Do we have a Mother in Heaven as well as a Father?
THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:
The answer is yes, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (long and universally nicknamed “Mormon” though church authorities now seek to erase that label). Feminists continually criticize this religion for limiting all of its governing posts to men except for women’s and educational auxiliaries, yet church defenders can argue that this doctrine ennobles the female gender.
Belief in the Heavenly Mother is a wholly unique aspect of the LDS faith. So is the related assertion in LDS Scripture that God the Father literally “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man,” thus rejecting the spiritual-only God the Father in traditional Christianity (and similarly in Judaism and Islam). Though official LDS statements do not explore this, it seems logical that the Heavenly Mother would also be embodied.
The church believes each person lives in an unremembered heavenly existence before earthly birth, and was the procreated spirit child of the two heavenly parents. The divine Father and Mother couple fits with the LDS teaching that humans must be married in order to achieve full exaltation in the afterlife.
The Mother is not cited in the Bible nor in the added LDS Scriptures from founding Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. However, the church reports that this was part of Smith’s original teaching. One year after Smith was assassinated in 1844 his polygamous wife Eliza R. Snow affirmed the Mother tenet in a beloved hymn lyric.
“. . . 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?”
The doctrine achieved more official status in the 1909 decree “The Origin of Man” from the LDS Prophet and President Joseph F. Smith with his two counselors in the First Presidency. It states, “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity,” just as with Jesus “our elder brother.” “Divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God himself is an exalted man.” Due to this “celestial parentage,” each person is capable across future eons “of evolving into a God.”
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1994 by Prophet / President Gordon B. Hinckley, his two counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, includes the teaching that “all human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.”
Among other ranking authorities, the current Apostle Dallin Oaks says “our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.” Apostle (later President) Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that if we are the Father’s offspring “then how did we become such if we had no mother to give us spirit birth?” Apostle (later President) Harold B. Lee taught that “we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us.”
Similarly, “Mormon Doctrine” by the Apostle Bruce McConkie stated that God “could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father, and a woman a mother, whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state.” He continued, “Mortal persons who overcome all things and gain an ultimate exaltation will live eternally in the family unit and have spirit children, thus becoming Eternal Fathers and Eternal Mothers.”
The semi-official Encyclopedia of Mormonism agrees with McConkie that the Heavenly Mother is like the Father “in glory, perfection, compassion, wisdom, and holiness.” Despite her perfection, Latter-day Saints do not worship the Mother, and President Hinckley cautioned that it is “inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven,” though he insisted that this “in no way belittles or denigrates” her.
The LDS church posts an official statement on its belief at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng This text admits “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.”
One female LDS blogger, Rachel Whipple, views the divine Mother as “the dark side of the moon, the substantial half of God as yet hidden from the searchlight of institutional revelation and the strictures of correlated curriculum.”