discourses, 19:270)

CONCLUSION

What is it exactly that women are holding within their veils? What is this 'gift' that Boyd K. Packer speaks about that only women can give to men? It is, namely, exaltation. It is a fulness of priesthood. It is an initiation into eternal life. It is glory. It is light. 

To connect this to part one, we must discuss the light of truth. I wrote in part one that women have an affinity for the part of truth that shines (see D&C 88:7). In the spirit of reverent speculation, I would suggest this is why women veil their faces. Women are "sparks struck from the blaze of [God's] eternal flame" (4). Their nature derives from that which literally shines "above the brightness of the sun" (5). Similar things can be said about men, but men are not as luminescent as women. 

In part one, I wrote of 'keys', powers of 'administration', and 'stewardship' that women have. I will expand on this idea in part 3 of my series on the divine nature of women.

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