"This spirit stirring within woman"
I recently finished Carol Cornwall Madsen’s biography of Emmeline B. Wells. [You know, the Emmeline who edited (and wrote much of) the original Exponent, served as General Relief Society President in the early twentieth century, and fought tirelessly for woman’s suffrage].
Simple review: I loved the book.
One passage in particular has me thinking about the term Restoration in new ways. I’d love to hear the thoughts of others.
Madsen notes that though Eve is not branded as a “sinner or seducer” in LDS theology, Emmeline and others viewed the “curse” of Eve as an ingrained cultural concept that helped to justify the inequality women for centuries. However, Emmeline believed that such injustices “were in the province of women to ameliorate . . . by performing ‘redemptive acts’ of their own.”
“She believed that all efforts to advance women were part of that process of redemption. As a fallen world would yet be redeemed from the effects of Edenic transgression, so also would women finally enjoy that equality that had been theirs before the Fall, Emmeline asserted. ‘Perfect equality then,’ she declared, ‘and so it must be when all things are restored as they were in the beginning. It is this spirit stirring within woman that is to bring her back again to that primeval state that existed in the Garden of Eden.’ . . . The ultimate purpose of the restoration of Christ’s gospel . . . was to prepare a fallen world and its inhabitants to return to that paradisiacal glory. The promise of future spiritual equality spurred Emmeline toward efforts to reform a social structure that denied women temporal equality. In fact, Emmeline believed that full expression of the gift of agency in this life was a necessity for full equality in the next. To achieve this desired state required a united effort. ‘Woman’s work in this day and age,’ she wrote, ‘is not only an individual work, but a universal work; a work for all her suffering sisterhood.’”
The organization of the Relief Society, she believed, was a key development in this work of restoration and redemption:
“Emmeline assured her readers that the bonds of female servitude began to loosen in 1842 and from that time on ‘men no longer held the same absolute sway.’ . . . Latter-day Saint women attached a direct relationship between the organization of the Relief Society in Nauvoo in 1842, with its empowerment of women, and the first woman’s rights convention of 1848. That the Relief Society was organized first was not a mere happenstance. As a result of that event, not only Mormon women, but women of the world, Emmeline insisted, were ‘acted upon by an influence many comprehend not which is working for their redemption from under the curse.’” (An Advocate for Women: The Publich Life of Emmeline B. Wells: pgs. 81-83)
What is your take on this view of the restoration?