Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How much do we know about Heavenly Mother?

I've often heard it said that one of the reasons we don't talk much about Heavenly Mother is because very little has been revealed about Her. My thesis is that, while that may be true, we know almost as much about Her as we know about Heavenly Father.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. In fact, virtually every single instance of God or the LORD speaking in scripture is believed to be Christ. Even times when context seems to imply that it is the Father (Moses 1, for example), it is generally accepted that Jesus is speaking on behalf of the Father via 'divine investiture of authority.' So pretty much the only times we have God the Father speaking--Christ's baptism, the first vision, etc.--is to briefly bear record of or introduce the Son. We know very little about God the Father from His own words.

What we do know about Heavenly Father is that He had a plan for all of us to come down here and live and grow and be saved by Christ and one day return to live with Him. His attributes include perfect love, omniscience, omnipotence, justice, mercy, power, and wisdom, among many other things. He is the father of our spirits. He has a body of flesh and bone. Joseph Smith taught that He is an exalted man, and that we can become like Him. Beyond that, what do we know about Him? I don't think there's much. (Not that I'm complaining--I'm sure if we needed to know much more about Him, He would make sure we found out.)

So what do we know about Heavenly Mother? She is the Mother of our spirits and Heavenly Father's wife. She has a body of flesh and bone. Prophets have also taught that she has a perfect love for us and is also merciful, just, and concerned with our well-being. We can return to live with Her, because she lives with the Father. We can become like Her. And if Heavenly Father is an exalted man, it seems that Heavenly Mother would have to be an exalted woman. Sounds pretty similar to what we know about Heavenly Father to me.

Further, the Proclamation on the family teaches the ideal that husband and wife should work together as equal partners, and our most famous reference to Heavenly Mother--Eliza R. Snow's 'O My Father'--speaks of completing what They have sent us to do and returning to heaven with Their 'mutual approbation.' These teachings seem to make clear that Heavenly Mother was involved to some degree in teaching and guiding us and possibly formulating the plan of salvation, and that She will accept us home just as joyfully and intimately as Heavenly Father will.

So it seems to me that we know basically just as much about Heavenly Mother as we do about Heavenly Father. I grant that it's not much, but it is powerful and edifying and reassuring knowledge nonetheless. [Let me know if I'm totally overlooking some area that we know a ton about Heavenly Father in, but next to nothing about Heavenly Mother.]

So if that's all true, why don't we talk about Heavenly Mother more often? My guess is that it's a mixture of culture (we've always talked about Heavenly Father more and the status quo is hard to change) and a desire to be respectful of Her. While I want nothing more than the utmost respect to be shown towards my Mother in Heaven, I also don't think that ignoring Her is respectful. A good analogy I've heard is that of the temple. We hold the covenants and rituals performed in the temple very sacred and holy, so we don't discuss them in detail outside the temple. But we talk about the temple a lot in generalities and as a goal for children to work towards and we bear our testimonies of the temple's power. Could we do the same with Heavenly Mother? We don't have to speculate about Her or parade Her around or pray to Her, but can't we be better at acknowledging Her huge importance in our pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal lives? Can we bear testimony more often of the love we feel from our Heavenly Parents? Can we speak in our lessons of both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father sending us to earth?

5 comments:

  1. I'm glad you acknowledge the respect angle--if "thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" is still an important principle, the same seems to apply with greater force to Heavenly Mother. And I think there's a particularly acute risk of politicizing her, which is definitely taking her name in vain.

    But I agree that it is important in families and reverently in church and to teach our children about her existence and presence. And when the opportunities arise, I think it's a nice thing to share with people who aren't from our faith (or any faith) but who could use the idea that a Mother in Heaven cares about them.

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  2. Very interesting. At first I was a bit shocked at your bold thesis, but the more I thought about it and the more I read, the more I realized you're right.

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  3. This is a very beautiful testament of Heavenly Mother. I agree with everything you have so thoughtfully and eloquently said here. I love the respect and reverential tone in which you have posted this. Thank you!

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  4. Lovely thoughts and well expressed. I have often thought the same and come to some of the same conclusions, it is nice to know some one else has as well. I will mention my Heavenly Parents more often.

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  5. Very well said! Do you think one of the reasons we might not mention it as much is that it makes us "weird" to other Christians?

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