The topic of a Mother in Heaven is not discussed often, but it is an important doctrine to understand in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have limited information about our Heavenly Mother, but what we do know can help us better understand who She is and what Her role is in our lives and the Plan of Salvation. This understanding of our Mother in Heaven can also aid women of the Church in better understanding their own divine identity and purpose.
I have always been fascinated with the idea that we have a Mother in Heaven. I have gained more confidence in myself and strengthened my testimony of the gospel as I have learned about Heavenly Mother. Women and men in the Church may find it beneficial to study more about Heavenly Mother as it can deepen their understanding of divine womanhood and how these holy attributes can be obtained.
We learn more about our Heavenly Mother in The Family Proclamation. It states, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
The Bible says we were created in the image of God, but as women that can be confusing. It becomes more clear as we understand that there is both a Father and Mother in Heaven who work together in all things.
Artwork: In Their Image by Cailtin Connolly
It is important to know that gender is an essential part of God’s plan. This is not only true in this world. Gender is an essential piece of the plan in the premortal, mortal, and postmortal life. We are all part of an eternal family. This could not be true if there was not also a Mother in Heaven.
There are several accounts of Joseph Smith discussing a Mother in Heaven with close friends and family. One of these individuals was Eliza R. Snow. She wrote the hymn “O My Father” which explains her idea of a Father and Mother together in heaven. The last two verses state,
“I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
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.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.”
The Church has a brief Gospel Topics Essay dedicated to the topic of our Mother in Heaven. President Harold B. Lee wrote, “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.” In an article titled “The Influence and Responsibility of Women,” we have been taught that our Father in Heaven weeps with us when we are sad and rejoices with us when we are happy. I believe that our Mother in Heaven is included in this. I can imagine our Heavenly Parents rejoice with us as we accomplish something we have been working toward, and mourn with us as we grieve the loss of a loved one. Thinking of my Heavenly Parents in this way makes Them more real to me. After losing my earthy father earlier this year, I relied on the spiritual power of my Heavenly Parents more than ever before. I know that they are aware of me and want to help me in any way they can.
Artwork: Mother Earth by Paige Payne
One piece of this topic that creates controversy is the fact that we are instructed not to pray to our Heavenly Mother. We have been taught to pray following the Savior’s example of praying to the Father in Heaven. President Hinkley stated, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.” Elder Dale G. Renlund has also taught us on this subject, “Speculation will not lead to greater spiritual knowledge, but it can lead us to deception or divert our focus from what has been revealed. For example, the Savior taught His disciples, “Always pray unto the Father in my name.” We follow this pattern and direct our worship to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ and do not pray to Heavenly Mother.”
Though we may not have an abundance of knowledge on the topic of a Heavenly Mother, we do believe she is real. Dallin H. Oaks stated “Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.” I am grateful for my loving Heavenly Parents, and look forward to the day I will be reunited with them again.