When I was growing up, “woman” meant “woman” and “man” meant “human.” Or “man.” Depending on the context. (I and other women had to analyze and decide for ourselves.)
I like a little turn-about, and that’s one of the reasons I’m fully enjoying my preparation for the Sunday School lesson on D&C 25. In this case, the revelation to Emma Smith applies to both women and men: “And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all” (D&C 25:16).
That makes me read the scriptures in that section differently. Instead of proposing a one-sided relationship in which Emma (and, hence, “women”) should “delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him,” the verse highlights a marriage of equals, a mutually-supportive relationship in which both husbands and wives delight in their spouses and feel that the honor that comes to either is a glory to both. Verse five can be read similarly: it is not just a woman’s role to console her husband in the spirit of meekness, it is a principle of good relationships to comfort each other in affliction. These verses (and the rest of the section) open up from a directed lesson on gender roles to a broad discourse on relationships and righteousness. I like it.
Do women have an easier time of “likening” the scriptures to themselves because they are more used to reading themselves into gendered language? Perhaps. What about you, men? Do you read yourselves into stories, conference addresses, and scriptures about women or by women? In any case, when reading D&C 25, you should.