As many have heard, and as I wrote about in a previous post, there are credible rumors that the newly-reinstated women’s session of General Conference taking place in two days will double-down on messages being shared in stake trainings about a “concerning push” about Heavenly Mother on social media. Since that post, there have also been at least two different videos (here, and here) of Elder Renlund making similar admonitions about Heavenly Mother (friends, the Twitter post is the only place I could find that video–I don’t endorse the tweet!!!–and the Church took down the second video from YouTube so the Instagram highlight is all I have). There was also a Salt Lake Tribune article describing some of what is going on and getting some hot takes from apologists.
I will wait until General Conference actually happens to respond to whatever is said then. In the meantime, I’m going to provide background information so that those interested in heading into this weekend up-to-speed are ready. I’ll also offer some commentary on what’s already been said.
[updated 4/3/2022: Renlund gave a talk that was almost verbatim what the videos from earlier talks showed.]
There’s obviously no way to do justice on the entire history of the feminine divine, LDS conceptions of Heavenly Mother, and LDS feminism, activism, literature, and art in a blog post, so this is a broad overview that will point you to a lot of other sources. Here is what this post will cover:
Part 1 will outline the supplanting and erasure of Goddess worship in ancient history.
Part 2 will introduce historical Church teachings on and treatment of Heavenly Mother.
Part 3 will provide context in what has been happening in the LDS world in the last few years regarding the divine feminine and Heavenly Mother.
Part 4 will describe the current “crackdown” and the comments that have been made (or reportedly made) so far.
Part 5 will close out with my thoughts on the situation (which I’m trying to isolate to this section so that the first 4 parts are largely reporting and not editorializing).
Last comment before I begin: I will do my best to give credit where credit is due because much of the background summarized here is pieced together from hundreds of other articles, books, social media conversations, etc. that I’ve read both recently in connection with this issue and over the last couple of decades as I’ve paid attention to feminist issues in the Church. But a ton of this is just in my head by osmosis and if I don’t credit someone specifically, I apologize. That said, I’ll pre-credit the following: Angela / Hawkgrrl for the title of this post; Amy Allebest McPhie’s Breaking Down Patriarchy podcast; Joanna Brooks, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, and Hannah Wheelwright’s Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings (plus a bunch of the women featured in that book!); Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s books of poetry (Mother’s Milk & I Gave Her a Name) and numerous social media posts; Carol Lynn Pearson’s Finding Mother God (and lots of interviews I’ve listened to); Channing Parker & Elise Poll’s Faithful Feminists podcast and social media; Bergen Hyde’s social media posts; and Rosemary Card’s social media posts. They and so many others have done reasoned, revelatory work in this space.
Part 1: Goddess Worship and Subordination, 7000 BCE–200 BCE
Gracious Ishtar, who rules over the universe
Heroic Ishtar, who creates humankind,
who walks before the cattle, who loves the shepherd …
You give justice to the distressed, the suffering you give them justice.
Without you the river will not open,Ancient Sumerian Prayer
the river which brings us life will not be closed,
without you the canal will not be open,
the canal from which the scattered drink,
will not be closed … Ishtar, merciful lady …
hear my prayer and grant me mercy.
The very earliest evidence we have of religious / worship activities in global history includes (and was often dominated by) Goddess-worship, such as the worship of Ishtar expressed in the prayer above (also known as Inanna and one of the earliest deities we have record of). Given women’s roles in reproduction and bearing life, this isn’t all that surprising. Sometimes female deities were presented as primary in terms of creation myths; in others, they worked together with a male counterpart in a relationship that was much more egalitarian than what developed later.
Even in ancient Israel, scholars argue that the monotheistic worship of Yahweh didn’t develop until sometime during the Babylonian exile starting in 586 BCE and possibly as late as the second century BCE. There is plenty of evidence of polytheistic goddess-worship in the Old Testament, such as Rachel’s teraphim and statues of the goddess Asherah (who may have been viewed as a consort to Yahweh) being erected (and later destroyed) in Solomon’s temple. Of course, attempts were made at stamping out Asherah worship much earlier, but she persisted well into biblical history.
Over time, female deities in numerous cultures were supplanted by male deities. While there is archeological evidence of this occurring (as well as biblical references to it, such as the destruction of Asherah described above), why this happened is a matter of educated guessing since we do not have explicit records on the topic. That said, the consensus of a number of scholars is expressed in Gerder Lerner’s The Creation of Patriarchy, which posits:
“[J]ust as the development of plow agriculture, coinciding with increasing militarism, brought major changes in kinships and in gender relations, so did the development of strong kingships and of archaic states bring changes in religious beliefs and symbols. The observable pattern is: first, the demotion of the Mother-Goddess figure and the ascendence and later dominance of her male consort / son; then his merging with a storm-god into a male Creator-God, who heads the pantheon of gods and goddesses. Wherever such changes occur, the power of creation and of fertility is transferred from the Goddess to the God.”
Lerner traces this development through several different pre-biblical cultures. One example is the way that Inanna and Nammu–two well-known, powerful Mesopotamian goddesses–were eventually replaced with Tiamat, a new goddess whose power and authority is subordinate to a new male supreme god, Marduk. Likewise, in Greek mythology, Gaia is a female goddess who created the world and helped her grandson Zeus defeat the Titans, only later to be defeated by Zeus and forced to acknowledge his supremacy.
Lerner identifies a pattern in the development of leading “explanatory metaphors and symbols” around three basic questions that all religions try to answer:
- who creates life?
- who brings evil into the world?
- who mediates between humans and the supernatural? Or: to whom do the gods speak?
Looking just at the Hebrew Bible, the following changes from older mythology are introduced in Genesis:
- Who creates life? In Genesis, “Yahweh is the sole creator of the universe and all that exists in it. Unlike the gods of neighboring peoples, Yahweh is not allied with any female goddess nor does He have familial ties. There is no longer any maternal source for the creation of the universe and for life on earth.” Woman does not create man but is created by man, from man. LDS theology similarly posits that the Earth’s creation was accomplished by three males: Heavenly Father, Christ, and Michael / Adam. In addition, even procreation in the Hebrew Bible is accomplished not by women alone but by a male god: Eve says of her conception of Cain that she has “gotten a man with the help of the Lord”; Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel both suffer infertility and are unable to bear children without God opening their wombs, and it is also God who opens Leah’s womb because He saw she was hated.
- Who brings evil into the world? Genesis also introduced / solidified an important change from Mesopotamian mythology around evil. Earlier mythology contained references to the Tree of Life (often female) and to men and women seeking to usurp immortality and knowledge from the gods. But in Genesis, the question “who brought sin and death into the world” is answered with “Woman, in her alliance with the snake, which stands for free female sexuality.” As a result of this, while both Adam and Eve were punished, Eve is subjected to rule by her husband and (described below) excluded from covenantal relationship with God. While LDS theology tries to soften this somewhat and at times honors Eve for making a brave choice, until 2019 the temple endowment still required women to obey / hearken to their husbands because Eve was the first to partake of the fruit. Post-2019, husbands still “preside” over their families both in the temple sealing ceremony and in LDS teachings such as those contained in the Proclamation on the Family.
- Who mediates between God and humans? The Hebrew Bible sets up the core relationship between the Israelites and God as a covenant relationship. God covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. God’s covenant with Abraham excludes Sarah and in fact is memorialized in an act that necessarily excludes all women: circumcision of the foreskin. In the LDS Church, women can enter covenantal relationship with God through baptism and temple covenants. However, women are not ordained to the priesthood and male prophets are clearly seen as “mediators” between God and humans.
This is scratching the surface of the way that economic and political changes diminished the roles of women in society and the way that symbols, myths, culture, and theology changed in response. For more information, I highly recommend listening to the first three episodes of Breaking Down Patriarchy or (if you have a lot more time) reading The Creation of Patriarchy, from which most of my material came. My point in presenting this information is to make it clear that goddesses have been worshipped from the beginning of religious history and that goddess-erasure is likewise a very old practice.
Part 2: The LDS Heavenly Mother, 1845-present
I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completedEliza R. Snow, “Invocation”
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
The LDS Church has long referenced the existence of a Heavenly Mother. Although there is no written record of Joseph Smith having taught this, Snow’s “Invocation” (now known in the LDS Hymnbook as “O My Father”), published shortly after Smith’s death, suggests that he taught this doctrine in certain circles. In 1909, the First Presidency declared that “[a]ll men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” In 1991, Gordon B. Hinckley (then in the First Presidency under an ailing Benson) stated in a General Relief Society meeting that “[l]ogic 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, he went on to add that we “do not pray to our Mother in Heaven” because Jesus taught us to pray to “the Father” and that we have “no revealed knowledge” of Her.
Interestingly (in parallels echoing today), Hinckley addressed this issue after a leadership training he had given earlier that year was leaked and about which “some few women of the Church appear to be greatly exercised.” He referenced “the activities of a few who evidently are seeking to lead others in the paths which they are following. I speak of those who advocate the offering of prayers to our Mother in Heaven. This practice began in private prayer and is beginning to spread to prayers offered in some of our meetings.”
Other references to Heavenly Mother occur in the 1995 Proclamation on the Family that declared that each of us is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents,” and in gospel topics essay on Heavenly Mother, and in the Young Women’s theme that was revised in 2019 to state “I am a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.” Note the capitalization; the Aaronic Priesthood theme contains no such reference to parents. For significantly more information about the Church’s statements and teachings about Heavenly Mother, see the BYU paper “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Heavenly Mother,” published in 2011.
The publication of A Mother There was for many Mormon women and feminists a watershed event. After the “September Six” disciplinary actions or excommunications of several Mormon feminists (based on their work teaching and writing about Heavenly Mother), including Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, and Maxine Hanks, and the 2000 disciplinary action against Margaret Toscano for the same, many LDS women were afraid that we were not allowed to talk or write or even think much about Heavenly Mother. While there were certainly people writing and talking about Her in certain spaces (like Feminist Mormon Housewives or Sunstone), I am not aware of much discussion of Her in mainstream Mormon spaces. In 2012, a blogger on Times & Seasons noted that her 2011 search for “Heavenly Mother” on lds.org yielded only 16 results (compared to 14,625 for “Heavenly Father”). A Mother There seems to have breathed new life into discussions about Heavenly Mother, but especially in art, poetry, and literature among LDS women. I have also noticed dramatically increased references to “Heavenly Parents” and “Heavenly Mother” in Church settings ranging from Sunday meetings to conference talks. Although we still know very little about Her (from Church sources), She seems to be becoming more mainstream. Of course, other Christian denominations and other religions were also revitalizing discussions about the Divine Feminine, especially starting during the 1970’s as feminist theologians published on the topic. The work of feminist theologians outside the LDS Church definitely seems to have had an impact on LDS women, but I am not going to go into that history here.
Part 3: Heavenly Mother in Recent Mormon Art, Literature, and Conversation
What every child wants to know is“What Every Child Wants to Know,” Rachel Hunt Steenblik
if her Mother is watching.
What every child was to know is
if she is seen.
While I would never claim that no one was writing or painting about Heavenly Mother until recently, in my observation (and others agree) there has been a real explosion of Heavenly Mother imagery in the Mormon imagination in the last 5 or so years. Some examples of published work include:
- Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings, published in 2015 and edited by Joanna Brooks, Hannah Wheelwright, and Rachel Hunt Steenblik
- Mother’s Milk (2017) and I Gave Her A Name (2019), poetry by Rachel Hunt Steenblik
- 100 Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God (2017) by Ashley Mae Hoiland (who also illustrated I Gave Her A Name)
- Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry, a compilation published in 2018
- Finding Mother God, a book of poetry by Carol Lynn Pearson, published in 2020
- A Girl’s Guide to Heavenly Mother and A Boy’s Guide to Heavenly Mother, books published in 2020 by McArthur Krishna, Bethany Brady Spalding, and (boy’s guide only) Martin Pulido
As for art, there is a lot. The one that I am most familiar with is Caitlin Connolly’s 2017 In Their Image because it was purchased by and displayed in the Church History Museum and in just about every one of my friend’s homes, as well as Melissa Tshikamba’s work. But you can see tons of other examples here, here, and here. The ability to share art instantly and widely via social media has given many women access to this artwork that they may not otherwise have had.
Podcasting has also made it easy for women to distribute content and have broader conversations about Heavenly Mother. A quick search on Spotify shows some entire podcasts devoted to the topic (such as In Her Image and Behold Thy Mother), as well as literally dozens of podcast episodes on Mormon-genre podcasts like Faith Matters, The Foyer, This Week in Mormons, Q.MORE, Listen Learn Love, Saints Unscripted, The Cultural Hall, The Backyard Professor, At Last She Said It … and more. (I haven’t listened to all of these.)
There are also, of course, many blogs and periodicals that focus on feminist or female LDS perspectives such as The Exponent II and Segullah, plus other periodicals that occasionally publish feminist work like Dialogue and Sunstone. Admittedly, I did not scour these for all of the references of Heavenly Mother. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that many mainstream LDS women who read them (or this blog, hah!)–so while they are important and have produced some great work, I am intentionally focusing more on what I’m seeing among mainstream LDS women because I think that is what has got Church leadership talking. I know many, many mainstream LDS women who own the books I’ve posted above (except for Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings), and follow artists like the ones referenced in my links on social media and own prints of their work.
In addition, over the last couple of years (especially during Covid, when many people I know started redefining their own spiritual practices), I have seen a huge number of divine-feminine focused social media accounts where LDS women share their own journeys connecting with the feminine divine / Heavenly Mother, share artwork, quotes, etc. across a large spectrum of orthodoxy. A very cursory search revealed more than 30 different Heavenly Mother / divine feminine focused Instagram accounts from Mormon women, plus dozens of accounts with broad followings that do not exclusively focus on but often discuss Heavenly Mother.
I have also seen a number of LDS influencers become more vocal about Heavenly Mother and other feminist issues in the Church. And I have heard increasing numbers of people address prayers to “Heavenly Parents” (even at Church meetings) and use “Heavenly Parents” and “They” when talking about God, and confide that they pray to Heavenly Mother and/or Heavenly Parents in private or in their homes. These are all just anecdotal, personal observations, but it seems to me that over the last several years more and more LDS women are seeking–and often finding–personal connections with Heavenly Mother / the feminine divine. They are finding it is enriching their spiritual lives, offering something that religion has not yet been able to offer them, and talking about it. I’m not the only one who has noticed this; Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote about it last May in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Until recently, most did not see any hint of trouble about this chatter. The poets and the artists and the social media influencers didn’t, as far as I know, get called into a membership council–even for saying many of the same things that were said by women who had been excommunicated in the 90’s. It felt safer than it had in a long time.
That may be changing.
Part 4: The Crackdown
One of the wonderful things that Mormonism teaches us is that experience is sacred. Who can excommunicate a poem? Who can excommunicate your heart’s authentic longing?Joanna Brooks
Perhaps the canary in the coalmine signaling that all is not well in the Heavenly Mother renaissance was Fiona Given’s abrupt departure from the Maxwell Institute at BYU, and withdrawal from several pre-committed events, shortly after she spoke at a fireside and on a podcast about Heavenly Mother (and theorized that Heavenly Mother may be the Holy Ghost). While Givens insists that she departed voluntarily to pursue other interests, the timing of her departure still raised eyebrows and started rumblings that perhaps those publicly talking about Heavenly Mother could be in trouble, or at least that the Church wanted to distance itself from any such talk so that it did not appear to endorse it.
More recently, rumors began circulating that Elders Holland and Christofferson were talking about “doctrinal drift” at stake leadership trainings, and instructing that leaders need to insist on the following:
- Prioritizing Heavenly Parents over referencing Heavenly Mother and not speaking about Her in Church.
- Using lower-case letters to write “heavenly mother.”
- Not speaking of Heavenly Mother’s involvement in things like the creation or plan of salvation because we don’t have evidence she was involved.
- Not praying to Her.
There are also rumors that the same message will be given at General Conference (potentially in the newly-reinstated Women’s Session):
Finally, and in what in my view confirms the validity of these rumors, there are now two videos available of talks given by Elder Renlund (here, and here) in two different meetings sharing similar messaging, including the following:
- The Heavenly Mother gospel topics essay is everything that the leadership knows about Heavenly Mother; “I wish we knew more and you may wish you knew more as well, but reason cannot replace revelation.”
- “Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to Heavenly Father alone so that is the pattern for all Christians.”
- It would be “wonderful to sit back and make up all kinds of comforting doctrines, but latter-day prophets are constrained not to do that.”
- [4/3/22 update: he also said it was “arrogant” to demand revelation.]
While some wonder if leadership will back down given the social media chatter about this, that exact situation (minus social media) was the context for President Hinckley’s 1991 remarks. Many expect there to be a talk on this, by a man, during women’s session of General Conference. [There was, and it was Renlund.]
Part 5: Concluding Thoughts
If God is male, the male is god.Mary Daly
I’ve tried in this post to keep to the facts as best as I understand and can report. In this concluding section, I’m going to share my reaction to what has been reported so far and the potential for this to be shared more broadly at General Conference.
First, some responses to the points being made in the trainings and by Elder Renlund:
- Prioritizing Heavenly Parents over referencing Heavenly Mother and not speaking about Her in Church: The reason I began with ancient history in this post is because once you understand that, it seems to obvious that is just history repeating itself–attempting to diminish female deity has been happening for literally thousands of years. Our leaders are just doing what the Assyrians (not very nice people, btw) and Egyptians and Greeks did. This is neither groundbreaking, reasoned, or revelatory. I am also at a loss for what harm leaders are afraid of here.
- Using lower-case letters to write “heavenly mother”: This seems like nit-picking on leadership’s part, but it’s both significant and insulting to Heavenly Mother and women. First, it seems like a clear demotion of Heavenly Mother from a significant, powerful, discrete deity to a small god. Women, take note: this is also a demotion of your eternal status. We are being sold that we can aspire only to lower-case godhood, eternally subordinated to the upper-case male Gods. Second, many are speculating polygamy is driving this–because there can’t be one Heavenly Mother, only multiple heavenly mothers. It bothers me that the cart (polygamy) is driving the horse (our conception of God) here rather than the other way around, and suggests that polygamy is a much more fundamental part of our theology than what leadership lets on in public. Finally, if leaderships’ claim is that we “don’t know anything” about Heavenly Mother, then how are they so sure about a detail like capitalization? Is that the one thing the Father has revealed to them about Her lately? Is the only knowledge they seek a confirmation of their own superiority? (Note that this is still capitalized in online Church resources, so either (1) those haven’t been updated, (2) this isn’t actually being said, or (3) leaders have changed their minds about making a big deal out of this. Time will tell.)
- Not speaking of Heavenly Mother’s involvement in things like the creation or plan of salvation because we don’t have evidence she was involved: This again follows clear historical patterns of religious groups taking credit for fertility and the creation of life away from females and giving it to males. This is particularly troubling in a religion like the LDS Church that claims that the most significant and holy role that women get to play is as mothers–but men are the supreme mothers. This also contradicts other Church teachings about Heavenly Mother as a creator and participant in the plan of salvation (some of which are described in “A Mother There“). Although Renlund discounts “reason” in coming to conclusions about Heavenly Mother, it truly does make reason stare to imagine that, if there is a Heavenly Mother, she was not involved in the creation of life or the plan of salvation.
- Not praying to Her; Jesus Said Only Pray to the Father: This is, of course, not a new argument as it formed the basis of President Hinckley’s 1991 comments on Heavenly Mother. It’s a bad argument, though. Jesus did give us an example of praying to the Father, but he did not say ONLY pray to the Father. Also, the New Testament is not verbatim what Jesus did and said (it was written decades after his death), and does not include everything he ever said. So I am not persuaded by this argument. We do HUNDREDS of things that Jesus never said to do (see, e.g., the entire Church Handbook of Instructions, almost none of which comes from Jesus’s express instructions). We are told that it is not meet to be commanded in all things but that we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause as agents unto ourselves. Finally, Rachel Steenblik in particular has done a good job of debunking the no-pray idea in various Instragram posts if you want to learn more.
- “We wish we knew more, but we don’t.” First all, there is so much in scripture and history about Heavenly Mother that I guess leadership is just ignoring. There is as much scriptural evidence of Her as there is of a lot of other beliefs we adhere too. As such, I have a hard time believing this is sincere and that leadership is truly asking the right questions because I think they may be afraid of answers that would upset the Church’s gendered hierarchy. But even taking them at face value, has the leadership considered that maybe Heavenly Mother isn’t going to be revealed through men but through women? The assumption here is that only someone in the Q15 can learn anything about Heavenly Mother. Many women I know actually do not want leadership to further define Heavenly Mother for them because she tends to be trotted out only when convenient to reinforce a heteronormative narrative. We just want to be left alone to continue discovering Her for ourselves.
- “Reason cannot replace revelation.” This seems like a deliberate dig at Eliza R. Snow, and it contradicts what President Hinckley said in 1991. So it seems a very treacherous path as it aims to undermine the entire foundation for the Church’s official Heavenly Mother teachings (and I’m guessing a lot of other teachings and policies as well), and I’m also no fan of discounting the value of reason and thinking in seeking knowledge. More importantly: women are receiving revelation. So what they are really saying is that only male Church leaders can receive revelation about Heavenly Mother. Rather than trying to listen to and learn from the women of the Church to see if our life experiences and personal revelation can help add to a more fulsome, comprehensive, true vision of God—after all, why else is the Body of Christ made of so many different members?—they are asking us not to seek after or share those perspectives. If the only people who get to define God are white men, settle in for a lot more years of a white male god.
- “Making up comforting doctrines.” This one is particularly insulting and harmful. Again, it suggests that women are not qualified for or entitled to do theological work or to receive revelation. It suggests that women are just “making things up” whereas male leaders are NOT just “making things up”. (Umm, they are: Adam-God / Blood Atonement, the TK Smoothie, or less-valiant blacks in the pre-existence anyone? I could go on.) Most troubling, it suggests that women cannot trust their lived experiences and personal revelation if those don’t line up with what Church leaders are saying. Our experiences aren’t speculative. It also fundamentally misunderstands what women are doing here–but I’ll get to that later.
Two final overarching observations about leadership’s response to women connecting with and sharing about Heavenly Mother.
First, these leaders do not see women as equals. I don’t care how many times they tell us that they do, that we are valuable, that we need to speak up in meetings—they do not mean it.
They see our fullest potential as being lower-case goddesses to an upper-case male God. They see us as eternal plural heavenly mothers orbiting our husband at the center. They say that we are creators of life—our highest and holiest calling—but they claim it was exclusively men who created the universe. They say they value motherhood—but they seek to cut the human race off from our divine Mother. They say we are extra spiritual (some even claim that is why women are not ordained to the priesthood)—but they tell us we aren’t entitled to revelation about our Mother God and that we are just “making things up”. They say they want us to speak up—but their ideal Mother is silent, and they will once again dominate the sessions of General Conference, hijacking the women’s session to put us in our place as they’ve done before.
Second, it is clear to me that Church leadership fundamentally misunderstands what is going on here. Women aren’t “making up doctrines.” Women (and men!) are experiencing Mother God.
We are connecting with Her through prayer, meditation, study, nature, ancestors, poetry, literature, art, music, dance, motherhood, work, and each other. We aren’t as concerned about defining Her or fitting her into our God-box as we are with being in relationship with Her. That our leaders do not seem to understand what is happening (and that they are trying to stop it from happening at all) suggests that they may not know what relationship with the divine actually looks or feels like, because a relationship isn’t about a doctrine, it isn’t contained in a conference talk, and it doesn’t require middlemen or box-checking. We are finally, finally living in our own divinity and power without them as mediators. They are afraid of that.
I am at a point in my spiritual development where I do not need permission from Church leaders to seek out and connect with any good thing. Still, leadership’s actions here will do real spiritual violence to our people because some those who’ve not yet started down this path, or who have done so only tentatively, may be scared off. So I absolutely will call them out for attempting to orphan us from our Mother God and denying us of our own upper-case Goddesshood.
But those of us who are already on the path aren’t going anywhere. Church leaders who claim to know nothing about Mother God most certainly don’t have the authority to constrain Her from connecting with us or us with Her. All we need to do is realize that the only authority Church leaders have over us is the authority we give them, and the only way they can stand in the way of our relationship with Mother God and our own divinity is if we let them.
- Have you noticed a shift in the way LDS women (and men) talk about Heavenly Mother or Heavenly Parents in the last several years? If so, what would you attribute this shift to?
- Do you plan to watch Women’s Session this Saturday? Do you ordinarily watch it or are you watching especially for this? Why do you think this is being announced in a newly-reinstated “women’s session” instead of a general session? Do you think women’s session will stick around after this year?
- Have you heard any additional rumors or information about what’s being said about Heavenly Mother in leadership training? Was it news to you (it was to me!) that Hinckley’s famous 1991 talk admonishing women not to pray to Heavenly Mother also followed leadership trainings on the issue?
- Why do you think Church leadership cares so much about this issue? What is the real threat?
- How do you think women in your life will respond to this? Do you think that if this happens (and what has happened so far) is significant or are people making a big deal out of nothing?
One reason for the pushback against worshiping, praying to, and even acknowledging that She exists that I do not see mentioned, but seem at least somewhat significant is the frequent accusation of polytheism. With a three male godhead that, at least on the surface, looks like a Trinity of some sort, we at least have some basis to defend our monotheistic claims to broader Christianity (whether successful or not is debatable). Accepting Heavenly Mother as worthy of worship and prayer turns our tri-something Godhead into a quatra-something Godhead that is going to make our defense of being monotheists more difficult in mainstream Christianity. What do you think? Could the concern over defending “monotheism” play a part in deciding to de-emphasize Heavenly Mother?
The Hebrew Goddess, Raphael Patai
The Great Mother, Erich Neumann
The Mother of the Lord, Margaret Barker
Sophia: Wisdom of God, Sergei Bulgakov
Among LDS writers, Kathyrn Knight Sonnetag’s poetry book “The Tree at the Center,” and her newest text “The Mother Tree,” deserve attention:
Two possibilities as to why leadership is weary about feminine diety:
First, “she” might be plural. So we might be dealing with heavenly mothers, emphasis on plural. Second, the heavenly mother archetype may not be the sweet mother LDS women hope to manufacture in personal worship: Mother Earth begs to be cleansed of her children in Moses 7, (amounting to their destruction). Eve casts Cain out from her presence, cursing him. Sarah casts Ishmael out into the desert. Esau was manipulated by his mother. In the birthright-purity biblical motif, the mother is a powerful gatekeeper.
@Mr Shorty, I agree and I’m glad you brought that up. My take is that basically there are a lot of things that the Church is willing to do that put us at odds with other Christian religions, and some of those they aren’t willing to budge on, but this is an easy one for them to sacrifice on the alter of evanglicalism because hey – it’s just women!
For example – we say we are the Only True Church, only Church with God’s priesthood authority, we add to the scripture canon with the Book of Mormon, etc., and those obviously are things that other Christian religions don’t like about us. We won’t budge on those but Heavenly Mother? No problem. I guess we also gave up on being Gods ourselves, though …
Also, the only reason this is a problem re: polytheism is a problem is because we insist that God is Heavenly Father who is an actual person in human flesh and constantly rail against the whole Nicean creed amorphous concept of God. If we could entertain the possibility that a human enfleshed corporeal Heavenly Father is just one *manifestation* of a much broader God, then we could recognize all sorts of other aspects of God (like a female God) without being “polytheistic”. One big giant God with many, many characteristics – characteristics that include all of humanity. But instead, our leaders are wedded to a God Who Looks Like Them and a God that Joseph Smith described (even though his descriptions varied …).
So yes – I agree that’s a motivation. But I think it’s a poor, unimaginative, self-serving reason.
MrShorty: While I think that’s a valid point, probably one that gives our leaders night terrors, Heavenly Mother is hardly controversial in light of the (equally conservative) Catholic Church’s views on Mary as co-redemptrix. That’s just my opinion. The loudest interfaith voices whispering Sith-like in our leaders’ ears, though, appear to be the Evangelicals who have probably even worse theological chops than our own (given sola scriptura if nothing else).
@Travis, thanks for those resources.
I agree re: polygamy, which I addressed in the post (and think, again, it’s a very poor reason for not being willing to recognize female diety.”
As for this: “Second, the heavenly mother archetype may not be the sweet mother LDS women hope to manufacture in personal worship.” Not sure where to begin but a few comments:
First, I hope you didn’t mean this, but “women hope to manufacture in personal worship” is incredibly insulting. It’s the same line Renlund uses–suggesting that women’s experiences with Heavenly Mother aren’t real. Not cool. And since male leaders claim not to know anything about her, I don’t think that can really be a reason for them to push back. They can’t say “Heavenly Mother isn’t sweet, she’s actually more like x, y, z” because they claim they don’t know anything. So this seems more like your personal (dismissive) view of how women are talking about Heavenly Mother–which I don’t think is accurate based on what I know of how women are talking about Her–but not a real explanation for why male leadership is clapping back.
Second, I agree that a sweet, beautiful, white, homemaking Heavenly Mother is not all that helpful. A big reason women are yearning for a Heavenly Mother is because we want to be able to celebrate all aspects of ourselves. Including the dark, angry, fierce aspects of themselves. So a sweet and docile Heavenly Mother won’t do for that. But that’s certainly not what I’m seeing out there anyway.
Third, I think many would disagree with your version of Eve / Sarah / Rebekah, but yes, certainly none of them were perfect. (I’d take Sarah over Abraham and Rebekah over Isaac ALL DAY LONG though, those guys were not good dads / husbands, nor was Jacob). For every example of a vengeful / imperfect women in the Bible, I’m pretty sure we could come up with tenfold examples of that kind of man. But that hasn’t prevented the Church from worshipping a male God.
Fourth, most women aren’t looking at Eve / Sarah / Rebekah as the Mother God. They are looking at Sofia and a lot of other scriptural references, plus other sources. So that’s not even a super relevant source from my perspective.
We believe a 14-year-old boy, with no authority and no priesthood, spoke to God face to face. So the foundation of the restored Gospel is that God works with us individually and speaks individually to each of His children. . . so good luck with telling us whom to pray to and what principles to believe since we can get all this information directly from the Divine ourselves.
@Lily YES!!! We trust 14 yr old boys over 40 yr old women. And his story is full of contradictions and messiness! It is beyond insulting and dismissive to treat women this way. Thank you for pointing that out.
Actually, I was trying to show that we believe in direct revelation to individual members. Everything doesn’t go through the leaders. So no, we aren’t “making up doctrine” and yes, I can pray to whom ever I want.
@lily that too :-).
I’m informed by a family member that a sacrament meeting talk given in their ward just last Sunday (it was mother’s day here in the UK), by (I think) a member of the bishopric was about Heavenly Mother. So it seems the instruction is unlikely to percolate here before GC.
I have to say I like the concept that Heavenly Father is but one aspect of a more diverse God. I don’t understand why we seem to take the first vision , which is after all described as a vision, and treat it as an actual physical appearance.. though even if that were the case. doubtless an all powerful God could take any aspect They so choose…
The implications of this impending crackdown for women as you describe, feel quite grim.. and I’m the one who blogged some years ago that I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the whole foray into the divine feminine because of the heteronormative implications.
Elisa I just want to give you praise and thanks for your amazing contributions.
@Elisa, The texts are important because some LDS women adopt the mother-in-heaven fad, without really understanding the fuller archetype she represents. Note that Jewish women have a healthier relationship to the feminine aspect of diety because they are informed by a deeper body of literature (mother-in-heaven isn’t a new concept for Jews).
The pattern of biblical motherly archetype and her willingness to cast out and cut off her children is evident whether we personally like it or not. The intertextual allusion of Eve, Sarah, Rebekkah, invites the reader to see her “severity” (gevurah). Joseph’s handmade-mama’s-coat-of-colors (prefigure temple veil) emphasizes the motif. This pattern and archetype may not fit into our personalized worldview, but exists nontheless. Mother Bear is real. It is a pattern and not anomaly.
The types of Christ are found in His prophets. To see prefigured Christ in Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Solomon, Elijah, etc., is constructive to typology. The same with matriarchs to heavenly mothers–Mary, Elizabeth, Ruth, Esther, Miriam, Asenath, Rebekkah, Leah, Rachel, Sarah, Eve–all of whom are figurines of the Great Mother archetype.
I understand that it may be inconvenient for some folks to have to reconcile a motherly archetype that is devoted to gatekeeping, purity, and birthright.
@Travis, I think you and I have a really different understanding of God, covenant, Israel, the bible, etc. etc. so honestly your comment just isn’t resonating with me. What does any of that have to do with male Church leaders telling women not to pray to Heavenly Mother?
In any event, please stop dismissing LDS women’s experience and interest in Heavenly Mother as a “fad.” As I’ve described in this post, women have been longing for this for a very long time – we just felt that it was literally *not safe* to pursue. The fact that women are pursuing this more openly now because they have felt safer to do so does not make it a “fad.” That’s dismissive.
LDS women are doing thoughtful work on this, as are women of other faiths. LDS women I know who are working on this are *very* aware of the need not to white-wash Heavenly Mother and, in fact, the problems of heteronormativity that can arise in focusing on Heavenly Mother. Many women see it as our purview to help flesh out and embody the feminine aspects of God, and look to queer people to help us understand the queer aspects of God, and BIPOC people to help us understand the BIPOC aspects of God, and disabled people to help us understand God and ableism, etc. etc. etc. etc. That’s the opposite of someone devoted to policing purity and birthright (which would be more of a mistress of patriarchy than a Goddess figure).
And we are also looking well outside the Bible for our archetypes because the Bible was written by men and about men. It is hardly the only source of knowledge about this. We aren’t dismissing things because it’s “inconvenient.” Women are pretty resilient at reconciling difficult things. Way more resilient than our Church leaders are, who just whitewash everything and call prophets perfect. Nope.
I thought I could not be more cynical and disillusioned about the church than I already am. Additionally, it’s been several years now since I left the church, so for me this discussion is purely academic. But seeing that leaders consider it “inappropriate to speak of Heavenly Mother’s involvement in things like the creation or plan of salvation because we don’t have evidence she was involved” puts me in a blind rage. This isn’t just a step backward–this completely erases women. Bearing children–now and for all eternity–doesn’t count as creation? They can’t even give women that? The spirit children they talk about all the time aren’t evidence? Did women even participate in the council or the war in heaven? Too busy tending the spirit children they didn’t create? Waiting in the kitchen with homemade doughnuts (see Russell Nelson’s talk at General Priesthood one year) to hear the men share their accumulated wisdom? Wow. Just wow.
@dot, oh, the doughnut talk. I know. I know.
@Eliza, if I was dismissive about the mother-in-heaven subject, I wouldn’t have familiarity with texts which so prominently identify her. I’m dismissive when it appears that folks are appropriating their own images upon her–when they claim to know her, but their knowledge is based on who they hope her to be–as if to “wish” an image or a god into existence.
More texts for the mother-in-heaven-archetype:
The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop
Kabbalistic Teachings of Female Prophets, J. Zohara Hieronimus
Asenath in Egypt, Patricia Ahearne-Kroll
The Sacred Bee, Hilda Ransome
The Privileged Divine Feminine, Moshe Idel
Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash, Rivka Ulmer
@Travis, I didn’t think you were dismissive of the subject but you are dismissive of the women doing work here (which you acknowledge). Again, I just fundamentally disagree with your assumptions and approach. What are you afraid of? Why do you feel the need to police women’s views about Heavenly Mother? Genuinely stumped here.
First, your accusation that women are creating some kind of sweet white heteronormative Heavenly Mother are without basis. If you looked at any of the people that I relied in, you’ll see that we are having a LOT of conversations and awareness about this. Of course, there are women who are newer to this and who are still learning and making mistakes. I’m sure I am making mistakes. That’s why we are having conversations. But that’s not what this post is about. This is a post about why leadership is shutting down Heavenly Mother talk and I guarantee it it NOT because women aren’t sufficiently taking into account intersectionality. It’s probably because they actually *are*.
Second, you assume that there are certain authoritative sources out there about Heavenly Mother and that the only thing we can know about her is from those sources. Why? Those sources are written by people based on, among other things, their experience with the divine. This literally all started with experience somewhere. Even reaching way, way back into history for archetypes is still fundamentally starting with someone’s experience or understanding that they then turned into an image or story or whatever. Why can’t women do the same thing today? Why are you so dismissive of women’s “wishes and hopes”? What is wrong with fashioning diety from our hopes? I appreciate the references to other texts we can learn from but there is no one definitive text on Heavenly Mother and women aren’t “wishing her” into existence any more than LDS men have been “wishing” eternal polygamy and supreme male godhood into existence.
It is fine for people to comment outside the scope of this post, but it bothers me when you take a post about how leadership is putting women in their place and then you actually do the same thing from a different angle. Your comments are doing the same thing as leadership is – saying you know more about Heavenly Mother than these women do and so need to police and correct what they are saying for the sake of “doctrinal purity”, even though literally all doctrine is made up by people. Saying that women’s “experiences” and views aren’t “valid” because they aren’t based on some sort of source that you find authoritative is nonsense – women are authorities on ourselves and on the divinity that we can experience within ourselves. We can and do create doctrine about the divine feminine. Should we make sure we don’t limit Her to that in a way that excludes other people? Sure, and women are doing a hell of a lot better job at that Church leadership is doing. But that in no way invalidates the perspective we do bring.
Makes me think of Carol Lynn Pearson’s poem “My Words”:
There are only poems, you know.
They have no authority.
Except for me.
I am bound by their authority
because I authored them.
Rather like God authored me.
God signed, sealed and delivered me
to this world of thought
this world of paper and pen
and sentenced me to observe.
As God’s signature is upon me
so is mine upon my words.
As God’s light flows to me
and through me
so does mine through my words
and words are windows
and the view is stunning
and the view is
Honestly i don’t want current church leadership to talk about Heavenly Mother since I don’t trust them with the idea/concept. If they accepted Her, or taught about Her, Church leaders would probably try to use Her to reinforce gender essentialism, SAHM as the ideal, looks to her husband to preside, etc. etc.
Mansplaining Travis: “some LDS women adopt the mother-in-heaven fad, without really understanding the fuller archetype she represents.” 1) What fad? (Elisa is right that MiH has been around for thousands of years in various forms; just because women on Instagram are talking about her doesn’t mean these are *new* discussions or fads; don’t conflate form with content), 2) Are you suggesting that you are somehow the arbiter of both 2a) what HM is (the so-called “fuller archetype” she represents) and 2b) what these unnamed LDS women do and don’t understand? The hubris is real.
“Note that Jewish women have a healthier relationship to the feminine aspect of diety because they are informed by a deeper body of literature (mother-in-heaven isn’t a new concept for Jews).” Wow, I’m sure Jewish women are glad you approve.
“I understand that it may be inconvenient for some folks to have to reconcile a motherly archetype that is devoted to gatekeeping, purity, and birthright.” Your characterization of what these unnamed LDS women whose supposed understanding of female diety is so inferior to your own is the clearest evidence to me that you are not in these discussion spaces and do not really know what is being discussed. As Elisa so capably points out, many Mormon feminists (the vast majority) do not want Church leaders or other men to define or reveal HM to them. The male gaze applied to female diety is as bad as it is when applied to women in general.
Elisa should be praised for this insightful article. It brings light to an important issue.
It could not be more clear that there is a Mother in Heaven. All scripture, and all human experience, points to that irrefutable fact. Honoring Truth is always the right thing to do, even if it requires changing previous traditions.
Eliza R Snow based her beliefs on what was taught, combined with the evidence of her experiences on this planet. All women and men should evaluate teachings based on the proof that comes from existing and experiencing.
The failure to recognize Heavenly Mother leads to treating women as second class members. This is turn leads some men to view women as instruments to be acted upon, rather than as equal partners to act with. This in turn leads to the deplorable wanton sexuality that is destroying society.
So let us not fear Heavenly Mother. No good Mother would want that.
@Elisa, none of the LDS leadership you speak of spends much time learning about mother-in-heaven. But I do. I introduced Kathryn Knight Sonntag (arguably one of the most powerful LDS voices on the subject):
I agree that an insecure group of priesthood men are responsible for the repression of the feminine goddess archetype. I agree that the culture of LDS priesthood is toxic. But these facts have nothing to do with the observation that some LDS women are appropriating mother-goddess for “who they hope her to be.” When our gods are manufactured by palatability and preference, they are false images, false gods.
The task is to recognize her divine image–Sophia, El Shaddai, Shekinah, Lady Zion–in a construct of sovereignty and strength. The literature is there, if folks would only read it.
@Travis, I would love Sonntag’s take on the way you are dismissing the experiences and work of other women because they aren’t following your preferred line of thinking or dogma. Something tells me she would not be thrilled.
I’m glad that you’ve read up on this. I wish more would. But the fact that you have read about this doesn’t give you the right to police the way other women might do it. And you still haven’t identified which women you are talking about who are doing such shoddy work. I don’t actually want to go down that path, but I just don’t know that you are accurately representing what I am seeing–certainly if you looked at any of the sources I posted you’ll see that they are very aware of that concern–and I’ve agreed with you over and over again that it is important not to limit HM to a sweet white heteronormative mistress of patriarchy, so truly not sure what you keep arguing about.
If/when the leadership accept/recognize that mother in heaven is a God as in part of Elohiem then it becomes very difficult to not treat women equally. I understand God to be a priesthood position, so if a woman holds the top priesthood office, why would women be excluded from holding other priesthood offices?
The statements of current Church leaders (Q15) supersedes both the statements of past leaders as well as the scriptures. That’s how doctrine (not just policy) gets remade in the COJCOLDS. That’s the main challenge you face when you advocate that we talk more of Heavenly Mother. Yes, we are entitled to personal revelation, but it can not contradict statements of current leaders. So good luck expanding the MoH narrative.
Note: I’m no longer a believer so none of this applies to me. However, I feel bad for you folks who are believers and who think that you can vote for change. That’s not how the Church works.
@josh h, to be clear many women in this space do NOT want church leadership to talk more about HM. They don’t trust Her with them. Nor do they anticipate being able to vote for change. We are not naive.
I just take issue with them invalidating women’s experiences and insights, and I think it reveals interesting (and not positive) things about their motives. And what they say doesn’t matter to me but it negatively impacts my community so I am talking about it.
My goal is NOT to change their minds. I just want other women to realize we don’t need them to.
What’s absurd here is that all of us–including top leadership–have sung a prayer to Heavenly Mother. We’ve all sung “Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high.” We’ve sung it as a people for what, 150 years? Longer? To suddenly be told not to pray to her, as I imagine we will this weekend, is in direct conflict with actual practice ever since “Oh My Father” was put to music.
Elisa, you rock. Keep up the good work!
Could it be that the Brethren “know” that there are many Heavenly Mothers in a polygamous Godhead and they don’t want to reveal this “knowledge” to the members?
@Angela C, “Your characterization of what these unnamed LDS women whose supposed understanding of female diety is so inferior to your own is the clearest evidence to me that you are not in these discussion spaces and do not really know what is being discussed.”
Some LDS haven’t spent enough time studying the archetypal mother-goddess they enthusiastically promote, and appropriate to the mother-goddess those characteristics and qualities they wish to find in her image. They create in her, an image for themselves.
@Elisa, In biblical context, when Asherah was removed from the temple at Josiah’s purge, what was lost? What are the ordinances or covenants associated with the feminine imagery that was so threatening to the Jerusalem temple?
These questions cannot be approached by hopes, wishes, or opinions: answers are revealed in wisdom genre, liturgy, and ancient text. My pushback on any stance is, “where does that idea come from?” So my pushback to some (not all) of LDS mother-goddess promotion is that some of stuff is not rooted in text, literature, history, etc.
Mother-goddess study is important to LDS eschatology because temples are fundamentally feminine. The wellspring, the tree (menorah), the cistern (cup), the weaving of the veil, and the altar–all are feminine representations. LDS theology is incomplete without formal recognition of the personification of “woman” as the central temple archetype.
@travis why can’t women come to know things that aren’t (sufficiently) rooted in scriptures, literature, or history? That makes no sense to me.
People—mostly men!!!—wrote those things based on their experience with the divine.
People are writing new things now based on their experience with the divine.
It’s no different. One is just older and written by men. That doesn’t make it authoritative. On the contrary, it makes it inadequate.
If you personally want to ensure that your image of HM is sufficiently doctrinally pure that’s your perogative. If you want to share ideas you’ve found and resources with people that’s great, too – I’ve already checked some of them out!
But I think you should stop policing or criticizing women’s relationship with the feminine divine.
@Eliza, equivocating criticism with policing seems a stretch. Woman’s strongest position resides in the text, and there is plenty of text. In addition, when women use the text authoritatively, even Jesus moves to make room:
“But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
“And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.
“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”
@travis strongest position for what? Convincing men to change their minds about us? I don’t care about that. This isn’t about winning a theological argument and convincing men to give us a seat at the table. It’s about relationship and connection with God and seeing ourselves in God and God in us.
Our strongest position is in recognizing we have our own power and authority and that we don’t need permission—from male leaders or texts or anything outside ourselves—to stand in relationship with the divine, and talk about it.
I just had to go and Google the RMN dohnut quote – oh my gosh 😂😂😂😂 but also not funny!
Russell M. Nelson: “Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women” (May 1999 Ensign) from Priesthood session:
“Tonight I am attending with a son, sons-in-law, and grandsons. Where are their mothers? Gathered in the kitchen of our home! What are they doing? Making large batches of homemade doughnuts! And when we return home, we will feast on those doughnuts. While we enjoy them, these mothers, sisters, and daughters will listen intently as each of us speaks of things he learned here tonight. It’s a nice family tradition, symbolic of the fact that everything we learn and do as priesthood bearers should bless our families.”
I guess we should be happy with a little pat on the head too? Instead of this quote I’d rather be sharing wonderful indigenous creation stories featuring female creators – they make a lot more sense to me.
@Elisa, “If we could entertain the possibility that a human enfleshed corporeal Heavenly Father is just one *manifestation* of a much broader God, then we could recognize all sorts of other aspects of God (like a female God) without being “polytheistic”. One big giant God with many, many characteristics – characteristics that include all of humanity.”
We can pretend all kinds of gods. But at this point, your conceptual diety isn’t grounded in anything except the image in your head.
Sonntag’s mother-goddess work is progressive and credible, because she engages archetype, ancient text, history, genre–all of it. She isn’t making up a version of mother-goddess for herself, she is revealing what has been covered or lost. Prophetess? By definition.
@travis, it’s great that you’ve found the one LDS writer whose work you find sufficiently authoritative and doctrinal and pure and whatever else to meet your high standards. Again, I would love to see her reaction to you weaponizing her work to put other women down. I suspect she would disagree with that approach because it’s literally the same thing patriarchal church leaders are doing, just using different sources.
I haven’t read her work so I don’t care to comment on it, but where is the trans god? The queer god? The black god? Marginalized populations have not had a voice and an insistence on some kind of textual purity will keep it that way. And you still haven’t explained why it’s different to use other sources rooted in people’s experiences historically as opposed to sources rooted in people’s experience today. There is literally no difference. It’s all humans doing their best to describe the divine.
As for the rest of us, you have zero basis for or right to tell me that my experience of God isn’t real. You also have literally no idea where I have come up with that image. I read books too, as a matter of fact, not that it should matter.
This discussion isn’t fruitful. Please stop dismissing women’s work here. You have no idea how hard it is for women to recognize our own authority and power separate from a patriarchal church structure and frankly your comments are sexist and triggering because you’re just replicating that structure by thinking you get to give women permission to worship the right kind of God.
@Elisa, I made an observation that there are some LDS who promote mother-goddess doctrine without much understanding, study, or research. This does not mean that whatever feelings or experiences they have are not valid. Nothing in any of my comments say that.
My comments offer better literature than anything you’ve cited, [DELETED BY BLOG AUTHOR BECAUSE CONTENT DEMEANED OTHER WOMEN AUTHORS AND IS NOT FACTUALLY ACCURATE]. I don’t have a stance, except that I pushback on all unsubstantiated belief systems and sloppy doctrinal approaches.
As a farmer, working with water, earth, light, life–the mother-goddess is abundantly clear. She is in all the work of agriculture; in my view, collectively speaking, LDS detachment from agriculture keeps us from her presence more than any policy or priesthood.
@travis, I am done engaging with you on this because I’ve repeated myself many times and you are just repeating yourself except adding more dismissive and belittling content with each new comment.
We don’t moderate much here but I will moderate comments like that are unkind, dismissive of other LDS women / authors / artists, and off-topic. The post is not about who has the best definition of female deity.
Also, I’m not going to get into a who is more successful debate because I have no interest in minimizing anyone’s work but you’re flat wrong about your claims there.
Readers – I’ve invited Travis to do a guest-post on Sonntag’s work and other concepts of Heavenly Mother so hopefully he will take me up on that.
In the meantime, thanks for your patience through the side-debate, which I believe was fruitful but has run its course, and I would be delighted for us to get back to this topic and the discussion questions I included at the end of the post :-).
Travis (with apologies to Eliza for continuing your thread jack), I cannot let your comment on Josiah’s reforms go unchallenged. There is no universal consensus that these were a good thing, for all the post-exilic OT writings present them as such. It’s a good few years since I read any Margaret Barker, but I do recall she mentions that the folks who finished up as refugees in Egypt, rather than carried off captive into Babylon, actually blamed Josiah’s reforms for the catastrophe.
Sorry Eliza, I didn’t see your last comment before posting. I hadn’t refreshed the page.
@hedgehog no worries :-).
Thank you for your comments on Heavenly Mother. I believe that she is sacred and protected. I believe she is part of Yahweh, an integral part. As Heavenly Parents, they work together perfectly. There is so much that we have forgotten and I look forward with anticipation to one day when the fog is lifted.
“Why do you think Church leadership cares so much about this issue?”
One possibility we have not addressed is that leaders know or believe that there is no Heavenly Mother and what we are seeing is the beginnings of a strategic retreat. Several LDS theologians (e.g. Blake Ostler) have noted that there really isn’t a theological need for a Heavenly Mother. Let’s face it, it is very difficult making an ironclad case from the historical evidence we have. Those who believe in or perceive the need for a Heavenly Mother embrace that evidence but there are plenty who are skeptical. I understand both positions. I don’t believe Joseph Smith articulated the Heavenly Mother concept. However, I accept that it was a possible natural, logical outgrowth of his some of his teachings resulting in some statements and poems after Joseph’s death.
But I believe the real reason is that leaders don’t want to take the step of proclaiming a Heavenly Mother because they believe that it opens up the floodgates of speculation and a loss of faith in the Godhead as revealed in LDS scripture. As most know, the LDS God is not the Trinity. Most LDS conceive of these persons as a council or presidency. Spouses are not considered part of any council in the LDS tradition. Traditionally, a heavenly mother or mothers would be subservient to the Godhead. I’m not so sure that is what many describing as a Heavenly Mother today want to believe about Her. Some here propose that Heavenly Mother is equal to Heavenly Father and She is another person of the Godhead, equally worthy of worship. That is outside of the LDS scriptural definition, unless somehow the Holy Ghost is female, but that has problems as well. Others suggest a type of LDS “modalism”, with Heavenly Mother being a mode or aspect of God. But modalism is heretical in most Christian traditions, and likely even more so in LDS teachings. While I suppose many believe in a heavenly council and that council is more than the Godhead, it has never been suggested that any outside of the Godhead should be prayed to, worshiped, etc.
Thorough overview! You speak well. I have just started listening to Breaking Down Patriarchy, so this is timely for me. The aspect of it I find most intriguing is patriarchy itself, and the many aspects that come with it. It’s not something I have ever even thought to look at before. Grateful to Gerda Lerner and her contributions.
I fully support men and women and BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ and any one else who is looking to communing with the divine in a way that is personally meaningful.
I am beyond disappointed by those who diminish, oppress, and dominate.
For me, secular humanism continues to resonate.
Re: Renlund. “I wish we knew more and you may wish you knew more as well, but reason cannot replace revelation.”
Except he’s not talking about revelation, he’s talking about the lack of revelation! It’s as if the negative space around revelations has been canonized. Truly, the brethren “have come to speak of revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead.”
To be clear, I agree with what others have said here that the Brethren pontificating about Heavenly Mother would be a bad thing. I just find it so baffling that these men claim to be prophets when their function is clearly to NOT prophesy (kind like obstructionist Republican senators who are committed to not passing any legislation). To me it’s plain hypocrisy unless someone like Renlund can admit that he’s not a prophet, seer, and revelator; he just plays one on TV.
Also, I’d never heard of the TK Smoothie before. Wow. Talk about sad heaven lol.
@Old Man – yes, I agree those are all reasons why leadership is disinclined to emphasis Heavenly Mother. As I mentioned earlier, I think those are bad reasons. All of the characteristics about God that make HM problematic are made up by people, too, and we believe in continuing revelation, so who cares?
I do think this further confirms for me how problematic it is that we’ve confined God to a male body. If we didn’t do that, we could have a God that included the feminine divine and it wouldn’t be an issue (FWIW I used “Heavenly Mother” in this post because it’s the term that’s been used in Church materials, but that is not how I personally conceptualize or name the feminine divine because I don’t view God as including a physically embodied heterosexual gender binary couple). It’s also funny to me that we continue to insist on God having a male body when it seems to me that was originally important because of our teaching that as man is God once was and as God is man may become – but we’ve seemed to soften on the “we will all become gods” teaching. So why continue to insist on the male body? God was a burning bush for Moses …
Anyway, with you on those reasons just think they are bad reasons and women should realize that the version of themselves and their future that the Church is peddling is second-class citizenship here AND in heaven, so why on earth would you take that?
@Sasso, glad you are enjoying the podcast too. I just find it fascinating to consider that patriarchy was *made* (and Lerner’s point, of course, was to say that it can therefore be unmade). When you look at the historical patterns, it’s so baffling to me that Church leaders and members don’t see the Church’s insistence on patriarchy as “philosophies of men mingled with scripture.” So they came by it honestly, but it drives me nuts that they continue to insist that it’s Godly. It’s anything but.
@Kirkstall, good point about revelation. I don’t see much (any) prophesying, seeing, or revealing going on with leadership. As for the TK Smoothie, I first heard about it on a really excellent Radio Free Mormon podcast “Making Doctrine Out of Nothing At All”, which traces the history of the Church’s teaching that “Gender is Eternal.” Turns out that is not exactly an eternal teaching.
I had to read this twice, once yesterday, and once today, before I felt I could respond. So much to digest, and thank you Elisa for doing the hard work for us.
I think the Church gets Heavenly Father deeply and tragically wrong. I don’t believe in a God of tokens, signs, and punishments. I don’t believe in a vending machine/transactional God. I don’t believe in a jealous God. I don’t believe in a God that employs checklists. So count me as one, like many comments above, that am not at all interested in the prophets speculating about Heavenly Mother, as I also believe they will reduce her to a fragile stay at cloud mom who is not able to be in the detail of our lives.
Most post-Mormons don’t join other religions, or so I’m told. And why would they? When you are raised with a view of God as a jerk, who would bother seeking him outside the church?
I decided several years ago that it was high time to cut out the middle man between me and the divine. I sincerely hope that the members will continue to search for the feminine divine, regardless of what our leaders may say this weekend. We can’t find what we don’t look for.
Also, what Kirkstall said. And Kirkstall, I also very recently learned about TK smoothies, from our own Elisa, on a BCC post! Wild, wild stuff.
@Old Man “Spouses are not considered part of any council in the LDS tradition.”
In my limited church experience, some men I know have told me that when they were set apart as Bishop or Stake President, the presiding authority suggested to them that their wife is another counselor for them. Granted this is not in the “public eye” nor in any handbook that I’m aware of, but I found it interesting.
Regarding the idea of getting rid of patriarchy, what are the suggestions/ideas of what replaces it? What does a family, city, nation look like? Are there any historical examples, or current examples? I mean, does it actually work? Maybe an investigation of this topic requires a separate post?? Is this on your “road map” Elisa? 😉
I have some thoughts on this “remove patriarchy” idea, but maybe a different post in the future would be a better place for discussion.
Thank you @Elisa for doing the heavy lifting for us (again) and distilling down such an important and relevant topic. I value the time you put into your posts.
I appreciate Kirkstall’s comments and want to add an exclamation point there. The sad truth is we aren’t receiving revelation from the brethren. All I see is institutional stagnation. I like the illusion of negative space because that is all we have, and on so many critical topics that are having negative spiritual and social/material impacts on many of our members. The sad truth is there is no theology coming from the church to make positive meaning of being gay and Mormon, better informing our history of racism and now we are seeing a retreat from feminist enlightenment and a retrenchment of misogyny.
I have always believed in what I call (as well as others have) the Mormon possibility. We have these opportunities to be truly visionary and instead the church serves up so much dross.
Around 30 years ago, Neal A Maxwell said (or wrote) about the problem of ignoring reality. He compared its denial to a child who is told to eat her oatmeal. She closes her eyes and declares, “Mommy, its all gone.” He was speaking to members and to the world. He should have been speaking to the institutional church. These issues won’t go away just by declaring we shouldn’t talk about them or not using capital letters.
Discussion question #2. Darn. This post plus the RS text about waffles actually has me thinking about going to the church gathering tomorrow night in search of drama. I’m annoyed by the flip flopping and inconsistent scheduling of the evening session(s). I think there needs to be less General Conference. Maybe the stake conference model: adults, leadership, and general. 90 minutes- 2 hours each. Done.
Humbled by Sonia and Kate last night and by the strong here today. *All* women. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Get a copy of *Ordinary Equality* everyone. Most men in leadership are afraid, so they demean and punish others (questioners, the assertive, the humble) instead of showing that they have charity and love and a great need for the wonders of diversity.
@Chadwick, with you 100%. I think it is really unfortunate that the Church (and other ultra-conservative religious groups) seems to be getting in the way of God for a lot of people. Both because it paints such an undesirable version of God and because it constantly puts itself in the place of God (suggesting that a person’s relationship with the Church IS their relationship to God).
If people don’t want to believe in God – that’s fine. But I know too many people who are really shattered about God because of Church trauma and there are so many ways to connect with God and envision a bigger God that people could find if they wanted to – but often don’t want to because Church has burned them on the whole concept.
@BWBarnett hah! That’s not on my roadmap :-). That’s a pretty big topic. But if I come across a compelling description maybe I’ll post about it! As you probably realize, patriarchy is so tied up into capitalism and industrialization and so many other systems that it’s difficult to untangle. But for low-hanging fruit, I’d say that an organization that expressly limits leadership positions to men should stop doing that. That seems easy enough and without any dire consequences AFAIK.
@ushallbcot, I will check that book out. Are you talking about Sonia Johnson? Is she in that book? Not sure what you’re referencing. She did some GREAT writing (I’ve read her stuff in the Mormon Feminism book I mentioned in the post).
I also had to read this twice and I am still not sure I have my thoughts in order. I knew all the history and everything Elisa so nicely summarized, but it was still nice to see it all in one place.
The thing that I think is new, and I wish to applaud is the idea that we as women don’t need the General Authority’s permission. Period. We don’t need their permission to talk about HM, to pray to Her, to discuss our ideas and experiences.
We not only don’t need their permission to know our Heavenly Mother, we don’t want them to tell us what they think about her, because they are going to make her over into a 1950s housewife. I don’t want a 1950s housewife. I was raised by one of those and I knew by 5 years old that I didn’t want to ever be her. I want a God, a God who is female and looks like me. Not “like me” as in race or ethnicity, not even sexually like me, but like me inside. That doesn’t even make good sense to me, but it is the best I can put into words.
But this independence feels new to me. Boy, back in 1990 when some feminists were excommunicated, there were not very many women saying, “they can’t tell me what to think, and they can’t tell me what I can talk about, or who I can pray to.” Women mostly retreated in fear. So, I am glad that more women are trusting their own inspiration more than trusting priesthood inspiration. It really has to come through women anyway.
Thanks @Anna. I don’t know if it’s divine synchronicity or what, but my “permission” epiphany came about 1.5 years ago and since then I have been seeing a LOT of women talking about the same thing.
If I could get one message across to LDS women it wouldn’t actually be anything about Heavenly Mother.
It would simply be that you are the authority in your own life and you don’t need anyone else’s permission to think what you think, want what you want, or be who you are.
Although I realize there could be real consequences for some women – loss of callings, social status, temple recommend, and possibly family problems – for many of us, the biggest hurdle to realizing we can do and think whatever we want is purely internal. So we should stop offering up our own power and authority to men who don’t know us and frankly don’t see us as equals and who will never give it back to us. We just have to take it back.
BWBarnett–The first time my husband was called as a counselor in a bishopric, I was explicitly told that I was not and could not be a part of anything he was doing. In fact, it was so extensive that I walked out of the meeting in tears, feeling that my marriage had just been completely negated. So if you’re hearing that some people are told otherwise, it’s another example of leadership roulette.
The full title of the book is *Ordinary Equality, The Fearless Women and Queer People Who Shaped the U. S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment* by Kate Kelly with Art by Nicole LaRue. Sonia Johnson, who is 86 and fearless, chatted with Kate and Nicole at the book’s release in SLC.
From the book, “Sonia and I both fought to make the contributions and the existence of women visible. Like her, once I got the taste of demanding equality, I couldn’t stop. . . . I grew up listening to and reading stories about men. The protagonist of every story I heard was a man. . . .”
Chapters on Molly Brant, Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Crystal Eastman, Mary Church Terrell, Alice Paul, Pauli Murray, Martha Wright Griffiths, Patsy Takemoto Mink, Barbara Jordan, Pat Searman, and Future Framers.
Great writing and design.
Females are the most important of a dual sex species. They bear the offspring. Males are only necessary to keep diversity in the species. All other male functions are ancillary at best. NB black widow spiders and preying mantises. And then what are females doing in heaven? Are they then the necessary sex there? What is it about maleness that determines domination? Granted that keeping diversity is a very high calling and extraordinarily necessary, but not as necessary as bearing offspring and keeping them alive.
IMO, females organize and nurture micro-bodies while males organize and nurture macro-bodies–with the necessary overlap between the two. Eternal Life requires the organization and maintenance of “bodies” on multiple levels–systems within systems, so to speak.
@PWS I’m sorry to hear of your experience, and personally I don’t agree with how it was handled by the presiding authority. I’ve been a counselor in several bishoprics and while there were some sensitive/confidential ward issues that I didn’t share with my wife, there were plenty of things I did share.
@PWS … oh and one more thing. There were several times that my wife’s suggestions/counsel on a partaicular subject or how to deal with a particular situation, especially when a sister in the ward was involved, were invaluable to me!!
@bwbarnett, that’s the problem with women’s lack of institutional authority. She’s forever subject to leadership roulette and her power is proximity power dependent on a man (whether her stake President or husband) and his willingness to cut her in the deal.
So I think it’s great when men in leadership get their wives’ input on things. I also think it is wholly insufficient.
@jack, I wonder how you’d feel if the script were flipped and men were in charge of “micro-bodies” and women “macro-bodies”. Because micro-bodies does not sit well with me.
Why does it have to be divided? Men and women jointly produce children and men and women jointly organize and create the universe. That’s true partnership.
What you’re describing is gender complementarity and while it is what the Church teaches, I far prefer a partnership model.
As I say: there is overlap. But even so, what we do in this world may only be a shadow of what we’ll be doing in the next world.
That said, as things stand it’s rather impossible to “flip the script.” That is–until the powers that be formulate a better system for bringing forth and sustaining life than that which was revealed in Eden.
“As I say: there is overlap.” No, you said “the necessary overlap between the two” which I took to mean only what is necessary if a parenting couple cannot fulfill the traditional complementary gender roles. Lke the way it’s worded in the Family Proc, and what you meant in your original statement. But you cited it in a way that could possibly mean the opposite, for your answer to Elisa, for some undisclosed purpose. It’s so vague that it’s impossible for one to discern the meaning. Why would you equivocate this way?
“.That said, as things stand it’s rather impossible to “flip the script.” That is–until the powers that be formulate a better system for bringing forth and sustaining life than that which was revealed in Eden.” What does that even mean? Because what it sounds like to me is, “Sorry ladies, you’re stuck in your micro-role and until God changes it, sucks to be you! The males will carry on in authority with the macro stuff.”
This series of innocuous words strung together sounds reasonable and inoffensive, but the false premise behind it strikes me violently in my soul. The only possible reply is for me to repeat Elisa’s words, with the conviction of fully meaning them, as if they are my own words. :
Why does it have to be divided? Men and women jointly produce children and men and women jointly organize and create the universe. That’s true partnership.
There ya go. That’s clarity.
Anna and Elisa got it right. Women do not need men’s permission for anything, especially anything of a spiritual nature. The sooner the men of the church realize this, the sooner all will be liberated from the chains and shackles that have trapped the Latter-day Saints since the day Smith told his first lie. In the meantime, the liberation comes quietly and profoundly to those who realize it independent of the corporation.
Excellent blog post – and, spot on. I’ve been researching Heavenly Mother for over a decade and I believe she’s definitely “coming out”!! I’ve been reading Margaret Barker’s books related to the first temple period Judaism, Asherah worship, and other aspects of this period of Judaism, and this book (I’ll post the link) is a MUST read. I too find the discussion at church related to Her to be met with blank stares and fear. However, I remember when the revelation related to Blacks and the priesthood came out prior to the “revelation” there was a lot of “back lot” discussions related to the topic. Could it be that the Lord changes the zeitgeist/reshapes thought paradigms related to controversial issues years prior to an official revelation amongst the members first? I believe it is possible. Regardless, King Josiah is partly responsible for the removal of Her (our Mother in Heaven) from her rightful and equal place next to El-Elyon in the temple. https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Lord-Lady-Temple/dp/0567362469
“Sorry ladies, you’re stuck in your micro-role and until God changes it, sucks to be you! The males will carry on in authority with the macro stuff.”
It’s not a micro-role. Bringing forth individuals — “micro-bodies” — is the most sacred work of all. It places the woman at the fulcrum of eternity–the most sacred space of all.
@jack, that topic is kind of going to open a can of worms that’s not germane to the post – which is about the erasure of the divine feminine historically, the explosion of divine feminine work among LDS women in the last few years, and Church leadership’s response.
I’m not trying to be overly heavy-handed in telling people what they can’t talk about in response, but women-as-eternal-babymakers is honestly a really problematic and triggering topic for a lot of people so personally I’d prefer not going down that path today.
“It’s not a micro-role. Bringing forth individuals — “micro-bodies” — is the most sacred work of all. It places the woman at the fulcrum of eternity–the most sacred space of all.”
This thought process is sometimes referred to as benevolent sexism. It’s worth a Google search. It sounds kind and respectful and loving. But it ends up being used to shut women out from having input in decisions that affect their well-being and the well-being of the vulnerable children they bear.
The same powers that encourage a woman to limit her career choices and ultimately economic independence don’t show up decades later when she’s alone, hungry, and unable to provide for her most basic needs. If they show up, it is to provide cursory help at best. A shoveled walkway here, a fruit basket there, maybe six months rent if she’s lucky. Some women are fine and are taken care of, but too many end up financially trapped in marriages where abuse takes place, or alone and in poverty after a husband abandons her, or she’s left widowed not realizing her husband had not provided for her well-being after his death, or she and her husband are in poverty if he has become disabled and unable to work and she’s unable to provide for the family. These scenarios are real and are happening to women we all know, but most of us are not privy to the details. A man is not a financial plan. Economic empowerment for women matters.
Some of the resources listed in the comments and post above explain how partnership societies are better for all members. Partnership societies in the past were suppressed by the erasure of female deities. We are now accustomed to a society based on patriarchal models, but moving back toward a partnership model will benefit men as well as women. The Breaking Down Patriarchy podcast (the first three episodes referenced above) is enlightening. The book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by husband and wife team Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn details harms women and children experience when women are closed out of power structures in society. Many men are also hurt by constraints when women don’t share equal power. It is worth examining the paradigms we operate under and making changes as we realize their limitations and sometimes even harms.
I have avoided commenting to this point because as a mostly-non believer my opinion is too hypothetical.
But at this point I want to add two things.
First, on this, from Elisa:
That is one of my favorite things I have read in a while.
Second, later on when I read about macro and micro bodies I kind of threw up in my mouth a little bit because it is so reductive and limiting.
I don’t know what a ‘fulcrum of eternity’ means and I’m not at all interested in exploring someone’s interpretation of theology that keeps women confined to that familiar place that, in this world at least, has always been narrow and lonely. I know from experience that such wording will be a way to redefine narrow and lonely as something desirable, most commonly in a way that is false. Being in a sacred space has no meaning if you’re only there as breeding stock and nanny for the people in charge, who hog all the sacred stuff.
This is why Heavenly Mother as Goddess and Creator with our Father is the only way to repair the damage to all of us, men, women, and everyone. Wherever women are doing sacred work, men should be right there beside them, listening, paying attention, and helping with whatever is needful, as partners. And wherever men are doing sacred work, women should be right there beside them, listening, paying attention, and helping with whatever’s needful. As partners. It’s the pattern of our Heavenly Parents, plain to see if you don’t willfully refuse to look.
@Elisa, I marvel at your gentle ways, and try to emulate, but ultimately I’ll just be me. But thank you for showing how that’s done.
@mdearest thank you for the thoughtful comment (I agree completely and you put it beautifully) and the undeserved compliment.
Literally no one in real life would call me gentle 😂😂😂 but I am trying to be still and still moving and to be fire when fire is needed and water when water is needed – which is something we can learn from the Goddess!
@Elisa “that’s the problem with women’s lack of institutional authority. She’s forever subject to leadership roulette and her power is proximity power dependent on a man”
For the vast majority of human beings, nearly ALL of us (women and men) lack institutional authority. For those of us in the church, nearly ALL of us (women and men) are subject to leadership roulette. I’ll definitely agree that authority in institutions and churches are dominated by men, with incremental changes being made over the past several decades, but with the exception of maybe 10,000??, 100,000?? men in authority positions in the world, the other 7.9 billion of us are without authority. Without authority except within our own homes. Our homes are where we can ALL make a difference and where we all have authority, at least in a civilization under the rule of righteous law.
I know that getting more women involved in authority positions is not the only or the main focus of the drive for equality between the sexes, but it seems naive to think that just getting more women involved in authority positions will solve the problems we think it may solve. I’m a man and there are plenty of men that make poor decisions in my estimation. Men that don’t do things the way I would want them done. Men that don’t seem to listen to me. Men who ignore me. Men who make me feel like I don’t have a voice. Men who feel like they are better than I am, more educated than I am, etc., etc.
Whether our institutional, government, or church leaders are men or women, there will always be those who make us feel unheard, unwanted, second-class citizens. We recently elected a female mayor in the city where I live. She is fantastic! She’s very organized, she listens, she’s kind and she’s a go-getter. I was so glad when I heard she was running for mayor and even more so when she won the election. Her gender is irrelevant to me as far as running this city is concerned. I’m glad she is just a good conservative Christian. It seems that regardless of who is in charge in our institutions, we will always have good and poor leaders and we will always have good and poor followers. Maybe the swaths of the population who have been historically marginalized deserve a chance to take over, turn the tables so to speak. But as I said before, it seems naive to think we would have a perfect, or even a better, society if this were to occur somehow.
I realize that nobody is directly claiming that more women in authority is the solution, but this seems to be an underlying theme. I guess I’m suggesting that it is not a viable solution. The leadership roulette is just expanded to include men and women is all.
^ I’d call “more women in authority” a “necessary but not sufficient” condition to “solve the problems of the world”. Methinks most readers of W&T can agree on that.
@bwbarnett I agree that most men in the LDS church don’t have a ton of institutional authority. But starting at age 12, all males have some form of authority over all females – can do things NO woman can do. And for men, having extensive institutional authority is possible; women are 100% barred based on their femaleness.
So, absolutely I think it’s important to prevent women from simply reproducing inequities if they are given power. Actually, one position @hawkgrrrl22 has taken is that we shouldn’t ordain women – we should un-ordain men. Just putting a handful more women in power isn’t going to undo patriarchy.
With all that said, that is simply not an excuse to continue to categorically exclude women from leadership. The perfect is the enemy of the good. And we also need BIPOC and queer folks and disabled folks and all sorts of folks in leadership so they more perspectives are heard and understood.
(@bwbarnett I’d also add that actually, women do NOT have authority in our own homes according to the LDS church. Many of us covenanted to obey or hearken to our husbands, and we are still told he presides. We were told by the church that we could not bless the sacrament for ourselves during Covid. The Church does a lot of extend its influence in our homes, like it or not.)
“As partners. It’s the pattern of our Heavenly Parents, plain to see if you don’t willfully refuse to look.”
I agree. It’s also plain to see that even though Adam and Eve are both made in the image of God they have some fundamental differences. Their relationship with each other will always be somewhat of a complementary one–there’s no getting around it.
Sorry Elisa, I’m trying to bow out.
“For the vast majority of human beings, nearly ALL of us (women and men) lack institutional authority.”
In the Breaking Down Patriarchy podcasts there is an explanation of the difference between partnership and patriarchal models of society. They explain that many men are also harmed in patriarchal societies. Patriarchal societies are hierarchical whereas partnership societies tend toward egalitarianism. This should resonate for those of us who have read scriptures that speak of doing things “by common consent.”
@jack no need to apologize, I think it’s been a worthwhile discussion. Just trying to nudge us away from too much gender reductionism 🙂
bwbarnett: “Regarding the idea of getting rid of patriarchy, what are the suggestions/ideas of what replaces it? What does a family, city, nation look like? Are there any historical examples, or current examples? I mean, does it actually work?” My first take on this comment would have been that I can’t imagine participating in a patriarchal marriage because, despite the Church’s view of what an “ideal” marriage might be and what temple ceremonies state, I do not have, have never had, and would never have an unequal marriage in which there is some kind of hierarchical relationship between husband and wife. To me, that sounds like a dystopian hellscape, one that’s all too common in conservative religions.
As mati w points out, non-patriarchal models are egalitarian and more democratic than autocratic. Decision making is not “kicked up the ladder,” because everyone is a stakeholder. There are some studies that show in organizations that are female-dominated, the structures that emerge naturally (e.g. nursing) are not competitive/hierarchical but rather cooperative and social-pressure based. I suspect most families and marriages are actually a mix of styles. For example, parents usually have more of a vote than children, so there is an implied hierarchy there, not full egalitarianism, which is probably mostly capitalistic as you point out–parents have all the money, so they make all the decisions. It’s another reason sole breadwinner arrangements can be insidious down the line. If there are disagreements about money, the one making it tends to become heavy-handed over the one supporting the choices that allows the other to earn. Likewise, there are issues in our own politics (past & present) in giving too much weight to those with the most money. The historical patriarchal disenfranchisement of women within both families & societies was certainly exacerbated by the preference in English law to prevent women from owning property so that estates were kept intact for future generations rather than being broken up and sold off (primogeniture). That doesn’t make it a good system, just an old one. We still haven’t unwound the problems of that system, although women (and minorities) can and do hold property now.
Thank you Pontius, Elisa, mati, Angela. I’ve been wondering about the issues discussed in this post and it seems like one big underlying problem (maybe THE underlying problem) is that, in general, people don’t like other people to be in authority over them, with a possible exception of when the authority aligns pretty closely with our own desires, values, opinions, thoughts, etc. For example, there were a few comments above that said in effect “I don’t want the leaders of the church to tell me about Heavenly Mother.” To me this seemed like just another way to voice disapproval or disgust with the Brethren, because in reality, based on the “I want to learn about her on my own” part that followed, we don’t want ANYONE to tell us or teach us what they think about Heavenly Mother. If you want to learn about her on your own, why single out the church leadership as someone you wish would just shut up on the subject? I’m guessing that it is partly because you may not agree with the ideas they are sharing?? In the end though, it’s at least worth listening to and considering. Gather all the information, ideas, opinions, experiences from everyone that has information to offer (lots of sources listed in this post), then use it all to help formulate your own ideas.
Like it or not, while some may think the Brethren have gotten some things wrong over the years, they have also gotten LOTS of things right. Their collective thought and wisdom is worth at least a consideration. Do you agree with everything Joanna Brooks, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, Hannah Wheelwright, Carol Lynn Pearson, Channing Parker, Elise Poll … have ever said or done? Yet you include their collective thought and wisdom in your search for truth. Afford the Brethren the same courtesy and scale back the negative speak about them.
@bwbarnett, while I admit it’s easier to have someone I agree with in authority over me, there are actually a lot of other alternatives that would be preferable to the current state of Church leadership:
-leadership that is representative of the population they represent (ie, not overwhelming older white married cishetero men)
-leadership that I had a voice in choosing, whether because there was an election process or because one can opt out of an org with bad leaders (like an employer)
-leadership that has demonstrated a willingness to listen, seek to understand, and respond to concerns; even if they don’t respond the way I want them to, feeling heard and that someone understood and just went a different direction is WAY different than not feeling heard at all
-leadership that is more concerned about protecting the people they lead than about protecting an institution or their own reputations / authority
-leadership based on a cooperative partnership model instead of an authoritarian hierarchical model
Have the woman I’ve quoted here said things I disagree with? Absolutely! But they don’t claim to speak for God or claim to have any authority over me whatsoever. The only authority they have over me is the strength of their ideas.
And frankly that’s how I treat church leadership now too. I am done deferring to religious authorities based solely on a title or position or rank. If you have a good idea, bring it and I will listen. If you have a bad idea, I will call you out on it.
There is literally no positive spin on the way church leaders are talking about women and heavenly mother. Like, none. Do I think they are evil men? Nope, and I didn’t say that in my post. But I think their words and actions in erasing heavenly mother and relegating women to birth and raise babies are wrong. Full stop. Wrong. And it’s hurt me, and my friends, and my sisters, and my mother and grandmother and ancestors. So I have no intent on scaling back where there is spiritual violence being done to my sisters.
There is a silver lining, Elisa. You are poised to inherit the universe.
Elisa said everything I was going to say, and better. I only enjoy reading what others think about HM as it relates to my own experience, not because I want a definitive source on Her. Patriarchy believes in hierarchies, that all capital T truth comes from an “authority,” and that ideas are in competition with each other and the one that wins is the authority and must be heard and taken seriously. Authority lends gravitas. Since Church leaders haven’t a clue what being a woman is actually like and reveal that embarrassingly (if they were capable of such self-reflection) every time they try to mansplain womanhood to us, their authority on HM is also suspect. Aside from that, they (at least on the record) dispute the existence of non-binary genders, which is another giant blind spot. Men and others invested in patriarchy care more about authority than those who are barred from institutional authority are. I didn’t vote for them.
I will only add that I was listening to an interesting podcast about how humans invent God in their own image, selecting what they perceive to be their own best qualities and amplifying them by claiming they are divine qualities. The problem is that nobody, man or woman, is really any good at sifting out what their best qualities are from their worst but dearly held qualities, things like politics and preferences. God is not to be found in our political parties. The podcaster (this was from a speech at Sunstone, just FYI, but the speaker was not LDS) said that the only way to understand God is through direct personal experience. Nobody can tell you who or what God is and is not, and as soon as you start trying to tell others, you will get it wrong (in this sense god is ineffable, beyond human language, as Joseph Campbell said in the Power of Myth, although his views on a non-gendered god are just his views, who knows?):
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: We want to think about God. God is a thought, God is an idea, but its reference is to something that transcends all thinking. I mean, he’s beyond being, beyond the category of being or nonbeing. Is he or is he not? Neither is nor is not. . . He who thinks he knows doesn’t know. He who knows that he doesn’t know, knows. . . The best things can’t be told because they transcend thought. The second best are misunderstood, because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can’t be thought about. The third best are what we talk about. And myth is that field of reference to what is absolutely transcendent….That’s why it’s absurd to speak of God as of either this sex or that sex. The divine power is antecedent to sexual separation.
I’ve spent 5 decades sifting carefully through things church leaders have said and taking the good, but let me tell you, they have some really big blind spots that make their input on some of these topics incredibly unuseful.
I prefer Joseph Smith over Joseph Campbell. God is knowable. In fact, the central tenet of the fulness of the gospel is that Eternal Life is to know God. The fact that we may get him wrong on this point or that while we’re in the process of coming to him should not be cause enough to throw that baby out with the bathwater–otherwise we’ll never come to know him.
Jumping in to update on what happened tonight.
After we sang a song about listening to prophets, someone gave a prayer about listening to prophets, presiding authorities (including “priesthood advisors”???) were announced, President Oaks gave a strange preamble about how the First Presidency is in charge of this meeting (???), three women spoke, a video featuring President Nelson was shown (someone counted and references to Nelson outpaced Jesus here), we finally got to the main event! Elder Renlund concluded the session with basically the same talking points as I’d listed above:
Doctrine of Heavenly Mother comes by revelation and is a distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints. (OK, my one editorial, the divine feminine is not distinctive among Latter-day Saints.)
Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents and our aspiration is to be like them.
Very little is known about Heavenly Mother, and what is known is summarized in the Gospel Topics essay available on the Church website.
Once you read the Gospel Topics essay, you’ll know everything we know. I wish we knew more.
You may have questions and want to find answers. Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious: reason cannot replace revelation.
Speculation won’t lead to more spiritual knowledge, but it can lead us away from truth and divert us from what has been revealed.
Jesus instructed that we always pray to the Father in his name.
Prophets don’t teach doctrines fabricated in their own minds but only what has been revealed. (Told story of a prophet offered a bribe to curse the Israelites, but said that he could not go beyond the word of God). Latter-day prophets are similarly constrained.
Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive. Instead, we wait on the Lord and His timetable to reveal His truths through means he has established.
Nothing from the regional meetings about capitalization. He did not say not to talk about Heavenly Mother, but many have noted that there were NO references to “Heavenly Parents” — except for Renlund – in all three of today’s sessions. Seemed to be a deliberate emphasis on only ever saying Heavenly Father. But, that may just be my conspiracy hat.
I was thinking about posting tonight but honestly, not a lot to say that hasn’t already been said.
I’m going to go check and make sure my husband and sons made me doughnuts, and they will listen intently while I share with them what I un-learned tonight.
My opinion: The reason the general authorities will not get revelation on Heavenly Mother is that they are not getting revelation on anything at all. To tinker with small institutional things (and pretend like it is the result of revelation) is one thing. But they know that the minute they try to concoct “further light and knowledge” and add to the Mormon doctrinal canon, they will be venturing out on dangerous ground. After all, who was the last prophet who did that? They’ve only been walking back doctrines since Brigham Young, but they haven’t been adding anything at all. They want to lay claim to the title of “revelator,” but they don’t dare “reveal.” Because they know they can’t, and they know that they don’t.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. They are revealing one thing: they aren’t what they say they are.
Women of the LDS Church – you have them backed into a corner. They are feeling the heat. Their con is unraveling. Tonight’s meeting was simply an attempt to strongarm you into submission so they are not made to look like the fools that they are. However, thousands are seeing them for what they are. Keep up the pressure.
The vast majority of faithful Latter-day Saint women sustain the apostles as prophets seers and revelators.
@john, even when Pres Hinckley said not to pray to HM back in 1991, he did not base that in revelation. He neither claimed to have asked for nor received one. Instead, he said he’d searched the scriptures and previous talks and couldn’t find anyone praying to HM so we shouldn’t either.
Gee, that (research) sounds a lot like “reason.” But as we were taught tonight, reason cannot replace revelation …
@jack do you have data on that?
So in the hymn O My Father (Invocation, or The Eternal Father and Mother), does the line ‘Truth is reason’ not apply anymore?
@Eliza, they better take that hymn out of the next revision! Lots of heretical materials!
(It really does make reason stare to hear a leader say reason isn’t valid. GBH based his remarks about Heavenly Mother on reason and logic …)
Elisa, I should have added my standard little “IMO” to my comment. I’m basing my claim on many, many years of anecdotal experience. I have been to many meetings wherein general (and local) authorities have been sustained–and I have never seen a dissenting vote from a sister. Plus, my guess is that most faithful adult sisters carry temple recommends–which implies some level of acceptance–on their part–of the reality of living prophets.
@jack, I really have no idea because you’ve baked in “faithful.” So I don’t really know what you mean or what your point is (I don’t mean that to be dismissive, I mean really I don’t know exactly what you’re getting at).
All I know is I’m sure there are many women who loved Renlund’s talk. I’ve seen them commenting on his page.
And there are many who did not and who think it’s neither reasoned nor revelatory.
And both groups worship together.
I was responding directly to John when he said (in so many words) that the women of the LDS church have the apostles backed into a corner and that they need to up the pressure. And so when I said that most faithful sisters sustain the apostles it was an attempt to show that John’s scenario is faulty.
@jack, I actually think the fact that Renlund felt the need to give that talk (and that it’s been brought up in trainings with other apostles) actually proves the existence of the “problem.”
If women weren’t going off-script, there would be no need for an apostle to correct us. So yes, I think John is right.
Obviously not “all” women. But enough to have leadership concerned.
I also think many people do not interpret “sustain” as “always agree with.” I know boatloads of temple-recommend holding Mormons who disagree on issues like gay marriage and priesthood ordination for women.
I also know a lot of women who participate and don’t bother with a recommend.
It’s a diverse group.
You’re right that the member ship isn’t monolithic in terms of beliefs. But the majority of faithful Latter-day Saints believe that President Nelson is a prophet or at least inspired–I think that’s non controversial. Sure there are many members who disagree with certain of the apostles’ declarations–but generally speaking they sustain them. If it were not so the church would’ve failed a long time ago–IMO.
Just to clarify a little more–John says in his opinion: “The reason the general authorities will not get revelation on Heavenly Mother is that they are not getting revelation on anything at all.”
There’s no question in my mind that most faithful sisters would reject that claim out of hand. That’s not to say that revelation will never be forthcoming on that specific question–I believe it will. But to say that the reason we haven’t received any yet is because the apostles don’t receive any at all on any subject won’t fly with most women in the church–IMO.
I think it’s all made up. So I also think people should find what works for them. I like the idea of eternal progression much more than eternal drudgery. And if the monster many people worship really is in charge, then he needs to be deposed and effectually neutured.(in more ways than one.) So round up the titans and storm Mount Olympus
The world is wondrous and diverse.(slime molds are fun) Why is a limiting 1950″s father knows best model held up as the one true model for time and all eternity? A failure in imagination, and so a failure in revelation.
Genealogy interests me. If I had a Y chromosome, I would belong to an I haplogroup. This is found in the Gravettian culture, A culture most noted for their Venus figurines. My mtDNA haplogroup is H5. This is found in Neolithic farming communities and at Tell Halula which has paintings of women. This is far more meaningful to me than a story involving someone who also beats his talking donkey.
Thanks for the timely report of last night’s special session to try to inspire the renegade women to volunteer their autonomy to priesthood leadership. My goodness but they seem to be on thin ice, don’t they? I don’t have the gleeful reaction to that as John does, and I rather bristled at his admonition to “keep up the pressure.” That’s pretty far off center from what’s important to the women concerned, and I’m not gonna take charge of correcting the dudeship about nuance. Again and again.
I’m not as heartbroken as some, because little has changed for me over the pushback on Heavenly Mother beliefs/worship; this isn’t my first experience with an attempt at shutdown, but my heart sure does break watching my younger peers, some of whom have invested a much effort in seeking Her, being told they are wrong and invalid. That’s painful and that pain does real damage. I hate seeing that happen again.
I’ve benefited from your attitude of claiming your power over your own beliefs, and not ceding that without thoughtful care. It’s spared me further damage, and I appreciate that. I didn’t have homemade donuts because they’re a terrible mess, but I treated myself to a short root beer float in honor of tradition. Yay tradition!
@mdearest, I found I wasn’t upset last night either. I guess partly because Renlund didn’t say anything he hadn’t said before, and because none of it was actually new period. I do wonder how I would have felt if I’d gone into the talk with no warning.
Before last night, I knew I belonged to a Church that doesn’t see women as full partners or authorities or embodied in God and after last night I still do. Nothing changed.
Thank you for this comprehensive history of the doctrine of Heavenly Mother. I feel like I need Her more than ever seeing as the Q15 aren’t going to do anything to remedy their serious problem with treating girls and women in the church as less than 2nd class citizens. This was very apparent during conference when only five women spoke-and three of those talks were given in the girls and women’s meeting on Saturday evening. There was only one woman speaker per day who spoke at the “regular” sessions of conference. Over half of the members of the church are women and girls and yet they are severely underrepresented when it comes to conference speakers. What kind of message does that not only send to the men and boys of the church but to the entire world?
I don’t know if the wives, daughters and granddaughters, etc. of the Q15 are perfectly content to be considered and treated as “less than” by the leaders and male church members. Perhaps they hate it as much as many of the rest of us girls and women do but aren’t allowed to express those feelings. What I do know is that these men have forgotten that Jesus elevated the status of women during His earthly ministry because He actively involved them in His work and chose to appear to them first after His resurrection. Women were integral to the running of the early church after Christ’s ascension because Paul tells us plainly in his letters and also because their important work is mentioned in the Book of Acts. For a church that has Christ’s name in its title it is shameful that the leaders choose to worship the patriarchy of the Old Testament and forget the elevated status that Christ’s interactions and teachings gave girls and women in the New Testament. I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised by this behavior because the church has definitely shown by its actions and the latest version of the doctrine a la RMN that it is firmly rooted in the OT view of an angry God who delights in punishing His children for the least important reasons (for example: people wearing clothes made of two different fibers) and expects the members to obey a lot of nit picky rules rather than to encourage them to love God because He loved us first and to show that love in the relationships that we have with others, the way we behave and in the proper motive to follow His commands which is love.
The subjugation of females in the church is definitely NOT about love. I don’t believe for one moment that Heavenly Father subjugates Heavenly Mother. Why then is it perfectly fine for their earthly male children to do so? By trying to put HM out of our reach they are demonstrating that they somehow know better than God. That to me smacks of both unrighteous pride and idolatry.
@poor wayfaring stranger, there is so much in Jesus’s ministry that seems an obvious counter to what the Brethren are doing here.
I am reminded particularly of the fact that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection but when they shared their witness with men the men thought the women’s words were “idle tales, and they believed them not.”
Sounds like the women’s witness was a little too “speculative” …
Seriously, history repeats. Again and again.
I was surprised by Renlund’s comment about ‘demanding revelation’, because I haven’t heard women asking, let alone “demanding”. I think we’ve learned, by sad experience, that we can’t depend on men to consider what we think important (see also: only 5 women speaking at conference), so we’ve largely just stopped asking and decided to do our own thing where Heavenly Mother is concerned.
@moss – ask, seek, knock. We are told to do that in the scriptures.
Renlund’s characterization of “arrogant demands” is just an angry woman trope and I’ve got no patience for that.
Two thoughts not intended to stir up anyone’s ire. I have simply wondered why HM wasn’t part of the First Vision Joseph recorded? I would think she could have been there as well. And Wendy Nelson seems to be the most modern day educated equally yoked spouse of a prophet because we hear from her more than those before her. Pres. Nelson doesn’t just have her it beside him and never speak. Yes ,she looks adoringly at him but he looks at her the same way. I also love that Elder Renlund’s wife is a professional woman. I think these are positives that I’m glad to see.
the reason we are not allowed to pray to heavenly mother should be obvious to everyone: she’s the one who’d say “yes”
Perhaps if Joseph Smith had lived a few years longer, the changing First Vision would have expanded to include her. If I was an artist, I’d include her.
And right now I’m looking adoringly at my dog and she looks at me the same way. The cat not so much.
@mez, Heavenly Father wasn’t even in some of the accounts we have of the first vision. The first account Joseph wrote (ie, the soonest after it happened – link below) only features Jesus. So I wouldn’t take the first vision account as the comprehensive view of the nature of God.
I really like Ruth Renlund as well. She’s given some great talks. I think it’s unfortunate her husband was tasked with this topic – and I strongly suspect that he was tasked with it. Would love to know what she thinks of it!
I’m glad you like Wendy Nelson. I haven’t heard her speak much. When she does speak, she tends to talk a lot more about Pres Nelson than Jesus and I find that troubling. I understand that she loves and wants to support him but I have a pretty negative reaction to leader-worship so I have a hard time with her.
My concern with the recent leadership comments regarding Heavenly Mother is the disconnect with the proclamation on the family. Per the proclamation – it is by “divine design” that women have the primary role of nurturing their children (as “equal partners) – wouldn’t that apply to our Heavenly Mother? How do we explain to Young Women in the church that in this life, your priority is to nurture children (critical tasks such as teaching, communicating, loving them) – yet somehow in eternity it is no longer a “divine design” – and you are no longer responsible for nurturing???????
Interesting – one translation of the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic: The Lord’s prayer begins with “Our Father,” a translation of the word, “abba.” But the actual Aramaic transliteration is “Abwoon” which is a blending of “abba (father)” and “woon” (womb), Jesus’s recognition of the masculine and feminine source of creation.
At conference, I would love to have heard a report from Sharon Eubanks on the Church’s actions to assist the Ukrainian refugees. And a report on her recent visit to a Syrian refugee camp. And some suggestions of how members can more affectively get involved. Or some encouragement to get involved, if only monetarily. Members should be encouraged to do more than pray for peace. Mother in Heaven would approve.
@Roger Hansen, I agree. That would have been a real highlight for me.
I was happy that Pres Nelson opened the conference with a reference to the war and that several speakers mentioned it, but it seems to be a bit of an afterthought overall. We’ve now gone through two very major global events in the last couple of years, and I’d rate this conference better at addressing global events than the first pandemic conference in April 2020, but still pretty poor.
In the women’s session, they made a big deal about tailoring the session to “women’s concerns”, but the only specific concern I heard referenced (apart from praying to Heavenly Mother) was “modesty”. I don’t know who they are polling, but the only way in which modesty is a women’s concern from my perspective is actually the way the Church talks about modesty. Otherwise … big miss.
There are a lot of reasons to pray besides asking for God’s intervention. Prayer is meditative, prayer gives us a break from life, a chance to review our lives and decide what’s important. A chance to sort through our problems. Think about our blessings. I think members need to pray to the Personage they feel most comfortable with. Certainly Mother in Heaven is an important option.
Much of the proclamation on the family seems very much extrapolation on what extremely limited pure “revelation” they claim to have about the families and eternities. So Church leadership has no problem basing a lot of their teachings on such extrapolation (“reason”) but for whatever reason when it comes to more detail about Heavenly Mother – including detail that would be completely reasonable and expected based on other things they’ve said – they refuse to budge. The reason vs revelation is a lame excuse IMO. If we applied it uniformly I think we could strike out a good portion of what was said at general conference.
As for your scriptural reference – thanks for sharing that. When Renlund says “all we know about Heavenly Mother is what’s in the essay” I think “then you haven’t done a lot of reading, because there is a lot of info on the feminine divine in the scriptures.” Lazy learners much?
Okay, I realize that I’ve been living in various countries for a few years and perhaps missed this change, but the thing that smacked me at women’s conference was the encouragement for women to get their endowment and not wait for marriage. I don’t remember ever hearing that over the pulpit before.
When I was younger, that would not have been acceptable, and now it is policy. And very empowering for women.
@naismith, I’m not sure I’ve heard that in conference before either. I do see it happening quite commonly now in the US – obviously partly because many, many more women are servings missions and at a younger age, but I’ve seen it with women who didn’t serve a mission and chose to go through the temple anyway.
That’s interesting. I’ve heard Wendy Nelson speak a lot about Christ. But that’s what I’m looking to hear about when either of them speak. The extraneous things not as much.
Thank you for the link to that beautifully recorded vision. He was detailing the part where Christ spoke to him.
@mez, that’s actually my favorite of the four first vision accounts we have.
As for Wendy Nelson – I don’t doubt she often talks about Christ. It so happens that I’ve mostly heard her talking points re “if the prophet says something, put an explanation point and if anyone else says it, a question mark” and otherwise talking a *lot* about her husband.
Then again, it’s definitely interesting to have her insight on how Pres Nelson operates. She certainly has a unique perspective so I can’t blame her for sharing it and I know many are interested in it.
From my cursory perspective, Ruth Renlund is rather interesting:
She graduated law school the year before President Ezra Taft Benson gave his To the Mothers in Zion talk. She practiced law anyway. I am intrigued by Mormon women I know who were raising families in that time period who felt empowered to work after that. For many, like Ruth, financial need did not seem to factor in.
The Doubt Not, But Be Believing talk she and Dale gave a few years back, on the other hand, seems to lack much logical foundation. I am surprised/disappointed that she would lend her name to it.
Again, only cursory. I have never met her.
“The post has been said that the Prophet Joseph Smith made no correction to what Sister Snow had written. When I stand in the most sacred spaces of the temple, I feel my Heavenly Mother all around me, surrounding and embracing me with a celestial . Visit: https://catalyticministries.com/
Old post, I know, but Heavenly Mother is not mentioned in any scripture anywhere (aside from the very brief mentions above, all of which have come via the Restoration). So is it that she’s been written out of everything by lying men both ancient and modern, and this egregious mistake has been continually overlooked by the patriarchy even to the point of them disregarding the truth Heavenly Father is desperately trying to reveal to us today… or is it just that it’s actually set up the way Heavenly Father wants for whatever reasons he has?