The Brethren Want Us to Shut Up About Heavenly Mother Already, Again

Family Feminism Heavenly Mother Mormon Doctrine Mother in Heaven Motherhood Sex and Gender

Discussions are proliferating among liberal Mormons on social media about recent efforts by the Brethren to let the Saints know that they better stop talking about Heavenly Mother, ASAP. Here’s a good early summation of what’s going on, from Twitter.

In 1985, when I was a missionary, a relative sent me a copy of the Exponent II with a personal essay by a woman who was disciplined for discussing Heavenly Mother. It really upset me at the time. I wanted to track it down today; it took me quite a bit of effort, but I found it: a letter by Nadine Faith, on pages 14-15 of Exponent II Summer 1985, Vol. 11 no. 4. (The sorts of statements she was punished for are in an essay on pages 4-5 of the same issue.)

All of which is to say that this is an old problem, and it’s just getting worse. This recent move is dickish and mean, but it’s also doomed to fail, for at least three reasons:

1. The brethren already legitimated discussing Heavenly Mother with the publication of “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” by Paulsen and Pulido in BYU Studies in 2011. Even if someone scrubs the webpage, thousands of people have already read and downloaded it.

2. LDS theology is incoherent without an empowered heavenly mother who is equal to heavenly father.

3. There are too many people who just don’t give a damn about the queasiness a few dozen old men feel when they hear kids today discuss heavenly mother. Janice Allred was excommunicated in 1995 for discussing Heavenly Mother; her sister Margaret Toscano was excommunicated for the same thing in 2000. But their excommunications haven’t shut them up; they’ve continued to speak, write, and publish about Mother in Heaven.

They and many others prove that no man can deny anyone the right to discuss, depict, write poems/essays/novels about, create speculative theology about, sing hymns to, pray to, or worship Heavenly Mother or any other manifestation of the divine feminine.

Six months ago or so I wrote here about an awful man who gave the church a lot of problems after it put him in leadership positions not despite the fact but “because he was bossy, nasty, and mean, with a high very opinion of his own authority and righteousness and little sense of the limits of either.” It was one way the church has hoisted itself with its own petard.

This is another problem of the church’s own creation, the result of a feature rather than a bug in the church’s theology. The church tells Latter-day Saints to imagine and emulate heavenly parents in heavenly heterosexual marriages, so they do–and to make that exercise work, the heavenly parents being imagined and emulated must actually look and act and feel like the humans trying to relate to them. No one in the COJCOLDS actually wants a world where earthly mothers act like Heavenly Mother and hand the kids over to Dad and Big Brother the moment the kids are born, after which everyone pretends Mom doesn’t actually have anything to do with the kids’ existence. Since Latter-day Saints will never behave like that or even think they should, they have to make Heavenly Mother act more like them. Otherwise, it’s all completely incoherent.

Then the church tells Latter-day Saints to prayerfully seek revelation about Godhood and Godliness, so they do, and they get a revelation that Heavenly Mother is the Holy Ghost or whatever.

For people who supposedly base their lives on scripture, these dudes seem really unable to grasp the very old principle that “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” What did they think would happen when they made heaven all about heterosexual nuclear families?

7 thoughts on “The Brethren Want Us to Shut Up About Heavenly Mother Already, Again

  1. So agree with this: For people who supposedly base their lives on scripture, these dudes seem really unable to grasp the very old principle that “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” What did they think would happen when they made heaven all about heterosexual nuclear families?

    Also, I wonder if any of the ardent excommunicators have thought about Heavenly Mother in terms of what Heavenly Mother wants. I remember asking about her and being told that Heavenly Father doesn’t want us talking about her. Now I realize I didn’t even consider what she wanted, and it tells me so much about what I allowed myself to want

  2. Hi Monya–

    You are right: it’s very rare for anyone to take Heavenly Mother’s wishes into account in all of this theology. I wondered, for instance, how she felt when God banished a third of the hosts of heaven to hell for all eternity. I can easily imagine her being really pissed about it. Maybe that’s why we never hear about her: she went off to minister to those kids.

    A long time ago, on this blog, I suggested that one way to understand heterosexual Mormon marriage is through the song “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” from the BOM Musical:

    ‘It works perfectly in the show with two male missionary companions, in part because it’s an attitude enough 19-year-old Mormon guys have. But imagine it sung with a young Mormon man and his fiance: it works even better. Both of them very likely accept that she is “the side dish on a slightly smaller plate,” precisely because that’s how they’ve been trained to see marriages: he is the captain, she is the mate.’

    It seems obvious to me that Mormonism expects women to be the mate and the side dish for all eternity, so that what women want is a matter of indifference.

    https://mainstreetplaza.com/2011/05/12/mormon-beards-%e2%80%93-exploring-issues-patriarchy-duplicity/#comment-89247

  3. One of the bizarre justifications for not talking about Heavenly Mother was so we could “protect” her from people who might say mean things. As if anyone who’s gone through a lifetime of trials and succeeded at overcoming them to the extent they qualify for the top level of the Celestial Kingdom was a dainty flower who couldn’t take the heat like her strong husband could. Even in my True Believer days, that seemed unlikely.

  4. Truly, Johnny! Like an omnipotent being is really threatened by the utterances of mere humans. It’s just nuts.

  5. Re: “No one in the COJCOLDS actually wants a world where earthly mothers act like Heavenly Mother and hand the kids over to Dad and Big Brother the moment the kids are born, after which everyone pretends Mom doesn’t actually have anything to do with the kids’ existence.”

    That is so true. Why are the GAs so intent on enforcing this incoherent theology that doesn’t work for so many people who want to feel a spiritual connection with their “Heavenly Parents”? Is it to avoid looking strange to other Christians? Or maybe to prevent LDS women from claiming any leadership in worship and theology?

  6. re: ‘Why are the GAs so intent on enforcing this incoherent theology that doesn’t work for so many people who want to feel a spiritual connection with their “Heavenly Parents”? Is it to avoid looking strange to other Christians? Or maybe to prevent LDS women from claiming any leadership in worship and theology?’

    I think it’s both those things. But I also think they don’t want to upset men who like being in charge and special. Men pay more tithing than women, and if men stop supporting the church, it might have to dip into its rainy day fund the next time it wants to build a mall.

  7. Just stumbled across this while surfing around for the latest on the batshit insane She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Capitalized crackdown The Brethren are apparently cooking up… and nice to see one of my favorite old haunts is still haunting “the dudes” lol. Rock on!

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