Quotes

Church leaders from Joseph Smith to President Nelson have taught and testified of Heavenly Mother. Numerous scholars, authors, and artists have written and spoken about Her. Below is a list of quotes that mention Heavenly Mother or Heavenly Parents. These quotes are alphabetized by last name.

Aburto, Reyna I.

Like the monarch butterflies, we are on a journey back to our heavenly home, where we will reunite with our Heavenly Parents. Like the butterflies, we have been given divine attributes that allow us to navigate through life, in order to “[fill] the measure of [our] creation.” Like them, if we knit our hearts together, the Lord will protect us “as a hen [gathers] her chickens under her wings” and will make us into a beautiful kaleidoscope.

Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “With One Accord,” April 2018 General Conference.

“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … each has a divine nature and destiny.” Like our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, we have a physical body and experience emotions.

Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!” October 2019 General Conference.

Allred, Janice

I believe that God the Mother is equal to God the Father in divinity, power, and perfection. I believe that God, both Father and Mother, is deeply involved in our mortality and immortality. I also believe that God the Father has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Although he is male, for me he is an adequate model. He modeled many roles for us—father, mother, teacher, friend, son, lover, servant, lord—and also many attributes. If he were the only God, he would be enough. But there is another god and she has a woman’s body like mine. I want to know her, not simply as a model, but as a person. That she is God as well as woman is as important for men as it is for women as it affirms the equality of male and female and of masculine and feminine attributes and values.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

If the gods are divine couples, then we can assume that God himself is also a divine couple, that God the Father, as a being of spirit and body, is eternally joined to God the Mother, also a being of spirit and body. “The Father” then must also mean “the Mother” as “sons of God” certainly includes “daughters of God.”

This suggests another way of interpreting the Godhead. The Father is the divine couple, Father and Mother, each possessing a spirit and a glorified body. They must together be the source of light or spirit which permeates all things. If the name “the Father” refers to the union of the two personages who together are God, then perhaps the other two names in the Godhead refer to them separately. As we have seen, “the Son” refers to the flesh, so the Lord or Jehovah, as the embodied. . . Perhaps, then, the Holy Ghost is the name of the Mother which refers to her work among us in mortality.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

If God created male and female in the image of his own body then God the Creator must be the Divine Couple, a Man with a male body and a Woman with a female body. If God the Creator is the Divine Couple and God the Redeemer is the male part of the Divine Couple, then it is reasonable to conclude that God the Witness or Testator is the female part of God the Creator.

God himself came down among the children of men to redeem his people. He sacrificed his immortal body and took on himself a mortal body to become one of us and suffer the pains and sorrows of mortality. He sacrificed his mortal body so that he might conquer death and bring about the resurrection of all humanity and he suffered the pains of all our sins so that we might be redeemed.

God herself came down among the children of women to succor her children. She sacrificed her immortal body to be with us; she remains a spirit so that she can always be with us to enlighten, to comfort, to strengthen, to feel what we feel, to suffer with us in all our sins, in our loneliness and pain, and to encircle us in the arms of her love. She bears witness of Christ and leads us to him, teaching us of their will so that we might partake of eternal life in their kingdom.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

Anderson, Neil L.

The proclamation begins: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

These are eternal truths. You and I are not an accident of nature.

Neil L. Anderson, Apostle, “The Eye of Faith,” April 2019 General Conference.

Ashton, Brian K.

In the premortal world, we were born as spirits to Heavenly Parents and lived with Them as a family. They knew us, taught us, and loved us.

Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, “The Father,” October 2018 General Conference.

Ballard, M. Russell

The plan teaches that all who have or will live on earth are the spirit children of heavenly parents. We lived with them before coming to this earth to receive our bodies of flesh and bone.

Russel Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Answers to Life’s Questions,” April 1995 General Conference.

I testify there is no greater goal in mortality than to live eternally with our Heavenly Parents and our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is more than just our goal—it is also Their goal. They have a perfect love for us, more powerful than we can even begin to comprehend. They are totally, completely, eternally aligned with us. We are Their work. Our glory is Their glory. More than anything else, They want us to come home—to return and receive eternal happiness in Their presence.

Russel Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Return and Receive,” April 2017 General Conference.

Within every human body dwells a living spirit born to our loving, eternal heavenly parents.

Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Spiritual Development,” October 1978.

Before this earth was formed, we lived in the spirit world as sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents, who loved us and continue to love us now.

Russel Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Giving Our Spirits Control over Our Bodies,” October 2019 General Conference.

Barney, Kevin

I see the crowning way to worship our Mother in Heaven as engaging in temple service, whether as workers or as patrons. The connection between our Mother and the temple was and is profound. Consider, for instance, the following points:

  • “Asherah” means “sanctuary,” “holy place,” and is thus, essentially, a synonym for temple.
  • During times favorable to Asherah worship in ancient Israel, there was a statue or other image of Her prominently displayed in the temple. (This image was removed during times unfavorable to Her worship.)
  • The menorah was a stylized almond tree and probably a symbol of the Goddess. It burned olive oil, which also was Her symbol.
  • The two cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies were identified as Asherah and Yahweh.
  • Our modern temple ritual revolves around a creation drama, in which Asherah participated as a master craftsman.
  • The Garden of Eden narrative prominently features two sacred trees (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life), both of which represent Her.
  • One of the most prominent ways that ancient Israelite women worshipped Asherah was by weaving textiles that were then used in the temple. It is not entirely clear what these weavings were—perhaps wall  hangings or veils.

In 1985, I graduated from law school and moved to Chicago to begin my career. The Chicago Temple was dedicated not long after we arrived. Relief Society sisters in the area had made altar cloths with fine needlework for the temple’s altars. It seems to be a very close analog to a specific way in which Israelite women worshipped their Mother in Heaven.

“How to Worship Heavenly Mother (Without Getting Excommunicated)” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought.

What did “Asherah” mean? Here, as often in the Old Testament, we must distinguish between popular and historical etymology. It seems likely that Hebrew-speaking Israelites would have understood the name as meaning “Happiness, Blessedness,” from the verbal root ’ashar, the basic meaning of which is “to go straight on, to advance,” whether in a literal or a metaphoric [“in the way of understanding”] sense. In the piel verb stem, the verb has the developed meanings “to set right, righten” and from there “to pronounce happy, call blessed.” In this view, “Asherah” would be a nominal form of this verb. Indeed, early modern Hebraists understood the word in just this way.

Although I have focused on the small bits of information we can glean about Her from the Old Testament, a more extensive body of knowledge is available in the older Ras Shamra tablets, written in Ugaritic, a Canaanite dialect. The Ugaritic vocalization of “Asherah” was “Athirat,” which traditional scholarship interprets as deriving from the longer expression, rbt ’atrt ym (“She Who Treads on the Sea).” More recent scholarship prefers “Lady Athirat of the Sea,” thus keeping Her name intact. A more recent understanding of the historical linguistic etymology of “Athirat” (and thus Asherah) is that it means “Sanctuary.” This interpretation is also supported by Her epithet qdš (Ugaritic Qudshu, Hebrew Qodesh), meaning “Holy Place, Holiness.”

Although the epithet “Breasts-and-Womb” appears in the Old Testament (Gen. 49:25), Canaanite literature ascribes other epithets to her that are not in the Bible: “Lion Lady,” “Creatress of All the Gods,” and “Mistress of Sexual Rejoicing.” Early Israelite belief may have continuity with at least some of this earlier Canaanite mythology; but for purposes of this paper, I want to focus specifically on what we can learn from our canonical scripture. I make, however, an exception for Her principal title: Elat. Although this title is attested only in Ugaritic and not in Hebrew, it fits logically with what we otherwise know about her. “Elat” is El with the archaic -at feminine ending. “El” appears in theHebrew Bible, both as the proper name of the Most High God and as a generic term for God; although the normal Hebrew feminine ending is -ah, the archaic -at ending also appears in biblical Hebrew, apparently paralleling the feminine nebi’ah, which generically means “prophetess” but, as used specifically in Isaiah 8:3, means “Mrs. Prophet” (i.e., Isaiah’s wife). So the title “Elat” can mean both generically “Goddess” (in her own right) and specifically “Mrs. El” or “Mrs. God” (in relation to El Himself).

“How to Worship Heavenly Mother (Without Getting Excommunicated)” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought.

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Beck, Julie B.

Oh, that every girl and woman would have a testimony of her potential for eternal motherhood as she keeps her earthly covenants. “Each is a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine … destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). As spirit daughters of God, women “received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth” (D&C 138:56) on the earth. They were among the “noble and great ones” (D&C 138:55) who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth because they would be given a physical body with the opportunity to be proven in a mortal sphere (see Abr. 3:25). They wished to work side by side with righteous men to accomplish eternal goals that neither can attain independently.

Julie. B. Beck, Relief Society General President,  “You have a noble birthright,” April 2006.

You have light because you are literally spirit daughters of Deity, ‘offspring of exalted parents’ with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. You received your first lessons in the world of spirits from your heavenly parents. You have been sent to earth to “prove” yourselves

Julie B. Beck, Young Women General Presidency, “You have a noble birthright,” April 2006.

Bennet, Randall K.

Each of you—as we have been taught this conference—is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents. You do have a divine nature and destiny.2 During your premortal life you learned to love truth. You made correct eternal choices. You knew that here in mortality, there would be afflictions and adversity, sorrow and suffering, tests and trials to help you grow and progress. You also knew that you could continue making correct choices, repent of incorrect choices, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ inherit eternal life.

Randall K. Bennet, Quorum of the Seventy, “Choose Eternal Life,” October 2011 General Conference.

Burton, Linda K.

Sisters, I testify of loving Heavenly Parents; of our Savior, Jesus Christ; and of His infinite Atonement in our behalf.

Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, “Certain Women,” April 2017 General Conference.

Christofferson, D. Todd

Prophets have revealed that we first existed as intelligences and that we were given form, or spirit bodies, by God, thus becoming His spirit children—sons and daughters of heavenly parents.

Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Why Marriage, Why Family,” April 2015 General Conference.

Clawson, Rudger

“And what is there in the natural man or woman that revolts at the idea of a Heavenly Mother? The sublime attributes which Ave ascribe to Deity, are just those which have immortalized the name of mother. Fatherhood and motherhood are co-equal in sacred office on earth, but childhood wants mother. That’s why babes delight to hear of the Heavenly Mother. . .”

“An unknown author has said, “Not only from the mouths of babes and sucklings has the cry gone forth for a Mother in heaven. Men, strong and brave, have yearned to adore her. The heart of man craves this faith and has from time immemorial demanded the deification of woman.” 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 lathers, to include our earthly mothers in our affections, in fact, the love of one is a complement of our love for the other. We honor woman when we ackno[w]ledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype. And, man may never hope to reach the high destiny marked out for him by the Savior in these encouraging [w]ords: “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” without woman by his side; for ” neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Then let us respond to the lofty theme of George Griffith Fetter :

” The noblest thoughts my soul can claim.

The holiest words my tongue can frame,

Unworthy are to praise the name

More sacred than all other.

An infant, when her love first came —

A man, I find it just the same;

Reverently I breathe her name,

The [B]lessed name of mother!”

Rudger Clawson, unsigned article, “Our Mother in Heaven,” Latter-day Saints’Millennial Star 72 [29 Sept. 1910]: 619-20.

Cordon, Bonnie H.

These truths apply to you individually. You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.

Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, “Beloved Daughters,” October 2019 General Conference.

I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.

Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, “Beloved Daughters,” October 2019 General Conference.

You are all remarkable young women. You are unique, each with your own gifts and experiences yet alike in a very important and eternal way.

You are literally the spirit daughters of Heavenly Parents, and nothing can separate you from Their love and the love of your Savior.

Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President, “Beloved Daughters,” October 2019 General Conference.

Featherstone, Vaughn J.

“Women are endowed with special traits and attributes that come trailing down through eternity from a divine mother. Young women have special God-given feelings about charity, love, and obedience. Theirs is a sacred, God-given role, and the traits they received from heavenly mother are equally as important as those given to the young men.”

Vaughn J. Featherstone, Young Men General President, “ A Champion of Youth,” October 1987 General Conference.

Gates, Suza Young

“the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.”

Givens, Fiona

In the earliest Israelite conception, father El had a divine son named Jehovah or Yahweh. Gradually, however, the Israelite conception of Yahweh absorbed the functions of El and, by the 10th century b.c., King Solomon’s day, had come to be identified with him. Asherah was the chief goddess of the Canaanites. She was El’s wife and the mother and wet nurse of the other gods

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

Asherah, or the Divine Feminine, is referred to in Proverbs 4:18 as the “Tree of Life.” Her “fruit is better than gold, even fine gold” (Proverbs 8:19). Those who hold her fast are called happy (a word play on the Hebrew ashr). It can be assumed, therefore, that Asherah and Wisdom (Sophia in the Greek) are different names for the same deity. According to the book of Proverbs, Wisdom/Asherah is the name of the deity with whom “the Lord founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19–20). Before the world was, She was. “Long life is in her right hand; /in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life” (Proverbs 3:16–18). Latter-day Saints are enjoined to search for her in the opening chapters of the Doctrine and Covenants because Wisdom holds the keys not only to the mysteries of God but to eternal life (D&C 6:7, 11:7).

“‘The Perfect Union of Man and Woman’: Reclamation and Collaboration in Joseph Smith’s Theology Making.”

Golden Jr., Christoffel

Seen in its true light, the doctrine of the Father and the Son is the doctrine of the eternal family. Every human being has existed previously as a spirit child with heavenly parents, with Christ being the Firstborn of the Father in this heavenly family.

Christoffel Golden Jr., Quorum of the Seventy, “The Father and the Son,” April 2013 General Conference.

Hinkley, Gordon B.

“Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.”

Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor, First Presidency, “Daughters of God,” October 1991 General Conference.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” October 1995 General Conference.

Holland, Jeffrey R.

“To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, ‘Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.’”

Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Behold Thy Mother,” October 2015 General Conference.

First of all, I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise.

Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “To Young Women,” October 2005 General Conference.

Likewise, when a friend is learning about our faith, she or he can be a bit overwhelmed by some of the unique elements and unfamiliar vocabulary of our religious practice—dietary restrictions, self-reliance supplies, pioneer treks, digitized family trees, with an untold number of stake centers where some have undoubtedly expected to be served a fine charbroiled sirloin, medium-rare. So, as our new friends experience a multitude of new sights and sounds, we must point past the hustle and bustle and concentrate them on the meaning of it all, on the beating heart of the eternal gospel—the love of Heavenly Parents, the atoning gift of a divine Son, the comforting guidance of the Holy Ghost, the latter-day restoration of all these truths and so much more.

Jeffery R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Message, the Meaning, and the Multitude,” October 2019 General Conference.

Hunter, Howard W.

“I share the view expressed by Orson F. Whitney in these words: “‘No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and 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

Howard W. Hunter, Acting President, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Opening and Closing of Doors,” October 1987 General Conference.

Jack, Elaine L.

Have you ever been told you are just like your mother, or you have your father’s smile, or all of your family have the same color of eyes? The physical characteristics that we inherit from our parents are obvious. The spiritual characteristics we inherit from our heavenly parents have to be developed. You have been born with all the godlike gifts that Christ has. They are within you, but you have to choose to cultivate and develop them. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen without our best efforts.

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President, “Identity of a Young Woman,” October 1989.

Johnson, Paul V.

We are spirit children of heavenly parents.

Paul V. Johnson, Quorum of the Seventy, “And There Shall Be No More Death,” April 2016 General Conference.

Johnson, Peter M.

It is my prayer that we will recognize the confirming influence of the Holy Ghost as we come to fully understand that we are children of God. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Elder Peter M. Johnson, Quorum of the Seventy, “Power to Overcome the Adversary,” October 2019.

Jones, Joy D.

“‘God is your father, He loves you, He and your Mother in Heaven value you beyond any measure. You are unique, one of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life. Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood.'” 

Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, “Value beyond Measure,” October 2017 General Conference.

Kapp, Ardeth G.

“Let us listen to another young woman pouring out her heart:

“ ‘…I just wish of all things I could go up and give Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother a big hug and tell them that I made it back.’ ”

Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women General President, “A Time for Hope,” October 1986 General Conference.

Kimball, Spencer W.

“The Primary song says, ‘I am a child of God.’ Born with a noble birthright. God is your father. He loves you. He and your Mother in Heaven value you beyond any measure. They gave your eternal intelligence spirit form, just as your earthly mother and father have given you a mortal body.”

Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church, “Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,” October 1978 General Conference.

Finally, when we sing that doctrinal hymn and anthem of affection, ‘O My Father,’ we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less if we live so as to return there?

Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church, “The True Way of Life and Salvation,” April 1978 General Conference.

Now, the sealing for eternity gives to you eternal leadership. The man will have the authority of the priesthood, and if he keeps his life in order he will become a god. Now, that’s hard to understand, isn’t it? But that’s the way it is. You see, we have a Father in Heaven and we have a mother in heaven. And so we have a spiritual father and mother as we have a material father and mother on the earth. The Lord created this earth for us and made it a beautiful place to live. He promised us that if we would live the right way we could come back to him and be like him.”

Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 52.

God is our father. He loves us. He and our mother in heaven value us beyond any measure. They gave our eternal intelligences spirit form, just as our earthly mothers and fathers have given us mortal bodies. Each of us is unique—one of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence that gives us claim upon eternal life.

Spencer W. Kimball, My Beloved Sisters, p.25.

Marriott, Neill F.

Our high responsibility is to become women who follow the Savior, nurture with inspiration, and live truth fearlessly. As we ask Father in Heaven to make us builders of His kingdom, His power will flow into us and we will know how to nurture, ultimately becoming like our heavenly parents.

Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, “What Shall We Do?”, April 2016 General Conference.

Martinez, Hugo E.

I want you to know that your Heavenly Parents love you very much. They want the best for you. You can become like Them.

Hugo E. Martinez, Quorum of the Seventy, “He Wants the Best for Me”, The Friend, February 2019.

Maxwell, Neal A.

“When we return to our real home, it will be with the ‘mutual approbation’ of those who reign in the ‘royal courts on high.’ There we will find beauty such as mortal ‘eye hath not seen’; we will hear sounds of surpassing music which mortal ‘ear hath not heard.’ Could such a regal homecoming be possible without the anticipatory arrangements of a Heavenly Mother?”

Neal A. Maxwell, Presidency of the Seventy, “The Women of God,” April 1978 General Conference.

McConkie, Bruce R.

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…

[God] is our Eternal Father; we have also an Eternal Mother. There is no such thing as a father without a mother, nor can there be children without parents. We were born as the spirit children of Celestial Parents long before the foundations of this world were laid.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.516-517.

Monson, Thomas S.

All of us commenced a wonderful and essential journey when we left the spirit world and entered this often-challenging stage called mortality. The primary purposes of our existence upon the earth are to obtain a body of flesh and bones, to gain experience that could come only through separation from our heavenly parents, and to see if we would keep the commandments. In the book of Abraham chapter 3 we read: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church, “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet,” October 2014 General Conference.

Nelson, Russel M.

My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ invites us to take the covenant path back home to our Heavenly Parents and be with those we love. He invites us to “come, follow me.”

Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, “Come Follow Me,” April 2019 General Conference.

This divine entreaty is consistent with the fact that, as begotten children of heavenly parents, we are endowed with the potential to become like them, just as mortal children may become like their mortal parents.

Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Perfection Pending,”October 1995 General Conference.

Trees reach up for the light and grow in the process. So do we as sons and daughters of heavenly parents. Facing upward provides a loftier perspective than facing right or facing left. Looking up in search of holiness builds strength and dignity as disciples of Deity.

Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods,” April 1996 General Conference.

Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.”17 Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.

Russel M. Nelson, President of the Church, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” October 2016 General Conference.

Oaks, Dallin H.

Our theology begins with heavenly parents, and our highest aspiration is to attain the fulness of eternal exaltation.

Dallin H.Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “No Other Gods,” October 2013 General Conference.

The gospel teaches us that we are the spirit children of heavenly parents.

Dallin H.Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” October 1993 General Conference.

The theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints centers on the family. Our relationship to God and the purpose of earth life are explained in terms of the family. We are the spirit children of heavenly parents.

Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church,” October 2005 General Conference.

From modern revelation, unique to the restored gospel, we know that the commandment to seek perfection is part of God the Father’s plan for the salvation of His children. Under that plan we are all heirs of our heavenly parents.

Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Followers of Christ,” April 2014 General Conference.

Consider the power of the idea taught in our beloved song “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, 1985, no. 301), sung so impressively by the choir at the beginning of this session. Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, “Who am I?” I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life.

Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Powerful Ideas,” October 1995 General Conference.

In his talk to young adults, President Nelson taught, “Abiding by God’s laws will keep you safe as you progress toward eventual exaltation”—that is, to become like God, with the exalted life and divine potential of our Heavenly Parents. That is the destiny we desire for all we love. 

Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Two Great Commandments,” October 2019 General Conference.

Okazaki, Chieko

“at the end of this process, our Heavenly Parents will have sons and daughters who are their peers, their friends, and their colleagues”

Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency.

Faith tells us that our bodies were created through an inspired process, that they were made in the image of our Heavenly Parents, that we have a stewardship over them to keep them sacred and healthy during our mortal probation, and that we will reclaim them as perfect after the resurrection.

Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “Rowing Your Boat,” October 1994 General Conference.

Ostler, Blaire

Another problem with the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood is that Her power and glory are predicated on her ability to produce offspring. It’s in her title: Heavenly Mother. I can say from personal experience that worshipping deified motherhood can be extremely painful for some, though not necessarily all, women who struggle with infertility. In the Church, womanhood is treated as if it is tantamount to motherhood, functionally speaking. The Latter-day Saint essentialist position of womanhood is to produce offspring to build up the Father’s kingdom. Before I continue, I should clarify that my experience is not every woman’s experience. Many Latter-day Saint women struggle with infertility and do not share my criticisms. Some take comfort in the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood when it offers a trajectory through which she may eventually be able to conceive children in the eternities. On the other hand, others may become resistant to Heavenly Mother when She feels like an unreachable trajectory for the infertile Latter-day Saint woman on earth. Every woman’s experience is different, and I honor and respect those diverse experiences, just as I hope other women would honor and respect my experience.

For me, the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood has been both a friend and foe in my efforts toward motherhood. Motherhood and biological reproduction have been a personal struggle for me. Being raised in a religion that puts a heavy emphasis on motherhood can be very difficult for women with a gender variant biology, like myself. I wanted to be a woman, even when my body didn’t comply. My womanhood was dependent upon my uterus. Since my uterus was faulty, I saw myself as faulty. Comments like Widtsoe’s only perpetuated the problem. In his commentary on how priesthood is comparable to motherhood, Widtsoe continued, “Such power [reproduction] entrusted to women proves conclusively that they have been recognized and trusted. Our Father even chose a Daughter of Eve to be the earth-mother and guide of His Only Begotten Son, and thus honored womanhood for all time and eternity!” 12 If this comment is to be taken seriously, it implies that women who cannot reproduce are not recognized, honored, and trusted by God the Father. Why would God the Father trust the woman sitting next to me in the pews, but not me? Am I even a woman if I’m not a mother? It can be incredibly painful for women with fertility issues or gender variant anatomies like mine to internalize ignorant sentiments like these. I cannot help but feel like the constant barrage of messages about motherhood being the overriding guiding concept for a woman’s existence is a way to maintain the patriarchal order of the Church structure and narrative, and not to comfort the women who need it most.

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

If theosis is the ultimate goal of Mormon theology, Heavenly Mother is the most prominent feminine example of that trajectory. She is the deity Latter-day Saint women are to aspire to. However, Her lack of presence in our communion and worship has caused many women to wonder why she is mostly absent in Her children’s lives, or at least in their communal worship. Is that a woman’s trajectory in the heavenly eternities? For some Latter-day Saint women, the thought of deifying into Heavenly Mother is a terrifying disconnect between them and their potential spirit children. If Latter-day Saint families are to be sealed together as whole families, why is it our own Mother’s presence is so essential, but simultaneously veiled?

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

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If anyone has the potential to be a God in Mormon theology, Godly esthetics should reflect the image of all Their children. Likewise, Heavenly Mother, as the Mother of all women, holds multitudes under Her wings. Hers is the face that is reflected in the motherly woman, the independent woman, the infertile woman, and the queer woman. We need not restrict Her esthetics and by extension, her love, on account of our ignorance. Her image is the image of all those that choose the label “woman” with as many faces, variations, and expression that are manifested on earth and in the heavens. She is the Mother of all women.

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

Peterson, Daniel

Moreover, Asherah seems to have been known and venerated among the Hebrews as well. At least some Israelites worshipped her over a period extending from the conquest of Canaan in the second millennium before Christ to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.—the time of Lehi’s departure with his family from the Old World.11 Ancient Israelite women, for instance, were sometimes buried in “Asherah wigs,” and she may also be reflected in Israelite temple architecture. Additionally, thousands of mass-produced goddess figurines have been found at Israelite sites.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

The great reforming king Hezekiah removed her again, along with the so-called Nehushtan, which 2 Kings 18:4 describes as “the brasen serpent that Moses had made.” Subsequently, al-though he failed to restore the Nehushtan, King Manasseh reinstalled Asherah in the Jerusalem temple, where she remained until the reforms of King Josiah, who reigned from roughly 639 to 609 b.c. So visible was Asherah still in this period just prior to the Babylonian captivity that Lehi’s contemporary, the prophet Jeremiah, felt obliged to denounce her worship. In other words, an image or symbol of Asherah stood in Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem for nearly two-thirds of its existence, certainly extending into the lifetime of Lehi and perhaps even into the lifetime of his son Nephi.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

So what are we to make of Asherah? Does the opposition to her veneration expressed and enforced by the Deuteronomists and the reforming Israelite kings indicate that she was a foreign pollution of legitimate Hebrew religion coming from abroad? It does not look that way. Recall that Hezekiah removed both the asherah and the Nehushtan from the temple at Jerusalem. The Nehushtan was not a pagan intrusion, but was “the brasen serpent that Moses had made,” which had been carefully preserved by the Israelites for nearly a millennium until Hezekiah, offended by the idolatrous worship of “the children of Israel [who] did burn incense to it” (2 Kings 18:4), removed it and destroyed it. In other words, the Ne-hushtan had an illustrious pedigree entirely within the religious world of Israel, and there is no reason to believe that the asherah was any different in this respect.

What is striking in the long story of Israel’s Asherah is the identity of those who did not oppose her. No prophet appears to have denounced Asherah before the eighth century b.c. The great Yahwist prophets Amos and Hosea, vociferous in their denunciations of Baal, seem not to have denounced Asherah. The Elijah-Elisha school of Yahwist reformers do not appear to have opposed her. Although 400 prophets of Asherah ate with Jezebel along with the 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah’s famous contest with the priests of Baal, while dramatically fatal to them, left the votaries of Asherah unmentioned and, evidently, untouched. “What happened to Asherah and her prophets?” asks David Noel Freedman. “Nothing.” In subsequent years the ruthless campaign against Baal inspired by Elijah and Elisha and led by Israel’s Jehu left the asherah of Samaria standing. Baal was wholly eliminated, while the veneration of the goddess actually outlived the northern kingdom.

Belief in Asherah seems, in fact, to have been a conservative position in ancient Israel; criticism of it was innovative. Saul Olyan, noting that “before the reforming kings in Judah, the asherah seems to have been entirely legitimate,” argues that ancient He-brew opposition to Asherah emanated entirely from the so-called Deuteronomistic reform party, or from those heavily influenced by them. Other factions in earliest Israel, Olyan says, probably thought that worshipping her was not wrong and may well have worshipped her themselves.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

Pace, Glenn L.

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.

Glenn L. Pace, “The Divine Nature and Destiny of Women” (devotional address, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, March 9, 2010).

Moreover, Asherah seems to have been known and venerated among the Hebrews as well. At least some Israelites worshipped her over a period extending from the conquest of Canaan in the second millennium before Christ to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.—the time of Lehi’s departure with his family from the Old World.11 Ancient Israelite women, for instance, were sometimes buried in “Asherah wigs,” and she may also be reflected in Israelite temple architecture. Additionally, thousands of mass-produced goddess figurines have been found at Israelite sites.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

Rasband, Ronald A.

. . . we are sons and daughters of living and loving Heavenly Parents, who desire only our eternal happiness.

Ronald A. Rasband, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Lest Thou Forget,” October 2016 General Conference.

Renlund, Dale G.

No matter what the assignment or calling is in the Church, to serve capably, one must serve knowing that everyone we serve “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, … has a divine nature and destiny.”

Dale G. Renlund, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Through God’s Eyes,” October 2015.

Robbins, Lynn G.

I am eternally grateful for the loving-kindness, patience, and long-suffering of Heavenly Parents and the Savior, who allow us countless second chances on our journey back to Their presence.

Lynn G. Robbins, Quorum of the Seventy, “Until Seventy Times Seven,” April 2018 General Conference.

Romney, Marion G.

I know that God lives.… I believe he is the Father of my spirit and the Father of your spirit. I believe we were born to him and to our mother in heaven. I do not know the process, but I do know how we are born to our fathers and mothers in this earth and that is the way I think about it.… I believe I was born to him as a spirit child in the spirit world before I was born here, and what I say about myself-and you will pardon the personal reference-I feel about every other human soul that lives in the earth. I believe we all lived with him before we came here.

Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, April 1948, p.76-77.

Smith, Barbara B.

In the beloved Latter-day Saint hymn “O My Father,” Eliza R. Snow celebrates in words the continuity of family relationships beyond death and reminds us of a glorious reunion with our heavenly parents. Written as solace to a dear friend, Zina Huntington, who had lost her mother and father in tragic deaths, the well-known lines of this hymn give poetic statement to a great truth revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Barbara B. Smith, Relief Society General President, “A Season for Strength,” October 1983.

Smith, Eldred G.

In the heavens, before the earth was formed, the plan of this earth life was explained to all of us. We were then but spirit offspring of our Father and Mother in heaven.

Eldred G. Smith, Patriarch to the Church, “Opposition in Order to Strengthen Us,” October 1973 General Conference.

Smith, Joseph

“An interesting sidelight is given to this time through a possible glimpse of the thought-kernel which grew into such fragrant bloom in the full-voiced poem of Sister Snow. It was told by Aunt Zina D. Young to the writer as to many others during her life. Father Huntington lost his wife under the most trying circumstances. Her children were left desolate. One day, when her daughter Zina was speaking with the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the loss of her mother and her intense grief, she asked the question:

“`Will I know my mother as my mother when I get over on the Other Side?’

“`Certainly you will,’ was the instant reply of the Prophet. `More than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.’

“`And have I then a Mother in Heaven?’ exclaimed the astonished girl.

“`You assuredly have. How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood?’

“It was about this time that Sister Snow learned the same glorious truth from the same inspired lips, and at once she was moved to express her own great joy and gratitude in the moving words of the hymn, `O my Father.’”

Joseph Smith, secondhand account (Susa Young Gates, “History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” from November 1869 to June 1910 (Salt Lake City: General Board of the Y.L.M.I.A., 1911), p. 16, footnote).

Smith, Joseph F.

All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.

First Presidency, Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund; “Messages of the First Presidency,” 4:203.

Snow, Erastus

Now, it is not said in so many words in the Scriptures, that we have a Mother in heaven as well as a Father. It is left for us to infer this from what we see and know of all living things in the earth including man. The male and female principle is united and both necessary to the accomplishment of the object of their being, and if this be not the case with our Father in heaven after whose image we are created, then it is an anomaly in nature. But to our minds the idea of a Father suggests that of a Mother.

Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, 1884.

“What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself . . . I must believe that deity consists of man and woman . . . there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way.”

Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, 19:269–70, March 3, 1878.

Snow, Lorenzo

We are the offspring of God. He is our Father, and we have a Mother in the other life as well.

Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 191.

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.

Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.7.

Stephens, Carole M.

We are beloved spirit sons and daughters of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and destiny.

Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “Do We Know What We Have?” October 2013 General Conference.

Remember your divine identity: you are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.

Carole M. Stephens,  First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “The Master Healer,” October 2016.

Stucki, H. Bruce

I testify that the family is the unit and the vehicle through which we can be sealed together and return, as a family, into the presence of our heavenly parents, there to experience eternal joy and happiness.

Bruce H. Stucki, Quorum of the Seventy, “Prayer, Faith, and Family,” April 2006 General Conference.

Talmage, James E.

The Church is bold enough to go so far as to declare that man has an Eternal Mother in the Heavens as well as an Eternal Father, and in the same sense ‘we look upon woman as a being, essential in every particular to the carrying out of God’s purposes in respect to mankind.’

James E. Talmage, Deseret News, 28 Apr. 1902.

Taylor, Brian K.

This great war over divine identity rages fiercely as Satan’s proliferating arsenal aims to destroy our belief in and knowledge of our relationship with God. Thankfully, we have been blessed with clear vision and understanding of our true identity from the beginning: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and His living prophets proclaim, “Each [human being] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Coming to know these truths with certainty helps us overcome trials, troubles, and afflictions of every kind. When asked, “How can we help those struggling with [a personal challenge]?” an Apostle of the Lord instructed, “Teach them their identity and their purpose.”

Brian K. Taylor, Quorum of Seventy, “Am I a Child of God?”, April 2018 General Conference.

Taylor, Henry D.

As Latter-day Saints, we firmly believe that we are brothers and sisters, spiritual offspring of heavenly parents, members of a royal family who once dwelt and associated together.

Henry D. Taylor, Quorum of the Seventy, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”, April 1972 General Conference.

Toscano, Margaret Merrill

I have argued on many occasions that the Mother/Female God is crucial for the healing and empowerment of women. Jewish, Christian, and even secular women have said the same thing many times. We all recall the much-used phrase “when God is man, man is god.” I still believe that a concept of a female God (or goddesses) is essential for the equality of women. However, I have also come to believe that a female God creates problems for women too. Like any good thing, there is always a shadow side. It is a mistake to oversimplify symbols or relationships, or to see them only in one way. The symbolic and relational systems of every culture are always complex and full of contradictions and gaps, leading to unexpected results and ambiguities. And it is in those contradictions where we often find the creative space necessary for rethinking and restructuring old patterns of thought and behavior. The gaps are like a door into a new world.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

The search that this essay represents is a search to reclaim the value of the feminine—my feminine. The process has taught me that I cannot fully love myself until I have dealt with all the anger I have toward my mother, mostly an unacknowledged anger at her for giving me a heritage of defeat. Before my dream I did not think I was angry because I had worked hard to understand and forgive. The dream showed me I had merely repressed the anger and transferred it to myself. To reclaim myself, I must also reclaim my mother and my Heavenly Mother. According to Marion Woodman, a Jungian psychologist, “Release from repression …is less a slaying of the evil witch than a transformation of her negative energy through creative assimilation.” As part of this process, it may be necessary to express hatred, which does not exclude love.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

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I do not think we can love either of our Heavenly Parents without also dealing with our anger against them. If you have not been angry at God, then you have never taken him or her seriously; you have not really entered into a relationship. Love always involves a broad range of emotions, which is why it seems easier to love in the abstract. It seems more like our ideal of love if it is not tainted with a complexity of emotions and a history of disappointments. But intense relationships have negative as well as positive interactions. We all hurt each other, even when we do not intend to. Even God, our Heavenly Parents, who are perfect, cannot help but cause us pain because they have put us in an imperfect world. I do not think we women can love the Mother God unless we have also been angry with her. Angry at her absence. Angry at all of our handicaps. Angry at all of our losses. Angry at all the injustices. Angry at our feelings of helplessness.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Uchtdorf, Dieter F.

I am pleased to be among so many daughters of God. When we sing the song “I Am a Child of God,” the lyrics penetrate our hearts. Pondering this truth—that we are children of heavenly parents—fills us with a sense of origin, purpose, and destiny.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Living the Gospel,” October 2014 General Conference.

Brothers and sisters, we are eternal beings, without beginning and without end. We have always existed. We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent Heavenly Parents!

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “O How Great the Plan of Our God!”, October 2016 General Conference.

I believe that every man, woman, and child has felt the call of heaven at some point in his or her life. Deep within us is a longing to somehow reach past the veil and embrace Heavenly Parents we once knew and cherished.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “A Yearning for Home,” October 2017 General Conference.

Waddell, Christopher W.

Long before leaving our earthly home to serve a full-time mission, we left heavenly parents to fulfill our mortal mission.

Christopher W. Waddell, Quorum of the Seventy, “The Opportunity of a Lifetime,” October 2011 General Conference.

Warner, Susan L.

Remembering our spiritual feelings draws us to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ. It gives us a sense of our true identity. It reminds us of what the prophets have recently proclaimed to the entire world, that “each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Recalling spiritual feelings reminds us of who we really are.

Susan L. Warner, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, “Remember How Thou Hast Received and Heard,” April 1996 General Conference.

Whitney, Orson F.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and 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” 

(cited in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98).

Winder, Barbara W.

Sisters, the anxiety and disquieting influence of this earth life could have been avoided had we stayed nestled in the household of our heavenly parents, but then how could we have progressed?

Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society General President, “Hope in Christ,” October 1986 General Conference.

Wilcox, Linda

Heavenly Mother-a glorified goddess, spouse to an actual Heavenly Father, and therefore the literal mother of our spirits. While the need for a divine feminine element in religion is perhaps universal, the form it took in Mormonism was particularly well suited to other aspects of Mormon theology. The Mother in Heaven concept was a logical and natural extension of a theology that posited both an anthropomorphic God who had once been a man and the possibility of eternal procreation of spirit children.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980.

An article in the Deseret News noted that the truthfulness of the doctrine of a Mother in Heaven would eventually be accepted by the world-that “it is a truth from which, when fully realized, the perfect ’emancipation’ and ennobling of woman will result.” To many, the concept of a Mother in Heaven was a fitting expression of a larger movement aimed at raising the status of women and expanding their rights and opportunities.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980.

So, what can be said about Mormon theology concerning a Heavenly Mother? At present, the nineteenth-century generalized image of a female counterpart to a literal male Father God is receiving increased attention and expansion and is becoming more personalized and individualized. The widening “theology” currently developing is more of a “folk or at least speculative theology rather than the traditional systematic development by theologians or definitive pronouncements coming from ecclesiastical leaders of the Church. For the moment, Mother in Heaven can be almost whatever an individual Mormon envisions her to be. Perhaps, ironically, we thus set her up, despite herself, to fill the most basic maternal role of all-that of meeting the deepest needs of her children, whatever they might be.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980.

Wixom, Rosemary M.

We come into this world “trailing clouds of glory.” “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches that each one of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” and “each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President, “Discovering the Divinity Within,” October 2015 General Conference.

Hinkley, Gordon B.

“Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.”

Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor, First Presidency, “Daughters of God,” October 1991 General Conference.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” October 1995 General Conference.

Hunter, Howard W.

“I share the view expressed by Orson F. Whitney in these words: “‘No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and 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

Howard W. Hunter, Acting President, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Opening and Closing of Doors,” October 1987 General Conference.

Kimball, Spencer W.

“The Primary song says, ‘I am a child of God.’ Born with a noble birthright. God is your father. He loves you. He and your Mother in Heaven value you beyond any measure. They gave your eternal intelligence spirit form, just as your earthly mother and father have given you a mortal body.”

Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church, “Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,” October 1978 General Conference.

Finally, when we sing that doctrinal hymn and anthem of affection, ‘O My Father,’ we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less if we live so as to return there?

Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church, “The True Way of Life and Salvation,” April 1978 General Conference.

Now, the sealing for eternity gives to you eternal leadership. The man will have the authority of the priesthood, and if he keeps his life in order he will become a god. Now, that’s hard to understand, isn’t it? But that’s the way it is. You see, we have a Father in Heaven and we have a mother in heaven. And so we have a spiritual father and mother as we have a material father and mother on the earth. The Lord created this earth for us and made it a beautiful place to live. He promised us that if we would live the right way we could come back to him and be like him.”

Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 52.

God is our father. He loves us. He and our mother in heaven value us beyond any measure. They gave our eternal intelligences spirit form, just as our earthly mothers and fathers have given us mortal bodies. Each of us is unique—one of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence that gives us claim upon eternal life.

Spencer W. Kimball, My Beloved Sisters, p.25.

Monson, Thomas S.

All of us commenced a wonderful and essential journey when we left the spirit world and entered this often-challenging stage called mortality. The primary purposes of our existence upon the earth are to obtain a body of flesh and bones, to gain experience that could come only through separation from our heavenly parents, and to see if we would keep the commandments. In the book of Abraham chapter 3 we read: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church, “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet,” October 2014 General Conference.

Nelson, Russel M.

My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ invites us to take the covenant path back home to our Heavenly Parents and be with those we love. He invites us to “come, follow me.”

Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, “Come Follow Me,” April 2019 General Conference.

This divine entreaty is consistent with the fact that, as begotten children of heavenly parents, we are endowed with the potential to become like them, just as mortal children may become like their mortal parents.

Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Perfection Pending,”October 1995 General Conference.

Trees reach up for the light and grow in the process. So do we as sons and daughters of heavenly parents. Facing upward provides a loftier perspective than facing right or facing left. Looking up in search of holiness builds strength and dignity as disciples of Deity.

Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods,” April 1996 General Conference.

Smith, Joseph

“An interesting sidelight is given to this time through a possible glimpse of the thought-kernel which grew into such fragrant bloom in the full-voiced poem of Sister Snow. It was told by Aunt Zina D. Young to the writer as to many others during her life. Father Huntington lost his wife under the most trying circumstances. Her children were left desolate. One day, when her daughter Zina was speaking with the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the loss of her mother and her intense grief, she asked the question:

“`Will I know my mother as my mother when I get over on the Other Side?’

“`Certainly you will,’ was the instant reply of the Prophet. `More than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.’

“`And have I then a Mother in Heaven?’ exclaimed the astonished girl.

“`You assuredly have. How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood?’

“It was about this time that Sister Snow learned the same glorious truth from the same inspired lips, and at once she was moved to express her own great joy and gratitude in the moving words of the hymn, `O my Father.’”

Joseph Smith, secondhand account (Susa Young Gates, “History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” from November 1869 to June 1910 (Salt Lake City: General Board of the Y.L.M.I.A., 1911), p. 16, footnote).

Smith, Joseph F.

All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.

First Presidency, Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund; “Messages of the First Presidency,” 4:203.

Snow, Lorenzo

We are the offspring of God. He is our Father, and we have a Mother in the other life as well.

Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 191.

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.

Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.7.

Aburto, Reyna I.

Like the monarch butterflies, we are on a journey back to our heavenly home, where we will reunite with our Heavenly Parents. Like the butterflies, we have been given divine attributes that allow us to navigate through life, in order to “[fill] the measure of [our] creation.” Like them, if we knit our hearts together, the Lord will protect us “as a hen [gathers] her chickens under her wings” and will make us into a beautiful kaleidoscope.

Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “With One Accord,” April 2018 General Conference.

Beck, Julie B.

Oh, that every girl and woman would have a testimony of her potential for eternal motherhood as she keeps her earthly covenants. “Each is a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine … destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). As spirit daughters of God, women “received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth” (D&C 138:56) on the earth. They were among the “noble and great ones” (D&C 138:55) who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth because they would be given a physical body with the opportunity to be proven in a mortal sphere (see Abr. 3:25). They wished to work side by side with righteous men to accomplish eternal goals that neither can attain independently.

Julie. B. Beck, Relief Society General President, “A Moth

, “You have a noble birthright,” April 2006.

You have light because you are literally spirit daughters of Deity, ‘offspring of exalted parents’ with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. You received your first lessons in the world of spirits from your heavenly parents. You have been sent to earth to “prove” yourselves

Julie B. Beck, Young Women General Presidency, “You have a noble birthright,” April 2006.

Burton, Linda K.

Sisters, I testify of loving Heavenly Parents; of our Savior, Jesus Christ; and of His infinite Atonement in our behalf.

Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, “Certain Women,” April 2017 General Conference.

Gates, Suza Young

“the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.”

Jack, Elaine L.

Have you ever been told you are just like your mother, or you have your father’s smile, or all of your family have the same color of eyes? The physical characteristics that we inherit from our parents are obvious. The spiritual characteristics we inherit from our heavenly parents have to be developed. You have been born with all the godlike gifts that Christ has. They are within you, but you have to choose to cultivate and develop them. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen without our best efforts.

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President, “Identity of a Young Woman,” October 1989.

Jones, Joy D.

“‘God is your father, He loves you, He and your Mother in Heaven value you beyond any measure. You are unique, one of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life. Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood.'” 

Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, “Value beyond Measure,” October 2017 General Conference.

Kapp, Ardeth G.

“Let us listen to another young woman pouring out her heart:

“ ‘…I just wish of all things I could go up and give Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother a big hug and tell them that I made it back.’ ”

Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women General President, “A Time for Hope,” October 1986 General Conference.

Marriott, Neill F.

Our high responsibility is to become women who follow the Savior, nurture with inspiration, and live truth fearlessly. As we ask Father in Heaven to make us builders of His kingdom, His power will flow into us and we will know how to nurture, ultimately becoming like our heavenly parents.

Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, “What Shall We Do?”, April 2016 General Conference.

Okazaki, Chieko

“at the end of this process, our Heavenly Parents will have sons and daughters who are their peers, their friends, and their colleagues”

Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency.

Faith tells us that our bodies were created through an inspired process, that they were made in the image of our Heavenly Parents, that we have a stewardship over them to keep them sacred and healthy during our mortal probation, and that we will reclaim them as perfect after the resurrection.

Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “Rowing Your Boat,” October 1994 General Conference.

Smith, Barbara B.

In the beloved Latter-day Saint hymn “O My Father,” Eliza R. Snow celebrates in words the continuity of family relationships beyond death and reminds us of a glorious reunion with our heavenly parents. Written as solace to a dear friend, Zina Huntington, who had lost her mother and father in tragic deaths, the well-known lines of this hymn give poetic statement to a great truth revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Barbara B. Smith, Relief Society General President, “A Season for Strength,” October 1983.

Stephens, Carole M.

We are beloved spirit sons and daughters of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and destiny.

Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “Do We Know What We Have?” October 2013 General Conference.

Remember your divine identity: you are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.

Carole M. Stephens,  First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, “The Master Healer,” October 2016.

Warner, Susan L.

Remembering our spiritual feelings draws us to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ. It gives us a sense of our true identity. It reminds us of what the prophets have recently proclaimed to the entire world, that “each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Recalling spiritual feelings reminds us of who we really are.

Susan L. Warner, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, “Remember How Thou Hast Received and Heard,” April 1996 General Conference.

Winder, Barbara W.

Sisters, the anxiety and disquieting influence of this earth life could have been avoided had we stayed nestled in the household of our heavenly parents, but then how could we have progressed?

Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society General President, “Hope in Christ,” October 1986 General Conference.

Wixom, Rosemary M.

We come into this world “trailing clouds of glory.” “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches that each one of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” and “each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President, “Discovering the Divinity Within,” October 2015 General Conference.

Allred, Janice

I believe that God the Mother is equal to God the Father in divinity, power, and perfection. I believe that God, both Father and Mother, is deeply involved in our mortality and immortality. I also believe that God the Father has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Although he is male, for me he is an adequate model. He modeled many roles for us—father, mother, teacher, friend, son, lover, servant, lord—and also many attributes. If he were the only God, he would be enough. But there is another god and she has a woman’s body like mine. I want to know her, not simply as a model, but as a person. That she is God as well as woman is as important for men as it is for women as it affirms the equality of male and female and of masculine and feminine attributes and values.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

If the gods are divine couples, then we can assume that God himself is also a divine couple, that God the Father, as a being of spirit and body, is eternally joined to God the Mother, also a being of spirit and body. “The Father” then must also mean “the Mother” as “sons of God” certainly includes “daughters of God.”

This suggests another way of interpreting the Godhead. The Father is the divine couple, Father and Mother, each possessing a spirit and a glorified body. They must together be the source of light or spirit which permeates all things. If the name “the Father” refers to the union of the two personages who together are God, then perhaps the other two names in the Godhead refer to them separately. As we have seen, “the Son” refers to the flesh, so the Lord or Jehovah, as the embodied. . . Perhaps, then, the Holy Ghost is the name of the Mother which refers to her work among us in mortality.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

If God created male and female in the image of his own body then God the Creator must be the Divine Couple, a Man with a male body and a Woman with a female body. If God the Creator is the Divine Couple and God the Redeemer is the male part of the Divine Couple, then it is reasonable to conclude that God the Witness or Testator is the female part of God the Creator.

God himself came down among the children of men to redeem his people. He sacrificed his immortal body and took on himself a mortal body to become one of us and suffer the pains and sorrows of mortality. He sacrificed his mortal body so that he might conquer death and bring about the resurrection of all humanity and he suffered the pains of all our sins so that we might be redeemed.

God herself came down among the children of women to succor her children. She sacrificed her immortal body to be with us; she remains a spirit so that she can always be with us to enlighten, to comfort, to strengthen, to feel what we feel, to suffer with us in all our sins, in our loneliness and pain, and to encircle us in the arms of her love. She bears witness of Christ and leads us to him, teaching us of their will so that we might partake of eternal life in their kingdom.

“Toward a Mormon Theology of Heavenly Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1992.

Barney, Kevin

I see the crowning way to worship our Mother in Heaven as engaging in temple service, whether as workers or as patrons. The connection between our Mother and the temple was and is profound. Consider, for instance, the following points:

  • “Asherah” means “sanctuary,” “holy place,” and is thus, essentially, a synonym for temple.
  • During times favorable to Asherah worship in ancient Israel, there was a statue or other image of Her prominently displayed in the temple. (This image was removed during times unfavorable to Her worship.)
  • The menorah was a stylized almond tree and probably a symbol of the Goddess. It burned olive oil, which also was Her symbol. 
  • The two cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies were identified as Asherah and Yahweh.
  • Our modern temple ritual revolves around a creation drama, in which Asherah participated as a master craftsman.
  • The Garden of Eden narrative prominently features two sacred trees (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life), both of which represent Her.
  • One of the most prominent ways that ancient Israelite women worshipped Asherah was by weaving textiles that were then used in the temple. It is not entirely clear what these weavings were—perhaps wall  hangings or veils.

In 1985, I graduated from law school and moved to Chicago to begin my career. The Chicago Temple was dedicated not long after we arrived. Relief Society sisters in the area had made altar cloths with fine needlework for the temple’s altars. It seems to be a very close analog to a specific way in which Israelite women worshipped their Mother in Heaven.

“How to Worship Heavenly Mother (Without Getting Excommunicated)” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought.

What did “Asherah” mean? Here, as often in the Old Testament, we must distinguish between popular and historical etymology. It seems likely that Hebrew-speaking Israelites would have understood the name as meaning “Happiness, Blessedness,” from the verbal root ’ashar, the basic meaning of which is “to go straight on, to advance,” whether in a literal or a metaphoric [“in the way of understanding”] sense. In the piel verb stem, the verb has the developed meanings “to set right, righten” and from there “to pronounce happy, call blessed.” In this view, “Asherah” would be a nominal form of this verb. Indeed, early modern Hebraists understood the word in just this way.

Although I have focused on the small bits of information we can glean about Her from the Old Testament, a more extensive body of knowledge is available in the older Ras Shamra tablets, written in Ugaritic, a Canaanite dialect. The Ugaritic vocalization of “Asherah” was “Athirat,” which traditional scholarship interprets as deriving from the longer expression, rbt ’atrt ym (“She Who Treads on the Sea).” More recent scholarship prefers “Lady Athirat of the Sea,” thus keeping Her name intact. A more recent understanding of the historical linguistic etymology of “Athirat” (and thus Asherah) is that it means “Sanctuary.” This interpretation is also supported by Her epithet qdš (Ugaritic Qudshu, Hebrew Qodesh), meaning “Holy Place, Holiness.”

Although the epithet “Breasts-and-Womb” appears in the Old Testament (Gen. 49:25), Canaanite literature ascribes other epithets to her that are not in the Bible: “Lion Lady,” “Creatress of All the Gods,” and “Mistress of Sexual Rejoicing.” Early Israelite belief may have continuity with at least some of this earlier Canaanite mythology; but for purposes of this paper, I want to focus specifically on what we can learn from our canonical scripture. I make, however, an exception for Her principal title: Elat. Although this title is attested only in Ugaritic and not in Hebrew, it fits logically with what we otherwise know about her. “Elat” is El with the archaic -at feminine ending. “El” appears in theHebrew Bible, both as the proper name of the Most High God and as a generic term for God; although the normal Hebrew feminine ending is -ah, the archaic -at ending also appears in biblical Hebrew, apparently paralleling the feminine nebi’ah, which generically means “prophetess” but, as used specifically in Isaiah 8:3, means “Mrs. Prophet” (i.e., Isaiah’s wife). So the title “Elat” can mean both generically “Goddess” (in her own right) and specifically “Mrs. El” or “Mrs. God” (in relation to El Himself).

“How to Worship Heavenly Mother (Without Getting Excommunicated)” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought.

Givens, Fiona

In the earliest Israelite conception, father El had a divine son named Jehovah or Yahweh. Gradually, however, the Israelite conception of Yahweh absorbed the functions of El and, by the 10th century b.c., King Solomon’s day, had come to be identified with him. Asherah was the chief goddess of the Canaanites. She was El’s wife and the mother and wet nurse of the other gods

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

Asherah, or the Divine Feminine, is referred to in Proverbs 4:18 as the “Tree of Life.” Her “fruit is better than gold, even fine gold” (Proverbs 8:19). Those who hold her fast are called happy (a word play on the Hebrew ashr). It can be assumed, therefore, that Asherah and Wisdom (Sophia in the Greek) are different names for the same deity. According to the book of Proverbs, Wisdom/Asherah is the name of the deity with whom “the Lord founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19–20). Before the world was, She was. “Long life is in her right hand; /in her left hand are

riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life” (Proverbs 3:16–18). Latter-day Saints are enjoined to search for her in the opening chapters of the Doctrine and Covenants because Wisdom holds the keys not only to the mysteries of God but to eternal life (D&C 6:7, 11:7).

“‘The Perfect Union of Man and Woman’: Reclamation and Collaboration in Joseph Smith’s Theology Making.”

Ostler, Blaire

If theosis is the ultimate goal of Mormon theology, Heavenly Mother is the most prominent feminine example of that trajectory. She is the deity Latter-day Saint women are to aspire to. However, Her lack of presence in our communion and worship has caused many women to wonder why she is mostly absent in Her children’s lives, or at least in their communal worship. Is that a woman’s trajectory in the heavenly eternities? For some Latter-day Saint women, the thought of deifying into Heavenly Mother is a terrifying disconnect between them and their potential spirit children. If Latter-day Saint families are to be sealed together as whole families, why is it our own Mother’s presence is so essential, but simultaneously veiled?

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

Another problem with the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood is that Her power and glory are predicated on her ability to produce offspring. It’s in her title: Heavenly Mother. I can say from personal experience that worshipping deified motherhood can be extremely painful for some, though not necessarily all, women who struggle with infertility. In the Church, womanhood is treated as if it is tantamount to motherhood, functionally speaking. The Latter-day Saint essentialist position of womanhood is to produce offspring to build up the Father’s kingdom. Before I continue, I should clarify that my experience is not every woman’s experience. Many Latter-day Saint women struggle with infertility and do not share my criticisms. Some take comfort in the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood when it offers a trajectory through which she may eventually be able to conceive children in the eternities. On the other hand, others may become resistant to Heavenly Mother when She feels like an unreachable trajectory for the infertile Latter-day Saint woman on earth. Every woman’s experience is different, and I honor and respect those diverse experiences, just as I hope other women would honor and respect my experience. 

For me, the Heavenly Mother concept of godhood has been both a friend and foe in my efforts toward motherhood. Motherhood and biological reproduction have been a personal struggle for me. Being raised in a religion that puts a heavy emphasis on motherhood can be very difficult for women with a gender variant biology, like myself. I wanted to be a woman, even when my body didn’t comply. My womanhood was dependent upon my uterus. Since my uterus was faulty, I saw myself as faulty. Comments like Widtsoe’s only perpetuated the problem. In his commentary on how priesthood is comparable to motherhood, Widtsoe continued, “Such power [reproduction] entrusted to women proves conclusively that they have been recognized and trusted. Our Father even chose a Daughter of Eve to be the earth-mother and guide of His Only Begotten Son, and thus honored womanhood for all time and eternity!” 12 If this comment is to be taken seriously, it implies that women who cannot reproduce are not recognized, honored, and trusted by God the Father. Why would God the Father trust the woman sitting next to me in the pews, but not me? Am I even a woman if I’m not a mother? It can be incredibly painful for women with fertility issues or gender variant anatomies like mine to internalize ignorant sentiments like these. I cannot help but feel like the constant barrage of messages about motherhood being the overriding guiding concept for a woman’s existence is a way to maintain the patriarchal order of the Church structure and narrative, and not to comfort the women who need it most. 

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

If anyone has the potential to be a God in Mormon theology, Godly esthetics should reflect the image of all Their children. Likewise, Heavenly Mother, as the Mother of all women, holds multitudes under Her wings. Hers is the face that is reflected in the motherly woman, the independent woman, the infertile woman, and the queer woman. We need not restrict Her esthetics and by extension, her love, on account of our ignorance. Her image is the image of all those that choose the label “woman” with as many faces, variations, and expression that are manifested on earth and in the heavens. She is the Mother of all women.

“Heavenly Mother: The Mother of All Women,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, 2018.

Peterson, Daniel

Moreover, Asherah seems to have been known and venerated among the Hebrews as well. At least some Israelites worshipped her over a period extending from the conquest of Canaan in the second millennium before Christ to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.—the time of Lehi’s departure with his family from the Old World.11 Ancient Israelite women, for instance, were sometimes buried in “Asherah wigs,” and she may also be reflected in Israelite temple architecture. Additionally, thousands of mass-produced goddess figurines have been found at Israelite sites.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

The great reforming king Hezekiah removed her again, along with the so-called Nehushtan, which 2 Kings 18:4 describes as “the brasen serpent that Moses had made.” Subsequently, al-though he failed to restore the Nehushtan, King Manasseh reinstalled Asherah in the Jerusalem temple, where she remained until the reforms of King Josiah, who reigned from roughly 639 to 609 b.c. So visible was Asherah still in this period just prior to the Babylonian captivity that Lehi’s contemporary, the prophet Jeremiah, felt obliged to denounce her worship.20 In other words, an image or symbol of Asherah stood in Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem for nearly two-thirds of its existence, certainly extending into the lifetime of Lehi and perhaps even into the lifetime of his son Nephi.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

So what are we to make of Asherah? Does the opposition to her veneration expressed and enforced by the Deuteronomists and the reforming Israelite kings indicate that she was a foreign pollution of legitimate Hebrew religion coming from abroad? It does not look that way. Recall that Hezekiah removed both the asherah and the Nehushtan from the temple at Jerusalem. The Nehushtan was not a pagan intrusion, but was “the brasen serpent that Moses had made,” which had been carefully preserved by the Israelites for nearly a millennium until Hezekiah, offended by the idolatrous worship of “the children of Israel [who] did burn incense to it” (2 Kings 18:4), removed it and destroyed it. In other words, the Ne-hushtan had an illustrious pedigree entirely within the religious world of Israel, and there is no reason to believe that the asherah was any different in this respect.

What is striking in the long story of Israel’s Asherah is the identity of those who did not oppose her. No prophet appears to have denounced Asherah before the eighth century b.c. The great Yahwist prophets Amos and Hosea, vociferous in their denunciations of Baal, seem not to have denounced Asherah. The Elijah-Elisha school of Yahwist reformers do not appear to have opposed her. Although 400 prophets of Asherah ate with Jezebel along with the 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah’s famous contest with the priests of Baal, while dramatically fatal to them, left the votaries of Asherah unmentioned and, evidently, untouched. “What happened to Asherah and her prophets?” asks David Noel Freedman. “Nothing.” In subsequent years the ruthless campaign against Baal inspired by Elijah and Elisha and led by Israel’s Jehu left the asherah of Samaria standing. Baal was wholly eliminated, while the veneration of the goddess actually outlived the northern kingdom. 

Belief in Asherah seems, in fact, to have been a conservative position in ancient Israel; criticism of it was innovative. Saul Olyan, noting that “before the reforming kings in Judah, the asherah seems to have been entirely legitimate,” argues that ancient He-brew opposition to Asherah emanated entirely from the so-called Deuteronomistic reform party, or from those heavily influenced by them. Other factions in earliest Israel, Olyan says, probably thought that worshipping her was not wrong and may well have worshipped her themselves.

“Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

81.

Toscano, Margaret Merrill

I have argued on many occasions that the Mother/Female God is crucial for the healing and empowerment of women. Jewish, Christian, and even secular women have said the same thing many times. We all recall the much-used phrase “when God is man, man is god.” I still believe that a concept of a female God (or goddesses) is essential for the equality of women. However, I have also come to believe that a female God creates problems for women too. Like any good thing, there is always a shadow side. It is a mistake to oversimplify symbols or relationships, or to see them only in one way. The symbolic and relational systems of every culture are always complex and full of contradictions and gaps, leading to unexpected results and ambiguities. And it is in those contradictions where we often find the creative space necessary for rethinking and restructuring old patterns of thought and behavior. The gaps are like a door into a new world.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

The search that this essay represents is a search to reclaim the value of the feminine—my feminine. The process has taught me that I cannot fully love myself until I have dealt with all the anger I have toward my mother, mostly an unacknowledged anger at her for giving me a heritage of defeat. Before my dream I did not think I was angry because I had worked hard to understand and forgive. The dream showed me I had merely repressed the anger and transferred it to myself. To reclaim myself, I must also reclaim my mother and my Heavenly Mother. According to Marion Woodman, a Jungian psychologist, “Release from repression …is less a slaying of the evil witch than a transformation of her negative energy through creative assimilation.” As part of this process, it may be necessary to express hatred, which does not exclude love.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

I do not think we can love either of our Heavenly Parents without also dealing with our anger against them. If you have not been angry at God, then you have never taken him or her seriously; you have not really entered into a relationship. Love always involves a broad range of emotions, which is why it seems easier to love in the abstract. It seems more like our ideal of love if it is not tainted with a complexity of emotions and a history of disappointments. But intense relationships have negative as well as positive interactions. We all hurt each other, even when we do not intend to. Even God, our Heavenly Parents, who are perfect, cannot help but cause us pain because they have put us in an imperfect world. I do not think we women can love the Mother God unless we have also been angry with her. Angry at her absence. Angry at all of our handicaps. Angry at all of our losses. Angry at all the injustices. Angry at our feelings of helplessness.

“If I Hate My Mother, Can I Love the Heavenly Mother? Personal Identity, Parental Relationships, and Perceptions of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Wilcox, Linda

Heavenly Mother-a glorified goddess, spouse to an actual Heavenly Father, and therefore the literal mother of our spirits. While the need for a divine feminine element in religion is perhaps universal, the form it took in Mormonism was particularly well suited to other aspects of Mormon theology. The Mother in Heaven concept was a logical and natural extension of a theology that posited both an anthropomorphic God who had once been a man and the possibility of eternal procreation of spirit children.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980.

An article in the Deseret News noted that the truthfulness of the doctrine of a Mother in Heaven would eventually be accepted by the world-that “it is a truth from which, when fully realized, the perfect ’emancipation’ and ennobling of woman will result.” To many, the concept of a Mother in Heaven was a fitting expression of a larger movement aimed at raising the status of women and expanding their rights and opportunities.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980

So, what can be said about Mormon theology concerning a Heavenly Mother? At present, the nineteenth-century generalized image of a female counterpart to a literal male Father God is receiving increased attention and expansion and is becoming more personalized and individualized. The widening “theology” currently developing is more of a “folk or at least speculative theology rather than the traditional systematic development by theologians or definitive pronouncements coming from ecclesiastical leaders of the Church. For the moment, Mother in Heaven can be almost whatever an individual Mormon envisions her to be. Perhaps, ironically, we thus set her up, despite herself, to fill the most basic maternal role of all-that of meeting the deepest needs of her children, whatever they might be.

“The Mormon Concept of a Heavenly Mother,” Sunstone, 1980.