Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Matriarchal Order

I want something strange for my birthday.

Basically a box with two big Q-tips

This is the DNA Test for the National Geographic Genographic project. For $200 they will send you two mouth swabs, which you swish around in your mouth, and then mail back to them. With the swab they are able to use your mitochondrial DNA and the DNA from your Y chromosome (if you are man) to trace your lineage back thousands of years. So far the project has hundred of thousands of participants from around the world and they are beginning to be able to trace the genetic trends and migration patterns of ancient people based on DNA markers. The results you get back from your mouth swab should be able to tell you from what individual woman you descended from and where your maternal ancestors moved and migrated to through the centuries.

These videos explains it much clearer than I would be able to do. It is really quite amazing.

If you are interested in more of the science behind the project, this webpage has some great videos.

Maybe I am strange, but I would LOVE to have this done. Here is why: 

If you remember back to your 7th grade Biology class the "Y" chromosome is  only found in males and is the sex-determination gene. If you have a "Y" Chromosome then you are a man, if not you are a woman. This means that the "Y" Chromosome has been passed down since the very first man to all other men living on the earth. Tracing it back can tell a man his paternal lineage. Yet only tracing the "Y" Chromosome gives us less than half the picture of humanity. 

The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) on the other hand is found in both men and women. The mtDNA it is the "powerhouse" of the cell and is where cells create the energy they need to live.  Scientists have discovered that within the mitochondria there are thirteen genomes that are the life activation sites where-- miraculously-- the cell creates the "spark" that makes life possible. The amazing thing about mitochondrial DNA is that it is ONLY passed on-- to both men and women-- through the mother. Men's mitochondrial DNA is contained in the sperm and it dies before it is passed on to the egg. So the only mitochondrial DNA that both men and women have comes from their mother. This means that by examining their mtDNA every person on earth would be able to trace their maternal lineage back to the very first woman. In fact, this woman is often called by scientists "Mitochondrial Eve." The woman to whom ALL of humanity-- both male and female-- has an unbreakable DNA chain back to.

It just takes my breath away to think about what that means.

It means that within the very first woman, this "Mitochondrial Eve", was given the literal power to  activate life. That as she bore children that life force was passed on to her sons and her daughters in the from of their mtDNA. Then as Eve's daughters began to bear children they passed on the VERY same mtDNA to their children, thus giving them life. Their daughters then passed on that that life activating power to the next generation of women, who passed it onto their daughters, who passed it on and on until eventually that very same mitochondrial DNA (with a few mutations) is what now powers my cells and sustains my  life force. It is incredible to think that I am literally connected in an unbroken chain of mtDNA, through all those generations of women, back to my very first mother.

It is the matriarchal order.

The matriarchal order is the plan, the lineage, the way through which ALL of God's children have, and will, enter mortality. There is no other way to get to this earth than through the body of woman. You just can't sneak in the back door, it doesn't work that way. If you want to come to earth and get a body you must pass through a woman's body into this world, and she must pass onto you those life activating cells. There is absolutely no other way to do it. Furthermore, once you have your body you will forever carry with you that mtDNA, a permanent and real link that seals you into the beautiful tree of humanity.

I loved how author and scientist Bryan Sykes explained his own feelings about this order in his book, "The Seven Daughters of Eve." He said:
" I am on a stage. Before me, in the dim light, all the people who have ever lived are lined up, rank upon rank, stretching far into the distance... I have in my hand the end of a thread which connects me to my ancestral mother way at the back. I pull on the thread and one woman's face in every generation, felling the tug, looks up at me. Their faces stand out from the crowd, and they are illuminated by a strange light. These are my ancestors. I recognize my grandmother in the front row, but in the generations behind her the faces are unfamiliar to me... There are all my mothers who passed this precious messenger [mitochondrial DNA] from one to another through thousands of births, a thousand screams and thousands of embraces of a thousand newborn babies. The thread becomes an umbilical chord." ( In "Eve and the Choice Made in Eden" by Beverly Campbell, pg 47-48
In a similar way all who wish to enter into the Kingdom of God must pass through the patriarchal order. They must become "reborn", as Christ describes it, as the sons and daughters of God through the ordinances of the priesthood, which includes baptism, the endowment and sealings. These ordinances, which are recorded on heaven and on earth, makes it possible for there to be an unbroken sealing link  through all generations. A link which literally makes it possible for us to be reborn into our resurrected immortal bodies, be cleansed from our sins, and enter into God's kingdom.

Really, the goal of all the work we do in our homes and in the church is aimed at having every person who has ever lived on earth spiritually sealed, bound, and connected together all the way back to Adam, just like we are already-- through the process of our birth-- physically sealed to our mother Eve. Understanding this makes everything we do in the gospel so much more clear to me. As author Beverly Campbell said,
"What insight this fundamental connection gives us of the gathering into families in the hereafter and therefore of the importance of genealogy and temple work. How marvelous is the plan of God and His wonderful scales of justice as He places recognition of the linkage of humankind through the mother and the lineage of the priesthood through the father." ("Eve and the Choice Made in Eden" by Beverly Campbell, pg. 48
It is truly incredible when you start to think about it. It makes me want to shout with joy and spread the good news of the gospel from the housetops. It makes me want to stand beside the men in my life and help them honor and use their priesthood righteously; to help them to truly see and understand the marvelous work that God has entrusted to them on this earth. It makes me want to hug the women around me and say, "Do you understand? Can you see who you are? We have the most amazing bodies!" It makes me yearn to search out my ancestors and take their names to the temple. Yet more than anything, it makes my heart swell with joy and gratitude to the men and women who have sealed me into the family of God-- both physical and spiritually. Those men and women who have worked together to forge a matriarchal and a patriarchal order-- endlessly sealing and linking all of God's children together for eternity. 

God has truly designed the work of this earth to be  THE MOST beautiful partnership between men and women imaginable.

Which is why I think it would be really neat to get a little peek at my very own ancient maternal lineage for my birthday.  Even though $200 does seem like a lot for two giant Q-tips. 

A girl can always hope right?


  1. I am taking the liberty of using the first comment to post some of my additional thoughts. These are just speculations, but I want to throw them out as food for thought.

    * So I thought it was interesting that the Genographic project traces humanities roots back to Africa. We know that because of the flood Noah and his family went through all of the people currently populating the earth will be able to track their maternal lineage back to Noah's wife (if she happened to give birth to another daughter after the flood) and the three daughter-in-laws (the wives of Shem, Japheth and Ham) who were the only women to survive the flood. We don't know where the ark landed after the flood but we do know that one of the daughters of Ham, Egyptus, was the first to settle in the Nile River Valley. It is interesting to me that this is the near the place where the Genographic project tracks back the maternal lineage of all mankind.

    * Also, in the genographic project they call the common ancestors, that all of mankind can track their lineage back to, "haplogroups". In Latter-day Saint lingo it might be more accurate to call these groups "tribes" or "houses". They are similar in idea to the 12 tribes or houses of Israel as being the groups that all mankind will be able to trace their patriarchal lineage back to.

    * Also I think it is important to point out that regardless of a woman's ability to create life she is still VERY much a part of the matriarchal order. It doesn't leave her out. True, her specific mtDNA might not get passed on to another generation of women but the same is true for a woman who only bears sons. A woman may not have the opportunity to physically pass on her power but she is still a recipient of it and that power is an innate part of who she is. Sort of like a man who has all daughters. He may never get a chance to pass his priesthood on to anyone, but it doesn't mean that it is any less a part of who he is.

    * Also, Elder Ballard has clarified that:

    "In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife."

    * It is important to remember that both the matriarchal order and the patriarchal order can not be accomplished without the significant contributions of both men and women. These are shared responsibilities and shared powers. Yet, even though they are shared powers it doesn't change the fact that one is a matriarchal order (in which women shoulder a higher percentage of the work) and the other is patriarchal order (in which men shoulder a higher percentage of the work). Actually, I have a whole post in the works about this. But I just had to make sure that the basics of that were clear.

  2. This is very interesting and quite brilliant. I'm going to mull it over and then read this again. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I totally get that and have been jawing Joels ears off for years. I just havent seen anything to back myself up. Women link generations. and Men do the physical binding in ordinances and in Temples. That binding is done physically through women, (hence the benefit of polygamy - more lines are saved- you only need one man to do ordinances for what multiple woman who can produce multiple lines of posterity)its about getting people home. Getting more people those saving ordinances. and they are bound to one Woman through what we can label as a physical blood source. Wow.

  4. Happy Birthday Heather
    I am curious to know the results, please share. I am sure this will take your "
    Women in the Scripture" blogging to a whole new level, welcome to the next rung on the ladder.

    I have found a really interesting blog; called Just Genesis@ blogspot.com the blog owner's name is Alice Linsley; her bio:"As a Christian Apologist, I have been pioneering the field of Biblical Anthropology for over 30 years. I teach Philosophy and Ethics and I am a member of the American Scientific Affiliation."
    She has done some really thorough research, she has some strong opinions and interesting theories. Check it out. Can't wait to hear your results.

  5. Love the connections you have made here! I've been wanting to do the mtDNA for a while now too...just because it would be so cool! Maybe I should ask for it for Christmas. In talking about giving birth several months ago when baby J was born I told my girls that I carried my grandchildren in me too. The eggs they have in their bodies were created in my womb as they were developing. It blew their mind to think about that.

  6. This was thought-provoking, thank you. And it is working quite nicely with the thought that has been growing inside me about the immortality and the eternal life of man scripture. It is my glory, He says, to bring about the immortality and the eternal life of man. Women facilitate, through the atonement of Christ, the immortality part (by giving mortality), and men, through the atonement, the eternal life part (they give spiritual birth). Again, both women and men have a part in each other's roles, of course. In particular, this makes me stand in awe at the atonement of Christ, without which none of this, despite our best efforts at linking, would be possible.

    1. Isa, amen to that! It is amazing and so humbling to realize that without Christ and the Atonement everything we do would be useless!

    2. I love the way you worded that: "Women facilitate, through the atonement of Christ, the immortality part (by giving mortality), and men, through the atonement, the eternal life part (they give spiritual birth)."

    3. Wow, Isa. You put it so much better than I was going to. So . . . from someone who currently struggles with women's roles in the church. Basically men provide the spiritual birth through the priesthood and women provide the literal birth? So physically everyone has to come to earth through a woman and then spiritually they have to go through a man (for the ordinances).

      In that case, I think it's interesting that our roles in the family proclamation help give us parts in both immortality and eternal life. So for mortality I, as a female, confer a body on my children and then spiritually it's my job to nurture them and raise them into the gospel. Andrew, as a male, spiritually gives them the ordinances needed to return to Heavenly Father and for mortality his job is to protect and provide. So we both have unique jobs for both "immortality" and "eternal life". With the fact that then we're supposed to help each other in our duties as well.

      Yeah, mine isn't written as eloquently but maybe you get what I was trying to say. This insight really helped me a lot.

    4. McKenzie, yes, well said!!! And in case you haven't seen this post yet, I suggest you go read it as a starting point for further study:


      ... what a nice time to be alive and to be a woman in the church! :)

  7. Heather, did you see that there's an educators discount and homeschoolers can apply? I just submitted my application:)

    1. ooh! That is perfect. Thanks for letting me know! I am finding there are some fun perks of being a homeschooling parent :)

  8. This is Lani, using my husband's computer. :-) Brilliant. As usual. So glad to learn from you, friend.

  9. My mom is way in to this I will have to send this post to her.

  10. Wow! This makes me want to get a test. You explained this so brilliantly and beautifully Heather~

  11. You make such good points here! It's fascinating and so uplifting. I want to get that test done too!

  12. Hey, for those of us reading Heather's blog, we've gained so much from it, right? I know that this blog has been critical for my spiritual growth. :) And she doesn't ask anything in return.
    I want to do something nice for her. :) so heather, if you decide to go through with this, there will be a $20 contribution from a very grateful 19 year old future mother. :)

  13. WOW. This is so thought provoking and fascinating. It ties right in with the article from Valerie Hudson that you shared a few months ago. Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. again thank you so much for all this delectable food for thought! so many interesting thoughts and ideas I can't wait to ponder some of the implications of all of it!

  15. this is an amazing idea! I think you should do it! :)

  16. I'd love to know if you ever had the chance to get this test done & if you were glad about your results. I noticed today that they are offering free shipping for the holiday's with $40 off. A squirt less then the usual. If you have, it would be great to read about your experience in an update post.