One of the unique doctrines of Mormonism that separates it from Christianity is the idea that just as we have a Heavenly Father, so we have a Heavenly Mother. A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune discusses the differing views that Mormons have of her, some of which have been offenses worthy of excommunication. While some Mormons may wish to discount this idea as mere “folk Mormonism,” there is mention of her in official teaching manuals and even in general conference.
Although little is known about her, she is described as the person who Eve resembled in appearance, and the image in which all daughters of God are made. Spencer W. Kimball mentioned in a General Conference address that, “Finally, when we sing that doctrinal hymn and anthem of affection, “O My Father,” we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less if we live so as to return there?” Notice that this hymn is labeled as “doctrinal.” Verses three and four mention heavenly mother specifically.
3. I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
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.
4. When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
One of the things that has always interested me about this doctrine is the fact that no one knows her name. To my knowledge, her name has never been revealed by Mormon prophets. Not only that, but Mormon are strictly forbidden to speak to her in prayer. Gordon B. Hinckley stated in general conference, “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.”
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I was a true believing Mormon woman. Scary thought, I know. If I was promised to be an equal partner in Godhood, yet was never allowed to reveal my name to my children or even speak to them, I would not be happy. I understand the Mormon, feminist mindset that wants equality and the freedom to address the Goddess in whose image they were made. Obviously I don’t believe any of this, but I do understand where some Mormon women are coming from.
What I don’t understand is how the Mormon concept of Godhood is appealing to Mormon women in the first place. Why would someone look forward to an eternity of procreating an entire world full of children who do not know your name and are prohibited from talking to you even if they did know your name? I guess perhaps that might be why the name of heavenly mother has never been revealed. One of her children might actually be tempted to use it. If earthly mothers are granted a 10 minute, Mother’s Day conversation with their children who are on missions for the Mormon Church, then it seems a crime to be forbidden to speak to your children for a lifetime.