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Monday, July 22, 2013

Heavenly Mother, Are You Really There?

I can’t remember when exactly I learned that I had a Heavenly Mother, but ever since I was a little kid I remember just knowing I did. That’s not a surprise given the history of the Mormon Church and Heavenly Mother. In early church history Eliza R Snow wrote in a hymn, “Truth is Reason/Truth Eternal/Tells me I’ve a Mother There”. Now while this isn’t enough to be classified as doctrine, the story continues, as Joseph doesn’t correct Snow but rather confirm it and expounds on it, securing in LDS canon that we do have a Mother in Heaven.

Since that time Heavenly Mother has become sort of a doctrinal folklore in LDS culture. We are always taught that She is there, but we don’t talk about her much, if at all We are taught that we don’t talk about Her because in order to keep her name sacred. That idea led me to not think about my Heavenly Mother for many years and even cringe while on my mission when someone would bring Her up during a discussion with an investigator. I felt as if She was brought up that I would have to spend hours discussing Her and that it would scare potential investigators off.

Heavenly Mother and Female OrdinationSince what can be called my “feminist awakening” I’ve learned a lot about Heavenly Mother. I’ve realized that it’s okay to talk about Her in the same reverence as we do our Heavenly Father. I’ve learned that women are not created in His image, but rather in Her image. I’ve felt the power behind that knowledge.

The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, sheds a lot of light on our Heavenly Mother. Quite often we refer to this as the name of our Heavenly Father and the rest of the Godhead, but I think it is more expansive that even that. The word Elohim is a plural noun. In the strictest Hebrew meaning it represents duality and completeness. No other duality is more complete than that of Man and Woman. This, it can be argued that Elohim is not the Godhead, but rather our Heavenly Parents. They complement each other perfectly.

For me, I see Heavenly Mother as the ultimate feminist. She is the not only a perfect woman, but a perfect person with endless knowledge and power. She shares the same traits as our Heavenly Father in that she is also omnipotent and omniscient. She understands Her divine place in a way that we cannot because we just don’t know enough about her. She both embraces her femininity while ruling and creating side by side with our Heavenly Father.

We talk often about the idea that as Adam was God once was and as God is Man may become. We honestly get a lot of flack about it in the Church (I mean Church as in a general system of religiosity, not in a LDS centric sense). Doesn’t it make sense, that if women are to become Divine and become part of the Great Duality that they will somehow receive a perfect match to the priesthood?

Many people would argue that they already have the perfect match to the priesthood in the form of motherhood. However, there are holes in that theory. In a very real sense it seems to me that the perfect counter to motherhood is actually fatherhood. I know that mothers have a much more involved process in the birthing process, but it still begs the question, if priesthood and are true complements, of why motherhood can happen without an earthly ordination while priesthood requires ordination to become valid.

We talk about foreordination to the priesthood, but this still requires an earthly action to make that priesthood official. Then why not for motherhood?

Because the earthly action that causes motherhood also causes fatherhood.

Motherhood and Fatherhood are the real complements here. Not motherhood and priesthood.

Because the way that I see if is there are two ways to look at the priesthood. First you can look at it as the governing power of the church. No person, male or female, can hold lead a ward, stake, or the church as a whole without holding the priesthood first. Sure, there are Relief Society, Young Women’s, or Primary precedencies, but the leadership handbook states that they are to report to the Bishop about their activities.

The other way to look at the priesthood is a little more abstract: “the power of God unto the sanctification of man (and woman)”. The priesthood power gives men the ability to heal the sick, the lame to walk, to perform ordinances associated with our salvation and a host of other blessings related to the power of Deity.

This is where it all comes together for me. If we really believe that we have a Mother in Heaven and we believe that She rules with our Heavenly Father with omnipotence and omniscience then the Priesthood power at least in part, comes directly from Her as well.

Then, if it does come from Her as well, why can Priesthood power not be extended to the wonderful women in the Church?

I’m not sure, but I do know that “[they] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Article of Faith 9).

And that makes me excited.

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