10. Truth—Our Heavenly Mother helps us understand the power and potential of women.
Elder B.H. Roberts shared that our knowledge of Heavenly Mother testifies of “the nobility of woman and of motherhood and of wifehood—placing her side by side with the Divine Father” (Defense of the Faith and the Saints).
As the BYU Studies essay states, “The soul-making trials of her earthly experience, coupled with continuing growth after a celestial resurrection, helped [Heavenly Mother] hone the qualities of divinity to move her from ‘womanhood to Godhood.’”
Often within our Church we can speak of deity in masculine terms. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are both male, and we refer to the Holy Ghost often using male pronouns. Even angels depicted in our art or Church history are often male, such as Moroni, Michael, Peter, James, John, Elijah, John the Baptist, etc. Without understanding and knowing the reality and nature of our Heavenly Mother, and by failing to incorporate Her in our religious conversations, Pulido says, “Women are bound to feel left out and marginalized. They are bound to ask questions like ‘Where do I belong? Are we somehow less than men? How do I find the divinity, and what's heavenly in me?’”
Knowing women are included in godhood, that heaven is based on the structure of family, helps us understand the power daughters and sons of God possess and the trust our Heavenly Parents have in them.
11. Myth—In honoring our Heavenly Mother we slight the Heavenly Father or takes away from His glory and power.
President Rudger Clawson taught, “It doesn’t take from our worship of the Eternal Father, to adore our Eternal Mother, any more than it diminishes the love we bear our earthly fathers, to include our earthly mothers in our affections. . . . We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal prototype” (“Our Mother in Heaven,” Millennial Star). As a Husband and Wife—equal partners—working in unison to bring about our exaltation, any praise or glory we give to our Heavenly Father or Mother naturally praises and glorifies the other. In fact, just as the knowledge that we can become gods and goddesses adds to the glory and majesty of God—helping us understand Mother and Father as the parents of future deity, the Gods of gods—the knowledge of a Mother in Heaven brings added power and glory to our understanding of Father in Heaven, and vice versa. Understanding our Heavenly Parents as glorified beings who overcame all mortality could offer, who grew in intelligence and glory to the point of creating universes and spirit children, only adds to Their power and complexity.
12. Truth—Knowing Heavenly Mother can bring power, comfort, and love to our lives.
Orson F. Whitney testified, “It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven" (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 98). Understanding that our Heavenly Parents not only endured mortality but gloriously triumphed over and grew from their challenges in life can empower us no matter what we may face.
And part of that power comes from knowing we are never alone. As Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, former first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, testified:
“I wonder at the strength and courage of our Heavenly Parents, sending us to experience mortality, and of all the deaths they have suffered through with us in our own suffering. We know something of the Father's powerful grief as he withdrew from his Son, Jesus Christ, as Christ fulfilled the Atonement and died on the cross. . . .
“We too can anticipate that when the time comes for us to step through the veil of mortality, leaving our failing and pain-filled bodies behind, we will see the loving smile and feel the welcoming embrace, not only of our Heavenly Parents and of the Savior, but also of our loved ones who will greet us in full vigor, full remembrance, and full love” (Sanctuary, 129-130).
The reality of a loving Mother in Heaven can strengthen us even in times of joy—not only in moments of heartbreak. As Pulido shares, “There is a woman who shaped my soul, who cares and loves me, and who is helping govern this world. She watches the sparrow; She watches each grain of sand and star in the sky; She watches the lilies; She watches me. She is by my side, and She is helping me become all that I can be. That has been enormously powerful on my testimony. Now, I will add here that I feel very deeply in that way about my Heavenly Father, too. Knowing that I have two [Parents] who work together to do that—that empowers me even more.”
13. Truth—There is so much left for us to discover about Heavenly Mother.
“As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents,” the Church’s essay on Heavenly Mother reads.
While it is true that we have access to an unprecedented number of historical documents, Church essays, quotes, articles, poetry, and art focused on Heavenly Mother that previous generations of Church members never had access to, there is still much for us to discover through study, through personal revelation, and as a church.
About his experience helping research and write the BYU Studies groundbreaking article on Heavenly Mother, Pulido says, “I’m overwhelmed not only by how much has been said but also by how much more there is to know. There is so much more to be uncovered. While working on Dove Song, I became aware of the limited scope of my earlier research on Heavenly Mother, which had zeroed in on English LDS sources, and failed to include foreign language works. I realize how much more is available for me to research now from these international works, which in combination with additional English material uncovered (we had lots of gaps in the middle 20th century due to lack of digitized records, likely warrants a revision of that prior article.”
14. Myth—We can understand Heavenly Mother’s role by understanding gender roles in our culture today.
Often people try to explain the relationship of our Heavenly Father and Mother by projecting our cultural ideas onto their relationship. As the BYU Studies article notes, many scholars and writers “lament that Latter-day Saints usually acknowledge her existence only, without delving further into her character or roles, or portray her as merely a silent, Victorian-type housewife valued only for her ability to reproduce.”
Pulido adds, “I see the problem with [trying to understand God by using anthropomorphic and human-shaping reasoning] is that social roles for and between men and women are not agreed upon around the world now, nor will they in the future. . . . Wherever and whenever we are, we need to be open to thinking beyond our current day’s social roles for our Heavenly Parents. This includes not scoffing at traditional ones, like bearing and rearing children.”
We’re blessed to know that our Heavenly Mother is equal to our Father in Heaven not only in power and love, but also in Her complexity and abilities. While our Heavenly Parents are distinct and might carry out different roles, there is little doubt that both are essential and both accomplish feats beyond our current mortal understanding.
As Elder Glenn L. Pace testified at a BYU devotional:
“Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny.”
Tyler Chadwick, Dayna Patterson, and Martin Pulido recently created an anthology of Mormon poetry focused on Heavenly Mother entitled Dove Song, which includes some art. Spanning early Church history to modern day, Dove Song includes 138 poems from 80 poets and artists such as William W. Phelps, Eliza R. Snow, John Lyons, Lula Greene Richards, Carol Lynn Pearson, Linda Sillitoe, and so many more. Alongside many unknown