Two new must-read essays put out by the Church

One is on the topic of “Mother in Heaven.

The other has to do with Joseph Smith’s teachings on Priesthood, Temple and Women.

Read these essays and give us your thoughts below.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

21 thoughts on “Two new must-read essays put out by the Church

  1. The two essays are informative about issues that those who knew such things weren’t sure if they could share them publicly, such as the role of women as ordinance workers in temples.

  2. I regret the heavenly mother(s) essay and it’s assertion that her(their) existence is part of our doctrine. The essay admits that there is no reference in any of our scriptures, and the Prophet Joseph Smith never made mention of her(tgem) in any of his sermons or recorded teachings, and there has been ZERO revelation on the subject. To me, it is folklore, not doctrine — but I understand that one man’s folklore is another man’s doctrine. If she(they) is(are) to be introduced to us, I wish it were by our president and prophet, and by revelation, rather than by the newsroom and by supposition. I wish the official essay merely admitted that the notion has a long been a part of Mormon thought in certain circles (a true statement) rather than affirming her(their) as existence as doctrine held by all Latter-day Saints (not a true statement).

    If a belief in heavenly mother(s) ever becomes a requirement for full fellowship, I will not be able to stay in full fellowship. Our Savior, who stands at the head of the Church, has not taught us anything on this subject. Anything taught by anyone on this subject is wholly man-made.

    I much regret the essay’s publication.

  3. Ji, you write:

    “If a belief in heavenly mother(s) ever becomes a requirement for full fellowship, I will not be able to stay in full fellowship.”

    If this essay bothers you, my suggestion is just to ignore it. There is zero chance that “belief” in heavenly mother will ever become a “requirement” for full fellowship.

    The article also says:

    “Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.” “

  4. Hard to believe someone doesn’t believe in heavenly mother who is Mormon. Got to admit this is a first for me.

    While Joseph doesn’t discuss mother in heaven explicitly anywhere it seems a reasonable inference of D&C 132 depending upon how one take deificiation in that section.

  5. Ji I sympathize with your plight, but not on this particular issue. I would never take such a stance, however, unless I had received direct revelation from God on the issue, not just strong beliefs and tradition.

    Interestingly, I have received the strongest possible witness one could receive short of being physically embraced by a heavenly Mother so you might say my stance is the polar opposite of yours. If some kind of belief were required against a heavenly Mother doctrine I’d be practically* required to denounce who ever taught such.

    *unless of course I’d been commanded to withhold that knowledge, in which case I’d have no problem quite frankly concealing the truth from those not worthy of it as did Abraham.

    Might I suggest you take the approach I read once by George Q Cannon. He said we should not be so quick to deny a teaching unless we received personal revelation on it, as we otherwise run the risk of cutting ourselves of from further light and knowledge. I can think of no clearer severing of that possible knowledge than by doing what your doing in the absence of strong personal revelation on this issue.

  6. There a few differences of opinion I had with the second one about women and the Priesthood. I am not even close to a person who believes women should be ordained, but I think it falls short of the potential given women. One of the things I would like to see is more of an emphasis on women and their ability to share in the development of spiritual talents (including prayers of healing). There is also my belief that the Relief Society is much more than simply a Priesthood auxiliary like primary or sunday school, but nearly a side-by-side companion organization. From what I wrote before:

    “They met with and sought the approval of the prophet Joseph Smith who was pleased with what they wanted to accomplish. As was his ways, he took their plans and a week later had them meet to form an even better society under the Lord’s pattern. They formed what is called the Relief Society, and Joseph Smith, “suggested the propriety of electing a Presidency to continue in office during good behavior, or so long as they shall continue to fill the office with dignity like the first Presidency of the church.” The organizational structure of the Relief Society had the potential to mirror that of the main Priesthood held by the men. This does not mean they would gradually be integrated. To the contrary, their purpose was a a supporting role.

    “Speaking at one of the founding meetings, Joseph Smith explained the object of the Relief Society, “might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants to the poor”, and “correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues,” of the females. The hope was that doing this would give the Elders more time to preach and perform other responsibilities. In essence they would be a “helpmeet” for the Church leadership. This extended to the domestic sphere of the home. The Relief Society needed to teach the women to succor and support the men in their lives and duties, “when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace.” When Joseph Smith taught this, he probably was equally making a personal plea for his wife Emma to take care of him . . . ”

    “A theme that often came up during the Relief Society organization is that the full Priesthood could not be complete without organizing the women in some form. This is not a club built to keep them out of the men’s hair. Joseph Smith said that it should, “move according to the ancient Priesthood, hence there should be a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuou[s] and holy— Said he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests an in Enoch’s day— as in Paul’s day.” At another founding meeting, Bishop Whitney explained, “In the beginning God created man male and female and bestow’d upon man certain blessings peculiar to a man of God, of which woman partook, so that without the female all things cannot be restor’d to the earth; it takes all to restore the Priesthood. It is the intent of the Society, by humility and faithfulness; in connection with those husbands that are found worthy.” The Temple is where the fullness of the Priesthood can be found, and both men a women receive the promised covenant blessings in its ordinances. When Joseph Smith turned over the keys to the Relief Society, he granted them their own holy order of equal importance to the male Priesthood it supports. Only when the Temple work was fully instituted was the proper order of the Church, for both the Priesthood and Relief Society, realized. The women may not have the keys of Church leadership, but the Spirit of the Lord should rest on them just a much.”

  7. I enjoyed reading the essays. They reflect my own thoughts on these matters.

    The essays also document the hagiographic image of Eliza Snow and the formation of the Relief Society. This is why many will reject what I say about Nauvoo in 1842. But what I say does nothing to denigrate the brilliance and faith of 1842. Rather, a more complete knowledge of 1842 emphasizes that the brilliance and faith were even brighter, set as they were against the pitchy black of terrible heresy.

    To Ji’s discomfort, I do not know what factors inform such an extreme level of dissatisfaction. But I am content that God will confirm to you the truth of His gospel, no matter how convinced you are that it is wrong. He may confirm it at a time beyond this life, though, so if the Church formally reinstates healing blessings by women or does begin to openly proclaim Mother in Heaven from the pulpit at General Conferene, I hope you won’t latch onto God’s possible willingness to let you stew for a “short time” as proof that He has allowed His Church to stray from His will.

    If you don’t understand my reference to “short time,” do a search on “I come quickly D&C” and you will find verses in the Doctrine and Covenants from Sections 35, 39, 41, and 54.

  8. I do not know what factors inform such an extreme level of dissatisfaction. But I am content that God will confirm to you the truth of His gospel.

    No revelation, no scripture, no declaration of prophets ancient or modern, no sustaining vote… Just supposition, and folklore being turned into doctrine, and that by simply newsroom essay.

    There is exactly as much support for the heavenly mothers folklore as there is for the negro-less-valiant folklore. Both are suppositions unsupported by revelation, scripture, or sustaining vote — although the latter apparently did have the declared support of some modern prophets.

    Please, I already know “the truth of His gospel.”

    I prefer for the heavenly mothers notion to remain in the realm of folklore, where those who wanted to could believe it (or, for the benefit of some here, where the enlightened or observant could acknowledge it). I’m okay with it as folklore, as a thread in the tapestry of Mormon thought.

    So, now do we start introducing heavenly mothers in our sacrament meetings? How many heavenly mothers are there? Where did they come from? What about heavenly grandparents? Was <The Godmakers film right? When we introduce our heavenly mothers in our manuals to ensure correct teaching to our children, what citation do we use since there is no scripture citation? To me, all of this is best left in the realm of folklore. But, as I said above, one man’s folklore is another man’s doctrine — it has always been so.

    I won’t be a stick-in-the-mud here further to dampen everyone else’s party.

  9. JI, it’s all good. People who are baptized are NOT asked about Heavenly Mother. It is NOT on a temple recommend interview. Yes, people sometimes mention it in Sacrament meeting. And now we have this essay, but nowhere does it say that our doctrine is changing. That does not make it something that you, JI, need to believe in.

    Speaking personally, I am willing to accept the idea of a Heavenly Mother. But my faith does not rely on it. My faith is focused on Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the Gospel and modern-day prophets.

    Folks, if JI doesn’t want to believe in Heavenly Mother, no big deal, OK?

  10. “Folks, if JI doesn’t want to believe in Heavenly Mother, no big deal, OK?”

    While I agree that Heavenly Mother is not essential to believe in to be a full faithful member, I do think the teaching is important to fully comprehend Heavenly Father’s mission and our own eternal promises and potential. That doesn’t mean that any folklore about Her is to be believed or venerations acceptable. She is what can be called a present absence where the existance is detectable, but never clearly named.

    “. . . no declaration of prophets ancient or modern . . .”

    Although I cannot speak for the other requirements listed, as it would take too long for a mere comment, there have been many declarations. The Scriptures do make subtle points about a Divine female companion, but couched in such a way that distinctive worship of Her is declared forbidden. Pacumeni had a good link. I would also suggest:

    Two other resources are:


    As for “declarations” none are more recently prominent than what was stated in the article, “And in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” However, there have been as also listed in the article consistent and direct teachings of Heavenly Mother by modern prophets and apostles since at least the time of Brigham Young. Despite my concern about the final section of the article, another good read is practically an expansion of the one the Church put out:

    Let me restate that I have no problem with a member not believing in a Heavenly Mother. There are many teachings that are not essential to membership or faithfulness to the Gospel. My concern is placing it in the realm of “folklore” rather than the far more evident status it holds in the consciousness and personal faith system of members and leaders. Sadly, we don’t have a word for that without divisiveness.

  11. I find the tone of the essays interesting. They explain current church doctrines and understandings not by citing dogma and revelation, but by saying, “early saints understood this as…” or “in the 19th century…”

    The explanations for women’s roles with the priesthood are similar to explanations for why blacks didn’t have the priesthood: culture, tradition, 19th century understandings, various prophet’s teachings or peculiar events. The essay seems to suggest that women’s current role within the priesthood is traditional, not revelatory, as it could cite no revelations defining women’s role.

    This may open the door for more change.

  12. I enjoyed the essays. Through association with my wonderful wife and many valiant female friends and associates I have discerned that there is an aspect of the Divine within them that I have have a very hard time describing. I think it may take another generation or two (for me at least) to learn enough to be able to do so. And no, I am not pointing towards the progressive paradigm of social and political evolution advocated by radical feminists.

    All of these articles/essays are not merely releases from the newsroom, they are cleared by the First Presidency and Q of the 12. So I think they are about as doctrinal as we can go without actually canonizing a revelation. I like the informality of these essays. They strike me as works in progress, the best LDS thinking and discernment at this point in time.

    And I do not worry about any person who wrestles with aspects of our history, doctrine or theology. I definitely am worried about those who do not wrestle or engage on any level! Our friend Ji is certainly not in that category! I feel that we serve God within the temples of our minds when we seek to discern and understand the truth.

  13. I wonder why they left out Brigham Young’s teaching about the identity of Heavenly Mother? He said Adam is the only God with which we have to do, and Eve is the mother of our spirits. Adam and Eve are our Heavenly Parents.

  14. Of course, Mother is Heaven is a part of the Proclamation on the Family – which carries great authority – but I wonder if this statement about Mother in Heaven is linked with the conclusion to Elder Holland’s speech at the last General Conference (below)? – I wonder if it signals a new emphasis from the General Authorities?

    “To all of our mothers everywhere, past, present, or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.” 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.” To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion,13 and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’14 ” I can pay no higher tribute to anyone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

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