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Tabernacles of Clay

Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism

By Taylor G. Petrey

Tabernacles of Clay

Approx. 288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5622-9
    Published: June 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5621-2
    Published: June 2020

Paperback Available June 2020, but pre-order your copy today!

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Taylor G. Petrey’s trenchant history takes a landmark step forward in documenting and theorizing about Latter-day Saints (LDS) teachings on gender, sexual difference, and marriage. Drawing on deep archival research, Petrey situates LDS doctrines in gender theory and American religious history since World War II. His challenging conclusion is that Mormonism is conflicted between ontologies of gender essentialism and gender fluidity, illustrating a broader tension in the history of sexuality in modernity itself.

As Petrey details, LDS leaders have embraced the idea of fixed identities representing a natural and divine order, but their teachings also acknowledge that sexual difference is persistently contingent and unstable. While queer theorists have built an ethics and politics based on celebrating such sexual fluidity, LDS leaders view it as a source of anxiety and a tool for the shaping of a heterosexual social order. Through public preaching and teaching, the deployment of psychological approaches to “cure” homosexuality, and political activism against equal rights for women and same-sex marriage, Mormon leaders hoped to manage sexuality and faith for those who have strayed from heteronormativity.

About the Author

Taylor G. Petrey, associate professor of religion at Kalamazoo College, is author of Resurrecting Parts: Early Christians on Desire, Reproduction, and Sexual Difference.
For more information about Taylor G. Petrey, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“Bold, original, and timely, Tabernacles of Clay is a field-defining book that does for Latter-day Saints what they have never fully done for themselves: lending a degree of ideological continuity to their shifting views about gender, sexuality, and marriage. A landmark step forward in both documenting and theorizing modern church teaching on sexuality and sexual difference, this is a work that Mormon studies has been waiting for and will come back to again and again.”–Patrick Q. Mason, Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, Utah State University

“Based on exquisite primary research constituting an extensive documentary history of LDS teachings on gender and sexuality since World War II, Taylor Petrey presents an astute historical analysis of how the Mormon Church has adapted, rejected, and accommodated broader cultural shifts. An essential contribution to the study of religion and sexuality and the conflicts they incite.”–Sara J. Moslener, Central Michigan University