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What a wonderful time to be LDS! So many small but important changes are taking place to move us closer to Zion. As readers will no doubt be aware from several essays of mine published in the pages of SquareTwo, I believe that the government of Zion is diarchical where men and women rule together as equal (though not identical) partners. (See, for example, here and here .) And I believe in the Heavenly Diarchy of our Father and Mother, who are united in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage that is the pre-requisite of their divinity.

As can be imagined, my antennae are sensitive to the stirrings of that diarchy which I believe must presage any return of Zion. I offer a few examples from the autumn of 2017 for historians to note in the future as they chronicle our faith community’s development of the diarchical norm.

First is the increased use of the term “Heavenly Parents” in the October 2017 general conference. There were several places where one would have expected to see “Heavenly Father” and instead the phrase “Heavenly Parents” was used. This normalization of referring to our Heavenly Parents is an observable rhetorical movement in the direction of diarchy, I would assert.

Using the search functions on the lds.org website, I counted all instances of the term “heavenly parents” and “mother in heaven” that were not a direct quote from the Family Proclamation (though these might have been a quote from some other source). I also counted references to how husbands should not make any decisions without total unity with their wives. I found five: “Yearning for Home,” by President Uchtdorf, “Three Sisters” by President Uchtdorf, “Value Beyond Measure” by President Joy D. Jones, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and “Earning the Trust of the Lord and Your Family” by Elder Richard J. Maynes. There were also two talks in which the need to eliminate sexism was explicitly mentioned: “The Trek Continues!” by Elder M. Russell Ballard, and “The Eternal Everyday” by Elder Quentin L. Cook. My final tally is seven mentions that point us in the direction of diarchy.

I thought to compare the most recent general conference from one a decade ago, to see if mentions have increased or decreased, and so I examined the October 2007 conference for similar mentions, just as an exploratory exercise. I searched every online talk from that conference for mention of the terms “parents,” “mother,” and “sex.” I found not one reference to “heavenly parents,” “heavenly mother,” or “sexism.” (Astonishingly, there was even a talk about mothers, but in that talk was no mention whatsoever of the existence of a “Heavenly Mother.” I predict that one say that will be seen as evidence of the incredible blinding power of LDS culture, because there is no doctrinal reason not to mention our Mother in a talk about mothers!)

Zero to seven in ten years. That’s remarkable, and I mean that sincerely and with great happiness. We may not be sprinting towards Zion’s diarchy, but I sense we are at least power-walking in that direction!

Second, I note that an interesting statement was recently made by Elder Dallin H, Oaks. In his April 2017 conference talk, “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation,” he notes something that I have never heard before, but which is true: “ . . . we know comparatively little about [God the Father]”. Elder Oaks goes on to say that while we know very little about God the Father, we do know some important things, such as that He is the Father of Jesus Christ and all of us, for example. Elder Oaks concludes, “What we know of the nature of God the Father is mostly what we can learn from the ministry and teachings of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.”

I found this striking, because of course the very same thing has been said about Heavenly Mother. We certainly “know comparatively little” about Her. We do know some important things about Her, such as the fact she exists, that she is married to Heavenly Father, and that She is the mother of all of our spirits, including Jesus Christ. And it would be fair to conclude that what we know of the nature of God the Mother is mostly what we can learn from the ministry and teaching of Her Son, Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that interesting? We actually know about as much about Heavenly Mother as we know about Heavenly Father! That is certainly food for thought, especially since people have often told Her Daughters that since we know very little about Her, that implies She must not be very important in the eternal scheme of things. And, I would add, there is the further implication that we should not spend our time thinking or speaking about Her. I would submit that since lack of knowledge about Him does not diminish Heavenly Father’s importance in our lives, that lack of knowledge about Her likewise does not diminish Heavenly Mother’s importance in our lives.

I find Elder Oaks’ statement striking, then. In a sense, it provides another paving stone for building the foundation of diarchy.

Third, I note a recent blogpost by the LDS.org blog staff, dated 25 October 2017, entitled “How to Help Young Women See Their Value in the Church,” featuring an interview with the General Young Women Presidency. Here are some pertinent quotes from that interview:

Sister Oscarson: “As we were out traveling and training with Young Women leaders, on several occasions I would ask Young Women leaders, ‘How do the young women that you supervise in your classes and your wards, how do they see themselves as part of the work of the priesthood?’ And the answer that I got every single time, just consistently, was ‘We teach our young women to support the priesthood.’”

But what does ‘support the priesthood’ really mean? How does our interpretation of that affect the message we share with the rising generation of women in the Church? How can leaders and parents better teach young women to see their value in God’s work?

Host: Should we teach “supporting the priesthood” differently?

Sister Marriott: We’ve heard it, but it’s hard to get it into our minds, to make that shift that the priesthood is not the men of the Church. Priesthood is the power of God, and we all work with that power—not necessarily with keys or even with duties described in the scriptures, but we all have this power as we fulfill our covenant responsibilities. Even saying “support the priesthood,” we’re really saying “support the power of God.” I think we even need to go better and say we support those who work with priesthood power so that priesthood doesn’t take on this human identity that we just keep going back to. It’s just habit. But we need to get out of that habit. We need to keep pushing that idea out that this is about God’s power in our lives . . .

Sister McConkie: . . . All those ordinances are invitations to receive the Spirit. And when they receive the Spirit of God in their lives, then they receive heavenly direction. They learn how to function in the work of salvation, in the work of the priesthood. All of the work of salvation is done by priesthood power. And we access that priesthood power as we participate in the work . . .

What an extraordinary interview! I will let it speak for itself, but the vision here is clearly one of diarchy, where both men and women access and use priesthood power in diarchic fashion.

And finally, I recently found this lovely LDS meme, taken from the above interview, all dressed up in PINK (see below). This is a very diarchic statement to have hanging in one’s home or splashed as one’s desktop screen saver, asserting boldly that priesthood power is not given to men alone, but that women use that power every day in their own labors in the kingdom. The Church’s promulgation of this quote is path-breaking in its import:

To my eyes, dear readers, these four observable steps may not be a headlong rush towards diarchy, but they represent tangible progress towards that goal—progress that no longer seems glacial in tempo. In a sense, we may be “power-walking” towards diarchy in our faith community, and it is a joyful journey indeed. In ten years, I hope that every time a speaker in general conference asserts that our Heavenly Father loves us, that they will also assert that our Heavenly Mother loves us, too. I hope that, as Kayla Bach has suggested in a SquareTwo essay, that the Young Women’s theme be changed to say, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Parents, who love us and we love Them.” I hope that every Church talk about mothers and motherhood will mention--at least once--that we have a Mother in Heaven. I’m aiming to stay alive for at least another ten years so that I can count, as I have done here, how much we have progressed in that time.

Have you, dear readers, noticed any other signs of progress towards diarchy in our faith community? Send them to us at squaretwojournal@yahoo.com and we’ll publish them in the comments section to this article.



Full Citation for this Article: Hudson, Valerie M. (2017) "Power-Walking Towards Diarchy in the LDS Faith," SquareTwo, Vol. 10 No. 3 (Fall 2017), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleHudsonDiarchy.html, accessed <give access date>.

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COMMENTS: 3 Comments

I. Kristy Mount

I loved your article, “power walking towards diarchy.” At the end of the article, you asked for any other observations on steps toward diarchy that readers had noticed. I’ve been keeping this list for awhile as a way to reassure myself that progress is happening, even when sometimes I can’t see it up close.

Steps to equality:

2017:

  • Women can wear pants to church employment
  • Maternity/paternity leave in church employment
  • Done with boy scouts: equal YW/YM budgets
  • General RS president, 1st and 2nd counselors all with past careers. 2nd counselor worked while she had kids.
  • Women's session moved into GC weekend to increase visibility and legitimacy (result = fewer female speakers?)
  • Oct priesthood session - all decisions in marriage made with full consent of wife, no priesthood trump card.

  • 2016:

  • female missionaries can wear pants in mosquito climates
  • Apostle's wife =worked as a lawyer while she had a child (Renlund)

  • 2015:

  • Female leaders on priesthood councils at general and stake levels.
  • Female institute teachers can remain employed after they have children.
  • Nelson talk: rise to your full stature in home, church and COMMUNITY. (The Holy Ghost testified to me that I had been called to work outside the home and should hold no shame over it. I’m a mother of two, pregnant, and a doctor. It also shouted loud and clear that women were not yet operating at their full potential, but at a culturally shunted expectation. Rise up!)

  • 2014:

  • Holland talk: heavenly mother

  • 2013

  • Oaks talk: women have priesthood authority in their callings.
  • Women pray in general conference

  • _____________________________________________________________________________________

    II. Leslie Pearson Rees

    How I love this article!  Once more, many thanks to you, Valerie.

    For many years (at least 50 of my 76 years), in Church assignments I have taught, in both talks and lessons, that when Jesus told his followers “if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (John 8:19; 14:7), He was also teaching “If ye have known me ye have known my Mother also.”  He is the son of His Parents!  Both of Them!  And represents the knowledge and patterns and teachings and compassion, etc., which They modeled for Him.

    Christ declared: “If ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)  So there is no question about the fact that Father and Mother are One.  If we learn of Christ, and strive to be One with Him and therefore with His (and our) Father, the same truth applies to our Mother in Heaven.  The title “God,” in it’s complete and perfect meaning, includes Man and Woman together  (see Moses 2:27).  Which is one reason why, in sacred places, we do not use the term “Goddess.”  Christ Himself, while a member of the Godhead even before morality, did not claim He had reached perfection.  That assertion came only after His sojourn in mortality, which fact opens a number of other questions about His mortal status that I’m not sure most are ready to deal with just yet.  I would, however, point out an often overlooked statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 308). It is a fact that Christ said, after His resurrection, now He, as was already the case with His Father, both Gods, had now reached Perfection (See Matt 5:48; 3 Nephi 12:48). I leave others to contemplate what was being taught.

    This knowledge of what it means to know God has also impressed upon me the responsibility we take upon ourselves at baptism.  As Alma taught, we covenant “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—“ (Mosiah 18:9).  Contemplating that, I realized that at baptism we, in fact, have promised to live so that those who know us may say “because I have known you, I better know the Savior- and therefore also better know His Parents.”  Wow!!  That is overwhelming!  Fortunately, as Elder Holland recently taught, we are to work to become perfect - eventually.  But that doesn’t absolve us of continually attempting to reach that goal. To “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9), or in other words, to become “Comforters” ourselves, as are all of the Gods.

    So, while we really only know as much about either of our Heavenly Parents as the Savior has revealed to us, through His teachings and actions, or through personal revelation from God, it is more than most of us can emulate to the extent we would like to in this life.  We have been given more knowledge than we (or certainly I) can pattern after as perfectly as we would wish to do. But what a difference, I believe, it makes to women -and also to men - to understand these truths.  And what a difference, I believe, it would make to a world struggling with questions like gender identity, and equality of the sexes in dealing with so many of the problems and decisions with which we are confronted.  I, too, would truly love to see  the Young Women’s theme be changed to say, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Parents, who love us and we love Them.”  It would likely have a noticeable effect on our young women to have that understanding emphasized.

    A diarchy as the goal indeed!  But unlike many worldly diarchies, which sometimes rule by force or collusion, one in which the Partners truly understand and act as One.  Just as do our Heavenly Parents- the “God” from whom we come.  “And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them” (Moses 2:27).

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    III. Katherine Carpenter

    My name is Katherine Carpenter. After thirty nine years in the Chicago area, my husband & I returned to Utah where we have spent the last 19 years. I am a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    I appreciated the article titled “Power-Walking Towards Diarchy in the LDS Faith” in the SquareTwo Journal. and look forward to further study. In response to ‘any other signs of progress toward diarchy’ I wanted to share the following experience.

    On February 18,1996 I was in Wilmette (Illinois) Stake center attending the Saturday evening meeting of Stake Conference. Our visiting authority was Elder William R. Bradford: Quorum of the Seventy. His topic was “Priesthood and the Family”. I was prepared for a typical presentation until he began his remarks with the following:

    "When Christ comes again, the Organizational / Institutional Church will be by in large done away with.”

    I reached for paper and pencil to take notes. It was the first and only talk I have heard on Patriarchal Priesthood and was given in outline format as he wanted to be understood by his diverse audience.

    While his opening statement caught my attention, it was his closing question that has become a continuing multi layered gift.

    "What is God’s grand title / name? (pause) is it Father … and when you hear Father, you hear Mother.” I do not take this statement to mean to mean identical deities doing identical things, but Mother and Father being one in purpose, each using their perfected unique character traits, attributes etc. for the eternal lives of their children.

    I’m including rough notes of the meeting to share Elder Bradford's instruction on the difference between Institutional callings and function of Family/Patriarchal Priesthood which is also a ‘power-walking’ step.

    This may be ‘old news’ but wish such instruction was more widely available. Thanks for your attention.

    WILMETTE, ILLINOIS STAKE CONFERENCE 2/18/96
    From Notes taken by K. Carpenter
    (notes were cross referenced with Lynn Johnson)

    ELDER William R. BRADFORD: Quorum of the Seventy (10/75 – 10/2003)

    PRIESTHOOD AND THE FAMILY

    Elder Bradford began his talk with the following statement:
    “When Christ comes again, the Organizational / Institutional Church will be, by in large, done away with.”

    FAMILY is the Basic Pattern of the Church/Gospel however, the Basic Unit is the Individual: a Child of God, literal seed of our Eternal Father God.
    Each Birth grants independence, individuality, liberty that we, God’s seed, may become, may mature to be like God,  

    PRIESTHOOD: 
    (A)  Government of the Institutional Church
    Designated holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood have authority to extend callings to serve within a church  unit. An individual is called to, set apart and released from most church callings, positions, duties.

    (B)  Government of Family
                      Family:  Basic Organizational Pattern of Kingdom of God
                      Little by little the church, as an organization will go away. The Family will be the principal pattern.

             The Melchizedek Priesthood includes doctrine of the Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood wherein the husband and wife work together to govern their  Family as a team by doctrine of the Melchizedek Priesthood (which Husband holds).The Family governs using the Principles of Righteousness as found in D&C 121:41, 42 … persuasion, long suffering, etc.…  This is the pattern.

    PATRIARCHAL PRIESTHOOD / Fullness of the Priesthood is centered within the family unit and is characterized by:
             CHOICE >       individual, both male & female equally participating
             COMBINE >    forming a loving family to grow and govern thru teaching & living righteous principles
             CONTINUE >  for eternity, eternal lives

    Elder Bradford concluded his remarks with the following question:

    “What is God’s grand title / name “?
    There was a pause 
    Elder Bradford replied, It is Father … and when you hear Father, you hear Mother.”