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Our Heavenly Mother

Posted by Elise on October 25, 2015

church of ldsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. This understanding is rooted in scriptural and prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the godly potential of men and women.1The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.2

While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven.3 The earliest published references to the doctrine appeared shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, in documents written by his close associates.4The most notable expression of the idea is found in a poem by Eliza R. Snow, entitled “My Father in Heaven” and now known as the hymn “O My Father.” This text declares: “In the heav’ns are parents single? / No, the thought makes reason stare; / Truth is reason—truth eternal / Tells me I’ve a mother there.”5

Subsequent Church leaders have affirmed the existence of a Mother in Heaven. In 1909, the First Presidency taught that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.”6 Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that “the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.”7 And in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”8

Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family. “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us,” taught Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.9 President Harold B. Lee stated, “We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can.”10

Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.”11 Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”12 Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”13

As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints believe that this pattern is reflected in Paul’s statement that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”14 Men and women cannot be exalted without each other. Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”15

Resources

  1. Genesis 1:26–27; Moses 3:4–7; Romans 8:16–17; Psalm 82:6; Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20.
  2. See “Becoming Like God”; see also Elaine Anderson Cannon, “Mother in Heaven,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 5 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:961. For an extensive survey of these teachings, see David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido, “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven,” BYU Studies 50, no. 1 (2011): 70–97.
  3. Zina Diantha Huntington Young recalled that when her mother died in 1839, Joseph Smith consoled her by telling her that in heaven she would see her own mother again and become acquainted with her eternal Mother. (Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1911], 15–16.)
  4. See W. W. Phelps, “Come to Me,” in “Poetry, for the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons 6 (Jan. 15, 1845): 783.
  5. “My Father in Heaven,” in “Poetry, for the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons 6 (Nov. 15, 1845): 1039; “O My Father,” Hymns, no. 292; see also Jill Mulvay Derr, “The Significance of ‘O My Father’ in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow,” BYU Studies 36, no. 1 (1996–97), 84–126.
  6. “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era 13, no. 1 (Nov. 1909): 78.
  7. “The Vision Beautiful,” Improvement Era 23, no. 6 (Apr. 1920): 542. At this time, Gates was the recording secretary of the Relief Society general presidency.
  8. The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.
  9. M. Russell Ballard, When Thou Art Converted: Continuing Our Search for Happiness (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001), 62.
  10. Harold B. Lee, “The Influence and Responsibility of Women,” Relief Society Magazine 51, no. 2 (Feb. 1964): 85.
  11. 3 Nephi 18:19–21; Matthew 6:6–9; John 17:1, 5, 21, 24–25; see also Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8; and3 Nephi 13:9; 17:15.
  12. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 100.
  13. “Our Mother in Heaven,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 72, no. 39 (Sept. 29, 1910): 620. Rudger Clawson was the editor of the periodical and likely author of this editorial.
  14. 1 Corinthians 11:11.
  15. Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 84.

The Church acknowledges the contribution of scholars to the historical content presented in this article; their work is used with permission.

 

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Enjoying Sacrament Meeting with Children

Posted by Elise on January 30, 2011

Ensign, July 1989

With help, young children can learn to be reverent.

When I was a boy, I was convinced that my dad had the longest arms in the world. Anytime one of us boys whispered, whined, winked, or did anything else Dad considered irreverent during mass, we were jolted back into reverence with a rap on the back of the head. No matter where we sat in our family group at church, Dad could reach us.

Knowing there was no escaping Dad’s long arm, we usually sat like reluctant angels through the service, but being quiet didn’t make us like church.

Years later, I attended my first Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting and was shocked by the unruly behavior of most of the children. Had my dad been there, he would have worn out his arm trying to teach reverence to those kids.

About ten years after my first visit to sacrament meeting, I was again sitting in an LDS chapel, but this time I was a member of the Church and a father wrestling with unruly toddlers of my own. Read the rest of this entry »

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LDS Temples

Posted by Elise on January 10, 2010

The opportunity to enter the temple and to take upon ourselves the sacred covenants therein is one of the greatest blessings available to us in mortality. Then, after we take upon us those covenants, our obedience in living them daily stands as a demonstration of our faith, love, devotion, and spiritual commitment to honor our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our obedience also prepares us to live with Them in the eternities. The temple’s saving ordinances are essential to—and even the central focus of—the eternal plan of happiness.

The primary purpose of the temple is to provide the ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings that come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Temples are the greatest university of learning known to man, giving us knowledge and wisdom about the Creation of the world. Endowment instructions give guidance as to how we should conduct our lives here in mortality. The meaning of the word endowment is “gift.” The ordinance consists of a series of instructions on how we should live and covenants we make to live righteously by following our Savior.

Elder Robert D. Hales

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Ensign, October 2009

TEMPLE SYMBOLISM

Rich symbolism adorns the exterior of the Salt Lake Temple, depicting mankind’s journey from mortality into the eternal realms. Perhaps Elder J. Golden Kimball expressed it best when he stated: “When I think about that building, every stone in it is a sermon to me.”1 Following is a summary of some of the major symbolism of the Salt Lake Temple:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Testimony

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Ensign, May, 2008

Knowledge encourages obedience, and obedience enhances knowledge.

A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration.

 A testimony of the gospel is not a travelogue, a health log, or an expression of love for family members. It is not a sermon. President Kimball taught that the moment we begin preaching to others, our testimony is ended.1 Read the rest of this entry »

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Bearing Testimony

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

Elder Jay J. Jensen

of the Seventy

Ensign,  October 2005

In my experiences at home and in the Church, I appreciate more and more the power of bearing testimony. Few accounts in Church history have left a more profound impact on me than these words of President Brigham Young (1801–77), who was influenced by a pure testimony:

“If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been combined in one individual, and that person had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by his learning and worldly wisdom, it would have been to me like the smoke which arises only to vanish. But when I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only just say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord,’ [the] Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me.” 1

Using the scriptures and the words of the prophets, let us examine what a testimony is and how we should bear it. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Tree of Life in Ancient Cultures

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

fangol (sxc.hu)

C. Wilfred Griggs

Ensign, Jun 1988, 27

This symbol from antiquity finds a full and highly consistent portrayal in the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon brought the tree of life to our attention long before modern scholarship revealed how common the tree was in ancient history. The symbol of that tree pervades the art and literature of every Mediterranean culture from centuries before the time of Lehi until well after the time of Moroni. Read the rest of this entry »

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Teaching Children to Keep the Sabbath

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

 
 

ldsimages.com

Ensign, Oct 1989, page 44

Preparation is a key word in keeping the Sabbath day holy. While it may be possible for an individual to have a joyful, restful Sabbath without preparing ahead, today’s busy families may not be able to have the kind of Sabbath the Lord has prescribed if they wait until Sunday morning to prepare everything. They need to prepare some things the day before. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Children Want to Bear Testimony

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

By Elder Carl B. Cook, Area Authority Seventy

Utah North Area

 Ensign, December 2002

Young children can be taught to respond to the Spirit and share heartfelt experiences.

A few years ago, during the general session of a stake conference at which I was presiding, my testimony was strengthened by the expressions of a young boy. I invited Brian Cox, a priest preparing for a mission, to come forward and bear a brief testimony. To my surprise, a very young boy, also named Brian Cox, began making his way to the pulpit. When he arrived, I explained to him that the invitation had been meant for an older boy with the same name. I then gave him the option of returning to his seat. However, he quickly assured me that he wanted to bear his testimony! Read the rest of this entry »

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Succession of First Presidency

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

LDS Living News

The official Church release as to how the succession of the First Presidency is carried out.

The highest-ranking governing body in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the First Presidency, consisting of the president and his two counselors, or advisers. This three-man body supervises the work of the entire Church in all matters of policy, organization and administration. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Origin of Man

Posted by Elise on October 11, 2009

First Presidency 1909

From Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81; capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling standardized.

“God created man in his own image” (Gen. 1:27).

In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters.

Inquiries arise from time to time respecting the attitude of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints upon questions which, though not vital from a doctrinal standpoint, are closely connected with the fundamental principles of salvation. The latest inquiry of this kind that has reached us is in relation to the origin of man. It is believed that a statement of the position held by the Church upon this subject will be timely and productive of good. Read the rest of this entry »

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