Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Some theological speculations regarding the Heavenly Mother

February 07th, 2016 by Vader

Keeping in mind that these ruminations are purely speculative.

We know She exists. The Proclamation on the Family cements her existence as standard Mormon doctrine, though She is not spoken of plainly in any of the Standard Works.*

Margaret Barker, a non-Mormon Biblical scholar (who has some acquaintance with Mormonism) finds evidence not only that God had a Spouse in ancient Israelite belief, but that the asherah was Her symbol and had a legitimate place in the Jewish temple prior to the Deuteronomic Reform, which took place shortly before Lehi’s time.

But we have no published revelation regarding Her and know very little about Her. We’ve had suggestions posted at this blog that this is because God foresaw the perils of radical feminism and deliberately withheld information on Her, because of the potential for a disastrous syncretism.

But what is Her function? Most of the speculations I’ve heard beg the question. The question of Her function is closely related to the question of what the eternal significance of gender is. The Proclamation on the Family declares gender to be a vital and eternal characteristic of the children of God, without really explaining why.

So I’ll offer a speculation:

What gives such great significance to the organization of a spirit offspring by God is that it places a new first cause in the universe. In other words, the outstanding characteristic of this spirit offspring is his or her agency.

The development of agency requires that there be meaningful choice.

But the most meaningful choices in this mortal world are between good and evil, and the choice for evil is damning. Perhaps the first exercises of choice by a new spirit offspring of God, in its infancy, need to be between alternatives that are consequential, but neither of which is damning.

Divine parentage by two complementary divinities — a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother — may be the key to providing meaningful choice for a new spirit offspring.

One possibility is that we choose our own gender, and that the choice of gender is our first exercise of agency. We are presented with divine Parents who are both perfected and holy, but nonetheless are complementary, and we can take only one or the other as our template. I note that the Proclamation on the Family states that gender is an eternal characteristic, but does not spell out that this includes eternity past. If the meaning is only eternity future, then gender may be something we acquired at some point. And the thought that we acquired it by choice, presented with either Father or Mother as template, has a certain appeal to me.

Of course, this is all entirely speculative. My point, I suppose, is that one can imagine reasons why gender is eternal and consequential. Even if the reason I’ve imagined here doesn’t happen to be the right one.

*Which raises the interesting question of why feminist Mormons, who are happy to suggest that the prophets might be mistaken about a great many things, accept without question the existence of a Heavenly Mother on the basis of teachings of past white male prophets that have no obvious basis in scripture. But that’s a matter for another post. Probably by someone else.

Comments (8)
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February 07th, 2016 04:56:30

Bruce Charlton
February 7, 2016

That is an interesting idea which I hadn’t previously envisaged or considered.

My current, existing assumption is that complementary sex (or what you here term gender) is one of the fundamental, primordial characteristics of reality – which is why it applies to our Heavenly Parents and ourselves alike.

In other words that even before we became spirit children of God, and were mere ‘intelligences’, we were necessarily either male or female.

I assume this mutual creative dependence is one of the structuring principles of the universe, and a root of those things that bind and relate us.

But I will try to mull over and think through the implications of your suggestion here.

February 7, 2016

This is all speculation, of course. One can imagine that agency arises in divine offspring from the complementary sexuality of divinity without tying it specifically to the development of gender in spiritual offspring; that’s just one intriguing possibility. I certainly less than half believe it myself.

February 8, 2016

Like Bruce C., i tend to think of sexes as something without which existence is impossible. But your speculation has appeal, and we are far from plumbing the mysteries of divinity.

Bruce Charlton
February 8, 2016

Having thought about this a while, I suspct that the idea might prove to be destabilizing if it was accepted as correct.

Most human choices are understood to be related to salvation and spiritual progress – but the choice of sex would not be of this type. It therefore appears to be somewhat arbitrary – and this may seem to trivialize sexuality.

Also, the idea of choice means that sex is not a fundamental attribute – meaning that ultimately we are neither male nor female. This could be regarded as hard to square with the necessity for celestial marriage for the highest level of divinization – why would we *need* a spouse if we were originally unsexed.

Another possible problem is that making a choice may be taken to imply the choice is reversible – and if not, then why not?

So, overall, while a fair thought-experiment – this is *not* an idea I would want to introduce!

February 8, 2016

In all respects a thought-experiment.

You make a good case that the idea of choosing gender, even if it is an irrevocable choice, is probably untenable.

I still like the idea that sexual complementarity in divinity somehow drives the creation of new first causes. In fact, put that way, it seems almost self-evident, though the precise mechanism remains obscure.

February 8, 2016

Of course, for that matter, just how much can we say about the Father? Most of the details of the Godhead, are about Christ.

Actual details that we have about the Eternal Father are short on hand but most of those would apply equally well to an Eternal Mother.

February 8, 2016

If one could gaze into heaven for but five minutes…..

But then the prophets are specifically forbidden to write about what they see there.

If we were as holy as the prophets, then we’d get to see into heaven and other visions too, for God is no respecter of persons.

The angels could not be restrained from visiting us, if we were sufficiently righteous and holy.

“You want the truth (now)? You can’t handle the truth (now).”

Eric Nielson
February 9, 2016

For gender to be purposeful, it must be functional.

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