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In Mark Sullivan’s novel, Beneath A Scarlet Sky, he describes the difficulty of researching the Nazi occupation of Italy during WWII: “I was also hampered by a kind of collective amnesia concerning Italy and Italians after the war . . . No one talks about World War II in Italy so no one remembers.” [1] This same concept applies to Heavenly Mother: the less She is discussed, the less She is remembered until—in a haze of collective amnesia—nothing is said except the excuse, “We don’t talk about Heavenly Mother because we just don’t know much about Her.”

Because silence is a form of forgetting, it is critical to speak often of what we know. The recent gospel topics essay, “Mother in Heaven,” asserts that “our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents.” [2] Not only does the phrase “present knowledge” indicate anticipation of further knowledge, it attests to the current reality of knowledge worth remembering.

Teachings about Heavenly Mother began to emerge during the Nauvoo period of the Church. While many of these teachings can be found in Martin Pulido’s and David Paulsen’s “A Mother There,” this article does not address what themes emerged from the Nauvoo era that continue to surface in recent conference talks, books, and artwork published by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Because it is necessary to know what has been revealed in order to obtain more revelation [3] (and more is certainly needed), this article will discuss eleven realities about Heavenly Mother that were introduced in the early days of the Church and are still taught by prophets, revelatory poets, general Church leaders, gospel scholars, and ordinary disciples from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The following statements emerged as the consistent themes when early Mother in Heaven teachings were compared to statements made about Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Parents during general conference addresses made from 1971 to 2019.


Knowledge of Heavenly Mother in the Early Days of the Church

A Church gospel topics essay (approved by both the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) discussing Joseph Smith’s teachings about priesthood and women states, “During the Nauvoo era, Latter-day Saints came to understand that all people are children of heavenly parents and that it is the ultimate destiny of faithful men and women to become like them.” [4] Because Joseph Smith’s first vision attested to God the Father and Jesus Christ being separate personages, knowledge of God the Mother had to follow. As Benjamin Urrutia observes, “when the [Heavenly Mother] has been eliminated by puritanic Ezra-like reformers, the Father and Son cannot remain separate, and God becomes Jesus or Jesus becomes God.” [5] The reverse seems to be true with the Restoration of the Godhead: knowledge of a separate Father and Son brought knowledge of a Mother.

Gospel scholars Terryl and Fiona Givens recognize the knowledge of Heavenly Mother to be among the beautiful truths of the Restoration:

Joseph Smith restored to Christianity not only the doctrine of heavenly parents, but a clear and comprehensible Godhead of three distinct individuals—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—working collaboratively in the form known in any number of ancient traditions as the Divine Assembly or Heavenly Council. [6]

The Restoration ushered in through Joseph Smith brought back knowledge of a Heavenly Council that includes Heavenly Mother. In fact, Tyler Chadwick, Dayna Patterson, and Martin Pulido agree that, “Heavenly Mother is the capstone to Joseph Smith’s explosive and radical theological output during the Church’s Nauvoo period.” [7]

Terryl and Fiona Givens taught that “Christians, following the example of the Savior, are the first to address God as Father.” [8] In her poem tiled “Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother” (now popularly known as “O My Father”), Sister Eliza R. Snow, recognized by the Church as “a profoundly wise and revelatory woman,” [9] shared that because of the Restoration of the Church, she understood the use of the title Father to be inseparably linked to the existence of the eternal Mother.

I had learn'd to call thee father
Through thy spirit from on high;
But until the key of knowledge
Was restor'd, I knew not why.
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare;
Truth is reason—truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence—
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, mother, may I meet you
In your royal court on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you. [10]

Snow’s poem was so ardently treasured in the Church that William C. Harrison published a companion poem to Eliza R. Snow’s “Invocation.” Harrison’s poem, “Our Mother In Heaven,” was put to music and published in the March 1st, 1892 issue of the Juvenile Instructor, a Church magazine for youth and young adults founded and edited by Elder George Q. Cannon, who at the time, was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Oh my Mother, thou that dwellest
In thy mansions up on high,
Oft methinks I still remember
How you bade your child goodby;
How you clasped me to your bosom,
Bade me a true son to be
E’re I left my Father’s mansion,
To dwell in mortality.

How you gave me words of counsel
To guide aright my straying feet;
How you taught by true example
All the Father’s laws to keep;
While I strive in this probation,
How to learn the gospel truth,
May I merit your approval
As I did in early youth.

‘Tis recorded in your journal
How you stood by Father’s side,
When by pow’rs that are eternal
Thou wast sealed His goddess bride.
How by love and truth and virtue,
E’en in time thou did’st become,
Through your high exalted station,
Mother of the souls of men.

When of evil I’ve repented,
And my work on earth is done,
Kindest Father, loving mother,
Pray forgive your erring son.
When my pilgrimage is ended,
And the victor’s wreath I’ve won,
Dearest Mother, to your bosom
Will you welcome home your son? [11]

Knowledge of Heavenly Mother was widespread enough to permeate other popular poetry of the time. W. W. Phelps wrote, “Here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen;” [12] and “When she, as queen of heaven, In gold of Ophir stood.” [13] A few years later, Jabez Woodard poetically proclaimed:

Oh, we’ve been, yes, we’ve been in a bright world before,
Where we liv’d with our Father and Mother of yore…

And our Father and Mother are hidden on high,
And the storm-clouds are black in the wint’ry sky... [14]

During the early years of the Church, Heavenly Mother was also mentioned in poems by Joseph L. Townsend, Orson F. Whitney, J.H. Ward, Alfred Osmond, Charles Edmund Richardson, and William H. Apperley among others. [15]

Not only did the early saints share their knowledge of Heavenly Mother through poetry, they shared it through a painting as well. In 1908, John Hafen created a series of paintings to illustrate Eliza R. Snow’s poem “O My Father.” The sixth painting in his series of eight, became the first illustration of Heavenly Mother. In Hafen’s painting, time appears to stand still as Heavenly Mother embraces a child and each are enveloped in love. Of his “O My Father” paintings, Hafen wrote the following to the First Presidency of the Church:

I wish to bear my testimony that I have sought the Lord for help and inspiration in composing and executing those pictures, and that this trust has not been in vain. I feel that good will result from the spread of these illustrations with accompanying poem: and that even souls will be brought to a knowledge of the true and living God through their instrumentality. [16]

Hafen believed that his paintings, which included Heavenly Mother, would help people come to know God.

[17]


Current Church leaders, historians, and scholars agree that knowledge of Heavenly Mother originated during the Nauvoo era of the Church. In 1983, Sister Barbara Smith, acting as the General Relief Society President, reaffirmed that knowledge of Heavenly Mother was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith:

In the beloved Latter-day Saint hymn ‘O My Father,’ Eliza R. Snow celebrates in words the continuity of family relationships beyond death and reminds us of a glorious reunion with our heavenly parents. Written as solace to a dear friend, Zina Huntington, who had lost her mother and father in tragic deaths, the well-known lines of this hymn give poetic statement to a great truth revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. [18]

While the words of “O My Father” are the most recognized reference to Mother in Heaven, these lyrics are only one among many references that originated from the Nauvoo period of the Church.

Knowledge of Heavenly Mother was established well enough in the early days of the Church that subsequent “Church leaders have affirmed that Heavenly Mother is a fully divine person and have used reverential titles such as ‘Mother God,’ ‘God Mother,’ ‘God the Mother,’ ‘God their Eternal Mother,’ and ‘Eternal Mother’ in referring to her.” [19] Using any of these titles to speak of Heavenly Mother would be in line with Church leadership.


Existing Before the World Was Created

Many of the early Church poets wrote about Heavenly Mother’s presence in the premortal existence. In December of 1844, a mere six months after the death of Joseph Smith, the saints gathered together and sang a hymn written by W.W. Phelps at the dedication of the Seventies Hall in Nauvoo, Illinois. One stanza reads:

Come to me, here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen;
Here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen;
Here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be,
Here’s eternity,—endless; amen: Come to me [20]

Phelps, who was one of the most prolific hymn writers of the time, wrote words that attested to the eternal nature of both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

While speaking at general conference, current Church leaders have continued to illustrate a vision of eternal Heavenly Parents who existed before the world was created and who will continue to be godly parents throughout eternity. “Within every human body dwells a living spirit born to our loving, eternal heavenly parents. When parents know this, they can better guide their families by focusing upon the eternal relationships and the true purposes of this life,” [21] declares Elder M. Russell Ballard. By linking Heavenly Parents to eternal relationships, Elder Ballard confirms that having a relationship with Heavenly Mother is included in the true purpose of this life. Elder Ballard reiterates this during another conference talk: “The plan teaches that all who have or will live on earth are the spirit children of heavenly parents. We lived with them before coming to this earth to receive our bodies of flesh and bone.” [22] Elder Ballard’s teachings about the eternal nature of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father coincide with his teachings about eternal families.

Eternal family theology was also addressed by Elder Henry D. Taylor, who links humanity together by acknowledging the eternal nature of Heavenly Parents and the heavenly family: “As Latter-day Saints, we firmly believe that we are brothers and sisters, spiritual offspring of heavenly parents, members of a royal family who once dwelt and associated together.” [23] Being part of a royal family that dwelt together before coming into mortality not only confirms the reality of Heavenly Mother’s pre-existent presence—it requires it.

This logic is used by Elder Christoffel Golden Jr., when he declared, “the doctrine of the Father and the Son is the doctrine of the eternal family. Every human being has existed previously as a spirit child with Heavenly Parents, with Christ being the Firstborn . . . in this heavenly family.” [24] There can be no doctrine of the Father without the presence of the Mother.

Leaders and members of the Church agree that all lived in a pre-existent state as literal children of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. This applies to Jesus as well. “Jesus was born of heavenly parents in a premortal world...” [25] taught Elder Robert D. Hales. Scholars of the teachings of the restored Church agree that Christ’s doctrine is a doctrine of eternal families: “Mormonism promises that the faithful can be sealed to Heavenly Parents, that our peers in this world are actual spirit brothers and sisters, and that we can find love, joy, and belonging in the Community of Heaven as the ultimate Family of importance.” [26]

In a statement declaring the eternal nature of beings, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Second Counselor in the First Presidency at the time of this address) enumerated eternal traits of both Heavenly Mother and Father such as omnipotence and immortality. He said, “Brothers and sisters, we are eternal beings, without beginning and without end. We have always existed. We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent Heavenly Parents!” [27] Elder Boyd K. Packer also taught how Heavenly Mother existed in the premortal world: “You are a son [or daughter] of God. You lived in a premortal existence as an individual spirit child of heavenly parents.” [28] To help envision the premortal world with Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, Elder W. Christopher Waddell taught, “Long before leaving our earthly home to serve a full-time mission, we left heavenly parents to fulfill our mortal mission.” [29] Just as one can imagine an earthly mother hugging a child before they leave, Elder Waddell’s words conjure images of a loving Heavenly Mother embracing Her children before their mortal mission.

President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Boyd K. Packer, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson have all addressed (during general conference) the eternal nature of Heavenly Mother and Father while showing that the title “God” or “Father” can be used to mean “Heavenly Parents.” President Russell M. Nelson confirmed the parenthood of both Heavenly Mother and Father by using the unifying title “Heavenly Parents.” By then quoting a pertinent passage from the creation story that uses the singular “God” with subsequent male pronouns, President Nelson connects “Heavenly Parents” with “God”: “We are eternal beings—spirit children of heavenly parents. The Bible records that ‘God created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them.’” [30] Similarly, Elder Boyd K. Packer connected being a “son of God” with being a “child of heavenly parents” as follows: “You are a son of God. You lived in a premortal existence as an individual spirit child of heavenly parents.” [31] To make this understanding clearer, Elder D. Todd Christofferson paired “God” with “heavenly parents” in the same sentence: “Prophets have revealed that we first existed as intelligences and that we were given form, or spirit bodies, by God, thus becoming His spirit children—sons and daughters of heavenly parents.” [32] Leaders of the Church expanded the vision of living in the pre-existence with God, to include living in the pre-existence as part of a Heavenly Council led by God the Eternal Mother and God the Eternal Father. Christ’s restored gospel is a gospel of eternal families.

With declarations of Heavenly Mother’s eternal nature from apostles such as Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and President Russell M. Nelson, members of Christ’s restored Church are safe to reverently discuss Her eternal nature.


All Humans Were Created in the Image of the Mother and the Father

Acknowledging Heavenly Mother as an eternal being, allows further understanding of how Her children were created in Her image. Like other revealed truth about Heavenly Mother, knowledge about Her children being created in Her image was taught in the early days of the Restoration. President Brigham Young taught that, “we were created . . . in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God.” [33] While not all of President Young’s teachings were so egalitarian, his statement not only declared the world’s heavenly parentage, his use of the word “God” to mean Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother set a precedent that leaders of the Church continue to follow today.

In 1909, the First Presidency of the Church affirmed President Young’s teaching when they declared, “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” [34] Confirming the literal progeny of “God Mother,” Elder James E. Talmage taught, “We . . . [are] literally the sons and daughters of divine parents, the spiritual progeny of God our Eternal Father, and of our God Mother.” [35]

Eighty-six years after this 1909 declaration by the first presidency, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” which states that, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” [36] Again, with these two well-planned sentences, Church members can connect being created in the image of “God” with being the literal offspring of “Heavenly Parents.” Declaring Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father’s parenthood has become so accepted that these two profound sentences from the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” have been quoted in general conference addresses at least 26 times.

During the April 2019 conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen also quoted those two sentences from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and then taught that “In ways we don’t fully understand, our spiritual growth there in the premortal world influences who we are here.” [37] Elder Andersen’s words not only confirm that humans were created in the image of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, they also create room for thought and discussion about Heavenly Mother’s and Heavenly Father’s influence on spiritual growth in the premortal life.

Elder David A. Bednar included the following quote in two different conference talks to explain both the law of chastity and exaltation: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and . . . has a divine nature and destiny.” [38] It seems as if understanding this principle makes other points of doctrine more complete.

To make this teaching clear, Elder Paul V. Johnson stated, “We are spirit children of heavenly parents.” [39] Elder Ronald A. Rasband powerfully ranked knowledge of human relationships to “living and loving Heavenly Parents” as a foremost eternal truth: “I pray that you and I will never forget sacred eternal truths—first and foremost that we are sons and daughters of living and loving Heavenly Parents, who desire only our eternal happiness.” [40] Elder Rasband’s words allow the vision of a loving and living Heavenly Mother who desires humanity’s happiness.

Many members of the Church intuitively understand their divine parentage so well they have moved from declaring this fact as its own statement of truth to using this fact in order to teach other truths. For example, Fiona and Terryl Givens include both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father in their discussion of the purpose of life: “Our Heavenly Parents created us for our glory, not for theirs, and Christ orients his entire divine activity around the grand project of bringing us to where he is.” [41] Latter-day Saint disciples of Christ understand that to live with Christ requires becoming like the Father and Mother in whose images all were made. Church members should feel safe to freely discuss being created in the image of Heavenly Mother.


A Goddess in Whose Likeness Her Children Will Become

Because all were created in the images of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, Church leaders have taught that Heavenly Mother’s children can grow and develop to become like Her just as they progress to become like the Father. Understanding the link between God the Mother and the destiny of Her children was a concept introduced in the early days of the Church. In general conference, Sister Neill F. Marriott shared the words of Elder Orson F. Whitney who was an apostle in in early 1900s:

All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently . . . purifies our hearts… and makes us more tender and charitable . . . and it is through . . . toil and tribulation, that we gain the education . . . which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. [42]

Elder Whitney saw life’s trials as part of an eternal educational process leading to the likeness of the Eternal Mother and Father.

Elder Whitney’s sentiments about becoming like Heavenly Mother and Father have been repeatedly echoed during 20th and 21st century conference addresses. President Dallin H. Oaks has frequently elaborated on salvation being a family matter that includes becoming like Father and Mother. He said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them . . . The fullness of eternal salvation is a family matter.” [43] Elder Hales’ words mirror President Oaks’ message: “The doctrine of the family begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.” [44]

Sister Neill F. Marriott has taught how the Father’s power can flow into the saints, causing them to become better nurturers. Perhaps because “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” declares that “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” and that “in these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners,” [45] Sister Marriott draws the conclusion that when God’s power helps saints to become nurturers, it is in fact, helping them become like Heavenly Mother and Father. She stated, “As we ask Father in Heaven to make us builders of His kingdom, His power will flow into us and we will know how to nurture, ultimately becoming like our heavenly parents.” [46] The ability to nurture seems to be a godly trait possessed by both Heavenly Parents. Learning to nurture leads to becoming like Heavenly Mother.

The gospel topics essays, approved by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency, agree that all can become like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father when it states, “All human beings are children of loving heavenly parents and possess seeds of divinity within them.” [47] Seeds grow to become like the adult prototype. Seeds of divinity mean that children grow to become like God the Father and God the Mother.

Becoming like Heavenly Parents is such a well understood doctrine in Christ's restored Church, it is a compelling reason people join the Church. During general conference, Elder Larry R. Lawrence shared his experience of learning about the ability to become like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father:

When I was a young adult, I began investigating the Church. At first I was drawn to the gospel by the examples of my Latter-day Saint friends, but eventually I was attracted to the unique doctrine. When I learned that faithful men and women could keep progressing and ultimately become like our heavenly parents, I was frankly amazed. I loved the concept; it rang true to me. [48]

President Dallin H. Oaks also taught about the ability to become like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. He explains, “Under that plan [of salvation] we are all heirs of our heavenly parents. ‘We are the children of God,’ the Apostle Paul taught, ‘and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.’(Romans 8:16–17).” [49] Oaks’ use of the phrase “heirs of our heavenly parents” right before quoting a scripture about “heirs of God” is another indication of the link between Heavenly Parents and God. To become like God is to become like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. When President Dallin H. Oaks teaches that we are heirs of our Heavenly Parents, it becomes critical for Church members to not only discuss the meaning of becoming heirs of Heavenly Parents but to specifically address what it means to be an heir of Heavenly Mother.

Several Church leaders have explained that not only can one become like their Heavenly Parents, it is actually imperative that one use their agency to do so. Sister Elaine L. Jack taught:

Have you ever been told you are just like your mother, or you have your father’s smile, or all of your family have the same color of eyes? The physical characteristics that we inherit from our parents are obvious. The spiritual characteristics we inherit from our heavenly parents have to be developed. You have been born with all the godlike gifts that Christ has. They are within you, but you have to choose to cultivate and develop them. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen without our best efforts. [50]

Sister Jack’s words seem to indicate that cultivating and developing the divine traits inherited from Heavenly Mother is not only worth one’s “best efforts” but is a choice that must be made.

Elder L. Tom Perry’s words agreed that “what we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.” [51] Elder Ulisses Soares expounded on the same idea when he taught that “all our thoughts, words, and actions must elevate us to the level of the divinity of our heavenly parents.” [52] Church leaders not only agree that all can become like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, they are encouraging active participation to that end. Discussing how to become like Heavenly Mother during a Relief Society lesson would be a natural extension of these teachings.

Well understood is the idea that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—with its apostles, prophets, teachers, covenants, and ordinances—has been restored for the express purpose of helping people return to, and become like their Heavenly Parents. President Russell M. Nelson explained:

. . . [A]s begotten children of heavenly parents, we are endowed with the potential to become like them, just as mortal children may become like their mortal parents. The Lord restored his church to help us prepare for perfection. Paul said that the Savior placed in the Church Apostles, prophets, and teachers, “for the perfecting of the saints, … for the edifying of the body of Christ: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The perfect man described in Paul’s quotation is the completed person—teleios—the glorified soul! [53]

As children of Heavenly Parents, all souls have the potential to become a completed, glorified soul just like Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. Fiona and Terryl Givens continued this thought when they wrote, “And that is also God’s will for us, because God’s motive behind the eternal covenant is that we might accept his invitation to be made like unto our Heavenly Mother and Father.” [54] The covenants made in Christ’s restored Church elevate human interactions to a level of loving godliness, which ultimately leads to becoming like the Eternal Mother and Father.


She is a United Being With the Father

Many quotes about Heavenly Mother from Church leaders come as statements about Heavenly Parents. This pattern acknowledges the eternal truth that “disunity is impossible between exalted beings.” [55] Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother would be incapable of exaltation without being perfectly united. As discussed earlier, Church leaders portray the complete unity of the divine Father and Mother by referring to them both as a singular “God;” such as in President Brigham Young’s statement that “we were created . . . in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God.” [56] Recently, Elder Taylor followed the pattern of President Young by including both Heavenly Mother and Father in his “Am I a Child of God” talk during general conference in 2018:

This great war over divine identity rages fiercely as Satan’s proliferating arsenal aims to destroy our belief in and knowledge of our relationship with God. Thankfully, we have been blessed with clear vision and understanding of our true identity from the beginning: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and His living prophets proclaim, “Each [human being] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” [57]

Part of Satan’s proliferating arsenal seems to be misunderstanding the unity of God. [58] The unity of God appears to be so powerful, the Divine Assembly or Heavenly Council gets reduced to a single being instead of a heavenly family. Modern Church leaders are working hard to rectify the misunderstandings of the apostasy.

Teachings about the unity of Heavenly Mother and Father can be found from the early days of the Church: “Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that ‘the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.’” [59] Understanding the unity of the divine Mother and Father led Orson F. Whitney to ask, “What is this but a virtual recognition of the feminine principle as well as the masculine principle of Deity?” [60] Declaring his understanding that Heavenly Mother, like Heavenly Father, possesses the attributes of Godhood, Elder John A. Widtsoe penned, “The glorious vision of life hereafter . . . is given radiant warmth by the thought that . . . [we have] a mother who possesses the attributes of Godhood.” [61]

In Paulsen’s and Pulido’s survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven, they found many statements by Church leaders confirming the idea of God being composed of a united Mother and Father:

As Elder Erastus Snow (Quorum of the Twelve, February 12, 1849–May 27, 1888) avowed: “What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself . . . I must believe that deity consists of man and woman. . . There can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way. We may never hope to attain unto the eternal power and the Godhead upon any other principle . . . this Godhead composing two parts, male and female. These sentiments were later reaffirmed by President Hugh B. Brown (Quorum of the Twelve, April 10, 1958–December 2, 1975), by Elders James E. Talmage, Melvin J. Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve, January 7, 1919–July 30, 1939), and by Bruce R. McConkie (First Council of the Seventy, October 6, 1946–October 12, 1972).” [62]

Current general conference discourse maintains these early teachings about the unity of the eternal Father and Mother by focusing foundationally on the family which begins with both Heavenly Parents. President Dallin H. Oaks clearly stated:

The theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints centers on the family. Our relationship to God and the purpose of earth life are explained in terms of the family. We are the spirit children of heavenly parents. The gospel plan is implemented through earthly families, and our highest aspiration is to perpetuate those family relationships throughout eternity. The ultimate mission of our Savior’s Church is to help us achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom, and that can only be accomplished in a family relationship. [63]

As exalted beings, Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father are united in their familial relationship and invite all Their children to participate in Their unity. With this vision, exaltation is frequently spoken of in terms of familial relationships, unity, and sealings. Because there is no family without a mother and father, achieving “our highest aspiration” of perpetuating familial relationships would include being in relationship with united Heavenly Parents.

Sister Carole M. Stephens taught about the unity of Heavenly Parents and the destiny of Their children to become united like and with Them when she proclaimed in general conference that “The Savior taught, ‘Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.’ The Family Proclamation teaches that as beloved spirit daughters of heavenly parents, we have a divine nature, eternal identity, and purpose. God wants us to be one.” [64] By juxtaposing the Savior’s plea for becoming one with the eternal reality of Heavenly Parents and God’s desire for mortals to become one, Sister Stephens highlights unity’s role in the relationship between the Eternal Mother and Father and Their children’s ability to be in an exalted relationship with Them.

Church leaders have gone so far as to ask members of the Church to seek understanding of how to participate in this unity more fully. Sister Linda K. Burton asked, “Will you join me in seeking the help of the Holy Ghost to teach us how we can better lift each other in our complementary roles as covenant sons and daughters of our loving heavenly parents?” [65] As Church members gather together for open discussion about lifting each other in their unique roles, they can lay hold of Christ’s promise that, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [66] Men and women find themselves required to interact in complementary—not competing—roles that reflect the complementary and united roles of both Heavenly Mother and Father.

As current general conference discourse focuses on the exaltation of families that come from loving, united, Heavenly Parents, teachings regarding male/female unity are springing up with greater frequency in literature produced by members of Christ’s restored Church. In an LDS Living article about patriarchal blessings, Patriarch Garry H. Boyle compares the unity of a wife and husband to the unity of two eyes. He writes:

The separation of our eyes provides two distinct pictures or perspectives, which the brain compares. It finds and uses common areas to merge the two pictures into one larger picture, using important cues not available in the separate pictures. The brain does not place a judgment or priority on the two views until they are merged, and then it refocuses both eyes on what is important.

God designed marriage in much the same way. God’s plan of marriage between a man and a woman provides two distinct perspectives with the overlap being a focus on God…

Exaltation has been described as a family affair, so we must learn to communicate a clear picture of our two perspectives without prejudice, merge upon our celestial goals, and use our combined view to safely return to God’s kingdom with our families. [67]

Patriarch Boyle’s portrayal of a family needing two separate perspectives merged together, from both the wife and the husband, coincide with the teaching of Church leaders regarding the unity of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

To help Primary children learn this concept from a young age, the Church recently took a whole page in Friend magazine to declare the Love of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father and even used the plural “They” instead of the more common but less accurate male pronoun “He” (image located at https://www.lds.org/study/friend/2019/03/bright-idea?lang=eng).

For thousands of years God has been presented as a singular male deity. From 1972 to 2019, Church leaders have repeatedly resisted this historical gravitational pull by including “Heavenly Mother” or, much more frequently, the united term “Heavenly Parents” in their conference talks about 90 different times. [68] It is becoming difficult to reference God without acknowledging a united Heavenly Mother and Father. Tyler Chadwick, Dayna Patterson, and Martin Pulido explain the unique theology of a united God presented by Joseph Smith:

The revelation of Heavenly Mother wasn’t adding an additional deity to some Mormon pantheon of gods... rather, it redefined the very nature of what it meant to be God... In the theology emerging from Joseph’s teachings, God is a Many (Mother and Father) made One... the oneness of God can be seen as a voluntary coming together, a marriage of and preservation of Their eternal differences. In this view, no person removed from others or the world is a God; rather, to be a God means to be intimately bound up in relation with others. [69]

She is a Participant in the Government of Heaven

As a united Goddess with the Father, Heavenly Mother is a co-creator of the plan of salvation. The gospel topics essay about Mother in Heaven states, “Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family.” [70] It also quotes Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaching, “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us.” [71] These two declarations, approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, leave an impression of a Mother who both helped design the plan of salvation and who is actively working for the salvation of Her children.

Of course, the idea of female participation in the councils or government of heaven was taught at the Church’s inception. Bishop Orson F. Whitney stated in 1895:

It is woman’s destiny to have a voice in the affairs of government. She was designed for it. She has a right to it. This great social upheaval, this woman’s movement that is making itself heard and felt, means something more than that certain women are ambitious to vote and hold office. I regard it as one of the great levelers by which the Almighty is lifting up this fallen world, lifting it nearer to the throne of its creator. [72]

When it is understood that the world is lifted nearer to its creator—our Eternal Parents—by allowing women a voice in the affairs of government, it is also understood that having both women and men give voice in decision making councils is following a heavenly pattern established by Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

Church leaders have repeatedly included Heavenly Mother when discussing the government of heaven which is referred to as the work, desires, goals, and glory of God. Elder Theodore M. Burton clearly stated, “Our heavenly parents want us back with them. That is their goal, their work, and their glory.” [73] Burton’s statement not only acknowledges that Heavenly Mother’s desires influence the plan of salvation, but also that it is Her goal, Her work, and Her glory along with the Father. Other Church scholars have acknowledged Heavenly Mother’s participation in clarifying precepts, instituting ordinances, and creating a mortal educative experience:

Recognizing that a permanent binding together of the human family could occur, our Heavenly Parents clarified precepts and instituted ordinances, along with a mortal educative process, for the purpose of establishing and eternalizing an endless web of familial relationships. We understand the earth to have been created for this very purpose: to place the human family into eternal order. [74]

Significantly, governing responsibilities of creating and carrying forward a plan are attributed to both the Mother and the Father.

Because male pronouns and masculine language have historically been used to describe the pre-existence and councils of heaven, the truth about Heavenly Mother’s participation is often lost. Church leaders are consistently working to expand the vision of the role of women by discussing the eternal nature of the family, which by definition includes Heavenly Mother. Elder Russell M. Ballard clarified, “Family councils have always been needed. They are, in fact, eternal. We belonged to a family council in the premortal existence, when we lived with our heavenly parents as their spirit children.” [75] As a united pair, the work of Heavenly Parents plays out in eternal family councils in which they both participate. President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “By encouraging parents to hold family councils, we imitate in our homes a heavenly pattern.” [76] Heavenly Mother is consistently portrayed by Church leaders as a participant in heavenly councils or government.

Restored knowledge about the plan of salvation includes Heavenly Mother as a divine being with mastery over divine laws and the capability to instruct and teach Her children those laws. Elder Milton R. Hunter explained the relationship Heavenly Parents have with eternal law:

Wherever there have been intelligences . . . fundamental principles . . . have existed. They constitute . . . the laws of eternal truth. Our Heavenly Parents have through aeons of time . . . applied in Their lives an untold number of these everlasting laws. As They learned these verities and how to operate them, these laws thereby became subject unto Elohim. [77]

Using the plural, gender-neutral title “Elohim” is consistent with restored knowledge that both God the Mother and God the Father have obtained a mastery of eternal laws. Just like the title God, the title Elohim can mean both Heavenly Parents. Terryl and Fiona Givens write:

Our Heavenly Parents do not arbitrarily decree the nature of good and evil, of joy and sorrow. They are divine beings because they embody a nature that is fully consistent with the nature of happiness. These divine beings, themselves supremely perfect, holy, and joyful, wished us to experience mortality in order to attain that the same expansive life. They provide that experience not by arbitrarily inventing rules and requirements, but by articulating for us the contours of a moral universe that is coeternal with them. [78]

Heavenly Mother and Father, beings who embody celestial law (including unity), both created and provide this mortal, educative experience.

Church members understand the plan of salvation to be a plan designed by both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. Christ’s required role in bringing to fruition “the journey that our Heavenly Parents proposed,” [79] is to make an “at-one-ment.” Christ’s Atonement allows the opportunity for all to return to and become one with their united Heavenly Parents by possessing traits of godhood that could only be obtained by following the design of Heavenly Mother and Father. The Givens’ write, “Once again we see that Christ as the atoning one—the mediator—is... the collaborator in and the minister of our Heavenly Parents’ plan.” [80] Like other knowledge about Heavenly Mother, understanding that God’s plan includes Heavenly Mother’s plan was part of the truths taught in the early days of the Church: “Joseph Smith’s expansive, ennobling innovation was to see our Heavenly Parents’ plan—from the beginning—as being about human elevation rather than remedy, advancement rather than repair, exaltation rather than reclamation.” [81]


She is a Key to Understanding the Divine Potential of Her Children

Understanding that Heavenly Mother has a role in the government of heaven allows for an expanded vision of the divine potential of Her children. During a 2016 general conference address, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom taught:

In 1995, the 15 living apostles and prophets affirmed: ‘All human beings . . . are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents... A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation . . . Is our heavenly parentage our first and most profound identity? [82]

Elder Hallstrom taught that one’s exaltation depends on a “correct understanding of our heavenly heritage”—a heritage that the living apostles are declaring to include both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. This understanding of one’s likeness to Heavenly Mother influenced the practices and teachings of the early Church and can continue to influence members of the Church today as they follow the counsel to make their heavenly parentage (which includes Heavenly Mother) their most profound identity.

Early members of the Church not only acknowledged the reality of Heavenly Mother, they also learned of the sacred partnership required by men and women that reflects the sacred partnership of Heavenly Parents. Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his wife Elizabeth Ann were among the first, faithful converts to the Church. They both “received their endowments and were sealed by [the prophet] Joseph Smith.” [83] Soon after receiving their endowments, Bishop Newel K. Whitney expressed, “Without the female all things cannot be restor’d to the earth. It takes all to restore the Priesthood.” [84]

Endowed women in the Church learn about their role in the Restoration of the priesthood when they go to the temple. They also have the interesting experience of reading scriptures such as Exodus 29: 4–9 and realizing that while the scriptural precedent is to include Aaron and his sons—not Aaron’s wife and her daughters—Joseph Smith revealed Christ’s doctrine that demanded the priestly participation of women. A gospel topics essay shares how Joseph Smith set up the temple where both women and men received and administered priesthood ordinances:

At the time of his death, the revelatory vision imparted to Joseph Smith was securely in place: women and men could receive and administer sacred priesthood ordinances in holy temples, which would help prepare them to enter the presence of God one day. [85]

It is congruent with teachings about reunification with Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father for Joseph to have instituted temple ordinances received and administered by both men and women.

Each endowed woman wears her garments of the holy priesthood which symbolize her unique involvement in the Restoration and her link to her Heavenly Parents. As Joseph Smith revealed knowledge of Heavenly Mother, he instituted priestly ordinances for both women and men that ultimately link them together in a relationship patterned after Heavenly Parents. Sister Sheri Dew expressed how Joseph Smith “organized women in a manner that would allow them to work officially and cooperatively with priesthood leaders in helping administer the Church and build up the kingdom of God, a pattern mirroring the divine pattern of the celestial union of man and woman required for exaltation.” [86]

Just as Joseph Smith revealed truth about Heavenly Mother and Father that leads to an understanding that both men and women have an important role in the Restoration of eternal truth, current leaders are also teaching that knowledge of Heavenly Parents is part of the ongoing purpose of the Restoration. Sister Rosemary M. Wixom explained humanity's connection to the Divine Mother and Father and that the purpose of life is to nurture and discover this divine relationship: “‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ teaches that each one of us ‘is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents and ‘each has a divine nature and destiny.’ . . . We come to this earth to nurture and discover the seeds of divine nature that are within us.” [87]

Church leaders have made several statements directly to women in an effort to help them discover and nurture the seeds of their Divine Mother and Father. By teaching that God “made women in the image of his wife/partner,” [88] President Spencer W. Kimball encouraged women to understand their direct link to Heavenly Mother. During her general conference address, Sister Carole M. Stephens emboldened women to discover their relationship to both their divine parents: “Remember your divine identity: you are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.” [89] She also taught that in the pre-existence, “we learned about our eternal female identity. We knew that we were each ‘a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents.’ Our mortal journey to earth did not change those truths.” [90] Sister Stephens links being a daughter of Heavenly Parents with knowledge of eternal female identity.

When women embrace their relationship to their Eternal Mother and see in themselves qualities that exist in their Goddess Mother, they are emboldened to express and realize their divine potential. In 1893, Sister Mattie Horne Tingey, who “introduced significant Mormon beliefs—including the belief in a Heavenly Mother—to an audience of people from a variety of faith traditions,” [91] spoke at the World’s Congress of Representative Women, she proclaimed the existence of Heavenly Mother and asked:

Why is it that today there is so much broader a view taken of woman’s position than before? Because woman herself is beginning to feel that she is an intelligent, responsible being, with a mind capable of the highest intelligence, with talents that is her duty to develop and use for the advancement and elevation of the human family. This feeling is gradually but steadily growing; it is being felt throughout the world, and it will continue to grow until it becomes a power in the earth. [92]

Church leaders are still encouraging women to see patterns for their potential in their connection to Heavenly Mother. Clearly, motherhood is one of the traits that links women (even childless women) to their Heavenly Mother. During conference Sister Julie B. Beck cried:

Oh, that every girl and woman would have a testimony of her potential for eternal motherhood as she keeps her earthly covenants. “Each is a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine … destiny” As spirit daughters of God, women “received their first lessons in the world of spirits” and... were among the “noble and great ones” (D&C 138:55) who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth because they... wished to work side by side with righteous men to accomplish eternal goals that neither can attain independently... Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. [93]

Knowing the unity of Heavenly Mother and Father has led to the understanding that eternal goals can only be accomplished by the unity of men and women on earth. Heavenly Mother is proof that “female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here.” Knowing Mother in Heaven helps women to comprehend and act according to their unique, female, divine role.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland also encouraged women to envision themselves as daughters of Heavenly Parents:

I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. [94]

Elder Holland acknowledges that knowledge of one’s Divine Parents should be so fundamental to one's self-perception that it permeates every decision made by women. Knowledge of Heavenly Mother helps women behave in ways consistent with their potential.

Sister Mattie Horne Tingey knew that knowledge of the unity between Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father was an important motivator for women’s actions. After proclaiming the reality of Heavenly Mother, she declared, “Let woman prepare herself to stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with her husband in all the affairs of life, to be a wise counselor and helpmeet unto him, as her Creator designed she should be; let mothers impress upon their children the principles of justice and equal rights, and the women of the next generation will not have to beg and plead for what rightfully belongs to them.” [95]

President Dallin H. Oaks elaborated on how knowledge of one’s relationship to Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father will positively affect a person’s self-understanding:

I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life. When we understand our relationship to God, we also understand our relationship to one another. [96]

President Oaks again follows the pattern established by Church leaders to link Heavenly Parents to God. His teachings can easily be interpreted to imply that understanding our relationship with our Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father will help us understand our relationships with each other.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf also clearly expressed the self-esteem benefits that come when women remember their link to Heavenly Parents when he encouraged, “If you find yourself worrying about what other people say about you, may I suggest this antidote: remember who you are. Remember that you are of the royal house of the kingdom of God, daughters of Heavenly Parents, who reign throughout the universe. [97] Elder Uchtdorf taught how knowledge of one’s relationship with Heavenly Mother and Father can affect one’s actions.

Just as personal knowledge of one’s relationship to the divine can affect individual actions, the Church tries to collectively behave in ways that are consistent with the revealed truths about Heavenly Mother and Father. The Church website reads, “Studies suggest that Latter-day Saints place an exceptionally high priority on marriage and parenthood, a consequence in part of a strong belief in heavenly parents and a commitment to strive for that divinity.” [98]

A woman’s link to her Heavenly Mother has been such treasured doctrine in Christ’s restored Church that leaders are speaking clearly and boldly on this topic. As a member of the first Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Glenn L. Pace gave many women encouragement when he said:

Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny. [99]

Pace essentially taught that Heavenly Mother is the embodiment of every woman’s divine nature and destiny. Knowing Heavenly Mother helps women know themselves. BYU Religious Education professor Michael A. Goodman recently expanded on this idea when we elucidated, “Sisters, the doctrine says you are not some twisted version of Heavenly Father. You are a perfect version of Heavenly Mother. Your destiny is not first counselor-hood. Your destiny is Godhood. That is powerful doctrine.” [100] As the firstborn of Heavenly Parents, is it any wonder that Christ’s doctrine includes the eternal destiny of women to become like their Goddess Mother?


She is a Being With Whom Humankind Will Reunite and Give an Account of Their Lives

Because the doctrine of Christ focuses on the family, Church leaders have taught the plan of salvation as the plan of eternal families. It begins with Heavenly Mother and Father, it progresses to a mortal existence, and it ends in reunification with Heavenly Mother and Father. President Nelson testified that “Jesus Christ invites us to take the covenant path back home to our Heavenly Parents and be with those we love.” [101] The covenant path leads back to both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

During general conference, President Uchtdorf recalled, “I remember trying to draw the plan of salvation on a blackboard in a classroom of our chapel in Frankfurt, Germany. I made circles that represented premortal life, mortality, and the return to our Heavenly Parents after this life.” [102] President Uchtdorf’s vision of the afterlife included returning to Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. In addition, Elder H. Bruch Stucki testified “that the family is the unit and the vehicle through which we can be sealed together and return, as a family, into the presence of our heavenly parents, there to experience eternal joy and happiness. [103] From the early years of the Restoration, Church leaders have consistently taught that returning to God’s presence includes returning to Heavenly Mother.

Church leaders have taught that part of returning to Heavenly Mother includes giving an account to Her and being held responsible by Her. Paulsen and Pulido reported several statements from various Church leaders regarding this accountability:

Matilda E. Teasdale wrote, “You . . . [will] go home to Father and Mother to ‘give an account of your labors.’” This accounting includes our parenting. In the April 1909 general conference, Elder James G. Duffin (who previously served as president of the Southwestern and Central States Missions, 1900–04 and 1904–06 respectively) declared, “We, as parents, give an account to our Father and Mother in heaven of the manner in which we have conducted ourselves toward the precious souls entrusted to us.” Charles Lowell Walker recorded how Elders Heber J. Grant (Quorum of the Twelve, October 16, 1882–November 23, 1918) and Anthony W. Ivins (who later served in the First Presidency, March 10, 1921–September 23, 1934) taught that parents are obligated to teach their children the first principles of the gospel before they reach the age of accountability; otherwise, they will stand in “condemnation before our Heavenly Parents.” [104]

The longing to return home to Heavenly Mother was repeatedly expressed in poetry by early members of the Church. Elder John Lyons, one of the poets who penned his desires to return to his Heavenly Mother, was born in the slums of Scotland. After reading the Book of Mormon, he was baptized in 1844. Following his service as a mission president in England, Elder Lyons and his family were finally able to join the Saints by 1853. In the very year he met up with the Saints, he wrote the following stanza that gives words to the desire to return to Heavenly Mother as well as Heavenly Father: [105]

Yes! Then we’ll see our Father’s face,
As formerly we’ve seen,
And feel a mother’s fond embrace,
And know what we have been; [106]

Similarly, Joseph L. Townsend penned a poem that dealt with the afterlife. The fourth stanza of “O, What Songs of the Heart” (hymn number 286) describes the anticipation of a joyous reunion with Heavenly Mother and Father:

As the heart swells with joy,
Oh, what songs we’ll employ,
When our heavenly parents we meet! [107]

Church leaders continue to confirm a reunification with Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father. In fact, they express gratitude for the Restoration of Christ’s Church as well as God’s power that makes this possible. Elder Gary E. Stevenson explained, “Without this Restoration, we would be locked out from the vehicle necessary to transport us on our journey home to loving heavenly parents.” [108] He also taught, “Ordinances performed in these temples enable individuals and families to return to the presence of our heavenly parents.” [109] As clearly as possible, Elder M. Russell Ballard explained that “the primary purpose of this priesthood power is to bless, sanctify, and purify us so we can live together with our families in the presence of our heavenly parents.” [110] Elder Ballard’s statement links priesthood power to entering the presence of Heavenly Mother.

Because returning to live with Heavenly Parents is the desired goal of Christ’s latter-day disciples, Church leaders use this hope in an effort to motivate Church members towards elevated actions. President Dallin H. Oaks explained, “We serve God and our fellowmen in order to become the kind of children who can return to live with our heavenly parents.” [111] Echoing these sentiments, Sister Reyna I. Aburto reminded, “we are on a journey back to our heavenly home, where we will reunite with our Heavenly Parents.” [112]

Every member of Christ’s restored Church learns that it is only through Jesus Christ that a reunification with Heavenly Parents is possible. Of Christ’s atoning role, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified “that in this and every hour He is, with nail-scarred hands, extending to us that same grace, holding on to us and encouraging us, refusing to let us go until we are safely home in the embrace of Heavenly Parents.” [113] President Russell M. Nelson also testified of Christ’s role in “making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.” [114] Elder Theodore M. Burton’s words agree that Christ “unselfishly offered to give his own future mortal life as a Savior for us. Thereby, we might all return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and Mother.” [115] Gospel scholars also affirm that “Christ presented himself as the costly offering through which the entire human family could thus be united in an immortal and eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.” [116] Christ’s Atonement allows for reunification with both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

Because Heavenly Mother is viewed as Heavenly Father’s equal and partner, She has a role alongside the Father and Son in gathering Her family in the eternities. During his general conference address, Elder Lynn G. Robbins expressed his gratitude “for the loving-kindness, patience, and long-suffering of Heavenly Parents and the Savior, who allow us countless second chances on our journey back to Their presence.” [117] Heavenly Mother seems to be portrayed as an active participant in giving second chances which implies power to hold one accountable. Fiona and Terryl Givens acknowledge the Savior’s role in “collaborating with our Heavenly Parents for our homecoming.” [118] The picture conjured by these collective statements is of a Savior collaborating with a powerful, participatory Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.


She is Humanity’s Loving Mother Who Brings Comfort to Her Children

Deep love and comfort have been expressed by countless members of Christ’s restored Church as they feel love from and a connection to their Heavenly Mother. This pattern began in the early days of the Church when Joseph brought comfort to suffering Saints with the promise of being reunited with both their earthly and Heavenly Mother. [119]

This pattern continued when a year after the Nauvoo expulsion, a newly widowed Sister Eliza R. Snow, found herself homeless and about to embark on a perilous western trek. In these circumstances she wrote:

And the Saints of God who’re banished
From their country and their home,
Who, for Jesus’ testimony
In the wilderness now roam,
Will with pray’r and supplication
Plead for thee before the throne
Of the great eternal mother,
Do not feel thyself alone. (1847) [120]

Sister Snow was comforted in her loneliness through her relationship with her Heavenly Mother and her ability to plead to her Eternal Mother.

Twenty-one years after Eliza’s death, John Hafen completed his painting of Heavenly Mother (in which he used his wife, Thora, and daughter, Delia, as models). A few months later, Hafen wrote the following in a letter to his daughter Delia:

Love mama confide and trust in her; she is full of love for you and wishes to do all she can for you just the same as when she cradled you in her arms and hugged you to her bosom and showered those loving kisses upon your sweet baby face. A mother’s love never dies, or even diminishes! There is no friend or protector on earth that can possibly excel a mother’s love . . . Remember darling daughter that a mother will stand by her child when all the world will scorn it. [121]

Even though Hafen did not specifically mention Heavenly Mother, it is significant that just after painting a picture of Heavenly Mother, he felt impressed to convey to his daughter the overwhelming and eternal nature of motherly love.

Elder John Longden also compared the tender feelings of earthly mothers to the loving feelings of Heavenly Mother when he shared, “It must be quite an occasion in heaven when our Heavenly Mother bids us a loving farewell for the time being! Perhaps, like earthly mothers, she thinks, ‘They are so young, and they might forget [the rules and regulations].” [122] Elder Henry B. Eyring continued the tradition of comparing earthly love to the love of eternal parents when he explained, “Though earthly families are far from perfect, they give God’s children the best chance to be welcomed to the world with the only love on earth that comes close to what we felt in heaven—parental love.” [123] Here again, the term “God” is synonymous with Heavenly Parents as Eyring expresses how tender, parental love is the only thing comparable to the love of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.

Other leaders of the Church expressed the love of Heavenly Mother specifically when she sent her children to earth. Paulsen and Pulido report:

Both Elder Orson F. Whitney and President Harold B. Lee... taught that our farewell from our Heavenly Mother and Father was a bittersweet occasion. President Lee wrote: There came a day, then, when Mother and Father said, “Now, my son, my daughter, it is now your time to go...” I suppose as Father and Mother bade us good-bye, there may have been some sadness there because they knew Satan was here and one-third of all the hosts were here [with him]. [124]

Receiving comfort from the love of Heavenly Mother continues to be a theme addressed by modern Church leaders and poets. Sister Linda K. Burton clearly testified “of loving Heavenly Parents” [125] during general conference. In 1983, Carol Lynn Pearson also testified of loving Heavenly Parents when she penned her poem titled “Blessing”:

Spirit hands are on my head—
Father, Mother blessing me.
Comfort courses down like rain
Cleansing and caressing me. [126]

Through these words, Pearson expressed the deep comfort that comes from a very real relationship with the Eternal Mother.

The love of Heavenly Mother was also clearly expressed by President Spencer W. Kimball and repeated by Sister Joy D. Jones during general conference:

President Spencer W. Kimball explained in these glorious words: “God is your Father. He loves you. He and your Mother in heaven value you beyond any measure…” Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood. [127]

Sister Jones not only acknowledges the deep love of Mother in Heaven, she also brings comfort as she shares the vision of godhood in the potential of Heavenly Mother’s daughters.

As Heavenly Mother’s and Heavenly Father’s offspring, President Uchtdorf asserts that humans spiritually inherit the capacity to love. He taught, “We are created in the image of our heavenly parents; we are God’s spirit children. Therefore, we have a vast capacity for love—it is part of our spiritual heritage.” [128] Sister Chieko N. Okazaki explained how “the gospel teaches us that each individual is a precious and cherished child of heavenly parents.” [129] Sister Okazaki’s words conjure an image of a loving Mother who cherishes Her children with the stability and strength of a mother’s love. Terryl and Fiona Givens, who describe Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father as “long-suffering” and “ever-patient,” [130] wrote that “our Heavenly Parents’ concern for us was and is intimate, familial, and compassionate.” [131] Co-author Krishna McArthur wrote of her book Our Heavenly Family Our Earthly Families (#4 on the Deseret Book best-seller list), “All of us have days where we come up short, so to have heavenly parents who love us unconditionally, no matter what, it’s a real balm to your soul.” [132] Current general conference discourse regarding the love of Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father agree with the love expressed by early members and leaders of the Church.


She is an Active Participant of Life on Earth

Early members of the Church found comfort in the knowledge of Heavenly Mother and expressed joyous longing to reunite with Her in post-mortal realms. Early poets even wrote poems directly pleading for Heavenly Mother’s divine assistance. During a national council of women with various faith traditions, Sarah M. Kimball described how seekers of truth will “have the narrow way opened to them and are received into communion with the Infinite Father and Mother.” [133] The idea of communing with the Infinite Mother was a belief cherished and sacred enough to be freely shared on a national platform.

As part of the Restoration, Church leaders have taught and continue to teach about Heavenly Mother’s active participation in mortal life. Elder Theodore M. Burton simply and unmistakably stated, “Our heavenly parents want us back with them. That is their goal, their work, and their glory.” [134] Expanding on this idea, Elder M. Russell Ballard, testified that:

. . . [T]here is no greater goal in mortality than to live eternally with our Heavenly Parents and our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is more than just our goal—it is also Their goal. They have a perfect love for us, more powerful than we can even begin to comprehend. They are totally, completely, eternally aligned with us. We are Their work. Our glory is Their glory. More than anything else, They want us to come home—to return and receive eternal happiness in Their presence. [135]

Elder Ballard once again revealed the eternal nature of family relationships and expressed how Heavenly Mother is included in God’s work and glory to bring Her children back to Her presence. In a separate conference address, Elder Ballard again elucidated this knowledge when he asked, “Where will you go to find others who share your belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents, who teach us how to return to Their eternal presence?” [136] Once again, Elder Ballard makes it clear that Heavenly Mother is an active participant in leading Her children on the path of progression.

Explicitly including Heavenly Mother, President Harold B. Lee explained:

Sometimes we think the whole job is up to us, forgetful that there are loved ones beyond our sight who are thinking about us and our children. We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can. [137]

There would be no benefit of mentioning Heavenly Mother’s concern for her children if it were out of Her power to help Her children. Leaders from Christ’s restored Church teach that it is the united work of both the Father and the Mother to bring to pass the salvation of Their children.

Gospel scholars share the vision of the prophets that Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father actively work with Their earthly children to teach “the laws of progression” [138] that lead back to Them. The Givens’ explain that the “Atonement is primarily about healing the pains and strains of injured relationships incurred en route to that destination, fractures among ourselves as humans and with those gentle Parents patiently working to improve and guide us.” [139] Members of Christ’s restored Church understand that Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father’s work of salvation started in pre-mortal realms, continues throughout mortality, and lasts through the eternities.

Sister Julie B. Beck taught during general conference that “you are literally spirit daughters of Deity, ‘offspring of exalted parents’ with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. You received your first lessons in the world of spirits from your heavenly parents.” [140] Both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father were participants in Their children’s premortal education and They continue to be active participants in the work of salvation.

So accepted is the understanding that Heavenly Mother participates in Her children’s lives, that observations of Her influences are being expressed in personal memoirs and stories published by Deseret Book. In her book, Model Mormon, Rosemary Card shared the impressions she had while at the temple regarding Mother in Heaven’s participation in the work of heaven:

As I observed this woman wrap the pure love of Christ around each and every one of the missionaries, I felt the distinct presence and importance of my Heavenly Mother. I felt very aware that She was always near. She would always be the first to wrap Her arms around Her children. I learned that She plays an active role in helping us come back to Her. Heavenly Mother isn’t taking a break while Her kids are away at school. Heavenly Mother spends Her days and nights serving us. She mourns with us. She comforts us. She encourages us. She strengthens us. She actively plays a crucial role in the plan of salvation. She matters, and because She matters, I, and all of Her daughters, matter. [141]

Card’s personal experience mirrors a consistent teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Heavenly Mother is profoundly engaged in the work of salvation. Because Heavenly Mother matters, She must be remembered.


She is a Being Capable and Worthy of Receiving Worship

As mentioned already, early Church members wrote poems directly addressed to Heavenly Mother. These poems, supplicating and reverencing Heavenly Mother are a form of worship. Many Saints directly worshipped their Heavenly Mother when they sang William C. Harrison’s “Our Mother in Heaven” published in the Church-owned magazine. Singing Harrison’s earnest pleadings, “Dearest Mother, to your bosom Will you welcome home your son?” was a form of worship. Likewise, when Snow wrote words of pleading before the throne of the great Eternal Mother, she was engaged in worship. Elder John Lyons similarly engaged in worship when he expressed the anticipation of once again feeling his Heavenly Mother’s loving embrace. Many other poets of the Restoration also engaged in their own worship of Heavenly Mother through their poetic pleadings.

Church members engage in worshiping Heavenly Mother when they sing about and to Her in three different songs from the Hymn book: “O My Father,” “We Meet Again as Sisters,” and “Oh, What Songs of the Heart.” When members unitedly sing Snow’s words from the hymn book, pleading to the Eternal Mother to meet Her in Her royal courts on high, they are participating in worship. [142] Church members join Paul L. Anderson in worshiping the Infinite Mother when they sing his words out of the hymn book: “To every gospel blessing The Lord has turned the key, That we, with heavenly parents, May sing eternally.” [143] Joseph L. Townsend’s worshipful words contain eager anticipation for a joyous reunion and embrace with Heavenly Mother: “As the heart swells with joy In embraces most dear When our heavenly parents we meet!” [144] When Saints continue to sing any of these songs out of the hymn book, they are engaging in worship.

Church leaders have publicly offered their approval for worshiping Heavenly Mother. Paulsen’s and Pulido’s report the following:

Furthermore, President Rudger Clawson (Quorum of the Twelve, October 10, 1989–June 21, 1943) disagreed that deifying our Heavenly Mother risked divided worship. He urged, “It doesn’t take from our worship of the Eternal Father, to adore our Eternal Mother, any more than it diminishes the love we bear our earthly fathers, to include our earthly mothers in our affections.” Rather, “we honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal prototype.” [145]

President George F. Richards (Quorum of the Twelve, April 9, 1906–August 8, 1950) taught that our heavenly parents are “counting on [us] to honor them, to love them, and obey them. ‘Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.’” This commandment applies to both earthly and heavenly parents. [146]

Many Church members are familiar with worshiping Jesus by gathering together for Church and expressing their gratitude for His Atonement. Rather than teach about worshiping Heavenly Mother, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland demonstrated a similar pattern of worship when he publicly expressed his deep reverence and gratitude to Her at general conference: “To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, ‘Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.’” [147] President Dieter F. Uchtdorf acknowledged that “Deep within us is a longing to somehow reach past the veil and embrace Heavenly Parents we once knew and cherished.” [148] This deep longing leads to reverent worship of Heavenly Mother.

Members of the Church currently express their worship of Heavenly Mother through writings, poetry, and art. Included in Ashley Mae Hoiland’s book, One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly, are several passages where she divulges her own methods of worship for Heavenly Mother. She shares:

In the temple I put all my senses to work searching for Her . . . I listened, and listened, and listened through the words that were spoken, through the racing thoughts of my own mind, through my questions; I listened and the quietness spoke back, a quietness that got louder and louder, until as I walked down the stairs back to the dressing room, the words pressed themselves into the palms of my hands and soft places of my heart—‘Spread my name like wildfire.’ [149]

While in nature, Hoiland felt the powerful reality of Heavenly Mother’s presence. She confides:

This sense of being okay, of being protected and watched over, of helping me know how to take care of my children—it felt like a mother’s love. An ancient love that flowered deep inside the furthest recesses of my mind and heart and moved through all of me to that very spot where I stood, and watched my son and my daughter, and I felt that rare gift of being completely understood. Being in this forest felt like remembering, felt like the song of welcoming. Felt like a mother I’ve always known. [150]

Hoiland was also able to participate in collective worship while at Church: “I sat in a Relief Society lesson where we listed characteristics we imagine Heavenly Mother to have on the chalkboard.” [151] Another way Hoiland worships Heavenly Mother is by “keeping a notebook of times I felt Heavenly Mother, of things she might want to tell me, of ways I might better know her.” [152] She imagined making a pact with her earthly mother that they “would work harder to learn from a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father so we could know better how to love each other.” [153]

In a spirit of love and worship, many artists are painting their testimony of Heavenly Mother. J. Kirk Richards has painted both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father as active participants in the creation. Of his painting Breath of Life J. Kirk Richards elaborates, “In this painting I depicted Adam as he is created from the dust, by both a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Together they create and give the breath of life.”[154]

[155]


Katie Garner has also expressed her worship through art. She describes her painting of Heavenly Mother titled Mother to Mother as “a symbolic depiction of birth—a mother reaching her hands through the veil to meet Heavenly Mother's and receive her baby. This can also be interpreted as a mother lovingly placing her infant child back into Heavenly Mother's care.” [156]

[157]


Caitlin Connolly painted “We Are a Part of God’s Family,” [158] which appeared on the cover of Our Heavenly Family Our Earthly Families. Co-author Krishna McArthur shares why it’s important to worship Heavenly Mother by speaking about Her:

We all know that we have [a] Heavenly Mother. There’s no reason not to talk about this, and to celebrate what we know. I personally think this is really important because, living in India, you clearly see the challenges a society faces when there’s a lot of anti-female bigotry. Don’t get me wrong; this is present in America too, but it’s in India in a more robust and obvious way. So I think that talking about a Heavenly Mother leaves zero room for bigotry against women . . . more than 600 times . . . Heavenly Mother was mentioned in LDS history. Not once in all that time did a general authority ever say that we cannot speak of her because of her supposedly fragile nature. She is a goddess in might and dignity. And to consider her otherwise, I think, is disrespectful to Her. [159]

[160]



Responsibility for Future Knowledge

With a plethora of pertinent teachings about Heavenly Mother from church leaders, one may wonder why speaking of Heavenly Mother can still feel like a faux pas. Terryl and Fiona Givens explain:

. . . [It] is our suggestion that we Latter-day Saints are still too reliant upon the assumptions, the implications, and especially the language that generations of well-intentioned but misguided theologians and Reformers alike introduced into the domain of religious thought . . . language is one of the most subtle yet critically important ways in which erroneous understandings, harmful assumptions, and self-defeating paradigms and labels insinuate themselves into our habits of thought and therefore actions. [161]

These lingering leftovers from the apostasy have led the Givens to “fear we may not be aware enough, vigilant enough, informed enough, about the harm unleashed, the truths disfigured, and the healing confounded because a fallen language has intervened between our Heavenly Parents’ original benevolent purposes and our contemporary understanding of key Christian themes.” [162] When language doesn’t even include Heavenly Mother, crucial information is lost about Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father’s entire plan of salvation. In fact, as noted earlier, when language omits Heavenly Mother, then Jesus, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost eventually lose their individuality and morph into one.

Because “everyone has a story of her need for Mother in Heaven,” [163] leaders and members of the Church are pushing against the culture of sacred silence surrounding speaking of Her. Responsibility to speak of and know more about Heavenly Mother falls on the shoulders of every member of the Church. When individuals seek out Heavenly Mother, they learn more about Her. In fact it has been suggested that “ . . . sincere effort in attempting to understand Mother, when combined with prayer and the emulation of her immense love and goodness, will lead to additional inspiration about who She is.” [164] The opposite is also true: when relationships are ignored, whether earthly or heavenly, they are diminished and eventually lost.

The Book of Mormon clearly explains individual responsibility and accountability for increased knowledge: “for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” [165] This idea that knowledge must be received, or applied, to gain more is again repeated in 3 Nephi: “And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.” [166] This pattern repeats in Mormon, “And whoso receiveth this record . . . the same shall know of greater things than these.” [167] Many members of Christ’s restored Church look forward to having more revealed about Heavenly Mother as part of the “many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” [168] However, the pattern taught in the scriptures and by Church leaders is that members of the Church have a responsibility to fully embrace and receive what they already have before more can be revealed.

The prophet, President Nelson, directly pleaded with members of the Church to engage in the process of receiving more revelation. He urged everyone “to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that ‘if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.’ . . . I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” [169]

Scriptures and leaders have made it clear that it takes both seeking and receiving to obtain more revelation.

Since individuals are responsible for their own relationships and spiritual knowledge, Church leaders are persuasively pleading for members of the Church to expand their current understanding. As president of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball gave a talk and concluded with these rather thought provoking remarks:

Can you realize even slightly how relatively little we know? . . . We talk about the gospel in its fullness; yet we realize that a large part is still available to us as we prepare, as we perfect our lives, and as we become more like our God. Are we ready for it? . . . Let me conclude with this thought, the song “O My Father”: [170]

He then quoted the entire hymn, which concludes in a plea to both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother for their approval and presence.

With similar nudgings to nurture understanding about Heavenly Mother, Elder Sterling W. Sill (during general conference) expressed the high esteem members of the Church place on inspired poetry. He declared:

It has been said that the poets stand next to the prophets in their ability to lift us up. I have never heard of Eliza R. Snow being sustained as a prophet, and yet she wrote ‘O My Father.’ Sometimes we merely read these great lyrics out of the hymnbook instead of memorizing them and loving them and frequently saying them over to ourselves. [171]

Like President Kimball, Elder Sill also took the time to quote the hymn in its entirety, including the last stanza which reads as a prayer to both the Mother and the Father. He then concludes, “It might be difficult to find very many passages, even among the prophets, with more healing power than this.” [172] Elder Sill found healing power in a hymn that bears testimony of the existence of the loving Heavenly Mother and addresses both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother as a united being. Church leaders are teaching that it is not enough to read or to know; members must memorize, love, and speak these truths aloud.

Verbalizing gratitude for revealed truth is one way to receive. For example, the story of the ten lepers starts with all ten lifting “up their voices” and pleading with Jesus to “have mercy” [173] on them. After the Savior healed the ten lepers, all ten were physically made whole—their lives forever altered. However, regardless of the happiness and gratitude all ten inevitably felt in their hearts, only one was recognized for actually turning back and thanking the Savior. There has been plenty revealed about Heavenly Mother for which members may offer gratitude both privately and publicly. It is not enough to have this precious, healing knowledge and not speak words of gratitude.


The Expansive Nature of Heavenly Mother Theology

As knowledge of Heavenly Mother is embraced, the teachings of Church leaders take on expanded meaning. Not only is God better understood, but humans are better able to comprehend themselves and how they relate to others. In the words of Francine R. Bennion, “It is not enough that theology help me to understand God. It must also help me to understand myself and my world.” [174] When it is understood that men will progress to be like Heavenly Father and that women will progress to be like Heavenly Mother, it follows that just as God is one, so too must men and women be one as they work together to bring souls back to the presence of their Heavenly Parents to live once again as a heavenly family. This does not make gender irrelevant, rather, understanding Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father makes both genders crucial.

Viewed in the light that women were created in the image of their Mother, President Russell M. Nelson’s words seem to encourage women to progress toward goddesshood: “We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without . . . women who can speak with the power and authority of God!” [175] President Nelson’s words about women needing to speak with the power and authority of God as they lead in wisdom, align with the restored teachings about Heavenly Mother being a creator and a co-governor in the plan of salvation.

Elder Boyd K. Packer shared this vision as he declared, “We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out.” [176] Do women just need these abilities to run more efficient primaries, plan economical luncheons, and coordinate beautiful flower arrangements for stake conference, or do these traits also help women become like their Mother who co-created the universe?

Leaders of the Church are not painting a vision of Heavenly Mother as a silent servant to the Father but as an equal. They are also expressing the need for women to act in the same capacity here on earth. Elder John A. Widtsoe’s words (repeated in General conference in 1978) affirm the status of both Heavenly Mother and Her daughters: “The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him.” [177]

During a general conference address, President Russell M. Nelson seemed to encourage women along their covenant path to become like Heavenly Mother:

My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a contributing and full partner” as you unite with your husband in governing your family. [178]

Church leaders encourage women to unite with their husbands in governing their family just as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are united in governing the entire human family. President Nelson proceeds, “Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.” [179]

Here again, President Nelson teaches that both men and women are needed in the plan of salvation designed by Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father because each gender has distinctive capabilities that are gifts from Them. Finally, President Nelson ends his talk with a plea to the “sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy.” [180]

President Kimball’s prophecy, to which Nelson referred is as follows:

Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. [181]

Two important questions arise from President Nelson’s plea. What more can be done so that women can take their needful place? And what about Latter-day Saint women is not only distinct and different but also highly compelling—so compelling that it will entice women to join Christ’s restored Church? There is a tendency to think that as the world gets more evil, Latter-day Saint women will be so different that their normal way of living will be enticing. The underlying assumption is that women need to keep on doing what they have always done (but maybe do everything just a little bit better) and that will be a sufficient response to President Nelson’s plea and President Kimball’s prophecy. However, that assumption ignores President Nelson’s plea for women to do more than before, to step forward, and to take their rightful place. Another interpretation is that as the men and women of the Church embrace the restored knowledge of Heavenly Mother and view women as Her direct heirs, this distinct and different teaching, when no longer ignored, will be a driving enticement that will help fulfill both President Nelson’s plea and President Kimball’s prophecy.

Finally, President Nelson blessed women “to rise to [their] full stature, to fulfill the measure of your creation, as we walk arm in arm in this sacred work. Together we will help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.” [182] In the very sentence President Nelson blesses women to fulfill the measure of their creation, he paints an image of men and women working side by side. In light of what has been restored about Heavenly Mother, it is clear why President Nelson would juxtapose these ideas: Heavenly Mother is fundamentally connected to the measure of Her daughter’s creation. Heavenly Mother is also a God because of her relationship to the Father just as He is our Father because of His relationship to Heavenly Mother.

President David O. McKay taught, “gaining knowledge is one thing, and applying it [is] quite another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge, and true education—the education for which the Church stands—is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.” [183] Is it possible to develop a Godlike character without knowing God? Is it possible to know God without knowing Heavenly Mother? If knowledge of Heavenly Mother is a vital part of knowing and becoming like God, then it is imperative for members of Christ’s restored Church to learn about, know about, and talk about their relationship with Heavenly Mother.

Enough knowledge of Heavenly Mother has been revealed and reiterated by Church leaders that members have no excuse for participating in perpetuating the current collective amnesia regarding Her. As women follow the plea of President Russell M. Nelson to “speak up and speak out,” knowledge of Heavenly Mother will contribute to women of the Church being seen as distinct and happy in different ways—thus paving the path for needed, future revelation.



NOTES:

[1] Sullivan, M. (2017). Beneath a scarlet sky. Seattle, WA: Lake Union Publishing, (pg. 3). [Back to manuscript].


[2] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2015). Mother in Heaven. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[3] “...for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30). [Back to manuscript].


[4] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2015). Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, Women. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/joseph-smiths-teachings-about-priesthood-temple-and-women?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[5] Urrutia, B. (1973). About El, Asherah, Yahweh and Anath. American Anthropologist, 75(4), 1181. doi:10.1525/aa.1973.75.4.02a01730 [Back to manuscript].


[6] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 74). [Back to manuscript].


[7] Chadwick, T., Patterson, D., & Pulido, M., (2018). Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry. El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages, (pg. 11). [Back to manuscript].


[8] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 19). [Back to manuscript].


[9] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (n.d.). Eliza R. Snow: Second General President of the Relief Society 1866-1887. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/callings/relief-society/relief-society-presidents/eliza-r-snow?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[10] Snow, E. R. (1845). My Father in Heaven. Times and Seasons, (5), 1039. [Back to manuscript].


[11] Pulido. M. & FreeCSSTemplates.org (n.d.). A Mother here: Art and poetry contest. Retrieved from http://www.amotherhere.com/coll/harrison.php#sthash.Zw2MuAPx.dpbs --- [Back to manuscript].


[12] Phelps, W. W. (1845). A voice from the Prophet: Come to Me. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (p. 34). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[13] Phelps, W. W. (1844). A Song of Zion. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (p. 31). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[14] Woodard, J. (1857). Our Existence--Past, Present, and Future. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (p. 42). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[15] Chadwick, T., Patterson, D., & Pulido, M., Eds. (2018). Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry. El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages, (pp. 45, 48-50, 51, 54, 56-61, 65-66, 77-78). [Back to manuscript].


[16] Pheysey, D. (1996-7). Testimony in art: John Hafen's illustrations for "O My Father."Journal of BYU Studies, 36(1), 64. Retrieved from https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=3102&context=byusq --- [Back to manuscript].


[17] Image retrieved from http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/01/envisioning-heavenly-mother-the-o-my-father-paintings-of-john-hafen/ See also, "O My Father," Ensign, August 1976, where all the Hafen paintings on this hymn can be found: https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1976/08/o-my-father?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


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[48] Lawrence, L. R. (2015). What Lack I Yet? Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/what-lack-i-yet?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[49] Oaks, D. H. (2013). Followers of Christ. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/followers-of-christ?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[50] Jack, E. L. (1989). Identity of a Young Woman. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1989/10/identity-of-a-young-woman?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[51] Perry, L. T. (2003). The Importance of the Family Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/the-importance-of-the-family?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[52] Soares, U. (2012). Abide in the Lord’s Territory! Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/abide-in-the-lords-territory?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[53] Nelson, R. M. (1995). Perfection Pending. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/perfection-pending?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[54] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 112). The Givens consider the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage to be part of the initial, overarching covenant made in pre-existent realms, in which, in response to our desire to come to earth in order to become like our Heavenly Mother and Father, Christ, in turn, covenants with us that He will come to heal humankind from the injuries incurred along this pivotal, educational path. [Back to manuscript].


[55] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2014). Becoming Like God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[56] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[57] Taylor, B. K. (2018). Am I a Child of God? Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/am-i-a-child-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[58] Much of the Book of Mormon deals with teaching the people that there is not only a God, but a Christ. Many anti-Christs believed in a god and salvation but they denied the role of Christ the Savior. The message of the BOM was to testify of a separate Savior united with God. The Israelites during the time of Lehi and before had a long history of worshiping both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father and looked forward to the coming of Christ. Throughout their history, however, God and Jesus became one and representation of Heavenly Mother came in and out of the temple. By the time Joseph Smith restored the gospel, God and Christ and the Holy Ghost were decreed to be one and much of humanity satisfied their longing for a forgotten Heavenly Mother by worshiping Christ's mortal mother. [Back to manuscript].


[59] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2015). Mother in Heaven. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[60] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[61] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[62] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[63] Oaks, D. H. (2005). Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/priesthood-authority-in-the-family-and-the-church?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[64] Stephens, C. M. (2015). The Family Is of God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-family-is-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[65] Burton, L. K. (2015). We’ll Ascend Together. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/well-ascend-together?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[66] Matthew 18:20 [Back to manuscript].


[67] Boyle, G. H. (2018). 6 Ways to Get More from Your Patriarchal Blessing (Advice from a Patriarch). LDSLiving. Retrieved from http://www.ldsliving.com/6-Ways-to-Get-More-from-Your-Patriarchal-Blessing/s/80389 --- [Back to manuscript].


[68] I counted eight-eight times [Back to manuscript].


[69] Chadwick, T., Patterson, D., & Pulido, M., (2018). Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry. El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages, (pg. 11-12). [Back to manuscript].


[70] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2015) Mother in Heaven. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[71] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[72] Utah. (1895). Official report of the proceedings and debates of the convention: Assembled at Salt Lake City of the fourth day of March 1895, to adopt a constitution for the state of Utah. Hathi Trust Digital Library (1), 508. Retrieved from https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001156736 [Back to manuscript].


[73] Burton, T. M. (1986). A Marriage to Last through Eternity. Brigham Young University Devotional. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1987/06/a-marriage-to-last-through-eternity?lang=eng
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[74] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 12). [Back to manuscript].


[75] Ballard, R. M. (2016). Family Councils. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/family-councils?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[76] Benson, E. T. (1979). Church Government Through Councils. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1979/04/church-government-through-councils?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[77] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[78] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 36). [Back to manuscript].


[79] Ibid., 87. [Back to manuscript].


[80] Ibid., 60. [Back to manuscript].


[81] Ibid., 69. [Back to manuscript].


[82] Hallstrom, D. L. (2016). I Am a Child of God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/i-am-a-child-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[83] Quinn, D. M. (1978). The Newel K. Whitney Family. Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1978/12/the-newel-k-whitney-family?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[84] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2015). Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, Women. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/joseph-smiths-teachings-about-priesthood-temple-and-women?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[85] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[86] Dew, S. (2013). Women and the priesthood: What one Mormon woman believes. Salt Lake City, UT. Deseret Book Company, (pg. 120). [Back to manuscript].


[87] Wixom, R. M. (2015). Discovering the Divinity Within. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/discovering-the-divinity-within?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[88] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[89] Stephens, C. M. (2016). The Master Healer. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/the-master-healer?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[90] Stephens, C. M. (2015). The Family Is of God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-family-is-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[91] Tingey, M. H. (1893). The School of Experience. In Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook (Eds.). At the pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint women (pg. 84). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press. Note: Sister Mattie Horne Tingey served as a counselor in the YLMIA, a second counselor to Elmina S. Taylor, and the general president of the YLMIA. [Back to manuscript].


[92] Ibid, 85-86. [Back to manuscript].


[93] Beck, J. B. (2004). A, “Mother Heart.” Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/04/a-mother-heart?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[94] Holland, J. R. (2005). To Young Women. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/to-young-women?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[95] Tingey, M. H. (1893). The school of experience. In Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook (Eds.). At the pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint women (pp. 85-86). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press.
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[96] Oaks, D. H. (1995). Powerful Ideas. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/powerful-ideas?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[97] Uchtdorf, D. F. (2017). Three Sisters. Retrieved at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/three-sisters?lang=eng&country=de --- [Back to manuscript].


[98] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2014). Becoming Like God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[99] Pace, G. L. (2010). The Divine Nature and Destiny of Women. BYU Speeches (Glenn L. Pace was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given on 9 March 2010). Retrieved from https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/glenn-l-pace_divine-nature-destiny-women/ [Back to manuscript].


[100] Ipson, N. (2018). 15 Inspiring Quotes From Education Week. BYU News. #6 Michael A. Goodman (The Doctrine of the Family: The Nature of Heavenly Father and Mother as a Guide to Our Eternal Destiny) Retrieved from https://news.byu.edu/news/15-inspiring-quotes-education-week-2018 --- [Back to manuscript].


[101] Nelson, R. M. (2019). “Come, Follow Me.” Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2019/04/46nelson?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[102] Uchtdorf, D. F. (2016). O How Great the Plan of Our God! Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/o-how-great-the-plan-of-our-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[103] Stucki, H. B. (2006). Prayer, Faith, and Family: Stepping-Stones to Eternal Happiness. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/prayer-faith-and-family-stepping-stones-to-eternal-happiness?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[104] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[105] Notes on historical figures (2018). In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (pp. 338-340). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages.;
Lyon, T. E. (n.d) John Lyon: Poet for the Lord. In D. Q. Cannon & D. J. Whittaker (Eds.), Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (pp. 213–33). Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center. Retrieved from https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/supporting-saints-life-stories-nineteenth-century-mormons/8-john-lyon-poet-lord --- [Back to manuscript].


[106] Lyon, J. (1853). Epistle--Inscribed to S.R. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (pg. 38). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[107] Townsend, J. L. (n.d.). Oh, What Songs of the Heart. In Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hymn # 286). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Back to manuscript].


[108] Stevenson, G. E. (2016). Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood? Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/where-are-the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[109] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[110] Ballard, M. R. (2013). “This Is My Work and Glory.” Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/this-is-my-work-and-glory?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[111] Oaks, D. H. (2002). “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/10/i-ll-go-where-you-want-me-to-go?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[112] Aburto, R. I. (2018). With One Accord. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/with-one-accord?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[113] Holland, J. R. (2017). Be Ye Therefore Perfect--Eventually. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/be-ye-therefore-perfect-eventually?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[114] Nelson, R. M. (2016). Joy and Spiritual Survival. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/joy-and-spiritual-survival?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[115] Burton, T. M. (1987, June). “A Marriage to Last through Eternity.” Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1987/06/a-marriage-to-last-through-eternity?lang=eng
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[116] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 12). [Back to manuscript].


[117] Robbins, L. G. (2018). Until Seventy Times Seven. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/until-seventy-times-seven?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[118] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 58). [Back to manuscript].


[119] Wilcox, L. P. (1987), "The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven", in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher; Lavina Fielding Anderson, Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 65-66. [Back to manuscript].


[120] Snow, E. R. (1847). Excerpt from “To Mrs. [Sylvia Sessions] Lyon” (Trail Diary Version). In Chadwick, T., Patterson, D., & Pulido, M., (2018). Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages, 37. [Back to manuscript].


[121] Pheysey, D. (1996-7). Testimony in Art: John Hafen's Illustrations for "O My Father."Journal of BYU Studies, 36(1), 78. [Back to manuscript].


[122] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[123] Eyring, H. B. (2017). Gathering the Family of God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/gathering-the-family-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[124] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[125] Burton, L. K. (2017). Certain Women. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/certain-women?lang=eng&country=b --- [Back to manuscript].


[126] Pearson, C. L. (1983). Blessing. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (pg. 11). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[127] Jones, J. D. (2017). Value Beyond Measure. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/value-beyond-measure?lang=eng&country=au --- [Back to manuscript].


[128] Uchtdorf, D. F. (2009). The Love of God. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/the-love-of-god?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[129] Okazaki, C. N. (1995). A Living Network. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/a-living-network?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[130] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 123). [Back to manuscript].


[131] Ibid., 41. [Back to manuscript].


[132] Riess, J. (2016). Mormon Heavenly Mother featured in Deseret Book best-seller. Religious News Service. Retrieved from https://religionnews.com/2016/09/13/mormon-heavenly-mother-featured-in-deseret-book-bestseller/ --- [Back to manuscript].


[133] Kimball, S. M. (1895). Our sixth sense, or the sense of spiritual understanding. In Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook (Eds.). At the pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint women (pg. 91). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press. [Back to manuscript].


[134] Burton, T. M. (1987). A marriage to last through eternity. Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1987/06/a-marriage-to-last-through-eternity?lang=eng
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[135] Ballard, M. R.l (2017). Return and Receive. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/return-and-receive?lang=eng&country=ca --- [Back to manuscript].


[136] Ballard, M. R. (2016). To Whom Shall We Go? Retrieved form https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/to-whom-shall-we-go?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[137] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 71-97. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[138] Kimball, S. M. (1895). Our sixth sense, or the sense of spiritual understanding. In Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook (Eds.). At the pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint women (pg. 91). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press. [Back to manuscript].


[139] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 74). [Back to manuscript].


[140] Beck, J. B. (2006). You Have a Noble Birthright. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/you-have-a-noble-birthright?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[141] Card, R. (2018). Model mormon: Fighting for self-worth on the runway and as an independent woman. Springville, UT: CFI, (pg. 127). [Back to manuscript].


[142] Snow. E. R. (n.d.). O my Father. In Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hymn # 292). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Back to manuscript].


[143] Anderson, P. L. (n.d.). We meet again as sisters. In Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hymn # 311). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Back to manuscript].


[144] Townsend, J. L. (n.d.). Oh, what songs of the heart. In Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hymn # 286). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Back to manuscript].


[145] Paulsen, D. L, & Pulido, M. (2011). “A mother there”: A survey of historical teachings about Mother in Heaven. BYU Studies, 50(1), 79. Retrieved from https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mother-there-survey-historical-teachings-about-mother-heaven --- [Back to manuscript].


[146] Ibid., 82. [Back to manuscript].


[147] Holland, J. R. (2015). Behold Thy Mother. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/behold-thy-mother?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[148] Uchtdorf, D. F. (2017). A Yearning for Home. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/a-yearning-for-home?lang=eng&country=ca --- [Back to manuscript].


[149] Hoiland, A. M. (2016). One hundred birds taught me to fly. Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, (pg. 5 [Back to manuscript].


[150] Ibid., 13. [Back to manuscript].


[151] Ibid., 210. [Back to manuscript].


[152] Ibid., 21. [Back to manuscript].


[153] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[154] Richards, J. K. (n.d.). “Breath of Life.” In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (pg. 316). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[155] Image Retrieved from https://www.latterdayhome.com/products/j-kirk-richards-art-breath-of-life-from-the-dust --- [Back to manuscript].


[156] Garner, K. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/katieannegarner/posts/10161627698300131 See also https://www.utahcountymurals.com --- [Back to manuscript].


[157] Image retrieved from https://www.utahcountymurals.com/ --- [Back to manuscript].


[158] Retrieved from http://caitlinconnolly.com/store/we-are-all-a-part-of-gods-family --- [Back to manuscript].


[159] Riess, J. (2016). Mormon Heavenly Mother featured in Deseret Book best-seller. Religious News Service. Retrieved from https://religionnews.com/2016/09/13/mormon-heavenly-mother-featured-in-deseret-book-bestseller/ --- [Back to manuscript].


[160] Image retrieved from https://deseretbook.com/p/our-heavenly-family-our-earthly-families?variant_id=135731-hardcover --- [Back to manuscript].


[161] Givens, F. & Givens, T. L. (2017). The Christ who heals: How God restored the truth that saves us. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, (pg. 4). [Back to manuscript].


[162] Ibid. pg. 7. [Back to manuscript].


[163] Howe, S. E. (2018). Introduction. In T. Chadwick, D. Patterson, & M. Pulido, (Eds.) Dove song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon poetry (pg. 25). El Cerrito, CA: Peculiar Pages. [Back to manuscript].


[164] Ibid., 24. [Back to manuscript].


[165] 2 Nephi 28:30 [Back to manuscript].


[166] 3 Nephi 26:9 [Back to manuscript].


[167] Mormon 8:12 [Back to manuscript].


[168] Article of Faith 1:9 [Back to manuscript].


[169] Nelson, R. M. (2018). Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[170] Kimball, S. W. (1977). Our Great Potential. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1977/04/our-great-potential?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[171] Sill, S. W. (1978). The Poetry of Success. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/04/the-poetry-of-success?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[172] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[173] Luke 17:12-19 [Back to manuscript].


[174] Bennion, F. R. (1986). A Latter-day Saint theology of suffering. In Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook (Eds.). At the pulpit: 185 years of discourses by Latter-day Saint women (pg. 217). Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press. [Back to manuscript].


[175] Nelson, R. M. (2015) A Plea to My Sisters. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[176] Packer, B. K. (1998). The Relief Society. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/the-relief-society?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[177] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[178] Nelson, R. M. (2015) A Plea to My Sisters. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[179] Nelson, R. M. (2015) A Plea to My Sisters. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[180] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[181] Kimball, S. W. (1979). The Role of Righteous Women. Retrieve from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1979/10/the-role-of-righteous-women?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[182] Nelson, R. M. (2015) A Plea to My Sisters. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[183] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2005). David O McKay. Presidents of the Church Teacher Manual Religion, 345, 123–34. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/manual/presidents-of-the-church-teacher-manual-religion-345/david-o-mckay-ninth-president-of-the-church?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].



Full Citation for this Article: Welch, Allison (2019) "The Eternal Heavenly Mother, Shattering a Sacred Silence Through An Examination of What Church Leaders Have Taught About Her ," SquareTwo, Vol. 12 No. 1 (Spring 2019), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleWelchHeavenlyMother.html, accessed <give access date>.

Would you like to comment on this article? Thoughtful, faithful comments of at least 100 words are welcome. Please submit to SquareTwo.

COMMENTS: 7 Comments

I. Jeremy Valentiner

Thank you for discussing and analyzing this important topic. I really loved this section:

"When language doesn’t even include Heavenly Mother, crucial information is lost about Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father’s entire plan of salvation. In fact, as noted earlier, when language omits Heavenly Mother, then Jesus, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost eventually lose their individuality and morph into one."

I completely agree, that if we are to understand God, we need to understand all of it, and omitting Heavenly Mother makes it difficult to understand the "entire plan of salvation".

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a. Allison Welch, the author, responds to Jeremy Valentiner

Jeremy Valentiner,

I appreciate your comment. Your words remind me of President Kimball's, "Can you realize even slightly how relatively little we know? . . . We talk about the gospel in its fullness; yet we realize that a large part is still available to us as we prepare, as we perfect our lives, and as we become more like our God. Are we ready for it?" I eagerly anticipate learning so much more through personal revelation and through revelation for the church (our leaders).

With that said, I gratefully acknowledge everything we do know. What we currently know about the plan of salvation is worth sacrificing for. It's worth my best efforts to study. When I contemplate the depth of our current knowledge, I am in awe at the thought of learning more. If what we currently have is worth sacrificing for, can you imagine what it will feel like to have more? Can you imagine what it will feel like to eventually have a fullness? The thought feels like heaven to me.

I think knowing more about Heavenly Mother is part of the fullness. Again, worth my best efforts to study. Thanks again for your thought provoking comment.

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II. Emily Powers

The one point that is not mentioned here, which I think is a major (possibly painful) obstacle to understanding Heavenly Mother - and thus ourselves as daughters - is, do we all have the same Heavenly Mother or because of polygamy, might we be merely half-siblings? I asked a seminary teacher this once. He utterly panicked and told me the answer was in the temple ceremony. (I was crushed when I later found it wasn't.) But it seems we can't understand Her, until we know if She is a single Being, or a conglomerate. And I think that confusion alone translates into many of the incorrect ways women on earth are treated. Are we individuals or a conglomerate?

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a. Allison Welch, the author, responds to Emily Powers

Thank you for bringing up this discussion point. It is an important issue to discuss as we try to understand what eternal salvation looks like for women. You are correct that I did not bring up this topic in my paper. I did not address it because it did not meet the criteria I had established. I only discussed things that were introduced/taught in the early days of the Church that continue to be taught (in general conference) by Church leaders today. I was looking for lasting themes and the idea that we have multiple heavenly mothers does not appear to be a lasting teaching. Do we have early saints who speculated (based on their understanding of polygamy) that we have multiple heavenly mothers? Absolutely. Are church leaders currently teaching this? No.

What do we do with teachings that once surfaced but that are no longer being taught? To answer this, I’ll look in the scriptures.

Exodus 21:20-21 (KJV) “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.”

Exodus 21:20-21 (NIV) “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”

Here we have our canonized scripture explaining how it is permissible to beat your slave because “it” is your property—you just can’t beat your slave to death. I can’t find anywhere in that chapter that indicates that slavery is immoral and should be eliminated immediately.

In Genesis we learn about Tamar and the practice of a form of polyandry (Tamar had to marry multiple brothers to raise up seed to the first brother). As we learn about Tamar pretending to be a prostitute to get pregnant by her father-in-law, we read Judah’s words, “She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son” (Genesis 38:26). Am I supposed to learn that by posing as a prostitute and sleeping with someone to get pregnant, I can be more righteous than someone who doesn’t allow me to marry his son?

The scriptures are full of stories and teachings that we would be foolish to apply literally to life today. We should not use Exodus to promote slavery, Genesis to promote promiscuity, or early teachings from Church leaders to promote multiple heavenly mothers.

What are leaders of the church saying about polygamy right now? Elder Cook said, “In the senior councils of the Church, there is a feeling that polygamy, as it was practiced, served its purpose and we should honor those Saints, but that purpose has been accomplished.” (see https://www.thechurchnews.com/history-revisited/2018-09-10/what-elder-cook-and-historians-said-about-polygamy-seer-stones-and-church-transparency-during-nauvoo-face-to-face-47951) It is accomplished--done.

What do our scriptures say about polygamy?

Jacob 2:24 “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.”

Jacob 2:27 “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;”

Jacob 2:31-33 “For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands. And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts. For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

I find it interesting that this chapter talks about the Lord blessing the Lamanites, who loved and cherished their wives and practiced monogamy. This chapter also intimated that the Nephites would be destroyed because of polygamy and how they mistreated their women. Anyone who has finished the Book of Mormon knows that in the end, the Nephites treatment of women was horrific (eating and raping women) and they were completely destroyed. The Lamanites, on the other hand, were not.

I also find it interesting that where our scriptures fail to call slavery an abomination, our scriptures do call polygamy a whoredom that causes women to feel sorrow and to mourn. How could the Lord ever ask someone to live this law? My only answer is that we have multiple scriptural accounts of the Lord commanding murder. Do I live in fear that the Lord will require us to continue slavery, murder, and polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom? No, I don’t live with that fear. Do I believe God has allowed and commanded it for His purposes? Yes. Does that make it an eternal principle? No.

It is my opinion that polygamy is only okay when God commands it because it is not an eternal principle. God clearly does not micromanage the use of our agency. In fact, God has told us that it is “not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant;” and “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58: 26-27). If the Lord teaches us the importance of using our agency to avoid becoming a slothful servant, then why does God insist on micromanaging polygamy? Because it is not an eternal principle.

Eve disobeyed God and partook of the fruit and it was counted for good because agency and progression are eternal principles. I chose to marry my husband without God telling me to do so, and it was good because marriage is an eternal principle. I had children without God commanding me to do so and it was good because creating life is an eternal principle. So why can’t we use our agency to choose polygamy? Because it is not an eternal principle. It is my opinion that when we use our agency to choose things that align with eternal principles, we will be blessed. The only way we can do things like murder and polygamy, without incurring the wrath of God, is when it is commanded—simply because those things are not eternal principles.

Thanks again for bring up this important question.

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III. Alicia G.

I appreciated this so much. What a thoroughly researched and compelling paper. Thank you for helping us to see that yearning for more information on God the Mother is not threatening to God the Father, rather, it completes our understanding of the nature of God - and ourselves as well. Thank you again.

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a. Allison Welch, the author, responds to Alicia G.

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree that understanding the unity of God helps us understand ourselves and our deep need for connection. We were created in the image of our Heavenly Parents, who are completely united. This is definitely a topic that I'd like to explore further. What kind of unity will we need to build up Zion? What does that look like? How can we be more united with the Savior? What changes could we make to be more aligned with the eternal principle of unity? Thanks again for your comment.

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IV. Kathy Bence

Thank you for your thorough research. With so many references to Heavenly Mother (more than 600 times in Church History), we should understand and hear more about Her. Seeing the 11 recurring themes was helpful to break down what we know. I especially like considering that She is a being with whom we will give an account of our lives and that She is capable and worthy of receiving our worship. It only makes sense that if all benefit by learning more about Heavenly Father, we all benefit by understanding more about our Heavenly Mother.

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V. Leslie Pearson Rees

I enjoyed your article and have long had a testimony of my Mother in Heaven and her vital role in the lives of her children. I have wished that our Young Women’s motto might be changed to say “We are daughters of Heavenly Parents who love us, and we love them.” There are a couple of points, however, I would like to at least discuss.

Joseph Fielding McConkie, now deceased, was a relative and dear friend. One day in conversation with him I spoke of our Mother in Heaven as a Goddess. He told me that “Goddess” was an incorrect title for Her. He claimed that was a title that came into use because of false ideas about our Mother in Heaven, developed by pagan religions. I pointed out it had been used even by a few General Authorities. He admitted this was so; however, he explained why it was incorrect. He had discussed this with his father, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, and then said if I just really thought about it I would realize that what he asserted was correct. I insisted the temple ceremony taught otherwise. He asked me to think carefully—I did, and then realized I was wrong.

Let me share his thoughts, which I am now convinced are very true, put into my own less elegant words. God, in the Perfect, Complete sense-is a title belonging to an Exalted Man plus an Exalted Woman. God, in this Perfect state, CANNOT BE God-without a wife; an exalted, eternal female companion. Yes, Jesus was a member of the Godhead before he was born. But He Himself said that in mortality He was not yet Perfect. Only after He completed His earthly mission did He announce Himself to be Perfect.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead- but he is not yet Perfect. He has not yet received a mortal body and then a resurrected body. What lies ahead for Him we have not been told.

Am I saying that Jesus had to be married in mortality? Well- these are my own thoughts on that:

Note Jesus’ words to John when he came to John to be baptized: “And Jesus, answering, said unto him, Suffer me to be baptized of thee, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (JST Matt. 3:43)

Jesus plainly stated that He had to fulfill ALL God’s commandments- even though He was without sin- to set the pattern for us to follow.

What was one of the first commandments given to Adam and Eve- and thus to their posterity? Adam tells us what was obviously reveled to him from God: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” (Moses 3:24)

Jesus repeated that commandment to those living in His time (Matthew 19:4-6)

What was the other commandment given after Adam and Eve became mortal? “I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28).

Would the Savior have shown us the way by obeying the commandment to be baptized—declaring that He had to fulfill ALL righteousness-- and then ignored the first of all the commandments given mankind to marry and then to produce children? How could He ask these things of us if He had not “marked the path and led the way and every point defined”?

Joseph Smith taught, “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, p. 308. ) (emphasis added)

Go back and read D&C 122 again. Look at all the experiences the Savior describes. Then read again verse 8: “The Son of Man hath descended below them ALL Art thou greater than he?” (emphasis added)

All this is my long way of saying if and when we reach exaltation, and are sealed to an exalted man, our title will not be Goddess- but GOD. That seems to me the greater title. Neither the man nor the woman is God in the Perfect, Complete sense, without the other. Paul understood that. (I Corinthians 11:11)

P.S. to Emily Powers: What difference would it make if we do have different Heavenly Mothers? We all share the same Father- and are thus all brothers and sisters. And we each do have a glorious Heavenly Mother- sealed to our Heavenly Father. She IS an individual- a Perfect, Exalted Woman- who, joined with Her Husband merits the title God. She is not a "conglomerate." And we are her individual daughters- seeking that same individually attained exalted state. How wonderful!!

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