Guest Post: Guardians of the First Veil
I will start by saying that my views are very different than many who have submitted and commented on this blog. However, I feel like this blog provides a safe space for women to voice their feelings , and I truly love that. I feel very grateful for all perspectives, and feel blessed to partake in a community of thoughtful women who want the same thing that we all want- true, unadulterated joy. I will voice my inspirations as delicately as possible to not invalidate anyone’s experiences, but I simply ask that you do the same for me. My experiences are real, deeply meaningful, and I feel compelled to voice them.
In an article titled, “I Am a Mormon Because I Am a Feminist,” Valerie Hudson Cassler interprets the story of the Garden of Eden. When I first read Valerie’s article, it was like a weight was lifted from my frustrated mind.
I realized two things: not only does this decipher the events of the Garden of Eden to me in a more holistic way, but also that I was previously patronizing the role of woman, rather than celebrating it. I now feel like it wasn’t a cursing but a blessing that women are asked to be the guardians of the first veil, the veil of flesh. I now understand my unique and beautiful purpose in the Plan of Salvation. It doesn’t excuse the fact that many women in the church cannot have children, or that many women have no spouse. However, there are many women in our history that couldn’t bear children or weren’t married, but instead did other miraculous things to assist in God’s will. These people should never be left out of the equation of the Plan of Salvation. However, that would be a thought-provoking conversation for another time.
This explanation of the roles of men and women brings me to another important inspiration I have received more recently.
The Temple Ordinances
In the past, I struggled to understand and be happy about some of the temple covenants. However, over years of careful study, prayer, attendance, and open-mindedness, I now find so much joy in attending the temple. I don’t, personally, wait for the specific strategy of equality that others wait for, because I no longer feel that my guardianship of the first veil is lesser than my husband’s guardianship of the second veil. Through that careful study and prayer of the scriptures and covenants, I received several revelations to aid me in my journey.
One of those revelations occurred while I was participating in proxy sealings with my husband. I always marveled at the different wording when the ordinance was being performed, but I assumed that I didn’t understand enough about it to make a quick judgment. As I listened again and again, I realized that the blessings given at the end of the ceremony are offered to both man and woman. There is no specific blessing for man, and no different one for woman. We are offered all that God enjoys. This was also a freeing moment for me. Here I was, thinking that I wasn’t as favored as my husband because I didn’t have the authority to perform sealings or to baptize my children. I discovered that these performances of ordinances weren’t blessings in themselves and that all true blessings were to come when all is fair and mercy offered, and that those blessings are the same no matter what God-given role we fulfilled in this life.
I learned something similar during the endowment session. I was longing to sit with my husband. I asked myself why it had to be that way. I opened my heart to receive some revelation from the Spirit about it when I remembered that everything was something to symbolize the kingdom that we were “in” at that point. We weren’t separated as punishment, but to symbolize that man and woman are not sealed in the lesser kingdoms. Additionally, we women are only asked to veil our faces in one these lesser kingdoms. Perhaps that is intended to symbolize the inequality, or some other similar concept that will only occur in that kingdom. Or perhaps to symbolize the cleanliness of woman and the difficult and sometimes fatal responsibility of man (hence, only “sons of perdition”, rather than “children of perdition”). I am sure I have a lot to understand on that one, but I know that revelation is valid for me. Once man performs his final duty of guardianship by bringing God’s children from mortality into immortality, we are all together in the Celestial Kingdom, free to mingle, learn, and discuss, without hierarchy and with true joy.
Why Aren’t We Ordained to Give Life?
Another question I’ve pondered is, why is it that women are asked to bear children, but that we don’t need any sort of ordination or sustained vote to do so? Why isn’t it just the righteous women that bear children just as we deem only the righteous men to bare the authority to use the priesthood? My theory has come to this: that generally women, regardless of their belief in Christ or God are given the authority to be the guardians of the first veil because all of God’s children who chose his plan are offered a body and salvation regardless of their belief in God as well. I should note that I believe that to be a guardian of the first veil doesn’t just mean baring children. I imagine that there are innumerable ways in which we, as women, can fulfill that calling. We are all co-givers of that salvation even if some among us never bear children in mortal existence. All women are still a part of that responsibility through the ability and calling to serve God’s children here on the earth. Men are only given priesthood authority based on their righteousness, just as we are only given the opportunity to continue progression and eternal life based on our own righteousness. Thus, we each fulfill a different, but equally essential duty in the great work of the Plan of Happiness.
I want to end by saying that I am eternally grateful for all views, paradigms, and opinions on gospel matters. I feel so grateful to be a part of such a thoughtful group of women who want to understand their purpose and role in the church and God’s plan. I am grateful for the insight you have given me and I love to discuss various points of doctrine and to receive revelation based on some perspective that I have never considered before. Most importantly, I hope for every woman who reads this will receive every ounce of joy that she is striving for. I also hope that by offering my perspective, that you have opened your hearts to me and been enlightened in some way, as I have opened mine and felt enlightened by you. I do think we are all on our own journeys to find our place with God and Christ and I respect your way of getting there, just as I hope you respect mine.
I am a mother of two and wife of one supportive husband. In the greater Seattle area, I balance managing my home while I work toward my MSW. I tend to have grandiose ideas, so writing, reading, and surrounding myself with a variety of friends puts me in my place.