Mother in Heaven: some personal thoughts
Like a (rough) stone rolling, the discussion surrounding female ordination has gained so much momentum that I don’t see it slowing down until it’s resolved. To paraphrase Lafayette’s splendid line from Hamilton, we’re never gonna stop until we make ‘em drop! Gender equality is today’s religious Zeitgeist—being massively inconvenient for the LDS church does not make it any less so.
The movement toward religious equality might be picking up steam, but within the Church itself? Folks, we’re not taking home any gold medals for being in the social justice vanguard. We’ve never made it past the tryouts. We’re just not built for speed. And most Mormon feminists understand that ordaining women is a matter of revelation. Far beyond “let’s make the church fair!” it goes all the way to “thus saith the Lord.” If this issue had a control knob, it would go up to eleven. Mormon knobs, for the most part, only go up to ten. In other words, it’s going to take a while to go one further.
But (I can’t believe I’m suggesting this) is it possible that we’re moving too fast on the question of ordaining women? Hear me out, sisters and brothers. Until we get some comfort on the issue of Heavenly Mother, are we putting the cart before the horse when we ask for guidance about ordaining women to the priesthood? That is to say, her priesthood?
Conceivably, we could chew gum and walk at the same time, but in the event that we can’t . . . no, I don’t want to be glib about this. I don’t feel even remotely glib. It simply seems to me that the proper order of things is to seek the Mother first and then invite her daughters to exercise her power on earth.
Maybe this seeking is being done, privately, by members of the Mormon church all over the planet—I’d believe it. It’s impossible to say, because it just isn’t discussed. Functionally, Heavenly Mother is persona non grata. Publicly, she’s been invisibled. But privately, things might be very different. I don’t know.
We’re called a peculiar people, and in some ways, boy are we ever. But in this particular thing, this impulse of ours to ignore Heavenly Mother, we are as commonplace as dirt. It isn’t unique to us—we’re just following in the footsteps of those who drove the Mother out, the Deuteronomists who purged the temple at Jerusalem of her divine presence. They were fundamentalist monotheists (the very opposite of Latter-day Saints, by the way) whose victory I don’t feel like celebrating any more. Do you? As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a fiasco. I don’t want to play/pray by their patriarchal rulebook, and our unique LDS theology liberates me from having to. Thank you, Joseph Smith.
And speaking of Joseph, neither do I feel constrained by his first encounter with the Father and the Son, of which, it does not hurt to remember, there is more than one account. He went to Heavenly Father with his question; if he had been granted a longer life, possibly he would have taken questions to Heavenly Mother. Maybe he did; we don’t know everything that was in Joseph’s heart and mind. He fully said as much. Joseph had a far more capacious understanding of our heavenly parentage than nearly all of his contemporaries. I love him for that.
The taboo against seeking our Mother is so strong. It took me 45-plus years to break it. Isn’t that amazing? We have the doctrine and I still couldn’t do it for over 45 years. Then it took a few more years to talk about it, which I rarely do.
I’m completely, one hundred percent, uninterested in persuading anyone to seek Heavenly Mother. Certainly nobody showed me the way. I was all on my own, there. Flying solo. It was a thing which, after years of church experience (seminary, BYU, temple endowment, mission, a vast array of callings, you name it) I refused to even consider . . . until at last, one day, I did.
Let me tell you what happened when I finally sought our Mother in Heaven: it changed EVERYTHING.
Without going into too much detail (that’s private!) it allowed me to tap into a deep source of wisdom and love that I never knew was available. It’s been like opening Pandora’s box, only what spills out isn’t all the ills of the world, but even more light, love, and desire for goodness. What emerges also is the realization that to ignore Heavenly Mother and ban half her children from exercising priesthood power is a great, great folly. It has made me more forgiving of weakness, but also less inclined to overlook things that are wrong.
Who acknowledges (doctrinally, academically, begrudgingly) divine parents, but then refuses to speak to, or of, one of them? What’s the impulse behind that? Unlovely food for thought.
From day one, Mormonism has required its members to have their own experiences with God. It also created a persistent problem by revealing God the Mother, but then whisking her behind the draperies. Is it ironic that Mormonism taught me how to approach the very problem it manufactured? Not really. I think it’s poetic.
It turns out that Heavenly Mother is not a problem at all: she’s the solution.