‘A Sacred Silence’: Blake Ostler on the Heavenly Mother

Aaron R. aka Rico Mormon 36 Comments

Blake Ostler

In a Sunstone presentation entitled ‘A Return to Logic’, which discusses Blake Ostler’s work, he was asked about the Heavenly Mother.  As a fan of Blake’s work I wanted to discuss his answer a little here, recognising that it was not a fully formulated or prepared response.  The major points of his answer seem to be: firstly, that he does not believe Joseph Smith taught this doctrine, secondly, he does believe that it is true, thirdly, we can have a relationship with her and fourthly, we should not talk about her or that relationship in explicit ways because it is sacred.  

Firstly, there has been some discussion of Blake’s views on NCT a week or so ago but I wanted to discuss his views in more detail here, if possible.  Blake has said “I don’t deny the existence of a Mother in Heaven” but “I don’t believe that Joseph Smith ever taught the notion.  I don’t believe he had the notion.  I believe what Eliza Snow said about Joseph teaching the notion, she made up.  Its clear to me that during Joseph Smith’s life time… there simply are no statements that would indicate that anybody during that time period believed in a Mother in Heaven”

The poem of the hymn ‘O My Father’ was published in Nov 1845 in the Times and Seasons [1] and seems to have been written in Nauvoo in Oct 1845 [2].  It at least does not appear in Snow’s 1842-4 notebook, which implies an 1845 composition [3].  Therefore it may be an over-statement to say that it was not in the minds of the saints, at that time.  I acknowledge that this was after Joseph’s death, but it was only shortly after.  It is possible that the poem was about her earthly parents being in heaven especially as Eliza’s father died mid-October.  What is unclear is when she became aware of her Father’s death because he lived some distance from her.  In addition, Eliza’s account of the doctrine being taught is a very late recollection [4].  This may all support Ostler’s contention.  Contrastingly, there is at least one other reference to the Mother in Heaven in December 1844, prior to Eliza’s, from a W. W. Phelps poem [5]. 

What seems unclear from this is how Ostler can believe the doctrine but not accept it’s historical origin.  Moreover, that Snow’s and Phelp’s poems were written around the mid-1840’s suggests that there was some awareness of this idea.  To me then it is unclear upon what premise Ostler accepts the Mother in Heaven as a reality but not as doctrine.  If it is derived from the First Presidency statement [6], then it would seem that this is based upon Eliza R. Snow (which he suggests is untenable); whereas if it is implied from the doctrine of celestial marriage then the foundation for that doctrine were laid during Joseph’s life-time.  Therefore I would argue the notion was present (perhaps implicitly).

When questioned about the Heavenly Mother, Blake hestitates and says “I am contemplating the sacred silence by which I am bound”.  He continues by asking “how could I discourse with you about her about what I know, and how could I say more without being disloyal to that relationship… People have taken my silence about the Mother in Heaven to be a complete disregard; it is not.  It is a very thoughtful decision on my part because of the relationships that I have”.

Here there is a sense that he rejects the current discourse on the Mother in Heaven as illegitimate, as without authority, and he therefore does not want to engage with that discourse.  Especially because it lacks scriptural backing.  His silence though becomes a discourse in its own right, one that attempts to further undermine the ‘illegitimate’ discourse.  Moreover, he shares a witness of his relationship with the Mother in Heaven and therefore sets up another discourse of ‘Sacred Silence’ which suggests that people who ask the question do not really know what they are asking.  It seems therefore that Ostler wants to deligitmize the ‘illegitimate’ discourse on the Heavenly Mother and set-up his own ‘Sacred Silence’ as the legitimate discourse.  However, there is a ‘legitimate’ discourse on the Heavenly Mother which Ostler does not engage with.  For example, during the 1970’s there were a few references to Her and Her attributes by Prophets and Apostles during General Conference [7].

He compares his silence on the Heavenly Mother to his silence about the Temple, however this does not hold for me.  This is primarily because we have a very strong legitimate discourse around the temple which speaks of its blessings and also how to prepare for it.  I find Ostler’s exhortation (“If you want to know about her, I suggest that you know her; don’t ask me about her”) to be something I want to follow but feel unsure about how to proceed.  The temple is not the same, it is clear and not esoteric.  He does not sugget how we can come to know her and experience the relationship that he hints at.

As a result, this post is more a personal lament.  For I would have loved to have thought more about Blake’s position and yet I respect his silence and understand, to some extent, why he has talked in this way.  My only hope is that as a Church we do find a way to speak of our Mother in Heaven in ways that encourage all people to have that relationship with her and also with God but without betraying anything that is sacred.  As a result I have really appreciated the work of Kevin Barney [8] and Dan Petersen [9] on the connections they make between Asherah and the Heavenly Mother and in so doing finding ways that we can talk about her.  Even though Blake Ostler seems to disagree with their view of Asherah. 

Ostler has said “I believe what we have to say about our Mother in Heaven is remarkably minimal”.  I agree, but also wish it were different. Moreover I think it can be.  The ‘doctrine’ of the Church is hard to pin down, and as a result we have many para-doctrines.  President Hinckley has spoken of the reality of the Heavenly Mother, while also counseling people not to pray in public to her [10].  It would be a positive step if others could speak in semi-official ways of her and start to create a legitimate discourse.

Do you agree with Ostler’s sacred silence? 

Notes

1. Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 279.

2. Poetry, Times and Seasons, vol. 6 (January 15, 1845-February, No. 17. Nauvoo, Illinois, Nov. 15, 1845. Whole No. 126.

3. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, The Eliza Enigma: The Life and Legend of Eliza R. Snow in Charles Redd Monographs on Western History, vol. 6 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1976): 34.

4. Jill Mulvay Derr, The Significance of “O My Father” in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow in BYU Studies, vol. 36 (1996-97), Number 1,

5. Charles R. Harrell, The Development of the Doctrine of Preexistence, 1830-1844 in BYU Studies, vol. 28 (1988), Number 2 – Spring 1988), pp. 75-91.

6. First Presidency, The Origin of Man in Improvement Era, vol. 13, Nov 1909, p. 80.

7. Linda P. Wilcox, The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven in Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective, edited by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 64-77. Available here.

8. Kevin L. Barney, How to Worship the Heavenly Mother (Without getting Excommunicated) in Dialogue, vol. 41, no. 4 (Salt Lake City: Dialogue Foundation 2008), p. 121-46.

9. Daniel C. Peterson, Nephi and His Asherah: A Note on 1 Nephi 11:8-23 in Mormons, Scripture and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson, edited by Davis Bitton (Provo, Ut.: FARMS 1998) pp. 191-243.

10. Gordon B. Hinckley, Daughters of God in Ensign, Nov 1991, p. 100.

Comments

comments

Comments 36

  1. “Silence is Golden” is the watchword on most things that one truly doesn’t understand. The concept of a mother in heaven is best understood in the concept of “celestial marriage” which is synonymous with “plural marriage.” Imagine if you will, that Elohim (most of course will recognize that the word is plural) has many wives and that all human kind pertain to them. Which is your mother? As has been alluded before, this is a very powerful doctrine as well as the fact that as “children” of our HF we have the ability to become as he is. “As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become.” To make this doctrine available to all would result in generalized chaos. We have enough on our plates with home teaching, payments of tithes and offerings, mission calls, service projects, and raising a “righteous generation.” “Worlds without number,” are a lot of worlds and the concept of a single mother in heaven doesn’t fit the model of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the reverse does fit, which is logically why the “world” is not prepared for the doctrine.

  2. “Sacred silence”. I think this is probably an appropriate response to something where there is inadequate data or scriptural support. I think more harm has been done through the years from public speculations on things where the information is scant than the converse. Examples include BY’s musings on inhabitants of the sun and moon, much of what McConkie talked about in his first version of Mormon Doctrine, etc.

    With regards to a Heavenly Mother, I think it is a beautiful idea. According to our basic teachings of celestial marriage and eternity and what is said in the temple, we absolutely MUST have a Heavenly Mother. I also think that teaching the concept would do much to help the women in our church who may feel somewhat marginalized at times. However, without explicit scriptural support, I think it is difficult to hang your hat on the concept in public discourses. So I think the “sacred silence” isn’t really because it is any more sacred than many, many other things we talks about, but because the church has tried to shy away from discussions of things that are more interpretations and speculations but not explicitly supported in the scriptures.

  3. ““I don’t believe that Joseph Smith ever taught the notion. I don’t believe he had the notion”

    The fact that the concept of a mother in heaven doesn’t appear in the teachings of Joseph Smith that have been recorded does imply that he never taught that concept (although many of his sermons were not recorded), but this omission doesn’t give a basis for believing that he didn’t believe in that concept. We have to be careful in using omissions as evidence of something. Omissions are just that. They don’t say yea or nay about it.

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    #1 – I think there is much that the Church (or people in the Church) speaks to that we are not really that sure how things really are. If we did not speak about things we did not understand very little would be said at all. I always thought that one way to get an understanding was to talk, to have a dialogue? Moreover, I think you make a substantial jump from arguing that it is good to argue that we should be silent on things we don’t understand and then confident prolaim that God is a polygamist. I am not sure I agree, and so I will be silent.

    #2 – I agree that harm can be done by unbridled speculation. I think this is a valid point and one where the home-maker heavenly mother of the 70’s/ERA period may have caused such hurt. However, I have seen that revelation can come to those who challenge and push the boundaries of what we, who propose solutions and get responses. Can we move doctrine forward in this way as well.

    #3 – But because we can’t say yes or no, it surely seems better to go with the evidence, which implies that he did not teach it, although I do note their is some circumstantial evidence that it was in the minds of some. We need to be aware that this could be wrong but should not disregard the omission, which may of course have been intentional. Perhaps Joseph was also speaking a sacred silence in his public discourse.

  5. #1-

    ““Silence is Golden” is the watchword on most things that one truly doesn’t understand. The concept of a mother in heaven is best understood in the concept of “celestial marriage” which is synonymous with “plural marriage.” ”

    I don’t believe that celestial marriage is synonymous with plural marriage. We know how long it takes for a woman to give birth to one child here on earth, but creating spirit children in the next life could painfree and take little to no time, so creating children “worlds without ends” could be a breeze for one man and one woman there. I absolutely believe that a man and a woman can be Gods together without the man having more than one wife. The very first pattern of a marriage relationship that the Lord established on the earth was one man and one woman and I think that is significant.

    I have no doubt there is a Mother in Heaven, but I feel that she is protected by Heavenly Father here on earth by saying little to nothing about her through prophets. If we look at how people take the Lord’s name in vain constantly and speak ill of Him, I can see why Heavenly Father would want very little information given about her. I think learning of her is something that we can do through personal revelation and it is one of those things that you don’t talk about at church. I believe there are many things that we are taught by the Lord that are not brought up in Sunday School and that is the way it is supposed to be.

  6. Shouldn’t we first be asking what Ostler believes Heavenly Mother to be? It might be a false assumption that he believes Heavenly Mother is a female married to God the Father, etc.

    Paul Owen writes,

    Some Mormons understand our “heavenly parents” in terms of the Father and the Holy Spirit for example… I wasn’t denying that the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is officially taught. However it has never been officially defined or interpreted in terms of God the Father having a wife (though that is commonly assumed). Some Mormons understand Heavenly Mother as the Holy Ghost, others as a reference to a feminine aspect within the being of God, and I have even seen it suggested that Jesus is the Mother figure, as the one through whom mankind was created in the image of God (”let us make man in our image” being applied to the Father and the Son)… The LDS Church has never defined the Heavenly Mother language in a prescriptive manner. It is not an official teaching that God has a wife. The view that the “Heavenly Mother” actually refers to the feminine aspect of the being of God was advocated by Erastus Snow, himself an apostle. The language used in the statements of the First Presidency on the Origin of Man and Evolution (which vaguely speak of “the universal Father and Mother”) are ambiguous enough to allow for this alternative interpretation…

    I know for a fact that Roger Keller, who teaches religion at BYU, does not believe God has a wife. At least that’s what he told me a few years ago. Nor does Blake Ostler (a very well known and respected Mormon theologian). It was Richard Sherlock (an LDS philosophy professor at Utah State University) whom I believe I first heard suggest the possibility that Jesus could be our heavenly mother, given his co-participation with the Father in creation (”let us make man in our image . . . So God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them”). It is interesting for instance, that in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul grounds the ordering of the genders in the relationality within the Trinity between the Father and the Son.

    There is a strain of piety within Western Christianity that has long conceptualized Jesus as a nurturing heavenly mother figure. This is especially evident in Anselm and Julian of Norwich. So it’s not like such theological moves are lacking in precedent. And yes, before someone asks, many Mormon theologians do want to be in conversation with the wider Christian theological tradition, so voices like Anselm do matter in these discussions.

    As for views that would relate Heavenly Mother to the Holy Ghost, or a feminine aspect within the divine being, see Bergera, Line Upon Line, pp. 98, 106.

    I don’t deny that the language of Heavenly Parents and the Universal Father and Mother suggests that God has a wife. Likewise, the fact that (they teach) God the Father has a physical body suggests that he was once a man like us. But suggestions and prescribed teachings with official definitions are not exactly the same thing. When a doctrine is not officially defined, it allows LDS theology considerable room for creative engagement with the wider theological tradition. When you participate in forums like the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (as I do most every year), and enter into open conversation with those sorts of people, who are very much insiders (not liberal LDS apostates), it becomes apparent that the boundaries of “official” Mormon doctrine are a lot more fluid and flexible than evangelical apologetic literature would convey.”

  7. His silence though becomes a discourse in its own right, one that attempts to further undermine the ‘illegitimate’ discourse. Moreover, he shares a witness of his relationship with the Mother in Heaven and therefore sets up another discourse of ‘Sacred Silence’ which suggests that people who ask the question do not really know what they are asking

    Have you ever read what Alma had to say about sacred silences?

    I think it bears being referenced here, and would make an excellent follow-up post.

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    #5 – I think your that if your argument about protection was true then I do not feel that we could claim anything about her at all and that we would have to disregard any First Presidency statements about her. In fact to me it would seem that we would have to close her off from knowing in the sense of personal revelation. For each of these would open her to degrees of familiarity that would then could be abused. I believe we have to either say that we can know her or that we can’t. I don’t think we can say that we can know her a little bit, but God protects that. Moreover, I actually find that view a little condescending of her, that her husband must limit her to preserve her from abuse. Is not capable of accepting abuse in the same way that God is, why would she let him stop her from being known. I imagine most mothers are willing to take the abuse so if it meant they could have those relationships of love with their children. I think the MinH would be the same.

    #6 – I have not read this anywhere in blake’s books or heard this in his other presentations. I think it raises an interesting question about the assumptions that I come to this debate with, which I agree sould be challeneged. But i have not yet read anything that discusses God’s marriage. So there may be some strength to your argument, but it would have to be like Joseph Smith and the MinH, it would have to be an inference from an omission.

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    #7 – I am aware, I tried to deal with this problem by questioning Ostler’s reference to the temple, which of course is a similar issue sharing what we can. I agree that it is a topic worthy of another post, but just to outline my thoughts in response here. Firstly, I would say that keeping silent about sacred things is not so clear cut. I can think of many who have shared their most intimate spiritual experiences with the whole church. Now it could be argued that they do not share all. but they share something. they try to express the spirit of the event and even how we might share in a similar experience. I would never want Blake, or anyone else, to share sacred experiences. but I also feel that their is some precedent for using such experiences as a guide for those who are a behind them spiritually (like myself). The role of the priesthood it seems to me is to find ways to help others experience the fulness of spiritual experience by sharing and encouraging, by showing the way…

  10. I agree with Stephen M here. Some things just aren’t given to us to know. While I’ve got pretty strong opinions on this matter, I’m not exactly open to discussing all of this in an open forum.

    Just as with the temple, there are certain portions of the temple that are open for discussion in a public forum, and other portions which fall within the sacred space and should be held for discourse within the temple walls only. This is a topic which I believe is sacred enough that we should maintain silence except within a very constrained context. Since internet forums are by nature unconstrained, silence is the rule on this particular topic as far as I am concerned.

  11. So Jen, you are saying that the same God that sent an angel with a sword and commanded Joseph Smith to take plural wives and develop a theology that all but destroyed the church and was the exact cause of the martyrdom and the expulsion from Nauvoo only has one wife himself? Remember line upon line and precept upon precept. Marriage is a difficult challenge for most when only two people are involved, I can only imagine the complexities that must exist beyond that. I just don’t see God giving man a “commandment” that he doesn’t live himself. That premise alone explains why there is no “revealed” doctrine on the subject.

  12. Aaron, your supposition about the Savior as a “maternal figure” misses the basic fact taught in the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” “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. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” While it is not to say that for God anything is “impossible,” it just doesn’t seem consistent to have the “Son” changing genders for different roles. Instead of thinking about “THE Mother” you need to consider “A Mother (of many)” and then everything else “fits.”

  13. #8-

    “I believe we have to either say that we can know her or that we can’t.”

    I think if God wants us to know about her, He will teach us about her and He will help us come to understand her nature. I don’t feel it is as black and white as either we can know her or we can’t. I am sorry, but hearing the way the some people profane the Savior, or even women in general, I can clearly see why Heavenly Father would keep Heavenly Mother from being a big topic of discussion. Explain to me why we know about the First Born Son, but have never heard anything about a First Born Daughter…does she exist and who is or was she?

    #11-

    “I just don’t see God giving man a “commandment” that he doesn’t live himself”

    God has also commanded man to have only one wife, at this time and many other times. If it works for you to see things that way, that is great. This is a topic that I have prayed about much and I feel the Lord has taught me concerning it. Like you said, line upon line, precept upon precept.

  14. “Some things just aren’t given to us to know.”

    I don’t think this is Stephen’s point. There is no such thing as forbidden knowledge in Mormonism. There are, however, many things that a person may come to know through powerful personal revelations that are not permissible to speak openly of. These revelations are not unusual, they are relatively common. The key scripture is Alma 12:9. ~

  15. Paul said that he couldn’t speak of some things he knew, and Mary kept and pondered things in her heart.

    I’m not exactly shy 🙂 , and I have shared quite a few experiences in different threads around the Bloggernacle, but there are some things for which I reserve “sacred silence”. I wrote about this general subject (my inability to express certain things and the connection that occurs when silence is all that is available) a couple of months ago:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009/07/inexpressible-moments-of-connection.html

  16. Rico,

    I don’t think it is safe to assume Blake believes we have a Heavenly Mother — particularly not as it is most commonly speculated about among Mormons (as we have examples of in this thread). I know for a fact that Blake believes our spirits are uncreated and that he rejects the idea of viviparous spirit birth.

    I think it is safe to say that he doesn’t want to speculate about the subject. And it is clear that he is not going to try to oppose the belief. But not commenting or opposing the notion is not the same as believing it.

  17. South Bend Cougar, I didn’t say I agreed with the persons being referenced in the quote I gave. And besides that, Mormons who reject the God’s-female-wife-as-Heavenly-Mother idea usually seem quite willing to discard anything published by Mormon authorities that does not accord with their brand of originalism.

  18. #14 – Thanks for your response Jen. What I am saying I think is the same as you, you just believe we can know her. I am not saying that we can knowlfully or even that anyone does know her fully. What I am suggesting is that it is either a possibility or it is not. Either God draws a veil of this knowledge or he does not. I am not a fan of black and white thinking in general, but on this issue I think I have to. Even if we can know a little then we can know her, but if we can know a little, then we can know more because God tells us that is how we need to progress.

    #15 – I was. My original handle was Rico. I have gone back to that for career reasons and also because I am Bishop there were some people who were uncomfortable with me expressing my views like in this setting. As a result I have changed back to my handle.

    #18 – Thank you for your comment. I appreciate his views may be different and I am comfortable with that. As I say in my original post I have really benefitted from Blake’s work and only wish that he felt able to discusss a little of what he believes. but i also understand his position both as a Well-Known academic and as a individual of faith.

  19. I guess I need to learn that using different computers will still keep my name as it was. haha. may take me some time to get my name removed.

  20. Jen: “Explain to me why we know about the First Born Son, but have never heard anything about a First Born Daughter…does she exist and who is or was she?”

    Easy. Patriarchy marginalizes the roles of women in history. How many women are mentioned in the BoM? We know Nephi had sisters (who married Ishmael’s sons), but none of them play any role whatsoever in the narrative, and aren’t even numbered, much less named. In Lehi’s dream, Nephi fails to report his dad seeing any of his daughters striving toward the tree. In total, only six women are mentioned by name in the entire book (Sariah, Isabel, Abish, Mary, Eve, and Sarah). What about the D&C? How many women are mentioned or addressed there? A handful: Eve, Hagar, Sarah (all from OT); Ann Lee (not a Mormon); Vienna Jacques, Emma Smith, and Lucy Mack Smith. That’s it. Meanwhile, the NT contains the names of at least 23 women, and references many others as they play significant roles in stories about Jesus and in the spread of the Gospel after Christ’s resurrection.

    I don’t buy sacred silence toward women as appropriate in the least: you honor men who wield power wisely and with compassion, why wouldn’t you do the same for a woman with the same power? I believe that early Judaism worshiped a mother deity, possibly a consort to the god El. Her name was Asherah. The cult of her worship was squelched, however, as Judaism began to be interpreted as a monotheistic religion where other deities simply did not exist, and whose worship was particularly condemned by this jealous male god. Ironically, it caused problems for early Christians who had to reinterpret monotheism in light of Jesus’ divine Sonship.

  21. #24 – I also never really bought into the idea that we weren’t permitted to know about a heavenly mother because god didn’t want her to be profaned. That seems like a really weak justification for withholding such a central and critical point of doctrine. If the human family and our lives on earth are meant to be a type of the eternal family, what a gyp it is that we’re withheld half of our eternal parentage just because some people would treat it with irreverence. Interestingly, I’ve never seen that justification anywhere else, for any other reason in any religious context. It seems more like a convenient way to quell any discussion whenever any feminist faction of the church has raised the issue.

  22. Ray – Thank you. Brjones – Thank you as well. Perhaps there it was a subconscious slip resulting from internal guilt over my apostasy. I will have to watch out for that in the future.

    #24 – I do not think anyone is advocating a sacred silence of women, but in the same light we have to be careful to not accept an cultural loosening of female discourse as a revelation of the Mother in Heaven because we willbe too prone to project onto her attributes rather than have them revealed to us. I would say that on this matter we need care, which I believe all the people have have been advocating. I think our differences are about how that care is manifest. Ostler is aware of Asherah but rejects the idea and I think he is open to do so.

  23. I have a few thoughts on the silence surrounding HM (Heavenly Mother):
    1 – women are automatically set apart from God by the fact that we are female and He is male. Just as a daughter sees the ways she is like her mother and the ways she is not like her father, this creates a relationship with deity that is based on differentiation. This is not how it was in polytheistic cultures where female deities were reverred, and it has also been overcome in RC due to the importance of the role of the Virgin Mary.
    2 – it always reminds me of Elinor of Aquitaine. I wonder if she’s been imprisoned somewhere in France for convenience sake.
    3 – are there worlds for whom God is the female parent? Does HM have to become a savior to become a Goddess? Don’t the laws of eternal progression apply to the female as well as the male? Otherwise, women are essentially breeders only, and that doesn’t sound right to me.

    Rico – good post!

  24. It is also disturbing to me that females have been denied the right and the blessing of communing and bonding with, or even knowing about, a HM that they can personally relate to and see as something more real to aspire to. I think that would be significant, and again, the justifications for why this doctrine has not been developed seem very weak to me.

  25. I don’t feel like I am trying to justify HF for what He has or hasn’t revealed in relation to HM. I am just taking my best guess at why we know so little about her at this time. Until we are dead, I don’t leave any possibilities out about things that can be revealed in this life. If we truly are in the last days, anything can happen, and knowing the Lord, it will probably not be quite like we are expecting. I expect women to be playing a major role in the last days and I believe we will hear more about MH as time rolls on. We have no idea what the sealed portion of scriptures is about and maybe it is a bunch of books named after women and about women. There is always the possibility that the First Born daughter will make her debut in the last days as well. Who knows? All I know is it ain’t over til it’s over and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store.

  26. “but creating spirit children in the next life could painfree and take little to no time, so creating children “worlds without ends” could be a breeze for one man and one woman there”

    “I absolutely believe that a man and a woman can be Gods together without the man having more than one wife.”

    Thank you Jen; “In the heavens are parents single? No the thought makes reason stare. Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve ONE mother there.”

  27. The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother seems to be something that many sisters find helpful. I don’t think not talking about it helps them. Why is talking about Heavenly Father not sacred and talking about Heavenly Mother is? And don’t give me the old line about her name becoming a cuss word. In that case, we shouldn’t talk about Jesus either.

  28. #25 – Linda Wilcox shows that the argument comes from a book written in the 50’s by a CES instructor. I do not remember reading it froma GA.

    #27 – Thanks – I have often wondered about your first point. Being male I find it difficult to imagine. Also because I have struggled with understanding, knowing and loving God at times I would be interested to see whether men and women do relate differently to a male embodied God that Mormonism has. The whole eternal baby-machine idea does not make sense to me either.

    #29 – Thank you for your responses. I hope that I did not come across too challenging. I appreciate your response. I too would love to understand more about this, but I am aware of the bias and prejudice that i bring to it. Discussions like this help me try to re-frame my thoughts. I personally believe that the Church will move away from the doctrine further (before they come back if they ever do). I think in this instances those who have pushed hardest have causes the most damage. I suspect that the leadership now feel that this a touchy subject and will not touch it with a barge pole. Thus the references have been dropped from the new Gospel Principles manual. In some ways I agree with Blake that this doctrine has become a cultural over-belief, but I don’t think that necessarily means it is not good, just that we need to be careful.

  29. If you really read the proclamation, you realize that the role of women isn’t breeders, or baby-making machines, but nurturers of children. Why wouldn’t the same be applied to a Celestial maternal role?

    I have to say I do believe there is at least one Heavenly Mother. (whether there is more than one for all of creation I have no idea, but I have only one earthly mother, and it makes sense I’d have only on Heavenly Mother) From a female perspective in the church we are taught in the temple that if we honor our covenants we can progress onward with our spouse to have Heavenly children and become as God is.. and it has been states that as man is God has been, and as God is man may become. If that’s true, why leave a void for women there. If men can progress onward to become like God, fulfilling the same kind of role and doing the same things, what would women do? Stand there and look pretty? Obviously if we are told we can have Heavenly children… then we ourselves are Heavenly Children of Eternal parents… Mother and Father.

    I couldn’t speak to why it is we know so little about her, but unlike some, I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know yet.” and be ok with that. Perhaps one day I will, or we will. But I can tell you that from a deep down sense of identity as a divine daughter of God.. I know that I have a Mother as well. Nothing else makes much sense. As to whether or not she is the only wife of Heavenly Father, I couldn’t even begin to guess. I imagine we knew before this life, and will know again after it.. if not sooner. Until then I am content following my role and divine nature, and knowing that one day I will meet such an amazing woman.

  30. Pingback: God the Mother in the Making: The Divine Poems of Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s “Mother’s Milk” | All Eternity Shakes: Letters from the Vineyard

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