The Divine Mother

One of the unique doctrines of the LDS Church is the existence of a Mother in Heaven. It is more than a trivial speculative idea, but part of the foundational teachings associated with Exaltation. Although particulars are not available, the doctrine is enshrined in one of the most beloved hymns “Oh My Father” by Eliza R. Snow. It states, “in the heavens, are parents single?” and replies, “no . . . truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.” President Wilford Woodruff proclaimed the hymn a revelation. To add to that, it is impossible to fully comprehend the doctrines of eternal families without accepting the implications.

Yet, some are troubled by the lack of particulars. Usually those who would like women to have a greater role in the LDS Church. The refrain for why not more is known has been “the subject is too sacred,” or more forcefully, “God doesn’t want His wife mocked and ridiculed by the World as He lovers Her too much.” There is truth in this, but it doesn’t really answer the question of near silence. The Scriptures don’t even hint this. Prophets have not explained why the subject isn’t talked about, although they have made similar statements about discussing Temple ordinances. There are some answers, but not ones that will either close off discussion or be comforting to the critics of continued minimal knowledge.

What we know about our Heavenly Mother is perhaps more than realized, but less than concrete. This is because most Mormons, both “progressive” and “traditional” are looking for things overly transcendent. The “easy to understand” is seen as less worthy of respect then something that can be forever argued and dissected. Perhaps worse for some is that the conclusion of Her nature casts a shadow on certain mortal aspirations.

On Earth as In Heaven

What we know about our Heavenly Mother is perhaps more than realized, but less than concrete. This is because most Mormons, both “progressive” and “traditional” are looking for things overly transcendent. The “easy to understand” is seen as less worthy of respect then something that can be forever argued and dissected. Perhaps worse for some is that the conclusion of Her nature casts a shadow on certain mortal aspirations.

The key to understanding Heavenly Mother is both in the name and a simple verse of the Doctrine and Covenants. It occurs in the famous “Civil War Prophecy” of Doctrine and Covenants 130:1-2:

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.

Although it has more to do with the nature of God and our relation to Him than gender issues, the idea expressed of “that same sociality” has repercussions. There is not a lot of differences between what we observe here on Earth and human nature in the Eternities. It is true that we are prone to sin, misunderstanding, lies, and mistakes in mortality. Yet, we are also capable of and commanded to be emulating the holy attributes. Our relations include families with both fathers and mothers as a very important part of the social fabric of humanity. To understand motherhood is to understand Heavenly Mother, just as Fatherhood brings its own lessons about the Divine. The recent Proclamation on the Family emphasizes the Earthly relationships of gender to Eternal truth:

“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children . . .

. . . 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.

. . . By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

By analogy we know that Heavenly Mother is just that; a woman who takes care of children. There is no pretense as to how that can be achieved other than through the known doctrine of Faith, Hope, and Charity or more succinctly Love. Learn how to cultivate these characteristics and the more the nature of Heavenly Mother will become clear. For those who believe that raising children is a disgrace or beneath a fully spiritual identity, Jesus had some choice words:

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man is come to Save that which was lost.
– Matt. 18: 10-11

Of course, not every man or woman has the opportunity to marry or raise children here on Earth. However, if Heaven is the ideal and families reflect Heaven, then Time only is of concern and not ultimate circumstances. There is much that we must, as religious people, hope for in the next life that cannot be attained in mortal probation. Marriage and children might be part of that anticipation for a better Eternal life. The Lord will not keep back what we are worthy of obtaining.

Worship and Salvation

The danger in believing in a Heavenly Mother is false worship of another divinity. Creating a false Goddess figure only separates us from real Salvation through Jesus Christ. This possibility is not without precedent. Some scholars have seen within the Bible a fight for repressing a more female oriented worship. In other words, additional theology of a fertility Goddess that either goes with or usurps the male God that is accepted as the I AM that should have no other Gods before Him. Some would say the “go with” is not theologically unacceptable. However, Jesus warned:

17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
18 so be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
–Luke 11: 17-18.

Having two distinct gods in common bond comes with spiritual dangers. Too many might supplant the One True God we do have official knowledge about for the other. It would be near impossible not to develop two theological worship systems for those who insist the one that exists isn’t enough. Like manna from heaven, the temptation to choose between one or the other would be inevitable when both insist upon our devotion. As is clearly taught in the Scriptures, Jesus Christ has already been established as the only Way to Salvation; and he does not give room for another deity besides Father as the focus of our Prayers. It is true that he acts with God, but ultimately he gives the glory to God. He gave an example of prayer to enhance this point:

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
12 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
– 3 Ne. 13: 9-13.

As a modern prophet reiterated:

“It has been said that the Prophet Joseph Smith made no correction to what Sister Snow had written. Therefore, we have a Mother in Heaven. Therefore, [some assume] that we may appropriately pray to her.

Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.

However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven.

The Lord Jesus Christ set the pattern for our prayers [as declared in the Sermon on the Mount].”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1991 General Conference.

More than likely Scriptures do not directly mention Mother in Heaven because she is not part of the Plan of Salvation beyond what we already know of motherhood. The deity we worship continues to be Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as One, and They have been consistent on who and what we must do to be saved.

To be honest, those who want to understand more about the female half of Heavenly Parents must acknowledge there isn’t much known about Father in Heaven either. We know as much as we do about Him because Jesus is His representative. Ultimately it is through Jesus Christ that we get near the Father, and it is through the Father that the Mother can be perceived.

30 thoughts on “The Divine Mother

  1. The last sentence of your last paragraph contains the best summation of learning about each of Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Jesus, and perhaps the Holy Ghost as well.
    Our speculations remain speculations, and are probably as pertinent as “Was Jesus married?” The answer being: Maybe. Probably. Maybe not. Does it matter to our eternal salvation in this life?
    There really is much taught about Heavenly Mother, but it seems to only come on an individual basis – much of it in the temple. And what little has been learned — makes no difference to our eternal salvation on this Earth.
    It probably will later – and it’s good to wait for the right time for knowledge this big.

  2. We worship the Father (male) in the name of the Son (male) by the power of the Holy Ghost (female). Check the Hebrew. Now which of those Three corresponds to a Mother figure? There is no mystery to this, only mistranslation.

  3. First, let me say that I agree with almost everything you say. Yet, one problem with this thought is that we have no real idea what Her motherhood looks like. We are told, as women, that we are distinctly and intrinsically different from our male Savior and therefore in many senses can never be like Him. Yet, we are supposed to intuit which attributes apply to us and which don’t. Men have a concrete model of what being a father means as they wield the priesthood in their homes. Yet, women longing after such a concrete model is somehow tantamount to destroying the gospel and worship of our God?

    We are told we have a divine role as mothers and priestesses that is completely dependent and subject to our husbands. That leaves someone like me, whose husband spectacularly failed his priesthood roles and responsibilities, with all of the burden of priesthood roles and none of the capacity to fulfill them.

    Until you have to cuddle your feverish baby in the middle of the night with no way to bless her and no one to call for help, I don’t think it is possible to truly understand the pain that a completely dependent and powerless role can cause. Were I a man, I could be a single parent in a home with the priesthood power. As a woman, through no fault of my own, my children must grow up in a home where the priesthood visits, but can never dwell.

    This desire to serve in the name of God is a righteous desire. Sure, some women want it for power or validation. But it is possible to righteously seek after more light and understanding, to yearn after further revelation. I know that for righteous women with righteous desires, there will come a time when more is revealed through His spokespeople. It has already begun, for those with ears to hear.

  4. Jettboy, there is a lot of good stuff in this post. I especially liked the reference to D&C 130. One small quibble: “By analogy we know that Heavenly Mother is just that; a woman who takes care of children.” I happen to think that Heavenly Mother also does a lot of other cool stuff besides taking care of children. I see her as a co-creator or worlds and stars and even galaxies and a co-planner with Heavenly Father. So, she does more than take care of children. However, having said that, we also know that Heavenly Father’s work and glory is, in effect, raising his children to be potential gods, so we should not at all suppose that Heavenly Mother does not participate and lead this important work. You are correct that we cannot imagine all of the incredible things that Heavenly Mother does.

  5. “we have no real idea what Her motherhood looks like”

    I don’t think, and I kind of pointed to this in the last paragraph, that we have any real idea what His fatherhood looks like except through the lens of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is more than Her, but most of the attributes we are to emulate from him can be done by all humans of both sexes.

    “. . . women longing after such a concrete model is somehow tantamount to destroying the gospel and worship of our God?”

    I understand your concern, but there are real life examples of this. The only other people who believe in a kind of feminine or mother deity are environmental pagans, and I know Mormon women who have become such out of this desire to know Her as much as the Father. My concerns are just as real as that longing.

    I am also sorry for your fears and anxieties with the sick child. However, I personally believe that women have the right to petition God in prayer and faith as any Priesthood holder. The New Testament is full of stories where women were blessed sometimes more fully then the men. I know the next question will be what is the Priesthood for then? That is a huge question I don’t have time to respond in a comment.

    The Holy Ghost as the mother is problematic. Basically, would that mean the women aren’t resurrected?

    Geoff, you kind of are making some of my points. What differences would Mother in Heaven have that Father in Heaven doesn’t already have? We know She is a Mother. We know He is a Father. Since they are both of “one flesh” then perhaps learning about Her would be redundant.

  6. You did point that out, but I disagree. As I pointed out, we women are expected to infer which of Christ’s characteristics we can emulate as women and which we cannot. Also, men have the priesthood and plenty of instruction on how to wield it as a model for who they can be in the eternities.

    We know that God has dominion because He wields righteous power. There is no feminine analogy for wielding power in the eternities. We are told we are support for our husbands, but how? Is that through wielding similar power, as Geoff intimates? Is that taking care of background tasks so our husbands can focus on creating worlds as you (and the priesthood structure) suggests? We can GUESS, but we have no real model. Men can wield priesthood based upon their righteousness and choices in this life. Motherhood is not connected to righteousness nor (entirely) to choice. They are not analogous as models for who we are in an eternal sense.

    As far as pagan worship goes, you might as well say because there are pagan religions who worship a sacrificial God (Egyptians, to name a big one, but others are legion) that worshipping the Father through Christ leads to pagan worship. Again, it indicates that men’s desires to know how they relate to God and serve Him are somehow intrinsically righteous, and women’s exact same desires are not. This is inference that many have made, but they are not of God. If it is righteous for a man to desire the priesthood so that he may serve God, it is also righteous for a woman to desire power and organization to serve God. If it is righteous for man to desire to know God and his place in eternity, it is righteous also for woman to desire to know God and her place in eternity. The problem is not righteous desires, but desiring after the power of God to further personal power or to validate one’s value. That is equally evil for a man (Simon Magus, for example) as for a woman.

    They are not “fears and anxieties.” I’m making that clear because using those words to describe the female experience of being unable to bless one’s family sounds rather like “hysterics.” If petitions through prayer and faith are the same as the Priesthood (which they are not,) then why have the priesthood at all? Of course I can petition. But I cannot act as conduit for God’s power to pronounce blessings upon my family. You can’t have it both ways. Either the priesthood means something within a family—in which case my point is valid—or it does not, so there is no need for it.

    And again, if learning about Her is redundant, because there are no significant differences between Her role and the Father’s role, then there are no significant differences between genders. Again, you can’t have it both ways.

  7. “But I cannot act as conduit for God’s power to pronounce blessings upon my family. ”

    I totally disagree. But I’m not interested in hashing out the particulars of why.

  8. Amen to everything in SliverRain’s 8:47.

    I’m uncomfortable with the idea that Heavenly Father and Jesus are anything less than perfect in all virtues (i.e. some of the virtues are female virtues–say “nurturing” for example–and HM is perfect in those but not HF). It sounds like you are also uncomfortable with this, even though it is a necessary result of the theories you are proposing, because you said in the comments above that “most of the attributes we are to emulate from him can be done by all humans of both sexes.” (Of course then we arrive at SliverRain’s point that this means that there are no real eternal differences between sexes.)

  9. The danger in believing in a Heavenly Mother is false worship of another divinity. Creating a false Goddess figure only separates us from real Salvation through Jesus Christ.

    Having two distinct gods in common bond comes with spiritual dangers. Too many might supplant the One True God we do have official knowledge about for the other. It would be near impossible not to develop two theological worship systems for those who insist the one that exists isn’t enough.

    All of these arguments equally apply as to the worship of both Father and Son.

  10. Michael, if I were to pronounce a blessing in the name of God it would be unauthorized. As a faithful woman of the Church who believes in the prophetic calling of the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12, and sustains her leaders down through stake president and bishop, I would not take that authority upon myself unless it were given to me through them or angelic visitation. I am willing to wait for further light and knowledge from the Lord rather than take it upon myself.

    Cynthia, jpv, et al, I believe that when we do receive further light and knowledge (which I believe the leadership of the Church has been trying to prepare us for for some time and we are failing to receive) we will have LESS chance of developing a conflicting theological worship system because we will know Heavenly Mother by revelation and prophecy through God’s chosen spokesmen.

    I want to reiterate that I have worn myself out speaking up for the church and urging women to be patient and charitable, and wait upon the Lord for this knowledge. As I wrote in my recent article here, I believe that agitation via lobbying is a poor choice for disciples of the Lord. I believe the two biggest detriments to revealed knowledge is pride in those who feel they can force the Church leadership to make changes THEY desire, and pride in those who feel that there is no further knowledge to be revealed on this subject. We have been warned against both in scripture.

    I, a woman who has sacrificed much for her faith, can feel this lack and I am not afraid to admit to it. But as a woman who has been taught of my infinite worth and infinite limitation by looking into the eternities, I am also not afraid to wait for the Lord’s timing for His people. Whether that timing is soon or late, I trust my God and His works on the earth through His mortal servants.

    And in the meantime, I will serve Him as I am able.

  11. A couple thoughts on this.

    During the last kurflufle about prayers in GC, my wife found out her mother, (who had not served a mission), would be uncomfortable praying with her VT’ees, because it would look too much like a priesthood blessing. My wife (who had served a mission) could not imagine not praying with the VT’ees. I see little difference between (in terms of God’s likeliness to answer) a prayer saying, “By the power of the priesthood I give thee a blessing” and “Dear Father I ask a blessing be bestowed on my child.” One is given by the priesthood, the other is asked by faith. I hope every faithful LDS woman would be just as confident giving the latter as every faithful LDS priesthood holder would be the former.

  12. “And again, if learning about Her is redundant, because there are no significant differences between Her role and the Father’s role, then there are no significant differences between genders. Again, you can’t have it both ways.”

    In the Eternities I don’t see any differences other than physiology. However, I think that God gave different roles for men and women more than just physiology in mortality intentionally. Just as Baptism requires the Gift of the Holy Ghost to be bestowed and Eternal Life requires the union of Spirit and Body, so do we require a man and a women to be united as One. Men having the Priesthood responsibilities and women for childbirth gives each a reason to join together not driven only by our natural selves. That mortality doesn’t always work out that way is part of life even if sad or tragic. Those without a husband fall under the Bishop and Home Teachers for Priesthood guidance and help. If they aren’t doing their job then petition the Stake Presidency. If all else seems to fail find other Priesthood holders that you trust in the ward or stake. If none of that works, I am afraid we as a Church are under condemnation.

    The Lord Jesus Christ often compared his relationship to the Church as bride and groom to represent an abstract conjoined relationship of dissimilarity. Paul explained the wife, husband, and Christ work as one, but he also said those married to non-members should never give up hope the husbands could become worthy of greater blessings. For me in the Temple I see a representation of the Eternities where all gender is given the same powers and promises of the Priesthood once this mortality is over and full salvation given.

  13. To be honest, those who want to understand more about the female half of Heavenly Parents must acknowledge there isn’t much known about Father in Heaven either. We know as much as we do about Him because Jesus is His representative. Ultimately it is through Jesus Christ that we get near the Father, and it is through the Father that the Mother can be perceived.

    I’m not sure you mean it this way, but I take this as very encouraging to those who want to see a day when Heavenly Mother is worshiped and spoken of often. I am amazed at how often I hear the name “Heavenly Father” in our testimonies and teaching, when you consider how little He even speaks in the scriptures.(The FV being the only recorded time he even appears on earth) In fact, its pretty clear that He wants us to look to the Son. Without the Son, we are all fallen and lost of course. And yet, we Mormons just can’t help ourselves from speaking the name of the Father every chance we get. (Even when its not theologically accurate). All we need is a green light and I think Her name would just come pouring out of us. Just like the Father.

  14. Why would setting the organization of planets in motion be more exciting or important than raising up spirit children and teaching and preparing them before the foundations of the world?

    I believe the best way to come to know the Father is through the son just as he said. The Mother would be included in this, but the ultimate focus is on the Lord. There is a reason for the enigmatic statement that life eternal is to know God and Jesus whom he sent.

    Its a life time of work of keeping the commandments and serving others. And can be accomplished in no other way.

    Want to know more? Look to God and live.

  15. We know that exaltation requires a sealed marriage, and we also know that exaltation requires the kind of perfect unity enjoyed by Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Consider that in Jesus’s great intercessory prayer, he asks that the disciples might “be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22). Indeed, the total union of thought, feeling, and purpose between the Father and the Son is a well-understood tenet of LDS belief. As my wife recently put it in explaining our concept of God to a couple of non-Mormons, the Father and the Son are so alike that they are practically interchangeable.

    So too with the Father and the Mother. To speak of one as meaningfully distinct from the other is not to know them at all. Other than being physically separate and, presumably, different in appearance, they could have no unique distinction.

    If one wants to know their Heavenly Mother, they must learn more about their Heavenly Father, for they are one.

  16. Huston, I think you’re brushing over the real practical and distinctive roles of the Father and the Son. Yes, Father and Son are one in purpose and interchangeable in theory. But, you’ve never heard someone close “in the name of Heavenly Father” for a very good reason. His deferral to Jesus in the FV narrative is deliberate.(they didn’t flip a coin) Because we teach of distinct personages, we have to also say that the Son did something that the Father could not do Himself. Their purpose is identical, their roles are quite different.

    Now, I agree that the best way to know the Mother, is to *first* know the Father. But that doesn’t mean we then continue to speak as though she is not there. We don’t cease to speak of the Father, although we only know Him through the Son.

  17. Jettboy, I think that you and other commenters are missing the point. YOU see things a certain way, YOU think. Your explanations keep coming back to your personal interpretation of my role as a woman. I have many things I think and believe, too, about women and their divine roles. But they are conjecture and personal revelation, nothing more. It is not the same as the direct, authorized guidance, real-world practice, and clear, concrete roles that men have through their priesthood structure.

    We women are told that gender is an eternal, not merely a mortal, characteristic. We are specifically told that there is a difference between us and God the Father and the Savior. But we are not told what that means. We are left to flounder ourselves, piecing together our own feelings and impressions, hopes and wishes. I could preach a great many things that I believe the Spirit has revealed to me about my eternal role as a woman. But they wouldn’t be doctrinal. They would be my impressions filtered through what the Lord has told me in my particular circumstances, and not authorized to be taught to the Church general.

    Either there is an important difference between men and women or there is not. You can’t persuasively reason that we are exactly the same on one hand, so we shouldn’t desire further light and knowledge about our identity and roles, and that we are essentially different on the other hand, so we shouldn’t yearn after the ability to bless and utilize the priesthood power to serve others in our mortal lives.

    I believe that it is righteous and necessary to yearn after a deeper understanding of who we are in God’s plan. The Spirit of God, not feminist ideals, has awakened that yearning in my heart. I believe there are righteous ways of expressing that desire, and unrighteous ways. I refuse to tamp my glorious and uplifting desire to know God and better understand my relationship to Him through Prophetic revelation simply because some people feel I have no need for it by reason of their own philosophies mingled with revealed doctrine.

  18. I have one final point I have felt I should make.

    This is so much deeper even than knowing more about our Heavenly Mother. She and the Father are both enigmatic, it is true. This is about knowing who we are as women, touching our eternal identities. The mortal world has only the barest sketch for what that must mean.

    Do you realize that there is no example anywhere in scripture of a woman approaching the Lord in prayer and receiving revelation? The scriptures are replete with male questions, and the Lord revealing divine global truths through His sons in answer to those questions. I have no such hope of precedent that my female questions can be answered by God that way. You might say “of course you can receive revelation” but there remains no examples of it. Women can receive inspiration to personal action, sure. We can nudge our men. We have a few examples of that. But to speak prophetically? To access the power of God? Where are the women who are able to commune directly with Him, to act as conduits of His word?

    Rather, I must pray and wait upon a male prophet, called of God, to reveal that answer to me, to proclaim “thus saith the Lord.” Is it any mystery, then, that I hunger for just such an answer through the Lord’s Anointed servants?

  19. SilverRain,
    While I agree with you in principle about the lack in general of women in the scriptures asking and receiving revelation, I would point you to Hagar. She really doesn’t get a lot of play in Jewish and Christian texts (largely because of a faulty vision of what Abraham’s relationship with her means and symbolizes, as well as bad translations of the Hebrew, and Paul’s use of her and Sarah as a metaphor in the NT- I wrote a paper on this last year, and am planning on adapting it to a LDS perspective in the near future). But a careful reading of Genesis 16 and 21 reveals not only a very strong female character (even with her faults, as well as those of the narrator and Abraham), who not only petitions God for help and gets it, but also has the strength of will to actually NAME God, and be accepted by him. (Yes, there are issues of a male dominated narration, but reading between the lines in the stories reveals that something really interesting was going on that has since been filtered through a patriarchal mindset of redactors…connected with the carry over to her position of importance in Islam, and Arabia as a repository of stories that have extremely ancient date, there are a lot of parallels that point to something much more empowering of Hagar as a strong, positive female character.)

  20. SIlver Rain, I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, I see no way to reconcile your dismay in this thread with your views on the mode of change in the Church. For many (most?) men in the Church, hearing from women about the desperate need for a Heavenly model is very surprising. And its not all our fault. It never occurred to us before. Because we’re men! And I see nothing sexist or degrading about saying that. I also don’t find it offensive in the least to suggest that our male dominated leadership may need to hear your voice (and many others) before we ever see a more complete view of the Divine. If the D&C teaches us anything this year, I hope its that revelation (even to prophets on behalf of the Church) does not exist in a vacuum. It often comes in answers to questions. How can someone ask about something that is not even on his radar?

  21. I appreciate that you are trying to help me. But it isn’t necessary. I’m speaking here to illustrate that it is possible to be righteous and still feel a lack. I’m aware that by reading between the lines there are things to be learned. But reading between the lines is as I said, supposition and inference. It is not accepted doctrinal revelation.

    I see you understand that even with your supposition and inference, Hagar as a role model is very problematic. She is no prophet. The nature of her interaction with God falls within the parameters I described before. She received help from God, but not revelation to mankind.

    I really don’t have anything more to say on the matter but what I have already been inspired to say. I understand that you feel a need to assuage my pain, but I assure you it is unnecessary. I am not angry with the Church. That is, actually, part of the point.

  22. CJ, perhaps I can help you reconcile it if I understand what dismay you refer to. Seeing a lack of doctrinal revelation on a particular subject is not a point of dismay to me, it is an exciting opportunity. I do not believe we have to know all things now to undertake discipleship of Christ.

    As you said, the questions are being asked. Up to this point, the questions are dismissed as coming from those women dissatisfied with the Church. Yet, I am not dissatisfied. Nor am I dissenting. Yet, I have these questions. Many women do. Most of us don’t worry overmuch about it. But the leadership is now exhorting us to explore the role of women. They have published Daughters in My Kingdom as a a prelude, an invitation to increase our understanding of what has already been revealed. Actually, it was reading that book and seeing how much we failing to live up to that has inspired me to engage more fully in this topic.

    The only regret, as far as I’m concerned, is that we are not asking the men to explore it as deeply as the women are asked to explore the Priesthood.

  23. “Do you realize that there is no example anywhere in scripture of a woman approaching the Lord in prayer and receiving revelation?”

    “Women can receive inspiration to personal action, sure. We can nudge our men. We have a few examples of that. But to speak prophetically? To access the power of God? Where are the women who are able to commune directly with Him, to act as conduits of His word?”

    I guess I was answering your first question, and not necessarily moving toward the second point. I would say that I was more interested in proving the first sentence wrong, and not necessarily ‘helping you’ or ‘assuaging your pain,’ because without your later qualification, that sentence is simply wrong. I know, from your many posts that you are both strong and capable in your abilities and knowledge. I’m sorry I assumed that when you said ‘revelation’ you meant small ‘r’ revelation, and not capital “R” Revelation, as in to all mankind.

    I totally get the idea that you can be righteous and still feel a lack. Please don’t make the assumption that I in any way felt like I needed to ‘assuage your pain’ and help you accept the line, or anything like that.

    I would, though, contend that even with your second quote that I copied, many of the direct examples from the OT and those alluded to there and elsewhere talking of women acting as Prophetesses were in fact taken as such by their people at the time (later patriarchal redactors aside), and just because there are a multiple modern cultural (LDS?) connotations and definitions of ‘prophet’ that make us not see them as such, doesn’t mean those women weren’t receiving Revelation for all mankind, and being meant by God to do so. It may simply be our own blinders that stop us from seeing them as ‘conduits of His word.” (In no way though do I mean that to be taken that we should accept modern sensibilities of ‘equality’ to push Church leadership to female ordination. I believe, just as strongly as you, that the Church is led by Revelation through the anointed servants of the Lord, and will change such major issues only by his direction and on his timing.)

    In that vein, the revelation and promises that Hagar received inform and have very specific implications for how and what we see the Abrahamic covenant is and means for all mankind (and not just the line through Isaac, and Jacob). Thus, I would say that her revelation can be seen as a Revelation to all mankind (but with the caveat that later redactors affected our knowledge of what happened). Similarly, Eve’s words in the Book of Moses can easily be seen the same way- our entire idea of the fortunate fall could possibly be seen to come straight from her words. That definitely represents prophetic speech, transmitting the word of God to all mankind.

    I totally get what you are saying above about relationships and models for following Heavenly Mother, etc. But when you come to saying that you cannot find any examples of women in scripture receiving ‘Revelation’ for the world, it appears that either you haven’t looked well enough (something I don’t believe) or your cultural assumptions about what it means to be a prophet/ess (i.e. involving priesthood authority, etc) may be hindering you from finding examples that can serve as such. While there may not be as many women who have done such as men, there are still examples there. Now, where those women are today, is another question entirely…

  24. What I’m saying is more that whatever my personal opinions about the significance of such things may be, they are not generally accepted doctrine in the Church today, which means we have some Revelation pending. I’m excited for that. I’m excited for further official guidance. I reject that desiring and praying for such guidance is dangerous, ill-advised, unrighteous, irrelevant, or any number of such things as mentioned in the OP and some comments above.

  25. I believe the scriptures when they say we can know the mind and will of God. I believe we can consecrate our lives so fully that the veil between us and heaven will become so thin that we can receive those revelations of the eternities that will enlighten our minds and purify our souls. I believe this is possible for all because I have experienced it myself.

    I do not believe we must wait for world wide revelation to be proclaimed by the church leadership when as a people and often individually we fail to live up to what we have already received. (Remembering the risk that which is given may be taken away)

    I also am confident that what we desire can be known, but just as importantly that for sacred things revealed to us we have no authority to convey them to others if the apostles are not doing so.

    This is why these things “trouble” me (in a very soft way) . The Father asks us to look to the Son, the Son asks us to look to his special witnesses (apostles), they give some direction to seventies, RS presidency, etc as to what to focus on etc and here we often want to ignore this pattern and go straight to the mysteries. My person al feeling is to look to the Lord and how his servants act and emulate them, obviously not word for word. But big topics which they don’t touch maybe we shouldn’t insist so publically on, as if they either don’t know or never thought of. I believe they have much they’d like to teach, but right now there is a different focus in building up the kingdom which includes missionary work as well as strengthening and helping members to become more fully converted in deed as well as word.

    Isn’t it at all possible that God has an appropriate time for certain knowledge to come forth and while we can no doubt be hopefully for more light to be revealed to the world perhaps we can also recognize some things are held back for good purposes.

    Its not a question of sitting back and saying “be faithful and wait” but rather, “be faithful and act and don’t stop until you’ve seen the face of God”.

  26. I enjoyed reading the post. I think it makes many valid points but does not provide real answers to the questions many women today have. My own feelings toward the desire that the priesthood be shared by all members were answered as time passed and conditions changed. Now that I am old I and have read the scriptures many times I have come to feel differently. I have come to recognize that what the Lord has to give me is enough.

    While I don’t know why or have any answers about what things will be like in the next life beyond a continuation of this I do know that language changes and our understanding of language changes based on the way we use it. The Doctrine and Covenants and every other place where the words what I say to one I say to all appear refers to all men and all women. I also understand that the word man, used to mean mankind. In our 21st century vocabulary man means men and not mankind. So in D&C 130 I would be comfortable with wording that today means he has a body like us because, he has the same father. But it is so much shorter and easier to say a man like us.

    I really like to read SilverRain. I find her insightful and well spoken. I admire her courage and learning. It is difficult to find a passage of scripture which says the Lord spoke to a woman. However in the book of Judges when the angel comes to tell Samson’s parents that they will have a son he tells her husband he will not speak to him.He is apparently asking silly questions, he will only speak with his wife. I would take that to mean that his wife received revelation. D&C 25 is a revelation for Emma Smith. In verse 7 she is told to “expound scriptures and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my spirit.” That says to me that Emma Smith received the word of revelation for the Relief Society in Nauvoo. Eliza R Snow practiced the gift of healing. As time passed things changed. If women and men choose to seek a spiritual gift they can use it. I think that doing the things that help us to gain spiritual gifts helps each person to become more like the Savior. Over time it helps us to deal with the issues that are always trying to jump out and cause trouble. My children are grown now and are struggling through life as we all must. Most of the time I love being a Mormon woman.

  27. Strong and insightful post, Yvonne! It may very well be that it isn’t until we gather much experience (and are too old to use much of it!) that we realize we never knew what our specific questions were. We felt uneasy and that there were some things we didn’t understand, but our questions didn’t really address our actual needs because we, at the time, didn’t understand them. As you, I’ve found that over time and much study, we seem to find answers to questions we didn’t even know we had.

    I cannot address any questions of anyone else, especially someone of such difference from me that I’ve always been mystified by their gender. (Married one, raised three, and I still have no idea how they think. And they laugh at this, frequently.) I honestly don’t know why the Lord has revealed one thing and not another, and I don’t know how to point someone to an example of Heavenly Mother being or doing one thing or another. We’d like to know how we might help, but we are among the most ignorant of God’s creatures — which may be why men have what we call “the Priesthood,” which is, much of the time, checklists to follow.

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