Sunday, June 5, 2011

No Place For Goddess Worship In The LDS Church: Discussing The Heavenly Mother Is O.K., But Praying To Her May Be Apostasy

A post on The Exponent has triggered my interest in and response to this subject. The author has launched a poll which asks readers if they feel comfortable exploring a relationship with the Divine Feminine, also known as the Heavenly Mother or Mother in Heaven. Belief in the existence of a Heavenly Mother is part of the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; after all, if it took two parents to create our mortal tabernacles, logic follows that it also took two Parents to create the spirit tabernacles currently housed within our mortal tabernacles. How they came together to create those spirit tabernacles is unknown and inconsequential at this point.

The justification offered for this poll is that the author, Corktree, believes we can neither talk to the Heavenly Mother directly nor discuss Her at length without running the risk of blasphemy. This is only partially true; discussing Her is one thing, but talking to Her directly, known as "praying", is something else altogether. The latter can be construed as "goddess worship".

Another reason for this thinking is that some Mormon feminists are frustrated with the patriarchal system of governance within the LDS Church because of the ineptness and malevolence of imperfect men. Satan has capitalized upon their frustration by convincing them that patriarchy, in and of itself, is evil; he even insinuates that women are second-class citizens in the Church because they don't hold the Priesthood. The fact that these women have rejected Satan in advance is of no consequence to him; under the Divine Rules of Engagement, he gets at least 6,000 years to compete with our Heavenly Father for the attention, affection, and souls of men. Furthermore, Satan is not required to ask our permission before he influences or tempts us; if he sees a vulnerability, he's allowed to exploit it. Satan is even permitted on rare occasion to masquerade as an angel of light. Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not and cannot guarantee absolute protection against temptation; in fact, it would be contrary to the purposes of mortality for us not to be tempted at some point.

The Bible, in part, defines the limits of our relationship with the Heavenly Mother, if by omission only. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus Christ Himself set the pattern of our prayers, saying "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven...". This means we are to direct prayers to the Father, not to the Son, the Mother, or any other entity.

But in an article entitled "Daughters of God" published in the November 1991 Ensign, a modern-day prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, addressed this issue at greater length, posting numerous additional scriptural references. Here's the applicable part of the article (after the jump):

I am therefore on this occasion going to take the liberty of rereading that portion of the talk which pertains to a matter over which some few women of the Church appear to be greatly exercised. I give it to all, in this forum, because of the activities of a few who evidently are seeking to lead others in the paths which they are following. I speak of those who advocate the offering of prayers to our Mother in Heaven. I quote from that earlier address:

“This [practice] began in private prayer and is beginning to spread to prayers offered in some of our meetings.

“It was Eliza R. Snow who wrote the words: ‘Truth is reason; truth eternal / Tells me I’ve a mother there.’ (Hymns, 1985, no. 292.)

“It has been said that the Prophet Joseph Smith made no correction to what Sister Snow had written. Therefore, we have a Mother in Heaven. Therefore, [some assume] that we may appropriately pray to her.

“Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.

“However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven.

“The Lord Jesus Christ set the pattern for our prayers. In the Sermon on the Mount, He declared:

‘After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.’ (Matt. 6:9; italics added here and in following references.)

“When the resurrected Lord appeared to the Nephites and taught them, He said: ‘After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.’ (3 Ne. 13:9.)

“While He was among them, He further taught them by example and precept concerning this practice. The record states that ‘He himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.’ (3 Ne. 17:15.)

“Furthermore, He said: ‘Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.’ (3 Ne. 18:21.)

“On another occasion, ‘Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:

“ ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.

“ ‘Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.’ (3 Ne. 19:19–21.)

“And so I might continue with other specific instances from the scripture. Search as I have, I find nowhere in the standard works an account where Jesus prayed other than to His Father in Heaven or where He instructed the people to pray other than to His Father in Heaven.

“I have looked in vain for any instance where any President of the Church, from Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Benson, has offered a prayer to ‘our Mother in Heaven.’

“I suppose those … who use this expression and who try to further its use are well-meaning, but they are misguided. The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”

That is the end of the quotation from the talk I gave earlier, to which I may add that none of us can add to or diminish the glory of her of whom we have no revealed knowledge.

Now in conclusion, may I express my gratitude to you faithful Latter-day Saint women, now numbered in the millions and found across the earth. Great is your power for good. Marvelous are your talents and devotion. Tremendous is your faith and your love for the Lord, for His work, and for His sons and daughters. Continue to live the gospel. Magnify it before all of your associates. Your good works will carry more weight than any words you might speak. Walk in virtue and truth, with faith and faithfulness. You are part of an eternal plan, a plan designed by God our Eternal Father. Each day is a part of that eternity.

Does this really reflect what the Heavenly Mother wants? From what we know about life in the Celestial Kingdom, the most logical answer is that it reflects what She has agreed to. The Father would not make the decision to mimimize the Heavenly Mother's role in our mortal experiences without Her active consent, otherwise He would cease to be God. Oppression cannot be sustained in a celestial environment; as Lucifer found out, the consequences of breaching celestial law in a celestial environment are immediate.

Discussion of our Heavenly Mother should not be forbidden and should actively be encouraged. But praying to our Heavenly Mother risks placing ourselves not only outside the boundaries of Mormonism, but outside the greater boundaries of Christianity in general.


Anonymous said...

Well this is probably long long long past to comment on this post, and nobody seemed to want to post on this. I do say yes lets discuss Heavenly Mother, but nobody at all has the right, the power, or authority to tell me that I can or can not talk to my Heavenly Mother in the secret, private sanctuary of my own home. Nobody at all as that authority.

Anonymous said...

To add to my above comment, and clairfy. I really do mean that in the private of my own home, I will address both my parents. I will always pray to the Father and strive to obey and live by his commandments. But no law is decreed in a home, and to children without Both Parent's agreement and consent. I believe no law is decreed in the Heaven without Heavenly Mother's consent, but Heavenly Father isn't the only one suggesting laws, or decreeing them. What this sounds like is that the father is stating everything that should be done, and the mother is just nodding yes to everything.

"Honey I am not going to tell your children about you one earth." Passive nod from the mother

"Honey I am going to tell them to only pray to me okay?" Passive nod from the mother

????? Huh ????? I wonder what would have happened in President Hinckely would have prayed to Heavenly Father about the subject, rather then just stop the search at the scriptures.

I have not had a lightening bolt thrown at me when praying to both the Mother and the Father. In fact I have felt such a spirit of love that I know it was Heavenly Mother. Once we start talking about her, people will want to start praying to her. I am certain what President Hinckley said, was because to his knowledge of the scriptures there is no mention of Heavenly Mother.

Maybe it just wasn't the time for Heavenly Mother to be revealed. But as I believe we live in the dispensation of fullness of times, she will be revealed, in all her grander, glory, and power and authority. Maybe it wasn't the time for her to be revealed in Joseph Smith's time. Maybe it wasn't.

But maybe now it is. Maybe now is the time to talk more about her. To revere her and honor her.