(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) Meridian Magazine, a Mormon magazine, (its website is http://ldsmag.com) has published an excellent article by Warren Aston, titled “The Other Half of Heaven: Debunking Myths About Heavenly Mother.” (Read) It’s refreshing to see this piece published in Meridian, which is often a vanilla-plain LDS-themed publication. (Hat tip for learning about the article goes to LDS writer Joanna Brooks, via her Facebook page).
For a divine individual who is presumably equal to her spouse, Heavenly Father, Mormons are hesitant to discuss Heavenly Mother. As Aston points out, the most condescending reason sometimes offered for the silence on Heavenly Mother is that to discuss someone so pure would leave her at the mercy of the verbal and published criticism that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ receive.
Gotta get rid of that idea, which also sprang as a defensive measure from church defenders after some Mormon women were harrassed a generation ago for wanting to talk more about their Mother in Heaven. Anyway, Aston offers, wisely, these three statements as myths about Heavenly Mother:
Myth 1: Church leaders do not speak of her, so we should not.
Myth 2: She exists, but we know nothing else about her.
Myth 3: Our silence protects her against being blasphemed and slandered as the Father and the Son are.
In his article, Aston leans heavily on a recent BYU Studies article, by David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido, “A Mother There: Historical Teachings and Sacred Silence.” In the article, more than 600 incidents are listed where church leaders have spoken about our Mother in Heaven. Aston writes: “All the statements affirm our unshakeable belief in Heavenly Mother. That we have a Mother in the pre-mortal realms is as basic as the fact that we have a Father there also.”
As for myth number 2, Aston points out that there are allegorical references to a Mother in Heaven in the Old Testament. They can buttress latter-day revelation, including this statement from 19th century LDS apostle Erastus Snow, which Aston quotes : “What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself . . . I must believe that deity consists of man and woman . . . there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way.” … Snow’s quote, from 1878, which asserts that God is comprised of united man and woman, is just more evidence of the LDS Church’s progressive roots.
Finally, to debunk the third myth, Aston refers back to the BYU Studies article that points out “… there is no authorized mandate of silence concerning Heavenly Mother. …“ Aston concludes with this advice: “There is no need to speculate or teach beyond the body of material given by the leaders of the church for the past 180 years. She is there in the heavenly realms with the Father, watching over us in our mortal probation.”
Here’s to hoping our LDS leaders lead the way in talking more about Heavenly Mother. Frankly, we could use some guidelines. For example, talking too deeply about Mary Magdelene can lead to speculation of her being Jesus’ wife, or worse, one of his wives. As for Heavenly Mother, the discussion could lead to whether she’s God’s first wife, his 50th, or his 500th, and so on.
But convoluted pseudodoctrinal consistency is less feared now, and that’s great. Let’s just learn to appreciate our Heavenly Mother, and leave the more personal questions as private matters between Her and Heavenly Dad.