Our Mother, Who Art In Heaven…
Nope, that isn’t a misprint. In general, members of the LDS Church believe in the existence of a divine momma, however if you ever ask a member of the church about her, well…
The concept of God the Father being the sire of us all isn’t so foreign in what we might call “mainstream Christianity,” after all, Jesus went on about this reality extensively during his ministry. But it wasn’t until I hooked up with the Latter-day Saints this month that I was asked to take this literally. What really blew my mind was the idea that God the Father and Jesus reside in heaven with literal, however glorified and perfect, bodies (Doctrine and Covenants 130: 22). If this is true, and Jesus is the firstborn of God, then how did God–being a dude–make us kids?
What a concept! We have literal divine parents, because after all, God did say that he created us in his own image (Genesis 1:26-27). As previously mentioned, Jesus also commented on God not only being his father, but our father. Remember the Lord’s Prayer?
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” –Matthew 6: 9-13
Jesus also asks us to,
“Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” –Matthew 5: 48
There are many other scriptures that imply divine parentage–mostly via Jesus–but for the Latter-day Saints,
“Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body.”–Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith  335
According to this teaching by the presidents and prophets of the Church, we lived in heaven with Heavenly Father before the foundations of the earth were even made. The idea is that in order to develop and mature, we needed a physical existence to test our faith and grow–much as we do while children–to learn the ropes of adulthood. We could not do this in heaven because we had the undeniable benefit of being in God’s presence. While on earth, we have a chance to prove ourselves worthy of living with Heavenly Father, and with the help of the Holy Spirit (the witness and teacher of truth), we can come to know the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Again, these ideals about the nature of God are pretty foreign, but I have to admit, attractive too. Modern day prophets of the church often extend this idea to involve the existence of a Heavenly Mother simply because it makes sense in this context. The family is the most basic and sacred unit of mankind. If we are modeled after a divine plan via the Father, it implies that the blueprint for us rests in the realities of heaven, ergo, a divine family.
Now go further. If we are literal sons and daughters of God, guess what? We’re brothers and sisters!
No wonder we fight so much…
So what about Heavenly Mother? Why don’t we hear much about her? Many LDS members are reticent to discuss her because, frankly, there are few details scripturally. Once we start talking about issues with no doctrinal basis, conjecture and folklore creep in and before you know it there are divergent theories flying all over the place. Another explanation my Mentors provided that it’s more out of modesty and respect.
Imagine all the bad things said about Heavenly Father and Jesus and all the times their names are taken in vain. Who is the one person you do not insult in front of a guy? His mom. In a way, leaving Heavenly Mother out of the messy business of theology is a sort of chivalry, protecting her honor and modesty with a quiet, yet knowing reverence. Because of this, LDS members do not pray to her. They do acknowledge though, in general, that she is a model of the mother/woman role in the family, just as Heavenly Father is for the husband, and Jesus is the model for all of us as children of God.
I like that last line. I like the idea of a heavenly model. Heavenly Father providing, Heavenly Mother with her gentle touch, and Jesus as older brother/leader showing us how things are done.
This is a lot to process, and I’m sure there are a lot of gaps here, but I invite you to ponder these concepts. What is your impression of God as a father? Can you imagine a heavenly family? For me, I get a closer, familial sense of my relationship with God. In this way, I’m not honoring and worshiping some distant, powerful force, but a thoughtful and loving father who purposefully created me to one day join him.
Now if we just had a Heavenly dog…