Myth: Heavenly Mother isn’t core doctrine.
Fact: The teaching that we have a Heavenly Mother is a core doctrine. Some other teachings about Her are supporting doctrine.
In May of 2007, the Church Newsroom (then called Mormon Newsroom) released an article titled “Approaching Mormon Doctrine.”1 This article describes two requirements for core doctrines. First, core doctrines are taught by the First Presidency, the Apostles, and in Church publications. Second, core doctrines are the most important and central to the Church’s purpose. Based on extensive research and experience teaching religion at Brigham Young University, Anthony R. Sweat, Michael Hubbard MacKay, and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat created four categories of doctrine and provided definitions to make it easier to determine if a teaching is a core doctrine or not. The four categories are core doctrines (unchanging truths of salvation), supporting doctrines (elaborative, descriptive, timely expansions on core doctrines), policy teachings/doctrine (timely statements related to applications of supportive and core doctrines), and esoteric doctrines (only partially revealed, interesting, but non-essential)2. Similarly, Apostle David A. Bednar defined core doctrines as “gospel doctrines [that] are eternal, do not change, and pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters.” 3
The doctrine that we have a Heavenly Mother is a core doctrine. Because Heavenly Mother’s existence has been repeatedly taught by prophets, by united statements of the First Presidency and apostles, by other general authorities, and in Church publications, it meets the first requirement in “Approaching Mormon Doctrine.” The existence of a Heavenly Mother is also an unchanging truth of salvation.
Other teachings about Heavenly Mother, such as Her role in the Creation or our life on earth, may be considered supporting doctrine. However, they are still important because they enrich our understanding of Heavenly Mother.
2 Evaluating Latter-day Saint Doctrine by Anthony R. Sweat, Michael Hubbard MacKay, and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat
3 David A. Bednar, Increase in Learning (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 2011), 151.