Though a tad late for Mother’s Day, I wanted to write a bit about our Heavenly Mother, a Goddess in her own right. We do not talk much about her, yet we know she is real. How do we know this? What should we do with this knowledge? Why don’t we worship her as we do God the Father? Is she even doctrinal, or merely a logical conjecture based on hints in the scriptures?
Let’s start with how we know we have a Heavenly Mother. She is mentioned in the scriptures, in a variety of place. Lets look though to the clearest given by the prophet Jeremiah.
“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” – Jeremiah 7: 18
It really doesn’t get much plainer than this – “queen of heaven.” This term was also used by either Joseph Smith Jr. or W.W. Phelps who’s lyrics stated “Here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen” (History of the Church 5 p. 254). (There is some confusion as to where the idea came from in the poem.)
This scripture perfect as it actually answers many of the above questions. Yes, she is real. Jeremiah also talks of her later in chapter 44: 15-19. However, in both accounts he speaks of the sin of worshiping her. This echoes the words of then apostle Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me. However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, November 1991, p.100)
We clearly do not worship her as we worship YHWH/Jesus Christ, as we were commanded not to in the Law (Exodus 20: 2-5, Deuteronomy 5: 6-10, Mosiah 13: 12-14). Technically we do not even worship God the Father, as Christ is our emissary. We worship both of our heavenly parents through him. When we pray, we pray to both our Heavenly Father and Mother. We address our the Father as this is how we, in the western world, address a couple. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, for example, would be addressed as “Mr. Tom Jones” (a name made up from the top of my head). This is why we use the title “Elohim” as the name of God the Father, it is plural and thus means God the Father & Mother. Other times it is used to mean us, their spirit children, or the whole heavenly family. But, when used as the name of God, it is still plural for both parents. Thus, we pray to both parents through Christ.
We cannot worship our Heavenly Mother as she will not save us from sin. Neither will the Father. They both sent their Son, Jesus Christ, and this is how they have saved us.
There are of course other scriptures that hint to our Heavenly Mother, such as Roman 8: 16-18 or Genesis 1: 26-27. My personal favorite though is in the Book of Mormon, in Nephi’s vision explaining his Father Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. The tree is called “the tree which is precious above all” by the Holy Ghost (1 Nephi 11: 9). When Nephi asks what the meaning of the tree is in verse 11, the tree turns into Mary, the mother of Christ in verse 13, she – like the tree – being “exceedingly fair and white.” This is an interesting play on words, as while the color of the bark of the tree of life was white, the term “white” in Joseph Smith Jr.’s day was used to denote something was pure, wholesome, or good. We see this use many times throughout his traslation of the book (though racists do tend to use the term out of context).
Mary the mother of Christ was not Caucasian, thus she was not white in reference to the color of her skin. Rather, Nephi, seeing her in a vision, would have known that she was a pure and delight some young woman. She was a woman that, like the tree, could represent Heavenly Mother – be her emissary, in much the same way as Christ represents the Father. This fact may have lead to later cults that worshiped Mary, and even to the position of the Mother of Jesus in other religions, such as Catholicism.
Heavenly Mother is as real as our Heavenly Father and we worship her by worshiping Christ. We do not worship her outright and more than we worship the Father. We worship her in spirit – in the same way we worship the Father (John 4: 24). We reverence her in our treatment of women. She is not hidden, nor is she protected – as some Mormon Mythologies claim. But rather she is a living part of our worship and our lives and we should remember her as we pray through Christ and prepare to return to both of our Heavenly Parents and our Heavenly Family.