Guest Post: A Hard Matter to Get Right

Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Heavenly Mother, women | 12 comments

by Jenny

Her name is too sacred to mention.  Look how people drag God’s name through the streets.  Do you want them to do the same with hers?”

“Heavenly Father loves Heavenly Mother so much that He puts her on a pedestal to protect her.”

“Why does it matter?  She’s there.  She exists.  Why does it matter that we learn about her or talk about her?”

It was a dark and painful Sabbath day for me.  These comments were swirling around in my brain.  It was me verses my sunday school class and I was fighting a losing battle.  This subject was dear to me and I felt like the subject itself was being trampled in the streets.  Why does it matter?  Why do we care so much about gender? Why do we care so much about two parent homes?  Who cares if a child has a mother present in his/her life? Obviously a mother gave birth to that child.  Why do we care so much about two parent earthly homes, but we completely ignore the fact that we have a one parent heavenly home?

So if Heavenly Mother exists, is that enough?  Can we be okay with the mere existence of a female deity, or should we be doing more to know her?  In the words of Joseph Smith during his King Follet Speech, “My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of being He is…”  So the very most important thing for Joseph Smith was to know God.  If our Heavenly Father is married to a Heavenly Mother, how can we even truly know Him without knowing Her?  My husband’s co-workers know some things about him.  They know the working side of him.  But they will never fully know him unless they know me.  I am part of him.  We have built a life together and no one can fully know one or the other of us until they know both of us.

If people are that complex in our characters, then knowing the true character of God also has to have an enormous amount of complexity to it.  There will be many facets to God’s character, and we cannot fully know Him until we know Them, which means we need to know Her.  Why is it important to know God in the first place? Because until we know Them, we cannot even know ourselves.  “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” (Joseph Smith, King Follet Speech)

So what are we missing in our lack of a full God?  We can only know by coming to Her and Him. “Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him (and Her), and to ask so as to receive an answer.  When we understand the character of God, and how to come to Him (and Her), (They ) begin to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us about it.  When we are ready to come to (Them), (They) are ready to come to us.” (Joseph Smith, King Follet Speech)

Since my dark day in Sunday School last winter, I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking about, studying about, and praying about Heavenly Mother.  I have experienced what Joseph Smith is talking about here.  I now have a glimpse of what the world would be like with a male and female God who parent us equally. Yes, she is there.  She always has been there.  But now I feel her.  I recognize her presence because I know her.  I have come to Her and I have felt Her come to me.  Now when I look at angry people yelling about politics on tv, I feel nothing but compassion for them.  I know they are loved by a mother and I feel that deep love for Mother’s children.  I look into my children’s eyes and I see deeper into eternity.  I know more fully the great responsibility I have for them.  My own mother’s love is magnified a hundred times because I feel another mother’s love for them.

How much better would our world be if we could feel the presence of a Father’s and a Mother’s love?  It does matter.  We are missing out on so much light and beauty and love that could exist in our world if our female God was known.

Joseph Smith said, “It is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get right.”  Never were his words more prophetic.  We started wrong.  Now it is certainly a “hard matter to get right.”  But we need to get it right.  Let’s start now and begin again to bring our female God out from obscurity and into the light that will come to us with her presence.

Jenny is a mother of four who graduated from BYU with a degree in humanities.  She loves reading, writing, and running.  She just started her own blog at sandinthelens.blogspot.com to try to tear down walls that keep us from understanding “the other.”  

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12 Comments

  1. Something I have been thinking about regarding this recently is that knowledge of the existence of a Divine Female does not by itself lead to less misogyny and a more compassionate society. Consider Latin America, where veneration of the Virgin Mary is extremely prevalent but so is “Machismo”. India has been in the news to much lately regarding horrific rapes and the deplorable practice of sex selective abortion despite an abundance of female deities (Some of whom are pretty damn scary). I’ve been wondering if we(worldwide) have been in a period of development where we are internalizing that mercy, compassion, temperance, kindness and other ‘female’ divine qualities are also qualities of the male and now that it is penetrating that men should be this way more light regarding Mother can come forth (and I think we are seeing it come forth) without losing that progress.

  2. This is a beautiful post, and amen to everything you’ve said. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey here. I love your first couple paragraphs about that dark Sunday. I think they’re so helpful in showing someone who never has had this struggle what that feels like.

  4. I like how you juxtapose the two most common things we hear about Heavenly Mother “She is so sacred and so special, just super super super special and sacred” and “we don’t need to know anything about her.”

  5. Jenny,

    I am always sad to hear when fellow Saints suddenly become targeted as enemy combatants when they express a desire to know MORE about God in a Sunday school class. But I firmly believe that these types of experiences you and other feminist Mormons are having are part of a necessary refinement process which will prepare the women of the church to begin receiving revelation about Heavenly Mother – something that has never happened in the history of the church or in the history of the world for that matter as this knowledge was specifically reserved for the “dispensation of the fulness of times.” (If you want to know why I believe this, click the handle and carefully read the post for the doctrinal explanation.)

    In regard to the comments swirling around in your brain, why don’t we see what the scriptures have to say about these issues:

    “Her name is too sacred to mention. Look how people drag God’s name through the streets. Do you want them to do the same with hers?”

    This comment is debunked by the teachings of Christ in Mark 7:14-23, where the scribes and Pharisees were attacking Jesus because his disciples ate bread with unwashed hands in breach of the Mosaic tradition. The teaching was originally about food but Jesus expanded it to include all things – that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man that defiles him. It is therefore impossible to defile another human being with words and blasphemies and sins, but a person engaging in such behavior can only defile himself. Likewise, it is impossible to “defile God” or His or Her Name with the things that we say, but we can only defile ourselves since those words come out of us.

    Next,

    “Heavenly Father loves Heavenly Mother so much that He puts her on a pedestal to protect her.”

    This comment is debunked by the teachings of Christ in Matthew 19:4-6, where Christ reminds the Pharisees that in the beginning, God made “man” in His Image as a married male and female, in which they would be no more twain, but One Flesh joined together. This is a highly revealing and significant doctrine that Mormon feminists would do well to consider more closely, but we won’t go into that for now. Suffice it to say that if God’s Image is a married male and female, even One Flesh that cannot be divided asunder, then it would not be possible for God to “put His wife on a pedestal” as this would suggest that She is divided from Him and “put away” in a separate place. A woman “put away” is Jesus’ very definition of divorce, not marriage. And God must be a marriage in order to be God.

    Last,

    “Why does it matter? She’s there. She exists. Why does it matter that we learn about her or talk about her?”

    Even though you already answered these questions in your post with the example you used about you and your husband and Joseph Smith’s Speech, I would like to reference the scripture that no doubt supports your reasoning and inspired Joseph Smith’s discourse in the first place, which is John 17:3. Christ said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” According to this scripture, knowing God the Mother is not only something that we must know in order to comprehend ourselves, it is actually essential to our salvation so that we might obtain eternal life. To sum up this teaching, we cannot have eternal life until we know God, even that holy eternal marriage which gave life to all of us and who sent Their Son to redeem us from sin and death. God the Father and God the Son have been revealed to us. God the Mother and God the Holy Ghost have not. We absolutely cannot receive eternal life without knowledge of God the Mother (and God the Holy Ghost), and this is why it matters.

    To address one of your own questions in your post, “Can we be okay with the mere existence of a female deity, or should we be doing more to know her?” the answer to the first part is obviously NO, which of course you already established. The latter part is a bit trickier. In order to know if we should be doing more to know Her, we must first understand what this precious knowledge will cost us. Remember that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was the beginning of the knowledge of God (since God is “good” – Luke 18:19, Mark 10:18) and the price of that knowledge was eviction from the Garden and death. What then, could be the price for knowing the FULNESS of the Knowledge of God, even God’s infinite Wisdom? Read the linked essay and you will not only be able to answer this question, but you will understand why God’s Wisdom was kept hidden throughout the ages in the first place.

    Hopefully this comment will allow you to see that a careful study of Christ’s actual teachings – of His Gospel – is the only thing you need to arm yourself against those “dark days.” Remember that the Gospel means “Good News.” If it’s not Good News, then it’s not the Gospel.

    :)

    • Thank you. I definitely feel that refining fire, especially today. It was very reafirming to read your thoughts on this subject. I like your thoughts on women being the ones to have this knowledge revealed to them. That makes a lot of sense. I also like what you said about having to leave the comfort and security of the garden of eden for greater knowledge too. That has definitely been my experience this year.

  6. Jenny, this essay is lovely. I was especially moved by this: “My own mother’s love is magnified a hundred times because I feel another mother’s love for them.” Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    Like you, I have been distracted lately by the idea that we cannot truly know God the Father without also knowing God the Mother. In fact, when this thought first came to me, I realized I would have to surrender my current understanding of God in order to incorporate whatever new knowledge was coming down the pipeline (birth metaphor unintended, but, hey). This surrender, or at least loosening our hold on what we have come to know as “God”, is inherent in gaining a new understanding. I think many people feel fear with that prospect. But, as we know, God hath not given us a spirit of fear: but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. Thank you, Jesus! Let’s get on with it, shall we?

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s a great time to be a woman in the church. Or a man or child, for that matter. God is good. Oh, yes, she is.

    • Amen, Melody!

  7. Beautiful post Jen. Love you!

  8. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Totally happy that you found comfort through your process of seeking Her. But I am not sure that means the church is wrong or that others are missing out. I think we’re all kind of different and have unique paths through life. We need to be careful about respecting others’ paths.

    I found myself in a class earlier this year where the topic of looking like God came up. Although I don’t have a problem with the lack of details about Heavenly Mother, I appreciate that other women do have concern and even pain. So I raised the issue, saying that men have an easier time since they know what Jesus looked like, but we do not know what Heavenly Mother looks like. The teacher was not near as dismissive as the platitudes in the OP, but he did not miss a beat, either. He said that we DO know what Heavenly Mother looks like, because righteous LDS women look like her. And he pointed and named some older sisters in the room.

    Although not a satisfying answer for some, it does raise some interesting points. What if she does look like Julie B. Beck? Would we still be as positive about Her? Is there a benefit in the vagueness in that we can all be so different and yet still be in Her image?

    I actually find that last part pretty appealing. I feel constantly pressured to live up to this or that role model, and I don’t need one more to fail at.

  10. Excellent thoughts – and beautifully written.
    You make me think deeper on the subject.

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