Cover image via the Church Newsroom.
For about a decade I have written, spoken, and published books on the doctrine of our Heavenly Mother. The timing of this — not coincidentally— was when the church posted it’s Gospel Topics essay:
Once the church was very public with our doctrine, I felt I could be too. However, I found this wasn’t true of everyone… so, I started polling my audiences to see where they were on the topic.
“How many of you know we have a Mother in Heaven?” Every hand goes up.
“How many of you were taught that we should not speak of Her? That She was too sacred or Heavenly Father was protecting Her or she was somehow taboo?” Almost every hand in the room is up.
“How many of you know that we have a Gospel Topics Essay on Mother in Heaven?” Less than 10% of the women in the room raise their hands. In the last three firesides/RS activities I spoke at— 3 of 80 women… 10 of 150… and 2 of 35. (I had one group that was 100% who had read the essay and I was floored— turns out, the RS President had sent the essay around as part of the invitation to my talk! Told them they had cheated and were blowing my statistics.)
[Side note: for those of you who were taught the taboo on Heavenly Mother and haven’t heard an update— it has been clarified that no prophet or apostle has ever taught we should not speak of Heavenly Mother. If you see footnote #2 in the Gospel Topic essay it references the BYU Studies article “A Mother There” that researches and thoroughly debunks this myth. Yes, that’s a big deal. And, of course, since we have an essay on Mother in Heaven and claim her as our doctrine…. Well, obviously we are allowed to talk about doctrine!]
At the Women’s Session of the April General Conference in 2022 (yes, the one we just had), Elder Renlund spoke of Heavenly Mother. He made the doctrine very clear. I want to emphasize a few of the key points:
1- Heavenly Mother is our doctrine.
2- What we know of Her is in the Gospel Topics Essay.
3- “I wish I knew more.”- Elder Renlund
Now, he went to discuss other points on this (including we don’t pray to Heavenly Mother), but I have seen those angles well-covered in other media. What I have NOT seen covered is what a JOYOUS message this is.
Why is this joyous?
Honestly, that list could go on and on.
So, only tapping from the Gospel Topics Essay, let’s cover some of the points of JOY.
All people are beloved children of our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother
The very first sentence in the essay puts forward this bold truth. How does this impact how I see others? How I talk about others? How I respond to others online? How I judge their choices? Their politics? Am I thinking of everyone as my brother and sister… or someone who is The Other from me? Am I being divisive in how I see others… because ALL are beloved! It is JOY to be reminded to let go of contention, and just love one another.
Our relationship to Deity
The second sentence of the essay says our understanding of Heavenly Parents is rooted in our the relationship with Deity. How does it feel to know you are a child of a perfectly loving Father and Mother? We know our earthly children thrive best with the love of both parents… isn’t that same true for knowing of the love of our Heavenly Parents? When you say, “Our Heavenly Father loves you…” it is just as true and doctrinally correct to also say, “And our Heavenly Mother too.”
Women are made in Her image
So, for all those who might struggle with self worth or body issues or confidence… know YOU are made in the image of a glorious divine being. (See the footnote of the first sentence of the essay.)
Godly potential of men and women
In case this was in question, our destiny can be Godhood… men and women both. As Michael Goodman said to women at BYU Women’s Week, “You are a perfect version of Heavenly Mother. Your destiny is not counselor-hood. Your destiny is Godhood.” JOY!
We cherish knowing we have a Mother in Heaven
The last sentence of the essay’s first paragraph says that Heavenly Mother is a “cherished and distinctive” doctrine of our church. What do we do with something we cherish? You might say — hide it away! Protect it! But, Heavenly Mother is Deity… she does not need to be hidden away or protected from her children. In fact, I think the opposite is true… knowledge of Heavenly Mother can bless our lives. So, if we cherish this doctrine the way we also cherish the doctrines of tithing, Sabbath, scriptures, the Atonement… then we APPLY it to our lives. What does application of this doctrine look like in your life?
And, you know what? All of these joys are found in THE FIRST PARAGRAPH of the essay. Just imagine what joy follows through the rest? Elder Renlund said, “I wish I knew more.” So, let’s start reading, searching, learning… and having our lives blessed by this joyous truth.
“Hallelujah!” for Elder Renlund’s talk.