Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught that “all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.”
One of the beautiful principles of our doctrine is that there is, in fact, a Mother in heaven. As it states in the gospel topics essay entitled Mother in Heaven: “While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven.”
The belief in a Heavenly Mother is a unique truth accepted by Latter-day Saints. While other splinter groups also hold to this belief, other Christian denominations don’t teach about a Mother in Heaven.
The Young Women’s theme states in it’s opening sentence: “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.”
Interest in the topic of Heavenly Mother appears to have increased in recent years, especially among women in the Church. Songs are being written about Her, art is being created, and more books than ever on the topic of Mother in Heaven are being published.
Since very little is known about Heavenly Mother, this interest is, for the most part, a wonderful thing! The way to gain knowledge scientifically and spiritually is to begin with a question in mind and to seek with real intent.
I love that people as a collective are more interested in learning and connecting with Heavenly Mother and trying to reach to the heavens for answers.
I had a wonderful connection with my earthly mother, and not the greatest connection with my earthly father. Being able to connect with Heavenly Father has at times been a struggle for me because of that, and I think the idea of connecting with my Heavenly Mother might actually come more natural to me.
Crossing the Line
Seeking to understand the doctrine of Heavenly Mother, or any doctrine of the gospel for that matter, is good and virtuous. I don’t want anyone reading this article to miss this point. I have now bolded the previous two sentences because I have been getting many comments from people who suggest that I am saying we should not seek to learn about Heavenly Mother. If you read this article and that is your takeaway, you are choosing not to see the point of the article.
At the same time, virtues can sometimes become vices when they are carried to an extreme and they cause us to reject Christ’s words and prophetic counsel. In what ways are members of the Church being extreme in their pursuit of knowledge when it comes to the principle of Heavenly Mother? I list a few below.
Pray to the Father in My Name
One of the most common ways to blaspheme the name of our Heavenly Mother is to pray to Her. Why? Because that is not how Christ said we should pray. He did teach:
“Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name,” He declares (3 Ne. 18:19). “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Ne. 18:21).
As it says in the Gospel Topics essay: We “do not pray to Heavenly Mother. Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”
If you reject this counsel from Christ and the prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are not in alignment with God the Father or God the Mother. Even so, this seems to be an area of open rebellion among certain saints. There are various social media accounts dedicated to seeking Heavenly Mother and many of the comments show that people pray to Heavenly Mother, in direct opposition to what the Savior taught.
Unity of Our Heavenly Parents
Those who direct prayers towards Heavenly Mother are missing one key element of understanding, and it is this: Our Heavenly Parents work together and are completely unified in their understanding and purpose. Should we assume that Heavenly Mother wants us praying to Her when it is direction opposition to what Christ and, in turn, the Father has asked us to do?
Another egregious and blasphemous practice that some people partake in is implying that Heavenly Mother comes to the rescue when the Church messes something up. They blame everything bad that happens on Heavenly Father and then petition Heavenly Mother to wipe away their tears and weep with them. I was going to post a few examples of such rhetoric – which is abundant on social media, but I didn’t want to call out any specific individuals. It’s disgusting behavior and needs to stop.
Elder Holland explained in a 2004 General Conference address:
Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image!
Knowing Mother More Than Doctrine
This pursuit of Heavenly Mother that can turn into an obsession for some usually occurs because there is such a singular focus on this one doctrine. We must learn the gospel as a whole and seek to understand faith, repentance, justice, mercy, God, prophets, priesthood, the work of salvation, and every good thing. At times, this singular focus on Heavenly Mother also accompanies people who reject Joseph Smith, the living prophets, and the word of God found in the Book of Mormon.
There is a small group of influencers who claim that Heavenly Mother is “calling them to speak up” about Her and Her role and to somehow reveal Her to the rest of us. A few of these same individuals, based on their other public social media posts, admit to rejecting the importance of the holy garment, the Church’s teachings on marriage, the wisdom of different gender roles, and many others. If God were to reveal the truth of Heavenly Mother, why would this small group of influencers be the conduits if they don’t accept the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ? In my search for Heavenly Mother, the Holy Ghost would be the one to reveal truth to me, not a cafeteria Mormon influencer.
Revelation comes to us in proportion to the degree to which we have sought to take the doctrine of Christ into our hearts and implement it in our lives.
— Henry B. Eyring (@EyringHB) February 22, 2022
It is interesting, that the very man (Joseph Smith) who restored the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother, is the one who is rejected by some of these individuals who accept, adore, and desire to worship this Heavenly Mother that he revealed.
Wondering About Heavenly Mother
Returning to my point at the beginning, I believe that wanting to seek for knowledge about any principle of the gospel is a great thing. When that desire to learn shifts to us attempting to make God in our desired image, that is when it becomes idolatry.
Consider the following questions some posted on an online forum about the things women wonder about Heavenly Mother.
- I wonder how I can hear Her just as I hear Father. I would love Her guidance through motherhood.
- Does She wonder when we will turn to Her?
- I wonder if the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is She. (Author’s note: Heavenly Mother is not the Holy Spirit)
- I wonder how much longer we have to wait for parental equality. Are we old enough to have a say in how much time we have with each parent? I guess I’m tired of feeling like a child where my Dad has sole custody.
- Do you ever pray to speak to Heavenly Mother? I know Heavenly Father knows all things, and understands everything perfectly. But sometimes a girl just needs to talk to her mother.
- I wonder how She feels about our polygamy practice.
- I wonder if she knows how hard it is to believe and act as though I have something valuable to contribute in a meeting full of men… when she allows herself to be silenced? I wonder if I’m being faithless by feeling frustrated with her allowance.
- I wonder how often we have missed out on hearing Her voice, feeling Her touch, receiving and feeling Her love because we were not looking for it.
- I wonder how I am supposed to become like Her, especially when we don’t know much about Her story.
- I’m wondering why our Father would let men cut us off from Her? And why She would allow it as well.
- Would she like us to pray to Her? It seems like of course, She would. (To this question one woman said, “I do, a lot.” Another answered similarly)
- I wonder how she feels about not being acknowledged as much as she should be.
That is just a sampling of some of the questions that were listed. Some questions reveal a lack of knowledge of what the scriptures already say and what modern prophets have taught. I believe all questions, asked with a heart of humility, can bring divine answers. I also believe that questions asked without that humility lead to separation from truth. Let us seek Heavenly Mother in humility, and let us be aligned with the scriptures and the living prophets during that search.
Seeking Heavenly Mother
I want to continue to emphasize the beauty in seeking for Heavenly Mother. In the same breath, I want to remind us all that God teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept. If you reject the first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ in an attempt to find your Heavenly Mother, you never will get close to Her true nature – only to the molding Her into what YOU want Her to be.
As Alma explained in the Book of Mormon, God reveals more truth to those who accept His words. In Alma chapter 12:9-11 it says:
“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
If we don’t give heed and diligence to the truths we already have, we can’t expect to have more truth revealed to us.
I testify of the prophet Joseph Smith. He is the prophet of the restoration. I testify that God is our Father and He answers our prayers. Our prayers should be directed to Him, in the name of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are completely unified and one in purpose.
May we accept the knowledge that we have been given through God’s ordained prophets and also seek to hear the voice of the Lord. Let us be humble in the pursuit of our knowledge and always respect Heavenly Mother and Her divine attributes of charity, unity, and faith that She most assuredly possesses.
I’m going to post this again: Seeking to understand the doctrine of Heavenly Mother, or any doctrine of the gospel for that matter, is good and virtuous. I don’t want anyone reading this article to miss this point. I have now bolded the previous two sentences because I have been getting many comments from people who suggest that I am saying we should not seek to learn about Heavenly Mother. If you read this article and that is your takeaway, you are choosing not to see the point of the article.
What is a problem is praying to Heavenly Mother, accepting Her while rejected living prophets, and suggested that she and Heavenly Father are not united, etc…
What Living Prophets Have Said
Elder Renlund addressed the topic of Heavenly Mother during the Women’s Session of April 2022’s General Conference. Here is a portion of his talk:
The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother comes by revelation and is a distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints. President Dallin H. Oaks explained the importance of this truth: “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”8
Very little has been revealed about Mother in Heaven, but what we do know is summarized in a gospel topic found in our Gospel Library application.9 Once you have read what is there, you will know everything that I know about the subject. I wish I knew more. You too may still have questions and want to find more answers. Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation.
Speculation will not lead to greater spiritual knowledge, but it can lead us to deception or divert our focus from what has been revealed.10 For example, the Savior taught His disciples, “Always pray unto the Father in my name.”11 We follow this pattern and direct our worship to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ and do not pray to Heavenly Mother.12
Ever since God appointed prophets, they have been authorized to speak on His behalf. But they do not pronounce doctrines fabricated “of [their] own mind”13 or teach what has not been revealed. Consider the words of the Old Testament prophet Balaam, who was offered a bribe to curse the Israelites to benefit Moab. Balaam said, “If [the king of Moab] would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.”14 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 the means that He has established.15
Gospel Topics Essay: Mother in Heaven
Below is the full text of the Gospel Topics Essay on our Mother in Heaven:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. This understanding is rooted in scriptural and prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the godly potential of men and women.1 The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.2
While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven.3 The earliest published references to the doctrine appeared shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, in documents written by his close associates.4 The most notable expression of the idea is found in a poem by Eliza R. Snow, entitled “My Father in Heaven” and now known as the hymn “O My Father.” This text declares: “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.”5
Subsequent Church leaders have affirmed the existence of a Mother in Heaven. In 1909, the First Presidency taught that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.”6 Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that “the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.”7 And in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”8
Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family. “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us,” taught Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.9 President Harold B. Lee stated, “We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can.”10
Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.”11 Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”12 Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”13
As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints believe that this pattern is reflected in Paul’s statement that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”14 Men and women cannot be exalted without each other. Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”15