As a missionary I sometimes shared a few verses from 1 Nephi 19 with investigators and members. In these verses, Nephi explains how, when he read scriptures from the brass plates to his family, he also “did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” Like Nephi and his family, if we liken scriptures to ourselves, to our circumstances, and to our experiences, we can discover gospel principles and receive personal revelation.
More recently, while reading Inspired by Rachel Held Evans, I learned about the Jewish tradition of midrash, which is similar in some ways to likening scriptures. Rachel defined midrash as “those imaginative explorations and expansions of Scripture that serve as the most common form of biblical interpretation in Jewish traditions” (1). Through the practice of midrash, Jewish readers creatively retell scripture stories in ways that allow them to learn more about themselves and God. Similar to how likening scriptures to oneself makes it easier to recognize gospel principles and receive revelation, midrash provides opportunities to “join in the Great Conversation between God and God’s people that has been going on for centuries and to which everyone is invited” (2).
According to Wilda Gafney, “Midrash interprets not only the text before the reader, but also the text behind and beyond the text and the text between the lines of the text. In rabbinic thinking, each letter and the spaces between the letters are available for interpretive work.” (3) When I realized that words and the meaning between and behind words can be interpreted or “likened,” I recognized opportunities to liken the scriptures by adapting the text to include Heavenly Mother wherever God is named. After all, we know that God consists of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother united in a perfect, equal partnership (4).
Learning about Heavenly Mother through likening descriptions of “God” to Heavenly Mother prepares and opens my heart to receive personal revelation about Heavenly Mother’s role in my life and in the plan of salvation. In the six scriptures below, I have searched for meaning between and behind the words for opportunities to learn about Heavenly Mother, too.
“For Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother so loved the world, that They gave Their only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“And that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother created humankind, male and female, after Their own image and in Their own likeness, created They them;”
—Doctrine and Covenants 20:18
“Believe in Heavenly Mother; believe that She is, and that She created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that She has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that neither man nor woman doth comprehend all the things which She can comprehend.”
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he or she that feareth Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, and worketh righteousness, is accepted by Them.”
“Draw nigh to God, and She will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Heavenly Mother, and She shall lift you up.”
“Now my brethren and sisters, we see that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, They numbereth Their people, and Their bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.”
Instead of turning to scriptures to end conversations about Heavenly Mother, I’ve found I’m now turning to scripture to start conversations about Heavenly Mother.
Discussion Questions: What scriptures have you likened to Heavenly Mother? How has likening the scriptures increased your understanding and knowledge of Heavenly Mother?