In November of last year The American Physical Society, a professional organization for physicists and other closely related fields, held a meeting in Salt Lake City close to temple square. Word got out quickly that there were free temple square tours and talk among the scientists of how quickly they were accosted by missionaries. Dr. B, a friend of ours, decided to go across the street and have a look. He wasn’t accosted, but walked around leisurely through the grounds and buildings, and was leaving the christus when he was finally approached. A two-hour discussion with the missionaries ensued. “I think I offended them twice,” he reported.
“How?” my husband asked.
“I told them I like to drink.”
“I don’t think that offended them.”
“One of the sisters asked, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And I said I think about it. I think God exists. God could even be a woman. And the sister said, ‘Heavenly Father is a man.’ I could tell I offended them.” B. felt that this missionary was a little taken aback by his suggestion that God was a woman and thus responded curtly. This is sad to me, especially with Mormon theology of Heavenly Mother. It could have been a great opportunity to introduce Heavenly Mother alongside our Heavenly Father, no? (On a side note, I’ve known a lot of scientists over the years. It’s appears to be a myth scientists are mostly atheists or agnostic.)
Besides B., I have many friends, sisters to me whom I have met in warm estrogen filled circles, motherly wombs that love and support one another, women who aren’t sure what they believe about God. They have grown up flower children in a real sense, granola mommies who paint henna on blooming bellies and gather for blessing ways, and yearn for the divine. They find guarding the home and hearth a reverent place, and often use the word goddess to describe the roles of housekeeper, chef, and nursemaid. But organized religion feels stifling to them, cruel and cold. They don’t understand concepts of heaven and hell, and would, I think, understand degrees of glory much better. This has come up before, and it’s easy to say we don’t really believe in hell, “not like that.”
“That’s good,” they answer, relieved I don’t believe they are doomed to Dante’s fiery Inferno.
I think if I really wanted them to connect to God in a way we as Mormon do, to invite them into our traditions and church houses, it would be to introduce Heavenly Mother. And I wonder what would have happened if the missionaries told B about Heavenly Mother alongside Heavenly Father. (Note I am not suggesting her as part of the Godhead, or negating God the Father.)
When talking about the gospel with your friends, has the concept of Heavenly Parents, a father and mother, been discussed? Did you talk about it as a missionary with investigators? Or do you sidestep the issue, like it’s taboo, like the missionary on temple square did?