A tiny scrap of parchment belonging to a private collection recently made it’s way to Karen L. King, a Professor of Divinity at Harvard. Because of what that parchment said, when she presented it, nearly everyone called fraud. As a result, the tiny Coptic scroll underwent a series of tests, more than would normally be done on such a scrap, and declared “not a forgery” and dated to 760 ce. The words that called for all these tests?
“Jesus said unto them my wife…
Of course, 700 years is a pretty long time for the game of telephone, but at the very least it means that a writer in the 7th century believed Jesus had a wife, and that women could be disciples. For a more in-depth discussion of the language used and the cultural implications, Karen L. King’s article in the Harvard Review covers it all, including what tests were used to determine authenticity.
According to Margaret Starbird, the woman whose book inspired The Da Vinci Code, several someones believed in a holy blood line, the Sangraal, or Holy Grail. The heresy was kept alive in symbols, and secret groups, the story of the Sacred Union of the Messiah and Mary called Magdalen. The two strongest tenets of the heresy were a belief in the eventual restoration of the Davidic Monarchy, and a promise of a world in harmony with God (loc 2045).” Like Joseph Smith, the heretics did not believe in creeds, but rather in the power of personal encounters with God. The Catholic church did everything they could to stamp out the heresy, but it still persisted.
For every girl-child who hungrily read of Esther and wanted more biblical sheroes, this is an exciting hint of the untold stories. Even more, it points to a sex-positive sprituality. I remember having a seminary teacher strongly suggest that we tear out The Song of Songs. I had been reading it in my personal study, thrilling at the poetry and sensuality of Love. I immediately stopped reading it, and added another brick in the “sex is bad” wall. It turns out the Song of Songs was highly treasured in the alternative church.
“We might stop and ask what our world would look like if we had been taught instead that sex was sacred, joyful, and meaningful expression of love between partners, as it was in the garden of the Beloved.” (loc 2468)
It isn’t too far of a stretch in LDS theology to believe in Christ’s marriage. Marriage in the temple is necessary for the highest degree of glory. We believe that Christ was baptized in the River Jordan because even the Savior needed to perform all of the ordinances for exaltation. If baptism was required of the Lord, surely marriage was also?
What would the world look like if femininity had always been heralded on an equal plane with masculinity? If church leaders had never speculated if women even had souls? If every child of God was equally valuable in the world? Katherine posted earlier this week and revealed the staggering statistic that FORTY percent of Americans would rather have a boy than a girl. How much as that changed since the 1940s? It’s gone up two percent.
We still have a long ways to go towards achieving gender parity. I think it needs to start with the stories we tell ourselves. The more we tell and hear stories of people of all genders, colors, and creeds smashing the patriarchy and demanding to be recognized as people, the sooner everyone’s wounds will heal.
“Restoration of the Bride, or feminine principle, in the visual paradigm of Christianity would heal the schism between spirit and matter that currently prevails, at the same time healing the wounded psyche of both male and female.” (loc 1780)
If you are ready to have more of your assumptions challenged, I highly recommend Margaret Starbird’s books. She also has a blog where she discusses the heresy of Sacred Union.
I quote from “The Woman with the Alabaster Jar” kindle edition by Margaret Starbird. The author has stated that her favorite work is actually “Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile.”