Monday Morning Theological Poll: “Are you there Heavenly Mother? It’s Me, BCC” Edition

This week, as promised, a poll about Heavenly Mother, the most famous God about whom we know nothing. The question is, in the absence of any information to speak of, whom do we think Heavenly Mother is.

Vote above and justify your speculation below. Note: I have tried to be thorough (I’ve run through all options I’ve encountered and invented a few to fill in gaps), but if you don’t see your option, add it in the comments. For that matter, if you have a good idea for an upcoming poll, please post it to the comments. Otherwise, next week we’ll do an evolution poll and we all want to avoid that.

Comments

  1. For those of you voting for a monogamous relationship, I submit the following: Mary. Discuss.

  2. You missed an option:

    I don’t know.

  3. #1–Seeing that, thanks to modern science, we can reproduce without sex, I’m fairly certain God can too.

  4. So is Mary then in a polyandry relationship with God and Joseph? Poor Joseph sacrificing all his life for someone he is not going to be sealed to.So I suppose that would imply that all Mary’s children are Gods children and not Josephs? Who knows, Perhaps Mary was a surrogate for Mother-in-Heaven. If the entire Mary story is even possible then the idea that Mary’s egg was not entirely her own (in a spiritual energy kinda way)is also possible. I am not going to pretend I know the conception story but I have a hard time believing it was a love/sex relationship between God and Mary.

  5. Seeing these listed out in this highlights my own ignorance. I have not even been able to vote yet. In the past I am leaned toward a variety of these options but without any clear reason.

    I think the JS and Eliza R. Snow interaction is very possible but I also believe it is probable that Eliza Snow inferred this doctrine from some of Smith’s teachings and that her influence among the members allowed it to become mainstream, esp. after polygamy became public.

  6. Matt W.,
    The last option, of course, is for you. :)

  7. For those voting for option two: How does that work, exactly?

  8. What happens to Joseph if Mary is God’s wife? I also would love to read a post on Mother-in-Heaven being the Holy Ghost. I always wanted to believe that. Any backing to it?

  9. @CZ,

    Hardly, the Holy Ghost is a male spirit not a resurrected female!

  10. #1: John C.
    I agree: Mother in Heaven came down to earth as Mary :)

  11. #8

    Since we have virtually no information with which to ground any particular belief I kind of interpret the poll results to really be and indication of “Who do we *want to believe* Heavenly Mother to be?” Some want her to be a polygynous wife since this gives logic and historical justification to polygamy. Most want her to be an equal partner in a monogamous and equal since that is what most of us want for ourselves. I too would love it if it turns out the third member of the Godhead is Heavenly Mother. I kind of wish I could have voted for both #1 and Mother as Holy Ghost.

    There is some support in ancient middle eastern religions that make up the old testament for this theory (as I understand it). There were definitely a family of gods that included a father, mother and son in ancient Israel. The mother/female god was associated with things like sacred groves and wisdom etc. I understand that some argue that the female god came to be suppressed by the ruling elite for a variety of reasons. I don’t know much more than the fact that some people argue this and have no background to know whether such claims and analysis are valid just that they are made.

  12. Actually, the most famous God about which we (humans) know nothing is the transcendental God of traditional christianity (cf, Thomas Aquinas etc).

    This poll reminds me of the nicene council/creed because it encourages speculation ‘in the absence of any [revealed] information’ – There are some things we can clearly preclude here because we know that Heavenly Mother is a companion to Heavenly Father in the same way that Eve was to Adam… so she is clearly not the earth or the Holy Ghost! Nor is she a myth or made up story.

    But as for positive statements beyond that she is the companion to Heavenly Father what else is revealed?

    Have you ever asked Heavenly Father to tell you about her?

  13. And John C. is breaking ground for a series I’m thinking about for September. The perfect lead-in to conference! I’m keeping my own idea a secret.

  14. Rah, you’re thinking of Asherah – the wisdom deity. Although their was a family of Gods; Father, Mother and Son – it would be a massive mistake to think of this as the Old Testament version of the Trinity. The Holy Ghost is in the form of a man (1 Nephi 11) and Heavenly Mother is not a man. Surely it makes more sense to think of the Holy Ghost as her spirit son just as Jehovah any others are.

  15. rah,
    Regarding your first paragraph: “ding ding ding”

    MJ,
    I’ve heard arguments for all of the above except for polyandry. Of course this is all speculation. It’s harmless so long as you remember to not take it terribly seriously. If you do take it terribly seriously, then you should probably choose the last option.

  16. Left Field says:

    #3: If by “we,” you mean humans, I’m pretty sure science hasn’t worked out a method for human asexual reproduction.

  17. One more option – heavenly fathers and mothers collectively comprise the Eternal Father. Our Fathers who art in heaven etc. That is all heresy of course.

  18. Left Field,

    Who said anything about asexual reproduction? In vetro fertilization, on the other hand, is pretty common–and it doesn’t involve sex.

  19. John C.

    Yes, speculation is good sport but maybe there are too many options on the poll?

    I mean, ‘the Earth’ or ‘the Holy Ghost’? One can one even start to speculate these?

    I think the cleverest one is actually, ‘secretly in charge’ because that plays fun with our traditional views without being absurd.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth… I believe her and Father are married (for eternity) but that is about all I know about the covenant between them. Plus she is a ‘mother’ (surprise, surprise) and he is a ‘father’.

    But it is a little disrespectful to speculate about other aspects of their relationship (if you get my meaning).

    BTW, we know a lot more about her than we know about the companion of Jesus Christ… (or do we????)

  20. “Anyway, for what it’s worth… I believe her and Father are married (for eternity) but that is about all I know about the covenant between them. Plus she is a ‘mother’ (surprise, surprise) and he is a ‘father’.”
    Ok so Joseph is alone or eternally sealed to someone else other than Mary?

  21. As for #1 et al, I’m not convinced in the doctrinal necessity of the Physical Sireship of Jesus by God the Father. I find the discussion over at FPR in the post “The Father of Jesus” (and comments that follow) directly relevant to this train of thought. – http://bit.ly/pBx0TB

  22. CZ,

    my comment wasn’t directly relevant to Mary & Joseph unless you’re somehow assuming that Mary is Heavenly Mother which makes no sense to me.

    I’m sure that Joseph will inherit the fulness of the celestial glory.

  23. I think it more likely that the Holy Ghost is a calling that is filled by whoever is next in line: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith, etc.
    We have no idea whether our Heavenly parents are in a monogamous, polygamous or other form of relationship.
    I do recall the story of Heber J. Grant being called as an apostle at an early age. He prayed to find out why, and had a dream wherein he saw his biological father and his sealed father (Jedediah Grant and Joseph Smith) both pleading for him to be an apostle before the throne of God. That being said, it seems relationships may be more fluid in the heavens than we think.

  24. If Christ condescended then it might be possible to construct a theology of the condescension of the Heavenly Mother as Mary. It raises a different set of problems but it should probably not be dismissed out of hand.

    John C., I remember in our ward discussion group speculating that if polygyny was practised in the after-life then one way it might make sense would be if women could be polyandrous as well. From this you could also infer that our Heavenly Mother is potentially polyandrous. Admittedly, like others have noted before, this is purely speculative.

  25. Thomas Parkin says:

    I’m only interested in speculation that helps lead to answers. I suppose once one is coming into an answer one shuts up, except to play at speculating.

    There is no such thing as forbidden knowledge in Mormonism. If you want to know, seek. First part of seeking: leaving off ‘what you want to believe.’ Second, leaving off what is easy to believe. There is no reason whatsoever we can’t get answers, on an individual basis, to these questions.

  26. @Aaron R.,

    You cannot be serious. Christ came to earth because he needed to get a mortal body, among other things. Heavenly Mother was already comparable to Heavenly Father prior to the creation of the earth… or their spirit children. ‘construct a theology’… how about just accept it as it stands.

    Your mormonised ‘immaculate conception’ idea that Mary (Heavenly Mother) came to earth so she could be a pure conduit for the body of Jesus causes innumerable problems for what we have taught about why Jesus needed to have a mortal (non-resurrected) earthly mother.

    Rameumptom,

    The Holy Ghost as a calling for the next person in line – a sort of premortal apostle (or is it post-mortal) is pure rubbish. Where is there any scriptural warrant for that idea being ‘more likely’.

    You guys need to re-read ‘Gospel Principles’ for a basic grasp of the plan of salvation. Certain theologies are precluded when you understand the basic doctrines of first, second and third estates.

  27. Heavenly Mother is the God Particle. Two myths solved at once!

  28. MJ,
    “I’m sure that Joseph will inherit the fulness of the celestial glory.” True with Mary and his children. ;) So, Mary is in a Polyandry relationship with God.

  29. In my mind, there is no heavenly mother. Aaron R. (no. 5) might be closest.

    God created Adam. Some time later, God created Eve by removing a part of Adam (God did not create Eve as a new creation). In the image of God created he them, male and female. And after separating them, he commanded them that they should again become one flesh.

    I don’t know what all this really means. For some reason, this is the way the scripture-writers told the story — and I suppose they told the story in this way for a reason. In some way, it suggests to me that Adam was created in God’s image as an independent creation, and then afterwards Eve was drawn from Adam, and both Adam and Eve were said to be created in God’s image. I tend to believe that the good and positive aspects of masculinity are attributes of God, and the good and positive aspects of femininity are attributes of God. Somehow, separate male and female are sealed together in marriage and grow together to become one flesh.

    I don’t go any further than this in my own mind, because the scriptures and the prophets are silent and anything further would be conjecture or idle speculation (or perhaps harmful speculation).

    In my mind, it is easy for me to say that I am a son of God. Saying that I am a son does not make necessary a mother. Because God, his scriptures, and his prophets have not revealed a heavenly mother, I am content to say there is none. Although I recognize some within the Mormon community want to believe in a heavenly mother, and some of them very desperately, I hold that such a belief is personal and is not a necessary part of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think we look beyond the mark when we look any further than the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I hope any reader who happens here wanting to learn the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will understand that this BCC website is not the place for such.

    I see Mary as Joseph’s wife. Some persons with Mormon backgrounds want very desperately to believe that God came down with an erection to insert into Mary to cause the birth of Jesus, and they want to teach that to others. There is no basis in the scripture or in the teachings of the prophets for this belief. If this were true, then there is no need to believe in a virgin birth. I don’t claim to know exactly how it happened, but I am content to accept the story as explained in the scripture, and to believe that Mary was still a virgin at the time of her conception. In my mind, it would be so easy or God to command one cell in Mary’s body to reconfigure itself, and then the mortal pattern of cell division would create an embryo. A God that can heal leprosy and other diseases could easily do this. I see Mary as a daughter of God, married to Joseph.

    John C., I wish you had never made your original posting here, delighting in raising speculative matters. But you did, and I offer my posting here just to share a differing perspective for the benefit of your readers.

  30. Benjamin says:

    MJ (26)

    “The Holy Ghost as a calling for the next person in line – a sort of premortal apostle (or is it post-mortal) is pure rubbish. Where is there any scriptural warrant for that idea being ‘more likely’.”

    more likely is a relative term; it could mean more likely than another option being discussed. Also, where is there any scriptural warrant that the Holy Ghost is a unique, static personality? The absence of evidence on both sides of this argument is overwhelmed only by the abundance of confidence people place in their speculations.

  31. Steve Evans says:

    Excellent poll title!

  32. Benjamin,

    The Holy Ghost ‘is a personage of spirit’ (D&C 130:22). That’s good warrant.

  33. I have no idea. I chose the last option by default.

  34. Benjamin says:

    Meh…all my life, my bishop has been a personage of flesh and blood.

  35. MJ,
    your strident tone is beginning to irritate me. I get that you think some of the above impossible. Please respectfully ask others for their reasons, rather than denying they have any at all.

    ji,
    ?

    Steve,
    I have to contribute something to the cause, don’t I?

  36. For the “Too Sacred” or “Secret, Not Sacred” crowd, there is this article in a recent BYU Studies by David Paulson and Martin Pulido, some twenty pages of references to authoritative statements about Heavenly Mother by general authorities and others in conference, print, and other forums. Doesn’t shed a lot of light on the details of the subject, but at least dispels the idea that we shouldn’t talk about Her.

  37. MJ

    You seem so certain about all of this. Good for you! You and Orson Pratt would have a grand old time. :)

  38. Everyone knows that ‘Bishop’ is a office or title that mnay people can share but which prophet told us that ‘Holy Ghost’ functions in this way?

    That we don’t know his name doesn’t mean he does have one. By the same standard as your applying ‘Heavenly Father’ could be equally non-static.

  39. rah,

    That’s because I am certain about some things. I, like Nephi, do not know the meaning of all things but I know the meaning of some things. I know that Heavenly Mother is not a planet, or a spirit, or a girl born on this earth.

  40. Speculation should stick to areas that are speculative but should not trangress into areas that are revealed.

  41. MJ, I did not say I believed it, I merely said that it might be possible to argue that. There are a series of problems whichever way you cut this issue. You make it sound like your version is the only coherent view and that this view is somehow scriptural. All I am doing is being open to various possibilities because as you rightly suggest this is all speculation.

  42. Left Field says:

    #18: How does in vitro fertilization not involve sex? Two genetically dissimilar haploid gametes fuse to form a zygote.

  43. I don’t care for his/her tone, but I’m with JI (#29). I would like to think I wouldn’t reject revelation on the subject of Mother in Heaven, but the whole idea seems to me to be tied up with a bunch of Nauvoo-era stuff that I doubt has much to do with the actual nature of God, and consequently I tend to discount it. But then I kind of believe that we Mormons push the whole “embodiment” thing way too hard, too.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    “I hope any reader who happens here wanting to learn the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will understand that this BCC website is not the place for such.”

    ji, we’re way ahead of you.

  45. I think we look beyond the mark when we look any further than the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I’m much more comfortable possibly looking beyond the mark than closing my eyes and remaining peacefully ignorant.

    (Looking beyond the mark . . . Of all the overused cliches)

  46. Aaron r. Apologies. You weren’t suggesting it but it should dismissed.

  47. Some personal feelings about the subject: The doctrine of Heavenly Mother has always felt good to me. That we have earthly parents is a reminder that we have Heavenly Parents, and is a hint of what we knew from beyond the veil. It serves as a pointer to help us find our way home. As to whether polyandry is involved or not, I have no clue. But I prefer to think of their relationship as monogamous, like my earthly parents, and I certainly hope that is the case.

    No deep theological insights here, just what I’ve felt about the situation, and what brings me a sense of peace. The lack of a Mother in Heaven seems odd, seeing as we have many references to being formed in God’s image, and the temple teachings point to eternal partnerships with our spouses, becoming more and more like God through progression, which would include becoming as a couple like our Heavenly Parents. If gender really is eternal, then there has to be something more than just a stern patriarchal God-figure, true Heavenly Parents for us to emulate. To that end, I like Eliza R. Snow’s line, “The thought makes reason stare.”

  48. I, like Nephi, am large in stature.

    Just sayin’

  49. Where is the unity of faith? Our personal opinions should not clash with clearly revealed doctrines.

  50. John C. Too Sacred to discuss is a lot different than “I’m smart enough to not shoot my mouth off about things I don’t fully comprehend”. although I know the evidence speaks against me on that one…

    How about “I don’t have a strict opinion because I don’t think it makes a big difference whether there is or isn’t a heavenly mother”?

  51. #49: “Our personal opinions should not clash with clearly revealed doctrines.”

    Not all that is doctrine has been “clearly revealed”, or, in other words, it is not clear that all that is taught as doctrine has its source as revelation.

    I don’t equate an assertion or explanatory exposition in a volume of scripture or a general conference address or a Manual proof of clear revelation on the subject. A viewpoint to be highly regarded and pondered, perhaps, but not infallible.

  52. I don’t think there are many things, doctrinally, that matter more than whether or not we have a Heavenly Mother. And if one of the greatest achievements of human existence is family, then the dynamic of that relationship is pretty important too.

  53. Stephanie says:

    Being a woman who is told both 1. I can become a God and 2. my family relationships I form on this earth can be eternal, I don’t really see any other hopeful option than 1. If I don’t end up a full and equal partner with my husband in Godhood, then what’s the point of my existence? To become a male God? To be swallowed up in my husband and lose my own identity as a woman to be “one”? Do those of you speculating on whether or not females exist in the eternities (ji) ever stop and ask yourself, “If I were a woman, how would this sound to me?” No wonder we still have sexist remnants in the temple, gospel, etc. Why would I expect anything different when some men in the church still even question whether I am an actual person?

    Besides, go back and read your Old Testament. Both Adam and Eve (along with all creations) were created spiritually before their bodies were formed on the earth. If you read it without any preconceived notions about what you think it is supposed to say (including the way it is portrayed in the temple, which is an interpretation of what is written and doesn’t necessarily follow chronologically what is written in the scriptures), it reads quite differently than your interpretation.

  54. nat kelly says:

    I think Heavenly Mother is a part of Heavenly Father. I think they are one being, not necessarily gendered, who represents balance. I also do not think they are anthropomorphic. And I think we tend to worship only the so-called “male” attributes of deity, or we worship all the attributes, and then label them male, leaving nothing noble which can be designated female.

  55. Steve Evans says:

    Don’t feed the trolls, everyone. MJ is receiving the attention he/she so desperately craves.

  56. Matt, if we are meant to use our Heavenly Parents as models for our own parental or spousal behavior, then it would seem that how we understand that relationship is important. However, I really doubt we should emulate Heavenly Father as temporal parents, so it’s not such a big deal.

    I’ll count your vote as “dunno, don’t much care”

  57. 29–“God created Eve by removing a part of Adam…”

    Brigham Young certainly didn’t think so, and was pretty dismissive of the whole “Adam’s rib” thing.

    Left Field–I guess that’s one definition of sex. I prefer the–ahh–more traditional definition, at least when it comes to humans. The kind of sex that generally doesn’t involve science labs and petri dishes.

  58. There should also be an option for those of us who still hold to the Adam-God theory: Heavenly Mother(s) would be Eve, along with Mary.

  59. #49

    True, things would be a lot easier (if creepy and depressing) if we all just believed exactly the same things. That sounds a lot more like a unity of belief than a unity of faith, however. Correlation as Unity. Any chance we can find some unity of faith while recognizing that our individual understanding of the gospel might differ somewhat? Zion as the pure in heart, maybe? I like that better. In this regard I think I will take my cues from say the modern-era apostles who are clearly documented as holding widely disparate beliefs on core doctrines (including the very nature of God, the origin of man etc. etc.) and still striving for unity.

  60. Not to shake up the boat much, but I see a lot of male responses here. Let me give you my take: I don’t know where I believe regarding God or Heavenly Mother. I do know that, as a woman, I need a mom to actually understand what I am going through. No matter how you try to rephrase it, God is a man and CANNOT fully understand what a woman’s needs are. He cannot have a period, go through childbirth, experience miscarriages, infertility, or all the other things we women must undergo in this life. Therefore, he cannot fully understand woman’s issues. If we turn the tables around, would you, as a man, be able to completely trust and turn to a woman if that is what all churches taught to be The God Figure?

    As someone who has needed a mother figure in Heaven, I can tell you the lack of Her influence in the Mormon church is a firm foundation for why I have a hard time with the church.

    Thank you, B. Russ, for your wonderful response.

    All this said, I voted that she is “secretly in charge.” Hey, we all know women are “secretly in charge” of all organizations. : )

  61. Stephanie says:

    nat kelly, doesn’t the First Vision disprove that theory? Isn’t the fact that Joseph Smith saw God the Father as a man with a body part of what made the First Vision so remarkable?

  62. (#60) “If we turn the tables around, would you, as a man, be able to completely trust and turn to a woman if that is what all churches taught to be The God Figure?”

    Yes! And I think I’d even prefer it! (waiting for MJ’s head to explode)

  63. I’m with Stephanie (53)- If people are made in God’s image and were sent to earth to learn and become more like God then God must somehow be both male and female. If that is not the case then women aren’t really people the same way men are.
    It may sound petulant but when someone says that they don’t believe in Heavenly mother (while still believing in an embodied God) I hear them saying that they don’t see women as people.

  64. As for speculation, do you think a few trillion kids is kind of a lot for one couple? Or that maybe the Holy Ghost is on probation before he can get his body here on earth? There’s just too many wacky theories to even possibly come to a conclusion on these matters. Seriously, I had no idea on what to vote for, but for now I’ll stick with the “secretly in charge” since its clever and not too sacrilegious.

  65. clever and not too sacrilegious is pretty much my goal with every post.

  66. So what I’m getting from this discussion it that all women will become planets in the coming phase of existence?

  67. I’m not going to vote for anything for the same reason Josh B. picked “secretly in charge.” Any and every thing that we say about the Goddess is based on … nothing. Like everything else related to faith, what we believe about her is completely irrelevant to the truth.

  68. (#60) Amber, I get where you’re coming from. I am male, but I do find comfort in the thought of a Heavenly Mother. It feels whole; complete.

    But I struggle with the notion that God, as a male, can’t possibly understand all the ailments of a mortal woman. I mean, I get what you’re saying, and it seems logical in some ways, but that would infer (to m)e that Christ’s atonement was incomplete. I think Christ’s atonement somehow enables Him to perfectly understand the pains of all men and women, and that includes childbirth, menstrual cramps, emotional loss of a child/pregnancy in the way that is unique to women. I don’t know how that is possible, but I have faith that it’s so.

    So if I believe Christ has that sensibility, then I have to believe God has it, too. From that angle, I don’t think a Heavenly Mother is needed for mortal women to be understood in the universe. Somehow, I believe all the glory and understanding God has is enough to understand all his creations fully. Still, if there is a Heavenly Mother (which I think there is), I believe she is glorified such that she can understand me fully as as a male (and her child) as much as God and Christ can understand you as a female.

    No offense intended in my disagreement. Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  69. Left Field says:

    Tim #57: I don’t know what you think of as traditional, but “traditionally” in biology, sex is the scrambling of genetic information. If you think meiosis, syngamy, spermatophores, bacterial conjugation, amplexus, syzygy, or pollination aren’t sex, then you won’t score very well on my biology exam.

  70. “What happens to Joseph if Mary is God’s wife? I also would love to read a post on Mother-in-Heaven being the Holy Ghost. I always wanted to believe that. Any backing to it?”

    I think that it is Elaine Pagel who argues that the holy spirit is some sort of heavenly mother figure.

  71. That should be Elaine Pagels.

  72. Thomas Parkin says:

    Yeah JJ,

    I know Pagels first few libros mas famosos were round about gnosticism. The Female divine she wrote on is probably the Sophia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_%28wisdom%29

  73. Thomas,

    I think she actually claims that the holy spirit is possibly the Mother in Heaven. The article is “What Became of God the Mother?” It appears in the Signs Reader in 1976 (University of Chicago Press).

    Chris H.

  74. The original can be found on JSTOR here:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173448

  75. I believe God the Father and God the Mother are in a special relationship akin to Blake Ostler’s view of the Godhead. They share all things so in common, in a unity of love so complete, that all emotional/spiritual/intellectual/conceptual differences such as manhood/womanhood disappear. I believe God the Father completely does understand his daughters, and that Heavenly Mother fully understands her sons. I think we cheapen their greatness and abilities when we imagine that we are beyond either of their comprehensions.

  76. Left Field #69,

    On my biology exams, I typically referred to “sexual reproduction” instead of “sex” for purposes of clarity. And because, in all contexts outside of biology, and certainly for myself and my students, “sex” means something different than “sexual reproduction.” Sex doesn’t necessarily result in reproduction, and reproduction doesn’t necessarily involve the common definition of sex.

  77. Thomas Parkin says:

    Thanks, JJ!

    Rameumpton,

    That is, as far as I can tell, exactly what I believe.

  78. Mommie Dearest says:

    I couldn’t choose. All I could think was How the heck are we ever to know without a reliable canon of scriptorial revelation? This is what you get when all the prophets, seers, revelators, and scribes, throughout history, are men.

    These days I speculate about the reason why God allows such a lack in this matter.
    I have had enough speculation in my lifetime. [1] What I want are real answers.

    [1] But apparently many of you haven’t reached your limit. Carry on.

  79. Mommie Dearest, there are tons of things about Heavenly Father we do not know, and so it is pretty much all speculation about him, as well. Oh, and your statement about men prophets was very sexist.

  80. I like the idea best that God the Father is in a monogamous relationship with an equal partner female resurrected being who is in some way our spirit mother, so I voted for that option. I don’t see anything in my understanding of the gospel that contradicts this idea directly, and I do see some things that support it, if indirectly. I’m also willing to believe that polygamy and/or polyandry exist in the eternities in some form, but since I like those ideas less, I’m not voting for those options.

    John C., I don’t see option #1 as a problem in light of our understanding of Mary, the mother of Christ. We know that Christ is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh, and that Mary was his mother. We are not told that Mary was a spouse of God the Father in any way, only that Christ was conceived in her “of the Holy Ghost” meaning, as I understand it, by the power of the Holy Ghost. To me that precludes any actual physical relationship between Mary and God the Father, and allows for Mary to be Christ’s earthly mother, in much the same way that we all have an earthly mother, without her needing to be in any way in a spousal relationship with God the Father.

    I agree with those who say that a doctrine that does not include a real, coporeal and equal Heavenly Mother makes no sense to me in light of our ideas that gender is eternal and that women have an equal role to play in the eternities. It seems to me that an outright denial of the existence of a Heavenly Mother is sexist and untenable.

  81. In light of the above, i agree with Stephanie, #53. I’m very surprised by nat kelly’s comment #54. Don’t agree with that.

    I like Rameumptom’s comment #76.

  82. Why is there no “other”? I could mark some of the choices if they were preceded by “I hope . . .”

  83. StillConfused says:

    Since I don’t believe that diety are gendered or in a humanoid form, none of the answers really worked for me. But if I were going to believe that God was a male humanoid, then I would choose #1 because there would need to be a woman to complete the man. I went with monogamous rather than polygamous because I figure that if God has been around forever and there is just one God, then Mrs. God would need to be the same. I don’t consider Mary an issue because I don’t think that God had literal sex with her. Instead, that would be more like a surrogate who gets something implanted in them.. I have never heard them referred to as a spouse simply for being a surrogate

  84. “I don’t believe that diety are gendered or in a humanoid form”

    I respect your belief, but I don’t see how this belief is compatible with Mormon beliefs.

  85. esodhiambo says:

    Unable to vote: different answers for what I think, what I want, and what I think most Mormons think.

  86. I just want to point out that 100-150 years ago our answers would have been radically different. Actually, I think 15-20 years ago our answers would have been radically different. Carry on.

  87. Thomas Parkin says:

    “All I could think was How the heck are we ever to know without a reliable canon of scriptorial revelation?”

    Does the canon we have solve …really, does it solve anything? It barely even provides touchstones. It provides statements. But every statement so variously interpreted as to destroy all confidence in finding the answer in the scriptures … each has to go to the source, very often through the scriptures.

    Knowledge is an individual matter, Mommie.

    Nothing is stopping you or me.

  88. Thomas Parkin says:

    John – and in another 30 years they will be different again. But the question isn’t whether they will be different, but whether or not those differences are closer or farther from how things actually stand.

  89. No doubt, TP. No doubt.

  90. Mommie Dearest says:

    Ram, #80: There is a vast difference between the revealed canon about Heavenly Father and the same about Heavenly Mother. Her existence is not even specifically stated in any scripture, only in a few obscure prophetic statements made by Joseph Smith. She never makes an appearance in all the scriptures, not even as an object of prayer. There are whole seminars in which the attributes and character of the Father are parsed and deduced from revelation in scriptures. Most of us are reduced to relying on a single hymn lyric for our collective knowledge of the Mother. [TP 88:] A few may seek and receive personal revelation, but individual personal revelation cannot inform our public, official, canonized knowledge. That requires the effort of a bona fide prophet.

    Also, sexist? How? I don’t wish to be snarky about it but what you perceive may well just be my female point of view. All the prophets have been men, and canonized prophecy shows a long-standing trend of non-interest in the details about our Mother. Am I sexist to recognize that? okay, call me sexist.

  91. Lately, I’ve been speculating that Heavenly Mother has her own planets. On those planets there are a bunch of men giving talks in sacrament about how they don’t want the priestesshood (too much responsibility! yuck) and some men wondering why the prophetess, Gabby Hinckley, said that they shouldn’t pray to anyone but Heavenly Mother.

    I’m usually more inclined to think that men on our planet have just been depressingly effective at suppressing women. But Mother God’s absence in so many places where I would expect to see her has me occasionally wondering if there’s something more to it — like some sort of divine division of responsibilities.

  92. Because the things we can say about Heavenly Father are generally true about all the gods. God is Love. God is Spirit. God is a glorified, resurrected being. God is omniscient, omnipresent, etc. Now, we then get discussions on how each of those terms are parsed by LDS or traditional views.
    I could easily give a talk on Heavenly Mother by taking Heavenly Father’s scriptural descriptors and use 99% of them for her (all but the physical male parts).
    Male and Female gods cannot be that far apart. Genetically, you and I are almost 100% the same. Yes, those slight differences do make a difference, but they do not define the 99% of the ways in which we are the same.
    To over value the differences means we risk under valuing the sameness and unity. I could easily speak for hours on Heavenly Mother, and do so scripturally. As I said, focusing on the things she shares with God and all other celestial beings becomes a no-brainer. To over-focus on God’s maleness or femaleness to the exclusion of all other attributes IS sexist. And I think we as Mormons miss a big point about Heavenly Mother by saying we do not know anything about her, when we know almost as much as we do about God.

  93. #92 – “Lately, I’ve been speculating that Heavenly Mother has her own planets. On those planets there are a bunch of men giving talks in sacrament about how they don’t want the priestesshood (too much responsibility! yuck) and some men wondering why the prophetess, Gabby Hinckley, said that they shouldn’t pray to anyone but Heavenly Mother.”

    Funny, I was just thinking the same thing. Maybe she has half of the kids and is off somewhere doing the same thing. Sort of like what my withf and I do. I take half the kids and go to soccer practice and she take the other half to cub scouts and then we meet up later.

  94. That should be “wife” not “withf”

  95. Indeed, Rameumptom. :)

  96. Lots to read . . .

    “I think we look beyond the mark when we look any further than the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Respectfully, I think Heavenly Father would disagree.

    Right now, I’m up to #47 – and I will second what kevinf said. The concept of Heavenly Mother as half of a perfect whole makes sense to me, so I believe it.

  97. Mommie Dearest says:

    Saying that what is true about the Father is also true about the Mother still requires a bit of speculation, since we haven’t been instructed in any specific scriptural way about the Mother, even to be told that she exists. (except the obscure JS references and that hymn lyric) So all I can really say is that it seems likely, but again, we simply don’t have the same quality of official doctrine about Her that we do about Him. A simple scripture reference saying that they are the same would certainly fix that small speculatory leap.
    I think the frustratingly unanswered questions are mainly raised over the ways in which God (both male and female) exhibits gender differences. Why have a difference if there are no differences? Not surprisingly, gender differences among mortals are also where much tumultuous questioning is found. For undisclosed reasons, nothing is revealed about the gendered differences or the nature of the marriage relationship between our Parents, and among us, the gendered differences and relationships fail to function smoothly in every case. Thus questions arise. For which the canonized answers are yet to be revealed.

    (Speculation alert) It may well be that this lack of revelation is wisdom somehow.

    I don’t wish to be contentious. All I ever said was that my taste for speculation has kinda run its course, but I am still interested in what canonized doctrine would say about it, if there were to be any clear doctrine. Everyone else, however, may freely speculate to their hearts content.

    But it just isn’t doctrine that applies to us all.

  98. Alan: Thank you for your response. I really like how you said (I’m paraphrasing) that because Christ’s Atonement is complete, he can understand all people’s experiences. I may disagree about some things you said but I really appreciate your comment.

  99. I vote for Eliza R. Snow’s nominee: Eve.

  100. nat kelly says:

    Stephanie, #61 – I think it makes sense that God would manifest in the way most comfortable to the person S/He is communicating with. I’m definitely not claiming that my interpretation is at all doctrinal from a Mormon perspective.

    I just don’t personally find very inspiring the notion of God as a Great Cosmic Male, complete with all the boy parts. It seems way, way smaller than something that is supposed to be bigger than the Universe.

    The idea of a balance, a general source of goodness and power, which we have boxed down and categorized into male and female in order to understand bits and pieces, just seems a lot more likely to me. I acknowledge it does not fit in with Mormon theology so well.

  101. So interesting you posted this right after the Chieko Okazaki tributes. I always thought Sis. Okazaki embodied all of the qualities that I pictured my Heavenly Mother possessing.

  102. Reading these comments I’m pretty sure of one thing. Many of you wouldn’t believe her if she or the father revealed her to you. As she very likely already has laid the ground work for doing so and you have not come to know and ask but submit arguments and contend for sport. How oft would I have gatherred you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and you would not.

    I know these things are knowable but revealed on an indiviual level to those who will truly keep them sacrad and respect the line of authority to preach and reveal revelation. Go prepare yourself by consecrating your life and being worth to receive revalation and pray in the celestial rooms of the temple if you would know.

  103. If rupert revealed himself to me…I would punch him in the face.

  104. Not sure why I did that with my full name.[fixed now] Must have been the holy spirit…them females are tricky like that.

  105. rupert: in honor of Chieko Okazaki: Lighten Up!

  106. Now I feel bad.

  107. Nope, my head hasn’t exploded!

    Unity of Faith = Unity of Belief

    We ought to be careful about making our belief in an embodied Father in Heaven a mere metaphorical claim. Ditto for our comparable belief in an embodied Mother in Heaven.

    Otherwise the true intent of our bodies being created in God’s image or believing in eternal marriage after resurrection will be lost.

    We know much about the CHARACTER of Heavenly Mother although we do not know everything about her circumstances.

  108. Russell (#43), I’m interested in the ways you think Mormons push ‘embodiment… too hard’? My own inclination suggests that sexuality is not an eternal feature of our character and therefore the embodied associations which are often the grounded of intimacy here are not enacted in the same way in the hereafter. It seems that how we conceive ‘celestial embodiment’ underpins this discussion about polygamy/monogamy and nature of the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

  109. I think this website should be renamed, ‘commondissent’, as there is a fair amount of dissent against things taught by prophets and apostles.

    We should have no problem speaking about Heavenly Mother – why is it any more controversial than the doctrine that the father and son are separate physical beings, or that we can become ‘gods’ or that celestial marriage is the capstone ordinance of the temple? Is it any more controversial than the concept of eternal familes?

    However surely the concept of speaking about the Father and the Son with respect and reverence also applies to how we speak about our Eternal Mother?

  110. MJ,
    I don’t believe anyone here is speaking without respect and reverence aside from you. This is your final warning. Drop the sanctimony.

  111. Aaron R #109: I think the focus on the embodiment of God: Jesus, Father, Mother, takes too much of the focus. A physical body, sex, etc., are only one small characteristic concerning godhood. It is like when talking about the mortal life of Jesus, spending the whole time arguing over whether he was married and had children, rather than discussing his teachings, his atonement, and his miracles.

    Heavenly Father and Mother are embodied. It is possible they have sex. It is possible they are monogamous or polygamous, or who knows what other possible relationships abide in heaven. But those are not the important things. We know little about those things. Why? Probably because they are not the things God wants us to focus on. Instead, there is much information on the important and essential characteristics of the Gods.

    Why is a focus on the body and sex of less importance? Jesus was God in the premortal existence PRIOR to receiving a body. He did not have a fullness of godlike attributes because he was missing a body. But he had all he could attain to that point, and so had a fullness to that point. So it is with all other gods. They go from grace to grace, receiving grace for grace (D&C 93) until they achieve a fullness of godliness. Yet in each step of grace they fulfill, they are divine.

  112. Rameumpton (#112) although we seem to agree that Mormons can too easily ascribe anthropomorphic qualities to God I disagree that these questions are not important. In your last paragraph you neglect to recognise that Jesus’ spirit is a form of embodiment but you do note that he could not become fully God without this material body. Both of these points seem to establish the integral part that embodiment plays in Mormon theology and our vision of theosis. Moreover, although it maybe disrespectful to discuss sex in relation to the divine, there are theological positions currently held within the Church which are based upon very specific formulations of divine sexuality.

  113. Aaron #113, I do not disagree with you. My point is some think we know nothing about Heavenly Mother, simply because there is no specific revelations regarding her. Embodiment via resurrection IS important, as well as the divine sexuality. However, to focus our relationship on just those things is to create an imbalanced God.
    My point has been that we can know about Heavenly Mother by focusing on characteristics that are true of all divine beings.
    We lose our way when we focus too much on the speculations of whether God the Father and Mother are Adam and Eve, Mary, or some other concept that has no true bearing on knowing our Heavenly Parents.
    Discussions that are focused on godly embodiment, how the atonement really works, divine sexuality, can enhance our understandings of the divine. But to only focus on these things is a concern.
    This thread began due to a protest that there were no topics or scriptures about Heavenly Mother. My point is to show that there is almost as much about her as there is on Father.

  114. John C,

    Depends on what you mean by ‘respect’. I agree that I haven’t been respectful of some views but I submit I’m not the only one who has been disrespectful. {For example, I haven’t suggested that I would punch someone in the face!}

    I can curtail the tone because there are many more comments now that I agree with than disagree with.

    When we look at the qualities that are listed in the scriptures as composing godliness we see that each gender can aquire those. What we learn about the importance of the body is the fact that certain gendered roles can continue into the eternities.

    There is an equality when it comes to characteristics but there are differences when it comes to circumstances. The scope for disagreement should have been more narrow than it has been. I can admit to not knowing certain things about the nature of God’s marriage covenant – except that I know that He is married. Within that context, let the speculation begin!

    But we can definitively rule out certain things, like, for example, that Heavenly Mother is a myth, a planet or Mary.

    ‘In the heavens are parents single?’ No, given the concept of eternal marriage. Adam and Eve were told to become ‘one’ without that meaning that they could remain as separate personages.

  115. Should read:

    Adam and Eve were told to become ‘one’ without that meaning that they couldn’t remain as separate personages.

    Best to avoid double negatives.

  116. MJ,
    You’ve got chutzpah. I’ll give you that. Watch yourself.

  117. Rameumpton,
    Your point is valid, but not useful. There is nothing in your point that distinguishes God the Mother from God the Father, God the Son, the Holy Ghost, the archangel Michael, or Scruffy the Heavenly Dog. We focus on the distinctions because those are the only characteristics we have that give any of these beings a personality we can relate to. We believe that Christ came to Earth in order that his bowels might be filled with mercy and that He might take upon himself the pains and sufferings of all of us (man, woman, and child). That point of connection is important. All the divine characteristics, which we trust and fail to understand, don’t do as much to explain to us God as knowing that Christ condescended and suffered us. I, like Nephi, can only say with certainty that I know God loves me (and that is thanks to the Holy Ghost). Beyond that, God, for all the descriptors, seems elusive and a bit alien to me. He does things in ways that I wouldn’t do them (not surprising), but I trust that He has reasons that make sense to Him and that are beyond my comprehension on earth. So I go with it, even though I don’t understand. Assuming that we know God, when we don’t, is bound to make Balam’s ass out of somebody. Once we do know God, as we are known, then we’ll all be beyond this point anyways.

  118. It has been stated that the only references to Heavenly Mother came from Joseph Smith and Eliza Snow, but I found a link to my old BYU professor’s site that lists many more prophets, apostles and GA’s who mentioned either Heavenly Mother or Heavenly Parents.

    http://scottwoodward.org/Heavenly_Mother.html

    I also voted for secretly in charge.

  119. John C #118,

    But that is exactly my point. Beyond some characteristics regarding God, we really do not know anything about him. We know some about Christ from his mortal and Nephite sojourns, but even there it is limited. What was his favorite food? Was he right or left handed? Did he prefer Mary over Martha? None of this is really known. It all become speculative, although we can sometimes squeeze a little bit of possible information out of the scriptural turnip my critical textual analysis.

    That said, we know God because Christ reveals Him to us through his own roles. Yet it is not knowing God directly, but seeing Christ and surmising from that example that God must be like Jesus. That is how I think Joseph Smith came up with his conclusions in the KFD.

    This whole point came from someone concerned that we have nothing on Heavenly Mother, and tons on Heavenly Father. I was merely pointing out that we have very little actual information on the Father that does not also apply to Heavenly Mother. The rest is speculative, or surmised from the example of Jesus.

  120. A few quotes, to add to the discussion: (from The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

    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. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    (from Elder Neal A Maxwell, of the First Presidency of the Seventy, The Women of God, Ensign, May 1878)

    Finally, remember: 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?

    (from Gospel Doctrine lesson 9 on Chastity and Modesty)

    President Spencer W. Kimball, speaking to Latter-day Saint girls in Mexico City, said: “You are daughters of God. … You are made in the image of our heavenly mother. … Your body is sacred to you and precious” (in Conference Report, Mexico City and Central America Area Conference 1973, 108).

    (from Ida Smith, The Lord as a Role Model for Men and Women, Ensign, Aug 1980)

    One newly restored truth that the Prophet taught—hard for the world to swallow in his day, and still misinterpreted by many in our own time—was the Lord’s view of women. The Prophet taught that men and women are of equal value and of equal importance in the sight of God. He preached that in order for a man to achieve his highest potential (the celestial kingdom and godhood) he must have a woman—equally exalted—by his side and sealed to him forever! (See D&C 131:1–4.) A just God would not require the yoking of two unequal beings for eternity. Building upon the foundation laid by Joseph Smith, subsequent prophets taught that God was not single, but married; that there is a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother; and that we were made in their image: male and female children. (See James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 4:203, 205.)

    (from President Spencer W Kimball, The True Way of Life and Salvation, Ensign, May 1978)

    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?

    (from Elder Vaughn J Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy, A Champion of Youth, Ensign, Nov 1987)

    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. Coarseness and vulgarity are contrary to their natures. They have a modifying, softening influence on young men. Young women were not foreordained to do what priesthood holders do. 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.

  121. Steve Evans says:

    Frank, admit it — you threw in that Vaughn J. quote just to piss people off.

  122. JJ Rousseau says:

    I love being Mormon.

  123. *blink* I did? Oh, ah, I see, yes, the “not foreordained to do what priesthood holders do”. Huh.

    I’d just done a simple search on lds.org for Heavenly Mother. :)

  124. Ram,
    I understood the complaint as being that Heavenly Father is discussed a lot more in conference, and so forth, in spite of our having a similar lack of information. We believe that we better understand Heavenly Father, whether or not we do. Perhaps Joseph Smith is the cause of all this, but it does seem to be the case. You seem to be saying that we have loads of information about Father and Mother in Heaven, but it is only in the vaguest sense. I think that King Follett, if we assume it is canonical, does give us more info about him than we have about Mother in Heaven. So Aaron R, at al, do appear to be right.

    While I agree that Jesus took up everyone’s pains and sorrows and presumably understands them, that doesn’t preclude the notion that as a man he had a fundamentally different experience than he would have had as a woman. And you too easily dismiss the importance of embodiment, both during and after Christ’s mortal ministry. In any case, if gender is meant to be understood as an important eternal distinction, it seems important to consider what the feminine divine must mean as separate from the masculine divine. Even if we’ve no clear revelation on the subject. Certainly, that hasn’t prevent some of us from so doing (as Frank Pellett demonstrates).

  125. All I know is that I want to go to the place where you can keep having sex with your spouse.

  126. #126: That would be “where one can keep having sex with one’s spouse”.:)

  127. #126, The great Camero backseat in the sky. Oh yeah!

    On a side note, besides the interesting thoughts on Heavenly Mother, I’ve been surprised at the diversity of thought about Heavenly Father, to be honest. I thought our doctrine of his being male and having a body were pretty basic to our beliefs. I realize there’s a lot we don’t know, but I thought those two points were pretty set in stone by now, no?

  128. #126: Will this not also be one’s Heavenly Sister or Brother?

  129. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I thought our doctrine of his being male and having a body were pretty basic to our beliefs.”

    They are.

  130. observer fka eric s. says:

    “However surely the concept of speaking about the Father and the Son with respect and reverence also applies to how we speak about our Eternal Mother?” – MJ

    However, Surely, is still a great name?

  131. Bob: I believe she’s my heavenly sister now, so why should it make more of a difference in the next life?

    I like to think that my heavenly mother will have a nice plate of chocolate chip cookies, cold milk and open arms waiting for me when I see her in the next life.

  132. Eric Russell says:

    I once took a class with David Paulsen at BYU on the nature of God. There was this girl who threadjacked every class into a discussion of Heavenly Mother. Every single class. Brother Paulsen, bless his heart, was very patient with her.

    I don’t recall her name but I imagine she’s out there somewhere, googling “Heavenly Mother” every day. I hope she comes across this thread and reads these comments, because I’ve always wanted to tell her: that was really annoying.

  133. StillConfused says:

    I haven’t checked this page in a while and just read all of the comments. I love hearing the differing of opinions. When I was young, I thought I had to believe a certain lock-stock-barrel way even if it didn’t feel right to me. As I age, I see that there are so many different ways to look at things. And I love that people are free to express their opinions here without others feeling overly threatened (for the most part). I also love that even in differing viewpoints, commonalities can be found. In other faiths, such as in Judaism, questioning is encouraged and desired. It is common for people to argue with the Rabbi… and that is a good thing. I love that.

  134. Mommie Dearest says:

    I guess it’s a good thing that incessantly discussing Heavenly Mother in these comments is not a threadjack, or we might be annoying here too.

  135. Mommie Dearest – Absolute best comment ever.

  136. huh. I’ve never thought of the heavenly mother=mary idea.

    I’ve always assumed that somehow two perfect ressurected celestial bodies combine to create spirits. So how could Heavenly Mother create all of those spirits with Heavenly Father (including the spirit of Mary?) then come down and be mary and then be ressurected? As for numbers of spirits I am assuming that blood is one of the major complicating factors in preganancy-volume of blood increase, placenta development being related to morning sickness and premature labors… then add the physical weight of hte developing baby, so I’m really really really hoping that birthing spirits is a completely different physical feeling. Or perhaps mother in heaven is a spider.

    I’ve assumed momogamous equal relationship-because that’s what I want.

    I’ve also assumed that the empathy involvedin the atonement was principally based iand not circumstantially based. Jesus did not have to have a miscarriage on Tuesday in the morning to understand the great desire to offer life to another soul and be rejected in that offer. Christ knows what’s it’s like to suffer to bring life into the world…to love so much that he would do anything for another soul. Circumstantially based empathy is a good way to ensure that no one can ever really understand you or relate to you. When we talk about emotions and principles, it’s easier to relate to each other-we’ve all felt fear, pain, loneliness etc. But when we start comparing instead of listening…How can we really ever tell what kind of pain another person is feeling? I’m not ready to say that childbirth is the most painful thing a person can feel. Not every birth is the same, not every body processes pain the same way and fear is such a major part of how we experience pain… Being able to understand another person and be understood is more about willingness, patience, humility and love than about body parts.

  137. There is far more information about our Mother in Heaven than is generally understood.

    James 1:5 (Young’s Literal Translation) “And if any of you do lack Wisdom, let him ask from God, who is giving to all liberally, and not reproaching, and it shall be given to him.”

    1 Enoch 94:5 And hold fast my words in the thoughts of your hearts,
    And suffer them not to be effaced from your hearts;
    For I know that sinners will tempt men to evilly-entreat Wisdom,
    So that no place may be found for her.

    Acts 7:51 (YLT) Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and in ears! Ye do always the Holy Spirit resist; as your fathers also ye.

    John 20:21 (YLT) Jesus, therefore, said to them again, “Peace to you; according as the Father hath sent me, I also send you,” and this having said, he breathed on [them], and saith to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

    Some points to consider:

    Through the use of a few related symbols found interspersed in the text of the scriptures, we can unearth the existence of female divinity, with the implication being that embodiment in male and female form is a definite attribute of Godhood. The metaphorical symbolism and “anthropomorphic personification” was only powerful because it had once had a real-world referent.

    The idea that this was mere “hypostatization” – the ascription of material existence to Her as emanating from the “feminine aspects” of Yahweh – is only necessary in order to consolidate references to a physically feminine deity with the genderless requirements of the later schools of philosophy which claimed that there was something “higher” or “bigger” than “mere” humans.

    These interconnected symbols are:

    a. the personified female Wisdom of Proverbs, who is

    b. additionally referred to, metaphorically, as being “a Tree of Life” to those who search for her, and

    c. this feminine “Tree of Life” was related to the Garden of Eden story commemorated by the lampstand of Moses’ Tabernacle, and therefore

    d. also the Asherah, a tree-like object which stood – legitimately – in Solomon’s Temple for hundreds of years. Far from being a foreign “contamination”, as the scribes tried to retroactively assert, this Creatress was a revered figure. Furthermore, this network of symbolism

    e. included the Holy Spirit, which, given in the sign of a dove, partook of the same religious symbolism of the area which represented the divine female as a bird, in order to represent not just an ideal metaphor, but an actual personage who existed (and exists) in history.

    This Spirit is likely to have been the Queen of Heaven, the woman John saw in his Revelation, who became the “herald” of “good tidings to Zion and Jerusalem”. “Although this female figure came to be identified with the city or with the people (Isaiah 54.7, ‘I will bring you home again’), the fact that at the beginning of the prophecies she brings news to the city shows that she did have another identity before _becoming_ the city.

    The fate of the city is explained in terms of the fate of the female figure, the repeated assertion being that she has been abandoned by her husband (Isa. 49.14) and deprived of her children (Isa. 54.1) Even though the woman as city has come to dominate our reading of the texts, the memory of the original woman persisted.” Margaret Barker, The Great Angel, 53 [Emphasis added]

    Through an evolutionary process of apostasy, the memory of this Hebrew Mother-Goddess was lost, especially during a wave of Hellenization comparatively late in Israel’s history. Moreover, it was not the mere existence of a feminine deity that the Prophets warned against, but rather the _human sacrifices_ which were made to her which had perverted the true practices. (“For there did come in unobserved certain men, long ago having been written beforehand to this judgment, impious, the grace of our God perverting to lasciviousness, and our only Master, God, and Lord Jesus Christ denying.” Jude 1:4 )

    The Book of Mormon’s first prophetic family was alarmed at, among many things, this loss of Wisdom (and the related concept of the Divine Family) from the Temple and so broke away from their brethren in order to journey to a land where She might be remembered alongside the Father and Son, who – as separate beings – faced similarly perilous redefinitions when Hellenized monotheism swept through the land.

    By cutting out the female Tree of Life Mother, the Israelites gained a logical reason to deny that God could have a true Son, and therefore looked “beyond the mark” to the fashionably genderless, unmarried, philosophical abstraction of the Unmoved Mover instead of the living God who fathered children.

    In this way, the “old wives’ tales” and “primitive myths” of the rural Israelite tradition (see “Poems about Ba’al and Anath”, etc) were actually remembering true stories more faithfully than the official elite histories which accused them (retroactively) of idol worship.

    These “primitive” and “unsophisticated” conceptions of the familial religion of hearth and home were more accurate than the “higher” understanding of later philosophy. Yet they continued to be resisted, even by those who should have known better – Luke 24:10 says that “it was the Magdalene Mary, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women with them, who told unto the apostles these things, and their sayings appeared before them as idle talk, and they were not believing them.” (YLT) In Hebrews, it is said that earlier men had done wrong when the “Son of God [they] did trample on, and the blood of the covenant did count a common thing, in which he was sanctified, and to the Spirit of the grace did despite.”

    It’s been a rough road since the very beginning. Evil did _not_ come into the world from the Woman in the Garden; that is the misinterpretation of the fact that it is through women that we are born into the world of mortality in order to experience the pains necessary to progress further. Adam and Eve, the first Father and Mother of the flesh in this latest dispensation, retain their identities as Father and Mother in heaven, who are themselves descended spiritually (as we all are) from the Father and Mother God who preceded them, just as we will become Fathers and Mothers in Heaven as we follow them on the same path.

    (This does not preclude evolution – Bene-Adam merely means “human”, and we are told that their names mean “many”. As in the Temple, the purpose of the Garden story is to reenact the Sacred Drama in which we all _become_ Adams and Eves, recapitulating our fall from Heaven into our current homo sapiens bodies of mortality)

    What’s interesting is that Shaddai, the name usually translated as “Almighty” in the KJV, is a Proto-Semitic word meaning “mountain”. This is usually seen as referring to a male being who is “King of the Mountain”, but in fact it was probably a metaphor for _breasts_. This is significant because if that reading of the name is privileged, then many of the references to the fertility granted by the Gods in the Old Testament make far more sense.

    For instance, in Genesis 17:1 (Jewish Study Bible) “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous.” The circumcision covenant then comes from a different male deity naming himself as part of the family; later Jacob makes a rod of fresh poplar to promote the fertility of his flocks.

    Genesis 49:25 The God of your father who helps you,
    And Shaddai who blesses you
    With blessings of heaven above,
    Blessings of the deep that couches below,
    Blessings of the breast and womb.

    This is one of the major themes that the Book of Mormon restores: the fertile Tree of Life to Her rightful place, which utterly transforms our understanding of what religion is, and what it is for. Our Temples reinstitute the mystery of the Sacred Marriage and the Creation it brings forth; this is the fundamental shift in worldview the Book of Mormon proclaims from the very first page, and it impacts all of religious thought.

    Every transcendental religion and philosophy based on the irresolvable contradictions of immaterial abstractions which have led to such bloodshed and heartache are corrected. The oldest stories are restored, the ones closest to the source, in which it is male and female human beings themselves who, through their intelligence and good works and faithful covenants, have the potential for divinity.

    “As Maimonides, the greatest medieval Jewish philosopher, put it, ‘God is not a body, nor can bodily attributes be described to him, and He has no likeness at all.'” (Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, page 8) This incoherent conception of a bodiless God has so permeated Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and even Western Atheistic culture that to even speak of God as having a physical form is seen as ludicrous on its face.

    In contrast, Joseph Smith taught that:

    “When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves. And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. John 14:23 – The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” (D&C 130)

    “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make Himself visible, – I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.” (King Follett Discourse)

    No longer is God considered a wholly other, separate type of being from us; He is our Father who works alongside our Mother and all the rest of our family, the Council of the Gods in Abraham, communicating with us in order to teach us to become as loving as they are. Though our world is governed by one Godhead, Godhood itself is not the exclusive title of a single species-unique power-hungry tyrant; it is eternal At-one-ment, unity through mutual worth-ship, potentially available to all who want to serve others.

    There is only one God – but where others after the Apostasy say it is a singular being we must worship (a being who, much like Satan, wants utterly exclusive devotion) we think the One God we worship is part of a unified Council, part of a family. The Book of Mormon shows how, by forsaking the Wisdom of Proverbs (family life, regarding all humans as being God’s children), by rejecting the Atonement, by driving an insuperable gap between God and ourselves so deeply that he becomes an alien, inhuman species, we have essentially killed god using the same excuse as every other genocide which dehumanized strangers from a distant place into something Not Us. We devolve into terrible civil wars which can utterly destroy us from the face of the land, as happened between the Nephites and the Lamanites, who were once brethren. We kill each other, rather than die for one another.

    It’s significant, then, that the Book of Mormon takes off during Jeremiah’s time:

    1:11 JSB The word of the LORD came to me: What do you see, Jeremiah? I replied: I see a branch of an almond tree.
    The LORD said to me:
    You have seen right,
    For I am watchful to bring My word to pass.

    The Jewish Study Bible says that it’s “a pun upon the word “shaked,” almond tree, and “shoked,” “watching”. The almond tree is one of the first trees to blossom in the spring, signifying God’s resolve to bring about the divine word concerning Jerusalem and Judah. A recently discovered ivory pomegranate blossom, believed to have come from the excavation of biblical Jerusalem, apparently was formed to fit on the end of a staff.

    The inscription on the pomegranate, “belonging to the Temple of the Lord, holy to the priests,” indicates that it probably served as the cap for a priest’s or Levite’s staff in the Jerusalem Temple. The image also appears in Numbers chapter 17, where the sprouting of almond blossoms on Aaron’s and the Levite’s staffs marks them as the divinely chosen priests of Israel. It seems likely that Jeremiah’s vision was based upon the image of a Levitical staff.

    This is also remarkably similar to Joseph’s rod in the Gospel of the Birth of Mary. More on that later.

    Yet Jeremiah doesn’t oppose the Asherah merely for being a Sacred Tree. The forms of worship are identical between Canaanite and Israelite religion. He opposes it because the worship has been _perverted_ – specifically, some are offering their sons as sacrifice, which was a thing God says He never asked them to do.

    In 15:4 the Lord says that “I will make [the people] a horror to all the kingdoms of earth, on account of King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah, and of what he did in Jerusalem.” The inference might be that it was the Asherah that Jeremiah is condemning as wrong – yet that is never what the Prophet actually stated.

    When we look at what Manasseh did, we see it is a narrative scribal _assumption_ (from a time when monotheism was being stressed from outside influences) that it was the Sacred Post that was wrong. Yet in 2 Kings 21:6, we find that Manasseh also “consigned his son to the fire”, “practiced soothsaying and divination”, and “consulted ghosts and familiar spirits” – activities which are far more dire and contrary to the Plan of Salvation and worthy of correction – the first, obviously, because of the loss of human life, the others because of the potential of those activities to lead to exploitative abuses of a naive population.

    But this does not preclude a true Queen of Heaven, the Lady Wisdom:

    10:12 JSB He made the earth by His might,
    Established the world by His Wisdom,
    And by His understanding stretched out the skies.

    Here, might it not be significant that Jeremiah is a prophet from the place named after Anathoth, with the derogatory interpretation of the name, whose men, after following the reforms and destroying Wisdom’s Tree in the Temple, want to claim Jeremiah’s life? And then, around this time, we branch out into another story from the same family tree where the Book of Mormon people journey out because of the loss of Wisdom in the Temple and are encouraged by seeing a dream of the Tree of Life associated with a surrogate “mother of the flesh” for Jesus, whose very existence as a separate category implies another “mother of the spirit”.

    Add to this the fact that Joseph Smith, who retrieved the Book of Mormon, was also a Temple-builder who Restored a Sacred Marriage, through which men and women are able to be deified. He also restored material about Eve, in which she is seen as taking hold of the fruit of the Tree of Life in order to become the Mother of humanity.

    If, as we believe, Eve had a Mother in Heaven, then by associating with the Tree of Knowledge and descending to this world of mortality in order to have a family, she was taking her first step towards becoming a Mother in Heaven herself, leading us right back to where we started, with the Tree of Life being closely entwined with the Goddess of the Breast.

    Ezekiel is carried away in the Spirit, seeing a confusing image often assumed to be evidence of idolatry. This customary translation makes little sense; it is more likely that what he saw was not sml hqn’h but sml hqn, the image of the creatress, the title of Atirat. She would have been the consort of ‘l qnh, the creator of heaven and earth, the God of Jerusalem mentioned in Genesis 14.9 and the ‘image of jealousy’ would have been no more than the customary wordplay to avoid mentioning the unmentionable. (Barker, Angel)

    Indeed, such books as Proverbs and the Wisdom of Ben Sirach are absolute treasure-troves of familial religion, and how we earthly children can emulate our father and mother in heaven.

    3:13 (JSB) Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
    The man who attains understanding.
    Her value in trade is better than silver,
    Her yield, greater than gold.
    She is more precious than rubies;
    All of your goods cannot equal her.
    In her right hand is length of days,
    In her left, riches and honor.

    (JSB Notes: In the background of this passage may be the Egyptian practice of depicting gods holding the symbols of their powers and blessings (particularly “life” and “prosperity”).)

    17: Her ways are pleasant ways,
    And all her paths, peaceful.
    She is a tree of life to those who grasp her,
    And whoever holds on to her is happy.

    Similarly, Job is often dealing with Shadai:

    Would you discover the mystery of God?
    Would you discover the limit of shadai?
    Higher than heaven – what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol – what can you know?

    The Song of Songs compares the lovers to a stag for male virility and to turtledoves as a sign of Venus, which is also the sign of the Dove in Christ’s time. The mount of myrrh and the hill of frankincense most likely refer to the woman’s breasts, lending further credence to Shaddai as a metaphor for mountain-breasts.

    The nurturing fertility expressed in the milk is always tied to the land, much as Enoch’s vision of the Earth as the Mother of Men in pain does. Man is compared to Air, the hot south wind, associated with the Sky-God while she is the earth-goddess. Later in the Song, she is compared to a house – a miniature Temple in itself, if we believe Lord Raglan – and wants to let her husband into her.

    Daniel was “proficient in all writings an wisdom, and Daniel had understanding of visions … of all kinds.” Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzer’s dream of the great Tree; the “world-tree” is often used in the ancient Near East as a symbol of a great empire, perhaps because it’s related to the fertility of women, who bring each empire to this world, which can then be corrupted depending on what type of “woman”-tree they become. They can follow Ezekiel’s visions of the whore of the earth, or the true Lady Wisdom.

    But during the Second Temple period, something is missing. It is always the redactors’ retroactive _assertion_ that the Asherah is evil. Yet Lady Wisdom all over 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobias, the Wisdom literature, the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, the Gospel of Philip, etc.

    This brings us to Christ’s time:

    Titus 3:5-6 says: (not by works that are in righteousness that we did but according to His kindness,) He did save us, through a bathing of regeneration, and a renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

    So part of Christ’s mission was to institute a “Renewing” of the Holy Spirit and therefore the Divine Family, which had been lost from the Temple, leaving it an empty shell to an unknowable God, the Great and Spacious Building of Nephi’s vision.

    Specifically, Alma 32 is a discourse telling men how to search for Lady Wisdom. In Alma 31, the missionaries see the Rameumptom which only admits one person, rather than a family, where people preach saying that the others are merely following the “tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ”. The “childishness of their fathers” sounds like the Wisdom Proverbs handed down from father to son.

    Alma 31:35 says: “Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.” Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Alma 32 sermon on the Light of the Tree is given, which must be planted in one’s heart in order for uncreated Intelligences to be led to Christ the Son and be adopted back into the Divine Family available through the Atonement. Just as in the Tabernacle of Moses, the Tree is the only light we can see by to find our way back home to the presence of God.

    (This is not a case of just using the word “wisdom” to assume She is there – there are times when the word “wisdom” merely means “knowledge” or “understanding”. What matters is the interrelated symbolism of the highly-detailed and emphasized vision of the great Tree which directly follows this particular passage.)

    This contrast between the counterfeit Wisdom of the World and the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit is clear in 1st Corinthians 2:12 “And we the spirit of the world did not receive, but the Spirit that [is] of God, that we may know the things conferred by God on us, which things also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Holy Spirit.”

    It’s rather telling that when Paul and the apostles preached against the worship of mute idols as if they were physically the Gods, it was recognized that they quite specifically made it a point not to condemn or blaspheme Diana/Artemis (the Potnia Theron, Mistress of the Animals) when they ran into conflict with Demetrius. It was only after Christianity had become Hellenized over the course of the next few centuries that we begin to see the marked aggression of what Latter-Day Saints believe to be a Church in the decline of Apostasy due to their assimilation of a strand of Greek philosophy which had lost the concept of a corporeal God and subsequently became contentious over how best to define His non-physical attributes.

    Asherah, around the 2nd century BC, was found among the Amorites, Mesopotamians, Ugaritic, Phoenecian, Hittites, derived from Canannites in South Arabia. Israel’s major Mother Goddess would eventually reemerge in the Shekinah Bride-of-God tradition, the Phoenician Tanit, the Syrian Atargatis (which would be corrupted into the licentious Derketo) or even in a subdued form of the holy veneration of the Virgin Mary. She was the dea nutrix, the nursing goddess, the matronit. We also get folks like Allat/Ereshkigal – its also possible that there were different women with the same name, each generation taking on the names of their ancestors and therefore causing conflicting interpretations in anthropology when two events attributed to the same name seem to imply different personality traits.

    Is she related in some way to the ash tree Yggdrasil, later recorded in the Poetic Edda of the Norse, counseling us to strive for the same patient enlightenment as Buddha’s Sacred Fig tree, the Ashvastha, the cosmic Bodhi, or the sthala vriksha Temple Trees? Are the branches of the almond-tree Menorah made in her honor? The word “almond”, amygdale, was likely not a Greek word at all, but perhaps the Hebrew em gedolah, the “Great Mother”.

    We know she was related to Egypt’s Hathor, with her pomegranates in her sycamore grove – was she perhaps also related to the Ashanti people’s Asase Ya? The Rig-Veda notes the Prithvi Mata, Mother Earth, and the Greeks knew their Terra Mater Gaia, the ancestral mother of the Ash-Tree Meliae, the nymphs [Greek nymphe, "brides"] of Nature [Latin natura, "birth"]. The Irish and Hindus both remembered a Danu, both of whose names are related to the flowing primordial Wisdom water of Heaven, just as Mother Ganga receives the ashes of the dead near India’s Ganges river, where the pilgrims also gather during the Kumbha Mela celebration. They also remember the Great Goddess Mahadevi.

    Our Mother was Qaniyatu ‘ilhm, Creatrix of the Gods, Holy Qudsu. Qudsu was Egypt’s Isis, was Hathor of Punt, the woman who tamed the wild cats and rode them bearing snakes and lotuses, Lady Athirat of the Canaanite Sea, the Queen of Heaven. Was her name known to the prehistoric shamans [from Sanskrit sramana-s, "Buddhist ascetic"] of Siberia whose ancestors might have crossed into the New World over the Beringian Steppe, carrying stories in which they symbolized Mother Earth with their multi-tiered world-tree, just as did the Turks and Mongols of Tengriism, as did the North Vietnamese? Was she the Maori Papatuanuku, or the World-Mother Pachamama of the Incas, the “Great Mother Ceiba Tree”, the yax imix che of the Mayan Chilam Balam giving birth to the sak nik’ nal ['white flower thing' - the human soul, perhaps related to itz, the life-giving liquid power within blood, milk, semen, rain, tree sap, honey, etc.], or the directional trees in the Dresden Codex?

    Who knows. The point is, there is in all these traditions a memory of a great Mother. It was only “monotheistic” post-Apostasy Christianity, Judaism, and Islam which lost the Divine Family after partaking of the schools of abstracting philosophy.

    This means that the prominent place of the Holy Ghost in our practices is very significant; our first Article of Faith states that “we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” Among the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Christ’s mission was to bring back knowledge of who we are – children with a father and mother. He is constantly seen reminding people to walk with the Spirit, in the “Way of Wisdom” from Proverbs, ie the Heavenly Mother.

    John 19:6 says that “when, therefore, the chief priests and the officers did see him, they cried out, saying, `Crucify, crucify'; Pilate saith to them, ‘Take ye him ye, and crucify; for I find no fault in him'; the Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, for he made himself Son of God.’

    His great crime was to collapse the distance between humanity and God. We are His children; “ye are gods,” he said; and later, to Mary, he commissioned her to tell his brethren that “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and to your God.” (John 20:17)

    In Acts 17, Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and restored knowledge which had been lost, saying “Men, Athenians, in all things I perceive you as over-religious; for passing through and contemplating your objects of worship, I found also an erection on which had been inscribed: To God unknown; whom, therefore not knowing ye do worship, this One I announce to you.

    `God, who did make the world, and all things in it, this One, of heaven and of earth being Lord, in temples made with hands doth not dwell, neither by the hands of men is He served needing anything, He giving to all life, and breath, and all things; He made also of one blood every nation of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth having ordained times before appointed, and the bounds of their dwellings to seek the Lord, if perhaps they did feel after Him and find, though, indeed, He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live, and move, and are; as also certain of your poets have said: For of Him also we are offspring.

    `Being, therefore, offspring of God, we ought not to think the Godhead to be like to gold, or silver, or stone, graving of art and device of man; the times, indeed, therefore, of the ignorance God having overlooked, doth now command all men everywhere to reform, because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead.`

    The “great secret” which Paul was witnessing – which he had from the Spirit – was that “the nations be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in the Christ, through the good news.” He reiterates Genesis’s claim that we are part of one family spread between the heavens and the earth; as Ephesians 3:14 says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named.” Our desire to see all of Zion gathered is really a desire to see all of our Heavenly Parents’ family gathered into one. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that art killing the prophets, and stoning those sent unto thee, how often did I will to gather thy children together, as a hen doth gather her own chickens under the wings, and ye did not will.” (Matthew 23:37)

    From the Gospel of the Birth of Mary:

    5:14 For Isaiah saith, there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall spring out of its root, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord shall fill him. Then, according to this prophecy, he appointed, that all the men of the house and family of David, who were marriageable, and not married, should bring their several rods to the altar, and out of whatsoever person’s rod after it was brought, a flower should bud forth, and on the top of it the Spirit of the Lord should sit in the appearance of a dove, he should be the man to whom the Virgin should be given and be betrothed.

    The symbolism continues throughout the entire New Testament, on and on. Christ is baptized with a Dove, and it is women who know of his resurrection first. Lady Wisdom of the Psalms is paired in verses with the Father (Matthew 11:19), Christ brings back Light (Luke 1:79), the Tree of Life, the lampstand to guide the way to peace, which is in His Atonement, the reconciliation of all uncreated Intelligences. The Apostles are given power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them in the first chapter of Acts; this power is often related to language, speaking in tongues, the day of Pentecost, etc. Corinthians equates the Holy Spirit with the Wisdom of God in order to compare it with the Wisdom of the world. The Great Mystery of Marriage is referenced in Ephesians 5. When we are “inspired”, we are given eloquence by hearing the words of the Breath of Life which was breathed into Adam and all his children, the Comforter, the Mother who promises immortality by bearing the Light of Christ to us, guiding the generations of the family tree of this world towards the Savior’s Atonement.

    In D&C 93:53 we are told: “Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen.”

    Earlier in this Revelation were calls for the servants of the Church to repent of the “traditions of their fathers” and be “more diligent and concerned at home.” To care for their children, since “every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.”

    Yet, “that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”

    The discourse moves from the beginning of the Creation and centers the work of the Lord in the family – this is pure familial religion, in which fathers and mothers must be united in order to watch over their children in order to “pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation [raising-up] and glory [bright fame] [the glory of God is intelligence] in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.” (D&C 132:19)

    Unfortunately, the printed version of section 130 contains a late and doctrinally significant error. The original said that “the Father has a body of flesh & bones as tangible as mans the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. – and a person _cannot_ have the personage of the H G in his heart he may receive the gift of the holy Ghost. it [the gift] may descend upon him but not to tarry with him.” [Emphasis added]

    The edited and canonized version says that: “the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.”

    The original, citing Joseph Smith, stated that the personage of the Holy Ghost could not dwell in someone’s heart. The edited version, which was revised and canonized only after Brother Joseph’s death, says “it” can, because “it’s” a spirit. But they’re complete opposites; the original makes much more sense in the context of full LDS theology. I think something similar is happening in John; he sometimes refers to the Spirit as male, but the overwhelming cultural evidence of the context implies that that’s an _assumption_ made by later translators.

    Similarly, the “Spirit” in 1 Nephi 11 is obviously not the Holy Ghost; that we often make the mistake of assuming so is merely a product of our tendency to read any reference to “Spirit” as referring to the Holy Ghost, even though we’re told that God is Spirit and that Jehovah had a Spiritual Body before being born into mortality, which was seen by Adam, the Brother of Jared, Moses, etc. Indeed, the Gospel of Philip says: “Some said, “Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.” They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman?”

    If our Heavenly Father is a true God, then he has a wife. If spirit is merely “refined matter” and D&C 77 says that all creatures (even beasts of the field) are spiritual, and men and women exist with the same sociability in heaven, then there is no contradiction between having a personage of “flesh and bone” married to a “personage of spirit”. The distance between “spirit” and this earth’s “matter” is collapsed; we’re all just … humans. Some of us are immortal, some of us are spending time in a mortal probation. To be exalted is to be “made high”, presumably being carried to a part of the Celestial Kingdom, which has “many mansions”.

    What about the countless stories from the anthropology department in which the human race pushes their Heavenly Parents apart? God is so loving he has left his Beloved Comforter to tarry with us for a time while He is gone to visit the other worlds, that She may convey and share our prayers with Him as they guide us in the vineyard “which is the earth and [all] the inhabitants thereof” (JST Matthew 21:56); they have given their Son who died for our sins.

    D&C 132:23: “If ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that _where_ I am ye shall be also.” (Emphasis added) It’s not specifying a condition of the body, but rather a physical relationship of closeness, a place. We come nearer to a person we love, hie to Kolob (Arabic qlb, “the Heart”), as related in all the Ascension dramas. 124:9 “And again, I will visit and soften their hearts, many of them for your good, that ye may find grace in their eyes, that they may come to the light of truth, and the Gentiles to the exaltation or lifting up of Zion.” Like Enoch and his community.

    These themes carry all the way into John’s Revelation: 1:3 “Happy is he who is reading, and those hearing, the words of the prophecy, and keeping the things written in it for the time is nigh!” The Book of Revelation is not meant to scare children into compliance by frightening them with a hellish Doomsday. It exists as an attempt to unroll the Good News of the Plan of Salvation to us in order to give us happiness through understanding of a larger context, a reason for the endurance and faith of the Saints (13:10).

    The vision speaks of the great Council in Heaven, the afflictions brought by our trials in every age of this world of mortality we Stars have fallen into, where Satan has been given power over us for a time, until we are brought back, by God’s grace, to the presence of our first home and all who dwell there.

    John was in the Spirit: Revelation 1:12: And I did turn to see the voice that did speak with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp-stands, and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands, [one] like to a son of man.” Remember that the lampstands carry the Light of Christ to us – the Mother bearing witness of Her and Her Husband’s Son, the Savior)

    In John’s Revelation, the Queen of Heaven is said also to be “the church of God,” because she is the mother of all the spirit-children of this earth who choose to be written into the great Book of Life. The Woman is arrayed with the Sun, fighting the Serpent while She is veiled and hidden from view on earth, personifying our planet as female and growing the fruits of the earth which are Her spirit-children which she can guide back to their first home by forsaking the false Wisdom of the world and taking part in a true eternal marriage like Her own. She is the Voice which calls out from Heaven, though Her children, in their rebellion, cause the light of the lamp to stop shining, cause the voices of those who uphold the Sacred Marriage to be lost. Yet the Resoration brings back the Tree of Life to the Temple.

    Joseph Smith Restored key components of religion which had been lost or transformed during those intervening years: Temple ordinances, especially Sacred Marriage, and the physically divine nature of the great family.

    Mormonism is so awesome because it’s actually the “highest” form of _Humanism_. I’m pretty sure we’re the last major religion to believe in anthropomorphic Gods, when most of the rest of the world has fallen into the Neoplatonic trap of thinking there is something evil about “mere” matter and physicality and our glorious human bodies, and something more philosophically respectable about self-contradictory “higher” planes and dimensions and non-physical paradoxical abstractions.

    And we have a Great Mother. It’s a glorious thing to think that all this time, She has been with us, as we close our prayers and marriages in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of Promise, Her fertile Wisdom bursting forth from the darkness of the bodiless Apostasy to grow into the tangible Tree of Life from John’s bright vision, a living testament to the Restoration Joseph Smith carried to the world on the wings of a dove in order to exalt the Divine Family of which we may all become a part of in the Atonement.

  138. Um, wow. Didn’t realize *quite* how long that post had gotten. Sorry!

  139. Steve Evans says:

    um, ok.

  140. Ok, I read it all. I think I kind of get it, and I certainly dont want to fall into belittling or minamalizing your views, but could you summarize, in less than two paragraphs, what you believe? Not all of us are quite so scripturally (and alternate version scripturally) versed to be able to follow the lines of your deductions.

  141. Did I just skip reading the longest comment in the history of BCC? Just curious. If anyone can link to a longer one, I’d like to skip it, as well.

    #137 – lessonNumberOne, I’ve always thought that “birthing spirits” is a misnomer. It seems to me that the creation of “spirits” out of “intelligences” by “physically resurrected” beings simply has to be WAY different than mortal gestational pregnancy – especially since: 1) there are major differences between the creators and the created at that point; 2) an eternally pregnant Heavenly Mother is something I just can’t accept at all. It just doesn’t work for me on any level.

    If you are interested, the following thread has some pretty direct back-and-forth with someone who disagrees with me strongly, including a link to a post he wrote specifcally to rebut my belief:

    “Who Gave Birth to God’s Spirit Children?”
    (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011/07/who-gave-birth-to-gods-spirit-children.html)

  142. Stephanie says:

    Jeremy, you have a lot of interesting insights. There’s a lot to chew on in that comment. Thanks.

  143. I defy all BCC permas to produce a better track record of enormous comments. I am the king!

  144. I would just like a track record of any comments.

  145. Mommie Dearest says:

    I am quite sure that perfected female deities do not gestate spirits in the way mortal women do,[1] because we are informed in Genesis 3 that mortal gestation is different and harder, when Eve is told by the Lord that “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…”

    Jeremy, sorry to tell you that I have other pressing duties as well, and won’t be able to study your comment. Now, if you were a duly ordained prophet, and this was an official venue for revelation, I’d be all over it. I don’t wish to demean anyone’s personal revelation on the matter, but there’s something about official revelation that carries extra weight with me.

    [1]And you know that I don’t say I’m sure when I am merely speculating.

  146. Thanks for the props, Stephanie. :)

    … and glad I could be of service, John C. *grin*

    Frank: basically, my position is that the best way to make sense of the evidence we have is to view the Holy Spirit as taking part in the same complex of symbolism which was used to commemorate the Mother in Heaven. This included the Tree of Life, the blessings of Shaddai, Lady Wisdom of Proverbs, the Asherah, the Dove, and the Queen of Heaven. Most religions in the world remember a father and mother who descended from the sky, and it was only with the retroactive introduction of abstract monotheistic philosophy that Judaism lost this vital theme. The Book of Mormon is important because not only does it testify of the loss of this Wisdom from the Temple and Joseph Smith’s Restoration of the Sacred Marriage, it also witnesses to the reality of Christ’s purpose. Christ’s mission was, in part, to restore knowledge which had been lost about the Divine Family spread between the heavens and earth, which we may take part in through the loving Atonement they offer.

    MD: I hope I didn’t imply that my speculations were based on revelation. It’s just the way I read history and the scriptures, and certainly not doctrinal. I’m sure there are many inaccuracies, but it’s the best I can do. :)

  147. Jeremy, thanks. I don’t think I quite agree with it all, but that helped me at least understand your views on it better. :)

  148. We should refer to Comment 138 as “Section 138″ instead. Holy crap, even RTS can’t believe how long that comment is.

  149. Jeremy, what Frank said. I don’t agree fully, but I appreciate the condensed version.

  150. Frank: No prob! And no worries, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Just wanted to throw it out there as food for thought. :)

    Scott: Haha, I’ma take that as a compliment, dude. *grin*

  151. Ray: Cool. :)

    Further thoughts: I’m certainly no linguist, but I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that in the ancient world, what we usually think of as “names” were actually _epithets_. In other words, the same figure may be referred to by different titles in different circumstances. For instance, Asherah, “She who treads on the sea”, is not necessarily different (judging solely by her title, anyway) from Shaddai, “the One of the Breast”. They’re not mutually exclusive. Different names can plausibly be used to refer to the same person in different contexts. At this point, it’s all speculation, of course. *grin*

  152. #146 I am so glad you reminded me of that change in the birth process. Three pregnancies in a telestial manner were plenty enough for me!

    I’m surprised no one has referenced the language in Abraham 4. Or maybe I missed it in the multitude of comments!

    26 And the Gods took acounsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and bform man in our cimage, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    27 So the aGods went down to organize man in their own bimage, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.

    Speculating here along with everyone else, but I always assumed that meant Heavenly Father AND Heavenly Mother and probably others too. I figure there could be plenty of other gods too . . .

    As for the sex in heaven question, (and I hope I can say this in the right way) but my husband and I love having sex! I feel like it’s a fabulous unifying element of our relationship, so I sure hope it still fits in somewhere! And not just in a tangential way.

  153. When I’m pessimistic, I think it’s #4. When I’m optimistic, I hope it’s #1. When I’m realistic? No clue. And as for sexual intercourse in the next life: yes, please.

  154. #53- Stephanie: Most logical comment in this thread. Thank you! I’m with you– I have no interest in becoming a male God. If I get up to the Celestial Kingdom and this kind of nonsense turns out to be true (ie- only male Gods, or Male and Female Gods in Polygamous relationships), I’ll opt for the lower kingdoms!

  155. I ONCE HAD A BANANA says:

    I am kind of surprised that so many people voted monogamous when celestial marriage has no such restriction. Maybe a reason that *a* heavenly mother isn’t elaborated on, beyond the fact its not necessary to salvation, is that there isn’t just one of them that applies to all of us. That in fact, we all share the same father, but not the same mother? If celestial marriage allows for polygyny, then this must be an issue out there somewhere.

    LJY Says: I’ll opt for the lower kingdoms! <— GREAT! More minions!

    Just kidding, I havent been to church in 10 years. I wont get any minions. I'm sad now.

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