Lynne Wilson: How the Savior Empowered Women
For years, Dr. Lynne Wilson has met with theologians around the world from various faith traditions. She repeatedly heard theories at these meetings that inequality between men and women stemmed from the Bible. She was adamant that inequality was not something Christ taught—instead, she believed that Jesus Christ emancipated women. So, she set out to do research to back it up. On this week’s episode, Dr. Wilson shares her research as well as her belief that there is no better place to be as a woman than in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I just think we’re measuring the wrong things. It’s not about gender, it’s about mutuality and that is what Christ tried to break down in the meridian of time so that men and women and children, old and young, would work together to build the kingdom.
Dr. Wilson’s book: Christ’s Emancipation of Women in the New Testament
Another book by Dr. Wilson: Learning the Language of the Lord
Deseret News article Morgan wrote about temples: “Why last week’s LDS Church announcement is about much more than towels”
Quote: “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, ‘The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized’” (Quoted in Sarah Granger Kimball, “Autobiography” Woman’s Exponent, Sept 1, 1883, p. 51. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith)
2:55- Treatment of Women in the World While Jesus Walked
12:39- Initial Interest in Research
24:40- Inviting Women to Speak
30:28- Idleness and Lowness of Spirit
40:37- Being a Woman in the Church
46:31- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Morgan Jones 0:00
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Most of us are aware that the Savior lived in a world that looked very different than our own. We've seen the Bible videos and have likely even imagined what it would have been like to walk and talk with him as we've watched The Chosen.
But what we may not have considered are the very different societal norms that existed when Christ was on the earth and how the very things Christ taught through his words and deeds often came into conflict with those norms, specifically as they related to women.
Dr. Lynne Hilton Wilson is a co founder of Book of Mormon Central. She earned her PhD in Theology and American religious history from Marquette University. An accomplished cellist, Lynne played with the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra. Lynne previously taught religion at BYU as an adjunct professor and has served in the Church Educational System for the past 30 years with assignments in France, Belgium, Wisconsin, and most recently, California. She is the author of Christ's Emancipation of New Testament Women, Nativity Narratives and Learning the Language of the Lord: A Guidebook to Personal Revelation. She and her husband Tao are the parents of seven children, all of whom have red hair.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so honored to have Dr. Lynne Wilson on the line with me today. Lynne, welcome.
Lynne Hilton Wilson 2:15
Hello, Welcome. Nice to be with you, Morgan.
Morgan Jones 2:17
Thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time. I know that you are a busy lady and have so many things going on, but I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this. And I think this topic that we're going to talk about is–one, so interesting. I also think right now with everything with "Come, Follow Me," we're hearing a lot about the Old Testament–and love the Old Testament–but I'm excited to talk a little bit about the New Testament today, and to talk about Jesus because that is one of my favorite topics to talk about.
Lynne Hilton Wilson 2:48
And I think the two go hand in hand, they often dovetail.
Morgan Jones 2:52
Absolutely. So to kind of set the stage in our conversation today, I wondered–because as I read some of this research that you've done, I found myself thinking about just how–sometimes it's almost hard to wrap our heads around the world of the New Testament, the world that Jesus Christ lived in, because it's so different than the world that we live in.
So I wondered if you could kind of set the stage for the conversation we're about to have, by painting a picture of what it would have been like to be a woman during the time that Jesus was on the earth.
Lynne Hilton Wilson 3:28
Yeah, so especially in the Judaic World, because most of our writings and research is in the Greco Roman world. And then we have the New Testament, and we have the rabbinic writings. But most of those rabbinic writings are recorded a little bit after. So by looking at all three areas–the Judeo as well as the Greco Roman world at the time, we get a pretty good picture, you know that this late second temple period right at the time of the Lord, we've got a lot of research, a lot of people that have written on this time.
We have lots of documentation from rabbis who are living then and their views on women are pretty clear. So there's also a very large spectrum–just like anywhere, and it's a little bit different if you're in a city, but it's fascinating to me to see in the Judaic World at least, after the Babylonian exile. So, after the time of Lehi, you know, after about 500 BC when they all come back to Israel, they start confining their women more and more and more.
And they add on to the normal commandments–which they later counted out to be 613 in the Old Testament, or the law of Moses at least. The first five books of the Old Testament there are 613 commandments for the men. They added on to these 10,000 oral laws and they segregate women, they talk about where women can communicate, there's an entire book, there are thousands of laws on how women should behave during their menses.
It's just . . . it's really tragic. So I'll just start with a couple of them. The rabbinic tradition, it became–were the Pharisees in the New Testament.
Morgan Jones 5:07
Lynne Hilton Wilson 5:08
And they felt very strongly that men and women should not be together. And physically, they even say, "In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve only had problems when they came together, if they were segregated, this never would have happened. And we would have all been born in Eden." And that's the way they looked at it, you know, at this time. We can find a lot of writings that suggest this.
And in addition to this segregation in public, they believed that in their worship, there should be a segregation, The women are over in one corner, they should be unheard. "You may come to worship at the synagogue if you have to, but you're not supposed to necessarily. And if you do, come, please be quiet, and be completely veiled head to toe, we don't want to see a hair of your head, a inch of your face. And if I see your ankles," There's one rabbi who says, "If I see your ankles, it's the same as sex with you."
So they really wanted them unseen and unheard. And but even in their homes, which is the scary thing for me, if you had enough money–if you're not poor out in the country–but if you're living in the city, and you've got money, there was a women's section of the home and a mens section of the home. And the women did not eat with the men, the women were in the category of the slaves, children, and servants. And they really kept themselves away. And I can just see satanic influences motivating this.
Because if you are segregated, you don't understand each other. You're not communicating with each other. And the communication becomes a huge issue. They have laws that stated–and these are coming from the Mishnah that were written down after the time of Christ, but claimed to be written by rabbis during the time of the temple when the temple still stood, the temple is destroyed in 70 AD. So just shortly after the–during the last portion of the New Testament.
But there are statements that are saying things like, "If a man wastes his time talking to a woman, he's going to Gehenna," because–or hell, Gehenna is hell–"You're going to go to hell because you aren't studying like you should, you should be studying the law. And women are the source of temptation, and so stay away from them."
And then Josephus, who's the Jewish priest, who becomes captured and he was a general in the war against Rome. And he becomes captured by the Romans and writes out the Roman history. Josephus says, "A woman is inferior in all things to men. So be very cautious when they're around because," you know, "Treat them like a slave." At this time, women even as soon as they were married at 12 and a half–it was legal to be married at 12 and a half–although there are many cases younger than that. But as soon as you're married, you call your husband, "Master." "Rabb," you call him master right from the start.
So communication was tricky. Segregation's tricky, I think the responsibilities are very normal. They worked their tails off in ancient worlds, you know, without electricity without–they're always spinning, they're always making bread, they're always grinding the flour, they're always chopping the wood, you know, they're extremely busy just to get a few meals on the table and to take care of their beloved children.
The dress–if you leave the house, without this complete veiling, and we have documents that describe the face being completely covered. We have one document of a high priest, who claims that his mother is an adulterous without ever knowing it's his mother, which tells us how heavily draped she was.
So the dress, if you leave the house, you have to be completely veiled head to foot. If you're in the home, you don't have to be. Although we do have some very, very pious, wonderful Jewish women who record their–have left messages that say, "My sons all served in the priesthood because a beam of my ceiling never saw a hair of my head." Which would suggest she remained completely draped at that time.
And I already told you the one about the ankles. So we get an impression of this extreme out of sight idea, but I think part of it comes because they have this idea, they don't understand the Fall like we do. You know in Genesis, there's no mention of Satan.
Morgan Jones 9:11
Lynne Hilton Wilson 9:11
The whole Old Testament has no mention of the devil. In the Fall, there's no mention of temptation. It's all about the snake and the woman, and the woman is the problem in this early period of some rabbinic thought. But unfortunately, the rabbinic thought the Pharisaic thought, even though you know, Paul's a Pharisee, even though there's only 6000 who are really, really, really into it deep at this time, it's still like sort of saying, "But the speed limit is going 65 miles an hour on the freeway." And so even though not everyone obeys the law, it still is the law.
So I feel like this segregation and communication may not have been implemented out in the fields where if you're a poor farmer, and you've got . . . or a poor fisherman and you're out in a tiny little town, you better believe you're women and children are coming out at harvest time, because you're gonna lose your grapes if you don't get them out there, you know.
And about 90–between 90 to 95% is what they estimate of the Jewish population in the Palestinian area, in Palestine in Israel, were actually living off the land as farmers or something. So a lot of the women were not under this extremely tightly bound regulations of the city life by the Pharisees, but it was still the law.
And in the New Testament, we have lots of examples of these. But my favorite example, in the New Testament is how they changed the woman being able to speak as a witness. Because in this time the women couldn't–and it wasn't just the women who couldn't give their voice of law in a court of law. Also, shepherds were dishonest, so they could not give their voice in a court of law.
There's two or three professions who were notoriously dishonest–now, the reason why a shepherd is dishonest is because their sheep might get on somebody else's property, so it's the shepherds fault. And the women are all dishonest because in the Old Testament, when Eve is–when Sarah is asked, when Sarah is–"Oh, your wife laughed," when the angels come to visit Abraham and saying, "Okay, your wife's going to have a baby next year, even though she's turning 90." And Sarah laughs in her heart, and they say, "Oh, your wife is laughing." She said, "I didn't laugh . . . at least out loud." You know, "These angels are catching me," because Sarah lied, all women are liars.
So they have this, you know, unfortunately they don't say because Judah committed adultery, all men are adulterers. You know, they don't do it on the other side. But we do see it a little bit, unfortunately, on the women's side. So there's just a little overview, I think of the Judaic World within the Roman Empire–the Roman Empire was not as severe, but women were to be kept in home. And to maintain the house. They only had six commandments. And they all had to do with maintaining the house. And they loved children, every man had to be married. And, in fact, they say there's only seven groups of people that can't get to heaven. And one of them is a man who refuses to marry.
Morgan Jones 12:10
Lynne Hilton Wilson 12:11
I teach that often in my institute class.
Morgan Jones 12:15
Well, I love that you set the stage in that way, because I think–one you just proved your point about the Old Testament and the New Testament going hand in hand, and I wouldn't have thought of how those things were connected. But that makes complete sense, whether it's Eve or Sarah, having set kind of the stage for what we are seeing in the New Testament.
But I want to–before we get too far into this, I wondered as you were talking because, Sister Wilson, I love your passion for this stuff, and I just wondered, how did you initially become interested in this topic, to the point of studying it to this extent?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 12:58
So I attend–every year there is a society of biblical literature where we have about 10,000 biblical scholars with PhDs in the field around the world who gather together and share their research. And we–year after year, I would hear the same ideas being labeled, "The reason why we have a problem with gender relations between men and women and inequality is because of the biblical tradition."
And I would get madder and madder and madder. And I finally said, "Okay, I'm gonna do something about this. I am going to show that it is not Christ. It is the antithesis of what he thought. It is our traditions." And it's not even in the Old Testament. It's not the law of Moses. We have fabulous women in the Old Testament. I mean, look at that wonderful, a virtuous woman, you know, in Proverbs, you know, she's a terrific. Women in the Old Testament were valued very differently.
As I mentioned earlier, it's after the Babylonian captivity, they get more and more confining and restricting. And initially, perhaps it was motivated by something good, but I see it as a satanic force to destroy the family. Because if you lose your mutuality in your relationships, if you start thinking someone is a lesser being than you are, unfortunately, it leads in the wrong direction to what our Savior has taught, yeah. So I just got mad. That's what motivated the research.
Morgan Jones 14:35
I love it. I love that you got mad and that's what motivated it. Okay, so I thought maybe we would kind of dig into some of these things. You mentioned segregation, and one thing that I love is that we see Christ inviting women into spaces where they had previously not been welcomed. How do we see that and what is the significance of Him kind of breaking down those walls that had been up?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 15:05
I even call it in my book, "Cultural background and baggage." You know, He just–I see Him as decisively as He cleansed the temple, I think He tore down these falsehoods that were destroying the family unit. And more importantly for you and me, destroyed the image of women and children.
But it's fascinating just starting at the very beginning of His ministry. Do you remember in Luke chapter eight, he says, he goes around teaching and preaching and baptizing and he went with the Twelve. And then there is a verse change. Now you take out all verses, you know, the New Testament has no verses. And it says, "With the Twelve and several women." Who paid His way, they were the event planners, they did everything that was needed. And these women were: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna–and Joanna has a lot of money, because she's married to Chuza, who is the right hand man of Herod. So she's rolling in the bucks.
He becomes a convert of–a disciple of Jesus Christ. Of course, we know the story of the healing of Mary of Magdala. But Susanna and Joanna appear that they also had healing stories, and that they were–and then it says in this very beginning of Luke eight, many other women are traveling with them all over the place.
So immediately, Christ begins His ministry by saying, "Ladies, why don't you join us?" And I just absolutely love the role, that they are disciples of Christ, and yet their role is paying the bill, preparing the meals, getting everything set up, getting the tables there.
And there are . . . what, 42 named women in the New Testament. And I bet if you and I tried our very hardest all day long, we could not name them. You know, I just feel like we have so many women that Christ has said, "I want you to be a part of our team. I want you to work with us." And then we have I think it's over 90 unnamed women, like the woman at the well is unnamed, you know.
Morgan Jones 17:09
Lynne Hilton Wilson 17:09
So I just think Christ brought them in to His work. He said, "Anybody who's willing to work with me, and believe on me, you're part of the team–join on." So He starts walking with them. Of course, we've got the feeding of the 5000, where Matthew says it's 5000 men plus women and children.
But because women are really not encouraged to be outside–I used to always think, oh, that meant there's 15,000 20,000 people–probably not. Because there's a pretty big social norm about women really shouldn't leave the house. So I don't know how many came. But of course, we know the story of Mary and Martha, you know Christ is talking to them.
I love the story, even in Bethany. Do you remember where Christ right before His–right before His passion, right before His last supper, Mary comes in, makes the the spikenard, the beautiful expensive nard and washes His feet with it, annoints His feet with it with her hair in Bethany.
This account, again, Christ is breaking down the segregation of the location, you know, He's allowing men and women to be in the same place outside, to be in the same place inside, to be in the same place spiritually. It's just very, very different. It is black and white different from that culture. And in reading these stories as a child, and even as an adult I just thought, "Oh, of course, Christ is doing this," it never dawned on me that He is breaking huge taboos.
Morgan Jones 18:38
Right. You mentioned earlier that women and children were sometimes put in the same category as slaves or servants. Did Jesus address that?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 18:50
Oh, good question. Yeah, I think . . . it's interesting because John the Baptist when He is right at the baptism of the Lord, a couple of gospels talk about His advice to different people. And servants come to Him and said, "What should we do?" And He says, "Obey your master." And then slave owners come and He says, "What should we do?" He says, "Be nice to your servants." But He never says get rid of servitude. So this is sort of interesting, too, because a half of the population of Jerusalem are either slaves or servants. 1/3 of the Roman Empire are slaves or servants. Every middle class home had about eight slaves or servants. This is a enormous part of the population.
And yet our Savior says in multiple places, "I came to serve, not to be served. I came to minister, not to be ministered unto." And if you remember at the Last Supper, what He does when He takes off His cloak, He puts on the apron and He washes the apostles feet. You know, this was the antithesis of what a master teacher should be doing. This was, you know, their hierarchy was so clearly lined up.
In fact, I'll just give you a little deviation on this story for a little background. In the ancient world, a master teacher and all of his students, all of his disciples, often the disciples would take on a job of a slave, so that they could spend more time with their master teacher. You know, "Let me come in and help feed you. Let me come in and help you get on your 35 pounds of a white wool, toga every morning."
Morgan Jones 20:35
"Just to be close to you."
Lynne Hilton Wilson 20:36
"Just to have five more minutes with you in your office time." And so they had these rules that a disciple of a master teacher could do the rules of a slave child up to a point. And that was the washing of feet. And a disciple could never wash the master teachers feet. It's too demeaning. It's too humbling. And so what does John the Baptist say? "I am not worthy to even, unlace, the leather strap of His sandals." "So I'm not worthy to be a slave."
And then Christ comes and tells Peter, "I'm gonna wash your feet" or all the apostles. And Peter says, "Never, never, are you going to wash my feet." I just see Christ, instead of liberating them from servitude, Christ wants to teach masters how to serve. Christ denounces the Masters over and over and over.
I love when He says, "He who sits in Moses's seat," which would be saying "He usually sits in the red chairs at General Conference," you know, Moses's seat means in the synagogue, you're sitting on the stand, you know, you're the one conducting the meeting. He says, "I don't want to sit there. I want to sit down in the nursery. I want to be with the kids."
Christ actions repeatedly over and over say, "I want to be a servant. And if you want to serve me, you need to be a servant." And about 150 years before Christ, some of the Jewish rabbis combed through the Hebrew Bible, and found as many prophecies as they could of the coming Messiah. And they pulled them all out so they'd be ready for the Messiah.
And they've got– everybody knows He's born in Bethlehem. Everybody knows He's going to duh, duh, duh. But they never took the verses from Isaiah that talk about a suffering servant that we sing about in "The Messiah" now. "He plucketh out the hair," or "His palms were engraved," you know, "Shall a nursing mother forget her son, no." You know, "His palms are engraved." Or those beautiful chapters of Isaiah 52 and 53 were never taken out.
They never saw their Promised Messiah, as one who would be a servant. And yet Christ came as a servant, and wanted to teach masters how to serve. And so when you asked, "Did Christ ever liberate the slaves? And how did he treat women and children on that?" I think He taught us to honor children more than we honor adults. And He taught us to honor women in all the categories that were important. "I want you to allow them to learn at my feet like Mary and Martha, I want you to allow them to learn of the scriptures. to become literate."
"I want the women to be a voice." "In fact, all my first witnesses are going to be women. I want Elizabeth to have a voice and Zacharias, the priesthood holder, to be silent." "I want Mary to be the one who first Has my voice." "I want Mary Magdalene to go tell the Apostles that she has seen me, because I am trying to cut down so many layers and layers and layers of bad habits. I am going to really exaggerate what I'm trying to do here and have these women with me witnessing."
So did he get rid of slavery? No, but He emancipated women and children and servants and slaves. So–and He brought the high and mighty down so that we could all learn how to be patient, long suffering, gentle, meek, kind, you know.
Morgan Jones 24:39
Wow, so good. I love how you mentioned that He gave women a voice and encouraged them to use their voices. I love in the New Testament some of the conversations whether it's the woman at the well, or Mary Magdalene, the conversations that we see the Savior having with women. This was obviously something that was important for New Testament authors to record. What do we learn about the specific way in which He interacts?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 25:11
I am so glad you mentioned that because when people say, "Well, Christ is this way, but certainly not Paul and Peter." I think, who wrote wrote it down? The Apostolic Church is the one who's choosing the longest conversation Christ has in the entire New Testament with anybody is the woman at the well.
Morgan Jones 25:31
Lynne Hilton Wilson 25:31
And I can't go back to the Old Testament and say, Rebecca, Rachel. You know, we have these fabulous shepherdesses at the well in the Old Testament, and then we have a not so fabulous–I wouldn't call her a harlot, but you know, she is on her fifth husband. Well, she's not on her fifth husband. That's the problem. He's already gone.
Morgan Jones 25:50
The woman at the well?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 25:51
Yeah, you know, and yet Christ chooses her because she's humble, and willing to learn and engage in this conversation to establish His first . . . I think it's His first branch, you know. She believes that He's the Messiah, she testifies to Him, she believes, and then she goes and gets the people of the city, they all come out, they all believe, Jesus stays there and establishes the first branch of Christianity wouldn't you know–Samaria, the enemy of the Jews gets the first branch.
I think He always is turning this socio economic, social pyramid, social ladder upside down, just over and over. He chooses His witnesses as shepherds and women and the very babes are opening their mouth at the resurrection. It's just fascinating how he, he really wants us to change the way we look at the world. It's not materialistic. It's not the way we perceive it. But He does want to provide liberation to those who are in captive, both in spirit prison and in the world. Spiritual captivity, as well as physical captivity to those He heals.
Morgan Jones 27:02
Absolutely. Okay. So there are a couple of really interesting things that I learned as I was reading some of your research. One, you talked about how if a woman was unable to bear children for 10 years, the husband had a religious obligation to divorce her. And they viewed childbirth as well . . . and I was like, okay, so they they value the ability to bear children, but then it's like, No, they also, but they also viewed it as a menial task, right? So how did Christ impact change in this area to show value for what women were bringing?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 27:39
That's really tricky because the menial task is a hard word because they really valued these kids, you know.
Morgan Jones 27:46
They valued the kids but not the women?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 27:48
Oh no, they did but they valued women to have children. This was their main job. But I do think going back to your question, though, did they really have a religious responsibility to divorce?
Okay, in the Greco-Roman world, the average man and woman had five divorces. In the Judaic World, it was less, but it was still so common. They have a list of all the things you can divorce your wife for. It is a religious obligation, if you can hear your wife's voice outside the house to divorce her. If she stands in the doorway to do her needlework so she can get some light it's not a religious obligation to divorce her, but you may divorce her.
If she stands at the doorway without her head completely covered, it is a religious obligation. If she stands in a window where people can see her without her head covered, it is a religious obligation to divorce her. You know, it's tragic.
And I think this is why Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, "You guys are divorcing too much. And in the beginning, in a Zion society. Let's do away with this. This is ridiculous." And one of the things that was so important to them–to have children, so they did make up these laws. If the woman is infertile, get rid of her and marry somebody else, you've got to raise up children.
And part of the problem was, Caesar Augustus wanted more population, and so He established some rules across the Roman Empire. If you have been–if you're not a certain age, if you're not married by 20–young girls, and young men, if you're not married by 25, I'm going to give you higher taxes. And if you have been a widow for two years, ladies, even though you're married at 12, or 13, and now you're 18. If you've been a widow for two years, and you have not produced five children already, you are going to get fined higher taxes too."
So they have this desire to have children in both the governmental world of the Roman Empire as well as the spiritual world of saying, "No, your responsibility is to have children." So being barren was a huge problem. My question is don't they look at the patriarchs wives? I mean barrenness had nothing to do with the wickedness of poor Sariah and Rebecca and also Rachel, I just feel like every one of them had struggled with it, and yet we're throwing eggs at these women? Hard. Hard hard.
Morgan Jones 30:23
Right. So, so then there's also–I thought this line was so interesting, you wrote "A chaste wife was an utmost requirement in honoring her husband. One rabbi underlined chastity in a wife's workload. You must always keep her busy or her idleness leads to unchastity." And another commentary, 'Idleness leads to lowness of spirit.'
I thought this was so interesting, because of course, we in today's world agree that chastity is super important. But I thought that line about idleness leads to lowness of spirit, and I thought about how much I think some problems in our society come as a result of idleness and the idle mind and seeing women, I think being brought down because of whether it be social media or comparison. And I wondered what your thoughts are on that?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 31:24
Interesting. You know, I just know what Jesus said, I won't–I don't want to talk about my thoughts. I just know what He says on this one. And He says, "I want you to go and serve your neighbor. I want you to get up and go help somebody else. I don't want you being idle. I don't even–I don't even want you doing good things. I want you doing better things. I want to be doing the best things possible."
I love the fact that He says the very end of his life, right before the Last Supper in Matthew, I think it's Matthew 25. "Inasmuch as you have done unto the least of these my brother you've done it unto me." You know, "I want you to not only be busy in well doing, but I want you to serve the people not because they're your friends or your neighbors or you happen to bump into them, I want you to serve them with as much compassion as if it were myself. As if I came–I passed you on the street, let's treat people that way," you know.
And the other place that I just love came to my mind when you said lowness of spirit. Do you remember at the Last Supper in John, that long sermon and Jesus says, "I am going to die. I'm leaving, you guys are going to be alone. I'm going to send you a comforter, but be of good cheer."
And then He says, "Because I've overcome the world." So I decided to do a little looking across all four standard works. Every time "Be of good cheer" is given as a commandment it is at a time of very lowliness of spirit. It is in terrible times. I mean a shipwreck, they're in prison, they are hungry, you know, they've just been told by the Savior that He's leaving them, but be of good cheer.
And I think it's feasible we can all work through our thoughts, and get out of our lowliness of spirit by serving, and by, "Be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world."
Now, of course, there are some times when we don't feel the Spirit, when there's a time of mourning, when there's a time of mental illness, when there's a time of physical, I mean, there's a lot of times when we–there's a time and season for all things. But the lowness of spirit that comes from idleness now, I think if Jesus were to come, He would say, "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."
And He would say, "Please, please serve. Serve each other. Get up and do something to bless someone else." And it's not about self centered, self absorption, the whole Satanic–I loved Elder Maxwell's statement on this, "The root of sin is selfishness." And anytime we're looking in, we are looking at Satan's voice and anytime we're looking out to serve others, we are following our Savior.
Morgan Jones 34:17
Lynne, I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I think that you are such a good example of this. You've been battling cancer for how long?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 34:27
Well, I haven't had to battle it this year, but it's the last six years I've had four different kinds of cancers.
Morgan Jones 34:22
And yet, the little bit I know of you, it seems like you are always doing something either for other people or for the gospel. And so I just wanted to say that I think you're somebody that doesn't just preach that, but you practice it. And I think those listening like they won't know that you have been going through that struggle, but they do hear the faith in your voice and your optimism and your passion. And I think that that goes a really long way.
Morgan Jones 35:08
Lynne, another thing that I wanted to ask you about is you mentioned that one of your favorite parts of this research has been the way that Christ invited women to be witnesses. And, and not just witnesses, but some of the most important witnesses. And one thing that I think is fascinating about this is a few years back, I was working at Deseret News, and it was when the Church came out with the change, saying that women could be witnesses in the temple.
And there was a lot of backlash about that. And some were like, "Well, it's such an insignificant thing to allow women to be witnesses." "Why have they not been able to be witnesses before?" But I think that when we study, Christ inviting these women in the New Testament to be witnesses, we realize that it's actually a very important responsibility. So I wondered if you would be willing to speak to that?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 36:03
Oh, I am just so thrilled with–I'm sorry that people had harsh feelings against it. My thought is any step forward is a step in the right direction and let us not look back, Mrs. Lot. You know, let's not look back, but just move forward in the right direction.
Because this was so important to our Savior. And I think one reason why it's . . . saturates the New Testament is because the gift of prophecy, according to the Book of Revelation, it says, "The gift of prophecy is a testimony, a witness through the Holy Ghost of Jesus's divinity." And so every time a woman is witnessing that Jesus is the Christ or the Promised Messiah, every time that we witness that His intervention in our lives through the Spirit, or witness of the Spirit, every time we testify of that, we are receiving the gift of prophecy.
I think this is huge. Not only is being able to have a voice important in the world, but remember, Joel–Joel chapter two–the maidservants will be able to speak forward, it's not just the educated women, the maidservants are going to have a voice in the last days. This was a huge breakthrough in the ancient world.
But that's one of the things that President Kimball said back in, I think it was 1979, when he gave that fabulous talk at BYU where he said, "We need women's scriptorian's. We need the voice of women." And then Sister Eubank's quoted again, saying "We need to articulate women who can defend the faith."
And Christ did the exact same thing. But I think by Christ saying that and asking for that, He healed not only family relationships, but He healed theological relationships. You know, they didn't understand the Fall. Unfortunately, they didn't have the book of Moses. They didn't quite get it down. And so by Christ stepping in and teaching His Apostles, "When I asked for witness, I want every person with a broken heart to open their mouth, including my mom, my–" you know, etc, etc, etc. All the wonderful voices that we have in the New Testament that are women, and voices and examples of women, you know, they sometimes don't speak, but they do.
I just love–I'm just going to give one example here, the woman who has the issue of blood for 12 years, so she's supposed to be segregated, she's not supposed to be outside, she's unclean. And Christ could have just allowed her to be healed by touching him and moving on.
But instead, He points her out so that she can become a witness. And He doesn't just say, "You're right, I healed you." He says, the opposite of that. He says, "Your faith," And then in a different translation, "Your faith has brought you salvation." "You are healed because of your faith." He empowers her. He wants her to be a voice in this enormously public setting. You know, everyone's running to the synagogues, either the head of the synagogues house to heal Jarius's daughter, and Savior just pulls her out and says, "This is an example of the kind of faith I would like all of you men to have."
And I just feel like the fact that Matthew records that all the women that were at the tomb saw the Lord, as well as Mary Magdalene confirms again, that He asks everyone who has seen or felt to testify. To me it not only liberates the New Testament women and empowers them, but it makes today's sacrament meetings and missionary efforts and PTA meetings and work, you know associations that wherever we go to be so important that we have been called as witnesses, no matter whether we are old or young or male or female, or endowed or ordained, it doesn't matter. He has called us to witness. And the more ability we can do that with a Spirit of the Lord, the better.
Morgan Jones 40:30
Lynne, I wanted to ask you, so I was speaking in a fireside a couple of weeks ago, and there was a lady–they did like a q&a at the end. And a lady told me that she feels like it's hard being a woman in the Church. And obviously, for me, I was like, that's a pretty loaded statement. I don't know exactly where it's coming from, like that could come from multiple different places. But then she said, you know, "What did I think we could do to improve that?" And I wondered, if you were the one receiving that question, how would you answer that?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 41:07
You know, I'll quote somebody else that I really admire on this one, but I–I'm a theologian by education, I studied theology with the Catholics. And so I know a little bit about what other Christian denominations and other faith traditions believe. And I feel anybody who believes that there is a mother in heaven, that Eve was a substantial, significant, positive figure in the history of the world, is standing in a totally different place than others.
I believe that Jesus Christ was the first feminist, and that Joseph Smith was the first 19th century feminist or else the greatest 19th century feminist. I feel like the things that Joseph did, establishing an organization for women at that time, that was on a parallel equal footing, he couldn't, he said, "The Church is not organized completely until the women are thus organized, we have to raise up priestesses."
And then for Joseph to say, in the Jewish tradition, at the time of the New Testament, there was a rabbi who taught, women cannot get to heaven, unless they are affiliated with a good man. And if they're not affiliated with a good man, they cannot get into heaven. Whereas Joseph said, just the opposite, "A man cannot get to heaven unless he is sealed to a good women, you know, it's just fabulous."
But I appreciate that that's not the only story. So that's not the only problem. And so I'd like to step back and say, theologically, we are right on. Christ has restored, that there is mutuality, and that we are all needed. But I would like to step back to the idea of servitude, and say, when we sign up for baptism, when we choose to join the Lord's team, when we want to put on the Lord's jersey, and we are signing up to mourn with those that mourn, and to serve our fellow man. If we want to walk where Christ walked, don't go to the Holy Land, serve another person.
You know, if we want to be a member of the team in full-fledged, all in, fashion, do what Christ did, and wash someone's feet. Do what Christ did and heal, nonstop. Do what Christ did and feed the hungry. I just feel like sitting on the stand is not a disciple of Jesus Christ. It's an organization, and we need organization and Christ directed that as well.
But being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, is being a servant of our Savior. And I feel blessed as a woman, that so many of the Christlike attributes that we're supposed to strive for–and I'm just going to look at Section 121, you know, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned. But we can also go to Paul and see the gifts of the Spirit and charity, often those who are affiliated with feminine characteristics in the traditional sense.
I feel I am blessed. I am so glad that by nature, and by nurture, and by study, and by faith, I know how to serve. And so in this Church–because socially right now, someone says, "I'm a chaplain," you can't even baptize someone even though you're a chaplain. I say, "I have as much authority as your minister does, though. I can speak in Church. I can–" I just feel like we're measuring the wrong thing.
If Christ were here, he would not be measuring how many talks are given in general conference by different genders. He would be measuring whether or not you felt the spirit during those talks to change your life. I just think we're measuring the wrong things. It's not about gender. It's about mutuality. And that is what Christ tried to break down in the meridian of time, so that men and women and children, all the young, would work together to build the kingdom. "Blessed are the peacemakers."
And we've perhaps become a little too worried about things of the world again, and power and authority–we've already been taught from Liberty Jail–will not be maintained, unless it's done on the principles of gentleness, gentleness, meekness, and kindness and love unfeigned.
You know, I feel like this is the best place to be if you're a woman, we have so many opportunities to serve, this is the best place to be because we can be endowed as priestesses This is the best place to be because we believe that women are good, and the Eve is good, and that our Father in Heaven is actually affiliated with our Mother in Heaven. I mean, it's just a fabulous place to be.
Morgan Jones 46:28
Wow, that was inspiring. Thank you so so much. I felt like we already kind of started to to tiptoe into this. But my last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Lynne Hilton Wilson 46:44
For me, I think to be all in is to work on my discipleship. Christ asked us to draw nearer to Him, and He will draw near unto us, "If you love me keep my commandments." Being all in for me is giving my widow's mite every morning. On my knees, to serve Him. Being all in is a beautiful way of putting aside the selfish thoughts and looking for opportunities to follow my Savior as becoming a servant of all.
Morgan Jones 47:29
Lynne, thank you so so, so much for first of all, for your research for the time that you've put into it, for your scholarship, and for your willingness to share these things with us. It means a lot to me.
Lynne Hilton Wilson 47:44
Oh, I've loved every minute of it. Thanks, Morgan. I hope you have a wonderful day.
Morgan Jones 47:48
Thank you. We are so grateful to Dr. Lynne Wilson for joining us on today's episode. You can find Lynne's book, Christ's Emancipation of New Testament Women on Amazon. A big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this episode and thank you so much for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.