Dear 100 Hour Board,
The Church website says that the Godhead "presides over this world and all other creations of our Father in Heaven."
By this definition, should Heavenly Mother be considered part of the Godhead? IS she part of the Godhead? If not, what does this mean for women in the eternities?
-My Name Here
First off, for anyone who wants to learn more about Heavenly Mother, I highly recommend this BYU study. It includes all references made to Heavenly Mother by Church leaders. (And before any readers start hyperventilating about talking about the sacred nature of God the Mother online, the study points out that the idea that we don't talk about Heavenly Mother because She is so sacred was started by a seminary teacher. A seminary teacher. If we didn't talk about things that were sacred, we wouldn't name our church after the cause of our salvation. It's high time we started talking about Heavenly Mother again.)
Here are some quotes by General Authorities in that study that would support Her being part of the Godhead:
Elder John A. Widtsoe (Quorum of the Twelve, 1921–1952): “The glorious vision of life hereafer . . . is given radiant warmth by the thought that . . . [we have] a mother who possesses the attributes of Godhood."
Elder James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve, 1911–1933): “We . . . [are] literally the sons and daughters of divine parents, the spiritual progeny of God our Eternal Father, and of our God Mother.”
Sister Susa Young Gates: “the divine Mother, side by side with the divine Father, [has] the equal sharing of equal rights, privileges and responsibilities."
President Rudger Clawson (Quorum of the Twelve, 1989–1943): "It doesn’t take from our worship of the Eternal Father, to adore our Eternal Mother, any more than it diminishes the love we bear our earthly fathers, to include our earthly mothers in our affections.” Rather, “we honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal prototype."
Elder Glenn L. Pace (First Quorum of the Seventy, 1992–2010): “Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny."
I would conclude that Heavenly Mother is most certainly part of the Godhead, and women are entitled to receive all the blessings of exaltation that men do. If such was not true, God would be a respecter of persons and most certainly unjust, as They would grant us eternal rewards based on a fundamental attribute we had no choice in.
Furthermore, if we are looking at women's roles in eternity, it is interesting to see how that has changed over time. From the Old Testament to the early days of the LDS Church (not only in the religious world, but in the secular world as well), women were viewed as lesser than men. We see this from "thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee" to "[the man] is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man" to Brigham Young saying "Let our wives be the weaker vessels, and the men be men and show the women by their superior ability that God gives husbands wisdom and ability to lead their wives into his presence”*. The view of eternities during the polygamous time of the Church was incredibly male-centric, with a man ruling as a god, surrounded by his wives who would give him increase. Not much thought was given to the conditions of the wives, except that if they didn't obey their husband, they would be destroyed.
However, one of the greatest things of the Church is that we are constantly receiving new revelation. Not only do we not practice polygamy today, but women can now be sealed to more than one man (admittedly, that can only happen after she dies). This gives some evidence that the polygamous view of heaven is wrong. (Also, simple reason can disprove it as well. To give more than one woman to a man implies that a woman's worth is lesser than a man, which may have been the belief during and before Joseph Smith's time, but is certainly not true today. Furthermore, the Book of Mormon decries polygamy, saying it is not the Lord's way of marriage. Also, this.) In addition, we are taught today that men and women are to be "equal partners." And again, if God is truly loving and just and good (just look at every scripture ever), He would not cause half His children to sacrifice and have their worth belittled throughout eternity.
The way I've increasingly come to see God is that They exists on a dimension beyond our own. There's a book called Flatland that describes a two-dimensional world (a world that is entirely flat), in which the main character is visited by a three-dimensional being. As the main character is a 2D being, he can only view the 3D being on the 2D level, and the 3D being is forced to use 2D words to describe what a 3D world is like, which, as you can imagine, is very limiting and confusing.
I think God is the same way. God exists on a 4D, or 5D, or infinity-dimensional level and is forced to use 3D phrases and ideas to give us some understanding into the nature of God.
One of those ideas that we may not fully understand yet is gender. We have been taught that men are strong, commanding, firm, masculine, while women are feminine, dainty, nurturing, loving. But if that was true, why is Christ known for being loving, kind, and meek, even that he likens Himself unto a "mother hen"? Why are Heavenly Father and the Spirit known for being comforting, forgiving, and nurturing?
I don't know the answer to this. I don't know how much Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have differing roles, or how much They are one God that is portrayed to us only as a masculine God because they work with our human system, which is currently the patriarchy. Or even how much God is the Creator who takes on masculine and feminine roles so that our 3D perspective can understand and relate to Him/Her/It. I know we will continue to receive revelation about this, and we can also receive individual revelation. Ask God, and while the answers may not come right away, they will come.
Finally, do what you can to make people aware of a feminine divinity. I asked in my last ward if I could do a fireside on Heavenly Mother. The stake president decided it would be best for the bishop to run the fireside, but we had a wonderful meeting with nearly half of my ward to discuss Heavenly Mother. There are things that we can all do today to make Heavenly Mother a topic of discussion, because if we truly want to have a conversation about the role of women in the eternities, we need to start there.
If you have further questions or want more material to read about Heavenly Mother or women's role in eternity, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would absolutely love to talk about this further with you.
-guppy of doom
*JD. Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. plus index. Liverpool and London: LDS Booksellers, 1855-86. 9:307.
In one of my classes, the professor explained the LDS understanding of God as being relational, which is to say Heavenly Father cannot be considered God without Heavenly Mother. That seems to fall in line with a quote from this talk: "In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter." Based on these teachings and others, I'm not concerned for women's fate in the eternities.
As far as her being a member of the Godhead, I'm not sure. I could see it being a co-role, or how it is here where a man will be extended a calling as a temple president, for example, but the calling gives an assignment to both him and his wife, and she has responsibilities that, while not being directly part of the temple presidency, are vital to the functioning of the temple.