A Multiplicity of Theological Groupings and Identities — Without Giving Up on Heavenly Mother

This is the second response in our series on Taylor Petrey’s recent article on Heavenly Mother in the Harvard Theological Review. The first response, from Margaret Toscano, is here.

Caroline Kline is completing a Ph.D. in religion with a focus on women’s studies in religion.  Her areas of interest revolve around the intersections of Mormon and feminist theology and the study of contemporary Mormon feminist communities. She is the co-founder of the Mormon feminist blog, The Exponent, and is a committed believer in the importance of online feminist forums and communities. She is also one of the four women who co-founded Feminism and Religion

Taylor Petrey’s “Rethinking Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother” is an important piece of scholarship, as it stretches the bounds of Mormon theological discourse on gender. Reading this article for me was both enlightening and unsettling, as it helped articulate some potential problems with Mormon feminist theologizing of Heavenly Mother, theologizing that has informed my own stances. When I first read Janice Allred and Margaret Toscano’s work on God the Mother fifteen years ago, I was blown away by their courage to catapult this shadowy and all but forgotten divine female into the heart of the Mormon godhead. Their insistence on her equality with God the Father resonated deeply. Reading their work gave me, a young Mormon feminist, hope for an eternity where I as a woman would not be subordinated and pushed aside. It helped me to not despair over my eternal future. Their work on Heavenly Mother helped give me heart to cling to my Mormon identity and practice, even in the face of the horrors of Prop 8, last year’s exclusion policy of LGBTQ people and their children, and excommunications of prominent feminists and intellectuals.

That said, I appreciate Petrey’s explication of some potentially troubling implications of Mormon feminist God-talk on Heavenly Mother. As much as I want a Mormon theology that affirms women as equal to men, I also yearn for a theology that is broad and expansive enough to include all people, gay and straight.

Petrey suggests that much discussion by Mormon feminists has worked to cement heteronormativity and gender dualism into Mormon theological frameworks. I believe there is some validity to this critique. To insist that God is a divine married male/female couple seems to hold up as ideal heteronormativity. And since we, as Mormons believe, are in “one eternal round,” how deity is constructed has implications for our own eternal futures. If God is a married heterosexual couple, then how can we create theological space for LGBTQ people in heaven? How can we find theological room for LGBTQ people to form eternal partnerships with those of their choice and act as partnered Gods to enable new generations of humans to grow and progress and reach their eternal destinies?

These are important questions. I agree with Petrey that we need other theological formulations that disrupt heteronormativity and gender binaries. These other theological formulations, such as Allred’s gender-bending Jesus and Ostler’s interpenetrative male godhead, are liberating for those looking to create theological space for those outside traditional heteronormative frameworks. Thus these other formulations are useful, and I applaud Petrey’s and others’ ability to find these openings and spaces in unexpected places.

The huge question that I am left with after reading Petrey’s article is this: Can we retain Heavenly Mother theology while still disrupting gender binaries and heteronormativity? How? While I realize that Heavenly Mother discourse can be used to reify traditional gender roles, I believe that there is liberative potential in the Mormon feminist vision of an embodied Heavenly Mother equally partnered with an embodied Heavenly Father, who together form the entity known as God. I imagine two beings who exist outside the constraints of gender roles, who work with fluidity and equality to lead humanity – all humanity, gay straight, all colors and classes — to their cosmic destiny to be peers with them. Despite the potential problems, I’m just not ready to write off the feminist vision of Heavenly Mother as hopelessly limiting and reductive.

Some of Janice Allred and Margaret Toscano’s work on Heavenly Mother (not mentioned by Petrey) has, in my reading, actually laid a foundation for gender-binary breaking theologies that better include and affirm LGBTQ people. These are not fleshed out, admittedly, but they are hopeful openings for disruption to heteronormative theological formulations. The first is from Janice Allred’s postscript footnote to her original essay on God the Mother.[1] She briefly discusses how she believes her vision of Heavenly Mother equally partnered with God the Father does leave open space for LGBTQ people to progress without limits.  She believes that the essential characteristic of the marriage partnership of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother is unity (not gendered behavior or bodies), and that “the coupling (and grouping) of celestial beings is not necessarily static or based on sex.” Thus while our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have chosen to exist in a heterosexual marriage relationship, she leaves room for other divine couples to embrace different kinds of partnerships, marriages, and identities.

Margaret Toscano has likewise offered a theological formulation (http://signaturebookslibrary.org/women-and-authority-18/) which has complicated divine heteronormativity and which has even offered a multiplicity of divine females. I like her suggestion that we might have a trinity of female deities that parallel the trinity of male deities. She wonders if perhaps Eve, Mary, and the Holy Spirit might form a female trinity of Mother/Creator, Daughter/Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, all of which “have been intimately involved in our creation, redemption, and spiritual well-being and growth.” Toscano points out that there is scriptural and historical evidence that Heavenly Mother might be connected to each of these three figures in various ways. Eve has particular potential as an important savior goddess, since she, like Jesus, sacrificed her life to propel humanity forward. If theologians were to flesh out this potential female trinity, could they develop similar concepts of oneness, interconnectedness, and partnership that have been used to discuss the unity of the members of the male godhead? Could this likewise show the complicated and deep connections that deities can form with one another amongst members of their own sex and thus also challenge heteronormative theological constructions? This is all highly speculative, of course, but I see in Toscano and Allred’s theological musings ways to retain an active, involved, equal God the Mother, while simultaneously disrupting gender binaries and heteronormativity.

The various theological formulations Petrey mentions in his article –from the Heavenly Mother/Heavenly Father diad to the all-male interpenetrative Godhead —  have their costs and benefits, their strengths and their weaknesses. They radically include in some ways, while potentially excluding in other ways. Like Petrey, I find a variety of theological formulations useful. I am grateful to Petrey for his work in lifting up these other formulations for their potential in disrupting gender binaries, and I am likewise grateful to Toscano and Allred for their theological work which disrupts patriarchy and androcentricism. Petrey’s cautions about reifying heteronormativity in Mormon feminist theological formulations are extremely important. I do, however, see some scope in Mormon feminist theologizing of Heavenly Mother for including LGBTQ people and disrupting heteronormativity and gender binaries. If future Mormon feminist theological work can retain Heavenly Mother as equal to Heavenly Father, but nuance this male/female pairing by bringing forward and theologically developing other divine groupings and formations — particularly female ones like Toscano’s female trinity —  then I would be one happy Mormon feminist.

 

[1] Janice Allred, “Toward a Mormon Theology of God the Mother,” in God the Mother and Other Theological Essays (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 55.

Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this, Caroline, I really appreciate having your thoughts on this. I agree with you that, “Despite the potential problems, I’m just not ready to write off the feminist vision of Heavenly Mother as hopelessly limiting and reductive.” Patriarchy and heteronormativity are both so deeply entrenched in LDS theology. They both need to be transformed, and I have to believe that we can address both, without one coming at the cost of the other.

    As I said in my comment on Margaret’s post, I think solving this multifaceted and overlapping problem is the most pressing question in current LDS theology. I’ll repeat the possibilities I wrote in that comment, with #3 probably being closest to the possibilities Allred proposes. (FWIW I like #4 the best.)

    1 – In the afterlife sexual identity and orientations change for some people, such that humanity is collapsed down to two types: cis-gendered, heterosexual females or males. (I don’t like this answer at all.)
    2 – In the afterlife sexual identity and orientation stay the same, but only the cis-gendered heterosexual couples who accept temple rites get exalted. Everyone else gets a lower level of salvation. (I don’t like this answer at all.)
    3 – In the afterlife sexual identity and orientation stay the same, and each person can be exalted. Possible units of exaltation are individuals, couples, polygynous or polyandrous groups, or all-female/all-male groups. The doctrine of exaltation exclusively applying to a man-woman couple is wrong. Father, Mother, Son, and Holy Ghost preside over all these many mansions in their kingdom on high.
    4 – LDS doctrines about God are so incomplete as to be wrong or misleading. Gender may or may not be a real feature of God (as opposed to God’s gender being human construct shaped by linguistic limitations), but it is not such an important feature as to be defining element in a soul’s progression toward godhood. Each person will progress as herself, a discrete consciousness in the universe, slowly accreting godly attributes as she becomes the new creation alluded to by the apostle Paul, changed one particle at a time by the grace of Christ. Relationships with others are part of eternal progression because without other beings to relate to godly attributes become meaningless. Perhaps some relationships are privileged with special intimacy and proximity, perhaps not.

  2. Clay Bench says:

    Originally posted on FB: Wow. I thought that was an excellent response. My question for all of you is, coming from the perspective of a cultural non-believing mormon (myself), what is the aim of modifying theology? What is your response to social constructionists, functionalists, discourse analysts, etc. who, when reading your work, see it as an example of the invention of new traditions based on your cultural context? Consider for example the very well accepted idea that ANE mythologies (pantheons, descriptions of space, personnel, etc.) are a reflection of human realities. We could ask ‘why do the ancient gods resemble kings complete with royal offspring, palaces, servants, meals, wars, and so forth’? And we could easily answer ‘because those mythologies were products of the ANE royal court; i.e., they look like kings because the stories were produced by kings.’ So, my question for all of you, Taylor, Margaret, Caroline, and others, is how do you respond to those of us who see your work and the work of previous LDS tradition inventing/making as an example of the very social and mundane process of intertextual and interdiscursive textual production and re-production? FYI, this has all been very informative and stimulating. Thx!

    Also originally posted on FB:
    I forgot to add the ‘concluding’ statement above. The point of the above wordy post was to point out that you are potentially at risk of being accused of creating a theology based on popular cultural trends from your own contexts.

    Taylor’s response on FB:
    The work of theology has always been to bridge the tradition with the issues in the contemporary age. All theological work is historically situated in a particular time and place, and necessarily adapts to address new circumstances.

    Further questions on FB:
    ok, so the approach is to acknowledge the socially constructed nature of theology but move forward with interpretation with that acknowledgment in the back of your mind? I guess the next question is more personal then: how do you deal with the dissonance of the very real probability that the god being created through this process is an invented god? I know I run the risk of having a certain ‘tone’ here. Just know that the question is sincere. Is the aim of these enterprises to literally stimulate belief in the newly formed theology? Or, is the aim social change in the now? Both? Thanks!

    Note: Taylor asked me to bring this discussion to the blog to get a more involved/broad response. Thanks for your time and thanks to all of you for thinking so deeply about these issues!

  3. Emily, my thoughts have evolved to your #4. The current doctrines/wording may have been a necessary starting point for this discussion, since it’s what most people can relate to, but upon closer reflection and better understanding of humanity, I can’t help but to think the logical conclusions to these doctrines are so unfair and untenable that it must be only have but a glimpse of what’s in store. To me, the key thing of God and Godhood is relational, how one spirit becomes one with another. Gender identities, sexual orientation, cis gender, etc. may become wholly irrelevant, for all we know.

    Rather than overreach on my own set of conclusions, I prefer to take a step back and apply Godhood theories to all, trusting that justice will prevail.

  4. Thank you Kristine. I’m admittedly an amateur, but here’s my radical idea: throw out monotheism and admit we worship multiple gods. And then actually do it. We’re already part way there with our doctrine that God-Christ-Holy Ghost are separate beings. Acknowledging Heavenly Mother takes us even further. Why not go all the way and adopt a belief in a ‘Council of Gods?’ Call them ‘Elohim,’ pray to them, and receive their instructions. The council can include women, men, gays, straights, etc. What unites them are the attributes of Christ (see, e.g., D/C 121 and the Beatitudes). Those attributes are what entail salvation.

    In my vision, the council comprises a multitude of divine beings who can each accurately be described as one of our ‘parents.’ We are raised by a village. Many of our parents are coupled. If sex exists in the eternities (I hope), then some are coupled heterosexually, others homosexually, and perhaps other couplings (heck, maybe even polygamy). If spiritual procreation falls in line with mortal procreation, then one of those couples would be involved in our spiritual birth. But – and here’s a really key point – true parenthood is not defined by procreation alone. Rather, the title of parent (or mother and father) are given to all those involved in a child’s creation.

    Creation occurs when a parent comes down to the level of the child, shows the child an example for improvement, and sacrifices her/his time and self to build the child up. The prime example of this principle is found in Christ’s condescension to us. The fact that Christ has fully earned the title of ‘Father,’ even though he has played no role in our procreation (either mortal or premortal), proves that parenthood is not limited to procreation (though procreation is a very beautiful and noble example).

  5. Clay Bench, my answer to “how do you deal with the dissonance of the very real probability that the god being created through this process is an invented god?” is that I don’t worry about that very much because god has always been an invention of the human imagination. By invented I don’t mean fictional (I believe God is real), I mean constructed of the bits of human consciousness that are capable of experiencing and apprehending the divine. The vastness of God means we will never comprehend fully (not even close), and the parts of God we choose to focus on bias our comprehension. I wrote about this recently at The Exponent: http://www.the-exponent.com/your-name-for-god/

    My answer to ” Is the aim of these enterprises to literally stimulate belief in the newly formed theology? Or, is the aim social change in the now? Both?” is Both.

    HDP wrote, “Rather than overreach on my own set of conclusions, I prefer to take a step back and apply Godhood theories to all, trusting that justice will prevail.” I agree with that. Though I hope that in a church founded on the idea of continuing revelation, new scripture and new insights on this stuff are in our future.

  6. Having been told to back off (“be careful about dominating the conversation”, which I tend to do), it’s great to see Emily U (a friend–hi, Emily!) and others commenting both for substance and to provide an umbrella that lets me comment again.
    In response to Caroline Kline (OP) and sort of to Clay Bench (because I have some of the same questions), I want to see this whole exercise, including Petrey’s paper and the several responses so far, as reaching for an inclusive, expansive theology that has two particular features: (1) that it is in some sense recognizably Mormon (although I question how far we have to stretch to make that work), and (2) that makes Mother in Heaven a feature rather than a bug. To make that explicit, Petrey’s beginning with MoH as a heteronormative problem is arguably justified as stage setting, but (in my opinion) starts the discussion off in a defensive position from which we have to dig out. Much better (again in my opinion) to start with Mother in Heaven as opening up expansive opportunity in developing theology.
    In response to Emily U (recognizing that we’ve had some of this discussion elsewhere), I’d take up your option 4 but not so negative (“wrong or misleading” is a little harsh; “incomplete” is enough). But really I’d start with “The Book of Mormon” (on stage), i.e., it’s all metaphor. Everything we say and think we know about God (one, three, many) is metaphor. Human language examples describing a part. In building an expansive theology, I would do some abstracting, asking what do the metaphors tell us. They all have a message, even in their incompleteness. “Father” and “Mother” tell me that gender is relevant, probably a surviving eternal characteristic (not whether it’s permanent or malleable, by the way–eternity is a long time–but that it’s important). “Father” and “Mother” and “Son” tell me that relationships are relevant. That the isolated id/individual/soul is not the whole story, that ties and connections and something we might very broadly or loosely call “family” matters and has lasting significance. “Mother” and “Father” tell me that we are not all the same in the eternities. That there are individual differences, strengths, character traits. That variety and variation is a lasting good, not a wrinkle to iron out. That in some sense we need each other, we need groups and families and cooperation. That’s where I would start.
    To give the counter-example, if you’ve ever been in a position to counsel a young woman who tells you of an abusive father and abandoning mother, you know that taking “Father” and “Mother” too literally and specifically can be damaging. “Metaphor” is an important recourse in such discussions.

  7. While I’m glad for all the thinking and discussing this whole thing has spurred, and I think much good has come of it, I’m also glad that our theology and doctrine isn’t decided by group discussion and voting, it would be a jumbled mess and I believe likely take us further from truth than we ever were. While I agree many of the quandaries that have been pointed out and discussed are realities, I think the proposed solutions are far too narrow to come upon the actual truth, like proposing a bandaid as a cure for cancer. No, I think God has something far greater in store that will be revealed in proper time and order, and that after the trial of our faith. I also believe at that time we will see that our current light and knowledge wasn’t quite so far off as we thought, that in rashness many were ready to throw out the baby due to perceived conflicts before they understood its worth.

  8. I think that’s true, Steve S. I appreciate these efforts mainly for their ability to open our minds and drive our imaginations to new places. That, to me, is a key step in the revelatory process.

  9. Yes, agreed

  10. Caroline Kline says:

    Such great comments! Wish I could respond to every one of you, but I’ll cherry pick a few. Emily U, I love this — couldn’t agree more. “Patriarchy and heteronormativity are both so deeply entrenched in LDS theology. They both need to be transformed, and I have to believe that we can address both, without one coming at the cost of the other.” I also appreciate the framework you laid out, and I find both #3 and #4 compelling.

    Clay, you ask terrific questions. What do I think is the goal of modifying theology? This is off the cuff, but I’m inclined to say that the goal of such modification is to make religion/faith traditions applicable and inspiring to people who exist in ever changing contexts and places. I think religious symbols, images, ideas must change in different times and contexts, or they risk becoming obsolete/stripped of meaning and impact (or even downright offensive). New images, symbols, ideas must be found to move and inspire new generations of people to reach toward the divine.

    Dave, I appreciate your comment. I for one would be thrilled if we, at the very least, incorporated worship of HM into our practice. And the idea of expanding that worship even beyond HM and HF is compelling. I like your vision of divine parentage: “true parenthood is not defined by procreation alone. Rather, the title of parent (or mother and father) are given to all those involved in a child’s creation.”

  11. Margaret Toscano says:

    Thank you, Caroline, for writing such a thoughtful and helpful response to both Taylor and me. I like the ways you suggest that there might be some middle ground between us. I agree, even though it might not have seemed so from my initial response to Taylor. It was important to me, though, to highlight parts of my theology and approach I feel Taylor overlooked. I’m glad Caroline reinforced my ideas too. I obviously feel strongly that there are many significant reasons for retaining a belief in the Heavenly Mother, and other possible female deities within Mormon theology, chiefly because otherwise women are erased.

    One of the things I appreciate about Taylor’s essay on a post-heterosexual theology is his argument for same-sex temple sealings. In spite of the current hurtful policies of the LDS Church against same-sex marriage and the children of such unions, I see nothing within Mormon theology that should exclude same-sex couples from eternal unions and families. My husband Paul wrote an excellent exegesis of the New Testament Letter to the Romans where he demonstrates a way to read this text without seeing it against homosexuality, but rather as a condemnation of all human actions that are not done within the spirit of Christ’s love.
    (https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/homosexual-spirituality-and-the-redemption-of-pleasure-an-epistle-of-paul-to-the-romans-part-i/
    https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/homosexual-spirituality-and-the-redemption-of-pleasure-part-ii/)

    A typical approach for liberal churches who see the problems with a gendered God is to argue for a God who is beyond sex and gender, thus encouraging an all-encompassing divinity who loves people of all genders and sexualities. Certainly there is much that is appealing about this approach. But it is hard to maintain within a Christian tradition where sacred texts are androcentric and God is incarnated as the male Jesus, especially if the resurrection is taken literally in some way. And historically the God beyond gender was expounded by Christian theologians for centuries, which did not lead to inclusiveness for women or other genders but to a denigration of the body and sex, and women.

    Charlene Spretnak’s book Missing Mary shows how the move by Catholic feminist theologians to shift the Virgin Mary to the sidelines in favor of god images and language that are neither male nor female (and do not focus on motherhood for women) has not been effective in elevating the status of women within the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, the powerful figure of the divine Queen of Heaven who loves and intercedes for all people is being lost.

    I like Dave K’s suggestion for a Mormon theology that is not ashamed to embrace a kind of polytheism, the Elohim, a council of Gods, as suggested by the Book of Abraham. It could include multiple kinds of divine beings, couples, singles, and other hetero/homo combinations who are collectively our parents. I have argued for some time that the temple would not be so harmful for women if the Heavenly Mother accompanied the male Elohim figure (and of course if women were made priestesses to God rather than to their husbands!). And same-sex sealings would help too. The truth is that the openness of Mormon sacred texts suggests many possibilities.

    Of course we don’t know what heaven is like or whether there is a spiritual realm or life goes on after this one. Maybe there is no sex and gender in the next world, and maybe there are possibilities for taking different kinds of bodies at different times. I like Emily U’s response to Clay Bench. Of course our god figures and beliefs about the next life are human constructs. But they could reflect divine revelation too. Like Emily, I believe in God. But I’m an agnostic at the same time because we cannot ultimately know for certain when we see through a glass darkly here; but maybe we have true glimpses too. For me it is important to keep asking how our pictures of God affect the way we view and treat others; it is important to be willing to expand our views, but always with a view to justice and mercy.

  12. Hi, Chris! You’re right that “wrong or misleading” is too strong. I like the idea of holding an awareness that these words we use for God are metaphors. That makes is less likely we’ll get ossified in our conceptions of God and fail to be open to further light and knowledge.

    Margaret, I’ve found the approach of liberal Christianity appealing lately, but you make a great point that “historically the God beyond gender…did not lead to inclusiveness for women or other genders but to a denigration of the body and sex, and women.” There’s also my subjective experience of being female and heterosexual, two parts of my identity that seem fundamental, that I enjoy, and don’t really want to lose or change in an afterlife. Maybe a gendered God isn’t a concept I want to let go of after all. I’m with you in that I am pretty agnostic about God’s nature and the afterlife. Though specific beliefs about them are important to me because I think they profoundly inform church doctrine and policy.

  13. Margaret Toscano says:

    I like your comment, Christian Kimball, both because you emphasize the importance of relationship in thinking about gender and god concepts and also because you say that our theology should be recognizably Mormon in some way. D&C 130.2 says that “the same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there” only it will be “coupled with glory.” This suggests many interesting possibilities, including honoring people’s real lives and thinking deeply about an ethics of relationships. It also highlights the ways theology should not ignore the here and now. With all of its flaws, the Mormon restoration movement has much to add to the Western religious tradition.

  14. Margaret Toscano says:

    Thanks for your response, Emily. There is so much I want to hold onto too about my sexuality. As I age, I hope that I can experience good things in the next life that I missed here!

  15. Chris: To be clear, my comment about men dominating the conversation was a general observation, not directed at you. I’m always glad to have you comment here.

    Caroline: an excellent post! I’m grateful for your effort to retain a theology of Heavenly Mother alongside gender-inclusive possibilities. We have a lot of work to do here, and I’m glad to have your voice adding to the conversation.

    To the discussion between Margaret and Emily about God and gender, I like the possibility of a God who, rather than transcending gender, encompasses all gender, in the spirit of Gregory Nazianzen’s dictum that what has not been assumed cannot be saved. I’m very sympathetic to the medieval traditions that celebrate Jesus’ feminine qualities, because they open up the incarnation to gendered possibilities that are not limited by Jesus’ presumed biological maleness. I agree with both of you that gender is an important part of human experience, and I join you in wanting a God who understands that about us–all of us, not just male cisgendered me.

  16. What is it like to be a bat? In our march toward godhood and being perfect and just stewards over creation, is it necessary for us to truly know? Or is there a god of the bats, an exalted, celestial, all-knowing bat? Is there necessarily a plurality of god-constructs, like Plato’s forms, that exist above and fully comprehend this earthly realm? Or can an individual really take on all modalities? Is it right for an individual to take on all modalities, and in gaining a plurality of species- and gender- specific identities, lose individuality? Is that an eternal identity anyone wishes to acquire? But without it, is there any fully satisfactory, perfect conception of god? By moving away from such a monistic kaleidoscopic godhead, and also from solipsistic theologies, will a search for total inclusiveness eventually result in the endless varieties of combinatorial pantheism? Does that extreme have the potential satisfy, or does it result in as many gods as there are varieties of lifeforms to adore them?

  17. John Mansfield says:

    Who are the prominent feminists and intellectuals who have been excommunicated since Margaret Toscano in November 2000?

  18. I really liked Dave K’s comment, “Creation occurs when a parent comes down to the level of the child, shows the child an example for improvement, and sacrifices her/his time and self to build the child up. The prime example of this principle is found in Christ’s condescension to us. The fact that Christ has fully earned the title of ‘Father,’ even though he has played no role in our procreation (either mortal or premortal), proves that parenthood is not limited to procreation (though procreation is a very beautiful and noble example).” There’s more to it than just teaching someone, though. In the case of Christ, we take his name as our own (claim of lineage) and seek to associate our nature with his physically (ingesting symbols of his body) and spiritually (image on our countenance, contrite heart). Parent identification implies the child claims an important part of their identity (legal, biological, spiritual, whatever) as deriving from another individual.

  19. Clark Goble says:

    John, I suspect they mean John Dehlin and some of the people associated with Ordain Women such as Kate Kelly.

  20. Caroline Kline says:

    “For me it is important to keep asking how our pictures of God affect the way we view and treat others; it is important to be willing to expand our views, but always with a view to justice and mercy.” Yes, this. Thanks for articulating this, Margaret, as well as your other fine points in your comment. I actually wrote this blog post a month or two ago, so when I read your response post to Taylor last week, I was glad to see that you also were highlighting in your past theological work openings and possibilities for disrupting heteronormativity. While I do understand that the HM/HF pairing can be used to delegitimize non-hetero unions (and I have, unfortunately, seen some more conservative Mormon feminists do exactly that), I felt that in your work and in Allred’s work there were important openings and possibilities beyond binary gendered/heteronormative thinking. My thanks to Taylor for opening up this conversation, and to you, Margaret, for contributing your thoughts and responses.

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