Martin Stephan, the LCMS and Patriarchy

A major factor in the Saxon Emigration was the complete domination of men in all decisions and events during the time period I have covered, i.e., the later 17th century to the death of Martin Stephan in 1846. No surprise.

Patriarchal power, of course, didn’t stop there after the establishment of the LCMS in 1847. Perpetuation of male domination in thought, word and deed continued relentlessly. Women were here on earth to marry, bear many children and be subservient wives, especially in families with a Lutheran Pastor. Cracks in this system only began to appear with my parents’ (third) generation in the 1930’s, when some women (and men) simply remained unmarried and the Stephan males declined to become pastors. A ground swell for Stephan women, developed in earnest after W.W. II in the fourth generation, when education, particularly higher education for the Stephan females became more common.
Society, as well advanced thanks to the women’s movement, birth control, civil and gay rights, scientific advances, education and research. However, the LCMS stubbornly remained anchored in the 19th century or earlier.
For many of us Stephan women (and some men) the above societal changes began to clash with our childhood roots in conservative Lutheranism. Like tectonic plates, our roots and the outside world we knew through education, travel, or relationships slipped away from each other.
As a result, many Stephan descendants of the 4th generation and increasingly the 5th generation, have distanced themselves from their heritage and/or Lutheran faith. German as a language which had bound us all together in the past, declined not only for political reasons, but also as a result of developing globalization. Some women did not learn German as children, nor took the language in college. Finally, some women selected partners who had grown up outside the LCMS walls.
Who then is left to carry the baton? Not many of us. As a result, the Martin Stephan legacy is likely to implode and fade into the mists of history fade through death, disinterest or distancing from the LCMS.
I am under no illusions that the LCMS will miss at all the voices of those of us who fought for rectifying Martin Stephan’s role in history. It will remain in all generations in our collective DNA, however, and have to be dealt with by each individual in the Stephan family wishing to address it.
Martin Stephan, you were not perfect. None of us is. You will have to deal with your faults and sins just as we all must do. But none of us deserves to be treated the way your were.
More details and fleshing out of this blog to follow.

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