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Mother in Heaven

This page contains comments from the following authors:

Elaine Anderson Cannon
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
President Lorenzo Snow
President Joseph Fielding Smith
President George Q. Cannon
Elder John A. Widstoe


by Elaine Anderson Cannon

Latter-day Saints infer from authoritative sources of scripture and modern prophecy that there is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejects the idea found in some religions that the spirits or souls of individual human beings are created ex nihilo. Rather it accepts literally the vital scriptural teaching as worded by Paul: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." This and other scriptures underscore not only spiritual sibling relationships but heirship with God, and a destiny of joint heirship with Christ (Rom. 8:16-18; cf. Mal. 2:10).

Latter-day Saints believe that all the people of earth who lived or will live are actual spiritual offspring of God the Eternal Father (Num. 16:22; Heb. 12:9). In this perspective, parenthood requires both father and mother, whether for the creation of spirits in the premortal life or of physical tabernacles on earth. A Heavenly Mother shares parenthood with the Heavenly Father. This concept leads Latter-day Saints to believe that she is like him in glory, perfection, compassion, wisdom, and holiness.

Elohim, the name-title for God, suggests the plural of the Caananite El or the Hebrew Eloah. It is used in various Hebrew combinations to describe the highest God. It is the majestic title of the ultimate deity. Genesis 1:27 reads, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them" (emphasis added), which may be read to mean that "God" is plural.

For Latter-day Saints, the concept of eternal family is more than a firm belief; it governs their way of life. It is the eternal plan of life, stretching from life before through life beyond mortality.

As early as 1839 the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the concept of an eternal mother, as reported in several accounts from that period. Out of his teaching came a hymn that Latter-day Saints learn, sing, quote, and cherish, "O My Father," by Eliza R. Snow. President Wilford Woodruff called it a revelation (Woodruff, p. 62).

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.
 
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high? [Hymn no. 292]

In 1909 the First Presidency, under Joseph F. Smith, issued a statement on the origin of man that teaches that "man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father," as an "offspring of celestial parentage," and further teaches that "all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity" (Smith, pp. 199-205).

Belief that there is a Mother in Heaven who is a partner with God in creation and procreation is not the same as the heavy emphasis on Mariology in the Roman tradition.

Today the belief in a living Mother in Heaven is implicit in Latter-day Saint thought. Though the scriptures contain only hints, statements from presidents of the church over the years indicate that human beings have a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father.

Bibliography

Wilcox, Linda P. "The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven." In Sisters in Spirit, ed. Maureen U. Beecher and Lavina F. Anderson. Urbana, Ill., 1987.

Woodruff, Wilford. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham. Salt Lake City, 1968.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Mother in Heaven

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company


by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state.

This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) when, in speaking of pre-existence and the origin of man, they said that "man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father," that man is the "offspring of celestial parentage," and that "all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity." (Man: Origin and Destiny, pp. 348-355.)

This glorious truth of celestial parentage, including specifically both a Father and a Mother, is heralded forth by song in one of the greatest of Latter-day Saint hymns. O My Father by Eliza R. Snow, written in 1843, during the lifetime of the Prophet, includes this teaching:

In the heavens are parents single? No; the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason, truth eternal, Tells me I've a Mother there.

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.

Mortal persons who overcome all things and gain an ultimate exaltation will live eternally in the family unit and have spirit children, thus becoming Eternal Fathers and Eternal Mothers. (D. & C. 132:19-32.) Indeed, the formal pronouncement of the Church, issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, states: "So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring." (Man: His Origin and Destiny, p. 129.)

Mormon Doctrine, p.517
Copyright by Bookcraft


by President Lorenzo Snow

Women can become like our mother in heaven. You sisters, I suppose, have read that poem which my sister composed years ago, and which is sung quite frequently now in our meetings. It tells us that we not only have a Father in "that high and glorious place," but that we have a Mother too; and you will become as great as your Mother, if you are faithful." (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.7-8, emphasis in original)

We have a mother in heaven. We are the offspring of God. He is our Father, and we have a Mother in the other life as well. (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.191, emphasis in original)


by President Joseph Fielding Smith

Question: "Will you please give us the background of the 'theory' advanced of 'a Mother in Heaven'? Some feel that God is great enough to create spirits without any assistance, and if not, why then was not a Mother mentioned among the Godhead?"

Answer: In answer to your question about a mother in heaven, let us use reason. It may be true that the Bible does not speak of a mother in heaven, nor does the D&C when speaking of the revelations of the Lord to the Church. Permit me to call attention to the fact that mothers and wives are seldom mentioned in the Bible, although they are on certain occasions. The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or D&C, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did exist there. If we had a Father, which we did, for all of these records speak of him, then does not good common sense tell us that we must have had a mother there also?

When we stop to think of it, there are passages which strongly imply that we did have a mother there. Let me call your attention to some passages of scripture. First, Paul speaking to the Greeks on Mars Hill had this to say:

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Acts 17:28)

JESUS HAD A FATHER AND A MOTHER

If we are his offspring, then how did we become such, if we had no mother to give us spirit birth? We know that Jesus had a Father and that he had a mother, for the scriptures tell us so. Have you thought this passage through?

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)

It is my turn to ask a question. How can we be the offspring of God, how can he be the Father of our spirits, unless we had a mother and were born? The D&C states that we are all begotten sons and daughters unto God.

For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (D&C 76:23-24)

Moreover, the D&C definitely teaches the eternity of the marriage covenant and that those so married who are faithful will have claim on each other in eternity. Their children will belong to them, and they will have the gift of "a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end." (Ibid., 132:19-20.) This great honor gives them the blessing of "eternal lives," but to those who have to remain separately they partake of "the deaths," because they do not "continue," that is, have no posterity in eternity. Now they will be blessed with the same blessings as those held by our Eternal Father--eternal increase. (See Moses 1:39.)

In Genesis we read:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . .So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Is it not feasible to believe that female spirits were created in the image of a "Mother in Heaven"?

Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 3, p.144
Copyright by Deseret Book


by President George Q. Cannon

"The Mormons believe that all men were born in the spirit world of the union of the sexes, having a literal father and a literal mother before coming to this world, that the spirits are just the same in appearance as the body, that God is a married Being, has a wife at least, as Jeremiah said the angels were offering incense to the queen of heaven. The Latter-day Saints believe that God is an exalted Man, and that we are the offspring of Him and His wife. (April 15, 1884, Salt Lake Herald)" (Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p.129)


by Elder John A. Widsoe

"In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven. Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood. This simply carries onward the logic of things earthly, and conforms with the doctrine that whatever is on this earth is simply a representation of spiritual conditions of deeper meaning than we can here fathom." (A Rational Theology, p.69)


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