A FEW WEEKS BACK, I offered the closing prayer in my ward’s sacrament meeting and expressed gratitude for Heavenly Mother. It felt like a risk. I’ve never, in my 43 years in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, been present when She was mentioned in a public prayer. Afterwards, two women grabbed me and shared their gratitude for my prayer, giving me the sense it was because of Her mention. I could be wrong. What I’m not wrong about is the hunger so many LDS women have for a connection to the Divine Feminine. I recently learned, through the multiple witness of other LDS women, that Heavenly Mother is, once again, on the outs with the General Authorities. If I offered the same prayer this Sunday, it might earn me a sit-down with my local priesthood keyholder.
Reportedly, the Brethren aren’t happy about the longing many LDS women feel for Heavenly Mother, or with the social media communities that discuss Her with ease. Right now, faithful LDS women are returning from stake training meetings to report in closed social media forums that the highest LDS leaders want members (especially women) to stop discussing Heavenly Mother. One woman reported the proper names “Heavenly Mother” and “Heavenly Parents” are to be exchanged for the lower case “heavenly mother” and “heavenly parents” whenever divine parentage must be broached. Even Heavenly Father loses his proper name by association with Heavenly Mother. Of course, this all ties back to eternal polygamy, where there is one important, central, exalted male figure, and possibly several interchangeable, nondescript exalted women tagging along.
Can you imagine a change in style from Heavenly Father to heavenly father in church material? That’d never happen, of course. Our heavenly father would never be whittled down in esteem by the patriarchs who lead the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, never be converted from a divine being with a proper name into a lower case concept like they’re doing with our Sacred Mother.
As Heavenly Mother is placed wayside, so, too, comes a reiteration that prayers shouldn’t be offered to either Heavenly Parents or Heavenly Mother, not that the latter is anything new. The gospel topics essay, “Mother in Heaven,” pulls no punches on that. (Aside: you better get your screen shots of that essay before they edit away proof that the lds church once discussed Her openly and with capital letters.) What is new, however, is the argument avoiding Her. Instead of suggesting Heavenly Mother is too sacred to speak of, they now allege She’s distracting us from the teachings of Jesus and the prophets, thereby causing “dangerous doctrinal drift.”
This is perhaps one of the most overly ripe claims ever made by lds church leaders. Lest we forget, Mormonism is supposed to have an open cannon. Drift is revelation–unless women are receiving it. LDS women are searching the scriptures for the Sacred Feminine and finding Her, we’re knocking on the door and She is opening, we’re asking and then receiving in ways that empower us with the understanding that our divine worth is greater than we dared hope. Yes, there’s danger here–danger for those who prefer sitting comfortably in still water rather than in the rushing river of growth: there’s danger to the patriarchal structure.
Let’s walk through some theological facts in play. A common theme from the brethren is that we will learn the traits of heavenly father by studying Jesus’ life and ministry. Surely it occurs to them that most of the Savior’s traits–mercy, kindness, forgiveness, the ability to nurture, teach, and heal–are gender traits they assign to women. Therefore, studying the Savior should lead all of us to understanding Heavenly Mother. But they say not. They say, instead, that any focus on Heavenly Mother turns members away from Jesus. Someone has to say it: patriarchy can make even the smartest people look silly.
Reportedly, the brethren also argue that members shouldn’t talk about Heavenly Mother because, well, Jesus didn’t. The ironies never stop. Latter-day Saints (and mainstream Christianity) teach many things Jesus didn’t mention, things like, oh say, eternal polygamy and the procreation of spirits by heavenly father and Heavenly Mother. And on and on.
LDS women have been asking our patriarchs to demonstrate that our canon is open by getting us more light and knowledge about Heavenly Mother and reporting it to us. Instead, they backpedal. Apparently, on this, the heavens are closed. To them.
But not to us, not to women. The brethren reserve the right to construct and deconstruct LDS doctrine, attributing that right to divinely granted authority, but in so doing, they deny their own teaching that each member is responsible for our own spiritual development, that each is called to develop our own relationship with the divine, to utilize the gift of the Holy Ghost to enlighten our minds. I’m not hearing any LDS woman telling any of our church leaders what the membership should or shouldn’t believe regarding Heavenly Mother. Instead, I hear women discussing their personal discoveries of the Feminine Divine. If the men won’t take care of our spiritual needs, we’ll do it ourselves. They can’t stop that.
The Spirit of Truth teaches us. Heavenly Mother is a cloth for a new garment and wine for a new bottle. We’ve waited for the brethren to act. We’ve asked them to seek and find Her and then teach us. In this, they’ve failed. Maybe the Mother won’t reveal herself to them. I could hazard a guess as to why, but it’d only be a guess. Still, just as I believe Eliza Snow when she shared that Joseph, her husband through polygamy, had taught her she has a Mother in Heaven, and just as I ask to be believed, they should believe–they should marvel–that LDS women have the faith to find self-enlightenment. Instead they seek to separate us from Her.
It’s fine for them to be happy with their old cloth and old wine. I won’t begrudge them that, but they shouldn’t begrudge LDS women our new, divine connections with Heavenly Mother, a divine being they won’t honor with a proper name, even while staking claim to Her love. We aren’t using unrighteous dominion against them or claiming authority over anyone. That’s their tactic.
During his October 2015 General Conference talk, Russell M. Nelson, then the president of the Q12, spoke directly to LDS women, asking, “Sisters, do you realize the breadth and scope of your influence when you speak those things that come to your heart and mind as directed by the Spirit?”
As it turns out, we do. We’ve given talks about Heavenly Mother in Sacrament meetings, spoken of Her as we’ve taught or participated in church classes–all this through the gift of the Holy Ghost, often using the priesthood power we’ve been assured by the brethren we possess. And in our places of sisterhood (places without direct connection to the LDS church), we’ve borne testimony to one another of Her influence in our daily lives. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
But not in our formal church meetings, not anymore. Heavenly Mother can’t be spoken there. This week, one sister was asked to deliver a talk on any topic in her upcoming Sacrament meeting. When she chose Heavenly Mother, her bishop forbade it. In light of what other women report, it seems it’s no coincidence. This clamp down is coming to each of us. I wish they understood that it’s as debilitating as it is exhausting to worship under these conditions.
They may succeed in silencing us in meetings, but the Holy Spirit cannot be silenced by men, no matter their position, nor will faith be turned away from heaven. Some LDS women will fall quiet; other’s won’t. Those who won’t remove Heavenly Mother from their religious discourse will be shamed in our community. That’s how this has always worked, and how it will continue to work until it no longer does. Sisters, fresh courage take.
“Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.”
Eliza R. Snow, LDS Hymn 292 .
AFTERWORD: Check back soon for another post on this topic. This was just the wind-up. Thanks for reading.
Be sure to like and follow Life Outside the Book of Mormon Belt on Facebook by clicking here and the author on Twitter here.
Finding Mother God, by Carol Lynn Pearson
Mother’s Milk: Poem’s in Search of Heavenly Mother, by Rachel Hunt Steenblik. Also see this author’s fantastic twitter thread on this topic by clicking here.
I Gave Her a Name, by Rachel Hunt Steenblik and Ashley Mae Hoiland
A Girl’s Guide to Heavenly Mother and A Boy’s Guide to Heavenly Mother, by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding
I Know My Heavenly Mother Loves Me Notebook, offered by LDSpreneurs
12 thoughts on “Heavenly Mother Reportedly on the Outs with Priesthood Authorities”
Beautiful. I love your blog and your comments and thoughts. Just a threadjack: “. . . the teachings of Jesus and the prophets. . . ” I notice the mortal leadership has to add itself along side the Savior in importance. I also notice that they don’t always teach the same things.
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Thank you. And yes, if we pay close attention, particularly at General Conference, it seems they are talking to one another. Vying is too strong a word, but sometimes I sense their admonitions and advice is directed more at the men behind them than at those of us watching.
I hope you’re following the blog because, sometime next week, I’ll be publishing a look at “doctrinal drift” as it relates to the founder’s teachings and those who came after him. Wish me luck! lol. And thanks for the comment.
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I heard and recorded this over 40 years ago in an informal discussion with some LDS friends. I wish I could attribute it better, but it still needs to be heard.
A Parable Instantly Understood by Almost Every Woman
“Once there was a woman pregnant with her first child. She felt very strongly that she
wanted to have her baby at home. She found a doctor who was willing to come to her home
for the delivery. Her husband, who would also be present, had never been at a birth either.
The woman also had two friends who asked if they could come. One had adopted several
children but had never been part of a birth experience. The other friend was older and
never married, and had never witnessed a birth either.
The day came when the woman went into labor. Her husband called the doctor, and the two
friends—all of whom arrived at about the same time. The doctor checked the woman and
confirmed that she was indeed in labor and then told her that because this was her first
baby, it would be many hours until it would be time to deliver. He assured her that he would
return later in the day to check on her.
The doctor, husband the woman and friends spent some time chatting, and then just as the
doctor was heading out the door, the woman called out, “WAIT! WAIT! Something is
happening.” The doctor turned back and without physically checking, verbally assured her
that she still had hours to go and that he would return when it was time—and he left.
BUT—the baby was coming and would not wait. So three women and a man, none of
whom had ever been present at a birth, delivered the baby; and the doctor arrived back in
time to help clean up the mess.
The doctor was not there, not because they didn’t want him there. They very much wanted
him to be there. He was not there because he was so sure of himself and that he and he
alone was the expert and in control. He couldn’t hear loud and clear messages coming from
a person who experientially knew something was happening but was not a person the
doctor, as the expert, would consider as a significant source of information.
Moral of this story—Some things of great importance cannot wait until those who assume
they are in charge say so.
Ramifications—If the Church bureaucracy persists, without consulting us, in telling us who
we are and what it means to be a woman—if they don’t want to or don’t feel it is necessary
to create genuine dialogue, they will know less and less about what real women are
thinking and feeling. They will also largely have removed themselves from a sphere of
influence. Meanwhile, women will continue to think and feel and talk among themselves and
to men they trust. Authoritarian authorities, may not be directly challenged but they may be
perceived as an increasingly irrelevant and incomprehensible.
Is it possible that Adam saw nothing to talk about before Eve asked the absolutely right
question but asked the wrong person—“is there no other way?” Is this a model of what
happens when male-female dialogue is essential but unavailable? Women do not give up
the search for dialogue and answers that address the complexities that they know are
there. If the men will not enter into a genuine dialogue with their unique gifts, insights and
skills, then like the “little red hen” we must do it ourselves. But this is scary to say nothing of
genuinely dangerous. How much better if we can find the ways to make the journey
Women’s heartfelt questions can not simply be dismissed as evil or misguided. It seems
that many women in search of real answers have been abandoned by the system. Yet
Christ, in the New Testament, invites us to experiment on his words. Many of us had
experimented, often for years, on bureaucratic edicts trying to make them fit the realities of
our lives and had finally concluded, not with joy but sadness, that much that passed for the
gospel (Victorianism, for example) was not the gospel and was, in fact , antithetical to it. It
seems much better to feel pain and to grow than to feel nothing while wrapped in a
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👏👏👏👏👏 Thank you, Marjorie. This is wonderful and spot on. 👏👏👏👏👏
I can’t help but wonder, in the face of declining membership, if The Brethren are just afraid of non-member visitors showing up to Sacrament meetings with the missionaries and getting a little weirded out by the topic.
So much for “standing for something”…
Right, so we’re supposed to be a “peculiar people,” just not about this? 😑
I think we (the leadership) kind of gave up on that Peculiar People thing a long time ago. We’re (they’re) much happier with “we’re just like you, only better.”
My understanding is that She was threatening to go public with Her role in a scam that asked women in the Global South to send a cut of their meager incomes to Utah, leaving The Brethren no choice but to publicly deny ever knowing Her.
Seems to me the Brethren are actually afraid of continued revelation. Especially from women. Clamping down on Heavenly Mother makes zero sense. So “nothing” has been revealed concerning Her? Then do your job and get the revelation! Besides which, I understand that several women have gotten revelation about Her, including some men(present).
It is a poor excuse that we can’t pray to Her, or Them, because Jesus didn’t do it that way(allegedly). We have no idea whether or not He did. We’d need the Journal of Discourse equivalent of the 4 gospels to even come close to knowing everything that Jesus taught about during His ministry!
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