Featured Essays

The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women Review

by Emily

Several years ago I went on a quest to better understand my role as a woman.  Specifically, I’ve always struggled with my role as “mother” and needed to change my views of it from being everyone’s slave to someone who is honorable and noble.  I sought to find women who really enjoyed being a mother and adopt their attitudes.  I began my search in LDS sources, but hit too many dead ends.  I entered the Christian world and found Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald.  I was impressed with these women and their dedication to Christ and their families.  Their book gave me a lot to think about.  After following Christian women of similar sentiment to Chancey and McDonald, I started having a paradigm shift; I started feeling better about motherhood.  Eventually I found Patricia Holland’s, A Quiet Heart, and was also energized by the teachings of Julie Beck. In time, Stephanie Sorensen came out with Covenant Motherhood, which compared characteristics of women/mothers to characteristics of Christ, and now, the latest empowering source is The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women by Alonzo Gaskill.

In 1887, Russian journalist Nicholas Notovitch visited a monastery in India where he learned of some texts which spoke of the life of Christ.  He wanted to see them, but the monks would not allow it. Notovitch basically gave up his pestering after a while and left, but planned to return later with hopes to see the documents. However, before he made it very far, he was thrown from his horse and broke his leg.  He returned to the monastery to recover, and in time, gained the trust of the monks who eventually read him the documents.

Although apocryphal, Gaskill treats the texts as though they are actual teachings of Christ. The Lost Teachings specifically focuses on 13 verses from the documents about women.  For each verse, he gives a general explanation, then directs a section of comments toward men and children, then a section to women.  He references many modern LDS teachings which are in agreement with each verse from the texts.

Personally, I had the feeling that these verses could very well be the teachings of Christ because they so closely align with modern LDS teachings as well as have the same tone as the New Testament.  In retrospect, it would have been nice to read the 13 verses on their own, do my interpretation of them, then read Gaskill’s writings, and see how closely our thoughts align.

To me, the most significant find in the entire book occurred in verse 15:

Be submissive toward your wife. Her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the brute in him, and makes of him a lamb.

 Christ told men to be submissive toward their wives.  This is huge.  This levels the playing field for men and women.  In my search for understanding submission to one’s husband, I’ve read many wonderful, well-meaning Christian women who bend over backwards to submit to their husbands because they want to be obedient, yet somehow it still doesn’t feel quite right. When men are also asked to submit as women are, this requires that they listen and counsel with their wives and work as a team!  I think many Christian women, and even some LDS women likely need a paradigm shift on submission if they use a strict Bible definition rather than the modern revelation of “equals” as found in the Proclamation, and subsequently in these lost teachings.

I enjoyed much more in the book:  Verse 20 counsels men to “not expose her to humiliation.”  How wise!  I see that on occasion, one spouse belittling the other, and it’s not healthy, nor is it a good example, particularly to children.  I enjoyed verse 21 which states, “All that you do for your wife, your mother, for a widow or another woman in distress, you will have done unto your God.”  Gaskill interprets that as admonishing a man to not only provide for his wife and children, but for his parents, especially his mother.  I contemplate how the modern trend is to put the elderly in a rest home, and yes that might be by the funds of a son (or daughter), but I wonder how much more we can directly do for our seniors.

In verses 9, 10, and 13, I enjoyed the emphasis on respecting mothers and women because “she is the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation dwells within her.”  This sentiment reminded me of a recent Joseph Fielding Smith Lesson on the Plan of Salvation.  Just as in that lesson we were advised to be obedient to Christ because we are grateful to him, we should respect the women in our lives because they have done so much for us.

You probably get the idea of the little gems found in this book.  It’s full of wonderful verses supported by modern day revelation.  The only potential criticisms I have are some of Gaskill’s comments throughout the book such as, “The ‘whole existence’ of every man—including significant elements of his personality, faith and character—is most often developed at the knee of his mother” (20). “If a mother is not the source of her child’s ethics, values, and faith, who will be?” (21).  ”Jesus reminds each of us that women have a divine gift—that of creating life.  In this they are like God and unlike man. . . . ” (39).  Although beautiful sentiment, I just know certain women will contest these types of statements because they appear to eliminate the influence of a man/father.

 In all, I think this is a great read for anyone, men and women, interested in this topic—a great Mother’s Day gift idea, in fact!

Embracing Imperfection

by Bonnie

ShockMy missionary is home . . . early.

For many of you your first thought is pity for me because you assume he has a moral issue and that I’m embarrassed. Or perhaps he was poorly committed to a mission, like so many young men seem to be these days. Or ill-prepared in the first place.

That’s ok. I’ve been in your shoes. I’m not offended.

Luckily, he is surrounded by people who embraced him with open arms and soft hearts when he came home, not quite sure what he was supposed to do, or who he really was. He didn’t ask to come home, and his mission president didn’t want to let him go. He was sent home by Missionary Medical because he was suffering from anxieties so crippling that they were eating away at all of the good he had been able to accomplish in ten months. “Go home, stabilize, and come back,” they said. After a couple of tense weeks praying hourly for his safety, I couldn’t be happier to have him home where he can get therapy and recuperate from the self-torture the past few months have been.

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