94 comments for “Monday morning quiz

  1. Mephibosheth
    October 29, 2007 at 6:49 am

    True. From the great treatise on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage D&C 132: 17,

    “For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.” Emphasis added.

  2. David Clark
    October 29, 2007 at 7:18 am

    19th Century Answer: False, God is married to multiple wives, couple implies one man and one woman

    20th Century Answer: Maybe, No official doctrine on the subject.

  3. Alan Jackson
    October 29, 2007 at 8:57 am

    I’d have to agree with #1 as to the Doctrine leading to our best guess.

    Even statements from authorities sounded like they knew they were speculating. Without any definitive statements, we’d have to say as a matter of doctrine, no we don’t believe that but as a matter of speculation and culture, yes we do.

  4. JanD
    October 29, 2007 at 8:57 am

    In the ancient Aramaic and also I think Hebrew languages the Holy Ghost was identified as female. Early Christians thought of the \”godhead\” as family. Maybe we have it all wrong. Ya think?

  5. October 29, 2007 at 9:16 am

    My inspiration for the post was this 19th Century quote by Erastus Snow:

    There can be no God except he is composed of the man and the woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. (JD 19:270)

    David, I don’t think polygamy would preclude the concept that God is one man and one woman. There would simply be multiple God configurations.

    JanD, when Nephi met the Holy Ghost, he (the Holy Ghost) was male. (1 Ne 11:1-12)

  6. Adam Greenwood
    October 29, 2007 at 9:38 am

    #2 is the good general answer. Yes is my personal answer, since I think that makes the most sense of the temple and of the eternity of marriage and of the statement in the Proclamation that the two sexes are eternal.

  7. Julie M. Smith
    October 29, 2007 at 9:43 am

    I think that it would be hard to “prove” this position from an assembly of GA quotes and scriptures, but I also think it virtually impossible to make sense of many pieces of established LDS doctrine and practice (as Adam lists) unless it is true.

    I do think that this is the main reason we are asked not to pray to our Mother in Heaven. I also think this is why we don’t know more about our Mother in Heaven–there’s nothing to know about Her that is separate from what we know about Him.

  8. Julie M. Smith
    October 29, 2007 at 9:48 am


    Your analysis is very questionable. We have no scriptural texts in Aramaic (save probably a few chapters from Daniel). It is true that in Hebrew and Greek that some of the terms that we use to describe what we call the Holy Ghost have feminine endings, but many scholars (and I agree with them) think that this no more makes the Holy Spirit female than it makes, for example, a table female just because it has a feminine ending. I’m all for feminist theology, but I don’t think there is anything to work with here.

  9. David Clark
    October 29, 2007 at 10:04 am

    I don’t think polygamy would preclude the concept that God is one man and one woman. Couple = 2 people. What do you call it when there are more than 2 people involved? God is multiple couples? God is a plural couple? They don’t just jibe well with ordinary English. In any case the question implied in my mind a pretty specific configuration, namely 2 people involved. It was that question I was answering.

  10. October 29, 2007 at 10:05 am

    So, every time we say “God” in conversation with each other, are we referring to a married man and woman?

  11. October 29, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Dave, I agree it doesn’t jibe with ordinary English. I don’t know how to put it into a tidy phrase. I’m simply saying that Mormons could still say “God is a married couple”–meaning that a being that has all power, knowledge, etc must needs be a married man and woman–even if there exists more than one of these partnerships.

  12. October 29, 2007 at 10:11 am

    So, every time we say “God” in conversation with each other, are we referring to a married man and woman?

    About as often as I include Sister X in my thought when I mention Stake President X — although when I refer to Stake President X, I *am* referring to a married man.

  13. October 29, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Ardis, same here. But is that an entirely accurate way to speak about God?

    Stake President X can, as an individual, fulfill his particular duties that give him that title as an individual, but God cannot.

    We can say “God appeared to Joseph Smith” and be referring to “God-as-a-married-man.”

    But if we believe God is a married couple, when do we ever refer to this being?

  14. October 29, 2007 at 10:21 am

    What do you call it when there are more than 2 people involved? God is multiple couples? God is a plural couple?

    We faced the same linguistic difficulty (and resulting nasty misunderstanding in the broader culture) in the 19th century. Brigham Young was married 46 times, but there wasn’t a marriage involving 47 people. BY was married to Mary Ann Angell. BY was married to Lucy Ann Decker. BY was married to Emily Dow Partridge. BY was married to Margaret Pierce. BY was married to … But that doesn’t mean that Mary Ann Angell had any sort of marital relationship with Lucy Ann Decker; each marriage consisted solely of one man and one woman.

    In the same way, if God the Father has multiple wives, I suspect I am a child of one couple. Anything else makes the concept of Heavenly Father and Mother in Heaven incomprehensible to my finite mind.

    But of course I’m speaking from little or no evidence, bloggernacle style.

  15. October 29, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Ardis, same here. But is that an entirely accurate way to speak about God?

    “But of course I’m speaking from little or no evidence, bloggernacle style.”

  16. Ray
    October 29, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Just a quick add-on to Ardis’ point and KLS’ answer, as I am about to rush out the door:

    Stake President X cannot currently fulfill his particular duties that give him that title as an individual. He can’t become a SP as an unmarried man. In that sense, even though I can refer to him as an individual, in reality, he is not a SP without his wife.

    As to the answer to the original question: There have been enough references in classroom materials and recent talks for me to posit that this is a current teaching of the Church, but the actual question asks if Mormons *believe* it. I think the answer for the vast majority of Mormons is an unqualified, “True, I believe that.”

  17. October 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Ardis, fair enough.

  18. October 29, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Ray, it’s true that the Stake President has to be married to receive that calling, but does his marital status enable him to fulfill his calling?

    God the Father cannot perform his essential work–creation–without his wife. But a Stake President’s essential work can be done without a wife, even though being married (in the temple) gives him access to spiritual power that he wouldn’t otherwise have.

  19. MikeInWeHo
    October 29, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Where is Ronan on this one??

  20. Y Stephenson
    October 29, 2007 at 10:37 am

    “when Nephi met the Holy Ghost, he (the Holy Ghost) was male. (1 Ne 11:1-12)”
    Many years ago both Bruce R. McConkie and Milton R Hunter were asked by the same missionary a question about this passage in Nephi and who it was Nephi actually saw. Was it the Holy Ghost, or a Jehovah himself. They gave opposite answers. It is not at all impossible that Nephi conversed with a messenger representing Jehovah just as the angel in Revelation talks as though he is the savior, but we know he is not because John is forbidden to worship him because he is not God, but a messenger.

    It is not unusual for people to interpret what they see by what they expect to see. Accounts of visits of the Christ child and female angels are not uncommon. It is even possible to interpret the Joseph Smith account where he says he saw to personages in the light. One pointed to the other and said this is my beloved son, hear him as though it was his mother rather than his father who introduced him. And, just how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  21. Ray
    October 29, 2007 at 10:42 am

    KLS, I will concede your point *in a vacuum* – but a SP can’t perform his essential work without his wife – since he wouldn’t be in that position without her in the first place.

    I need to make what to me is a very important point: We have absolutely no idea how spirit children are created, and I personally refuse to speculate about the process. Imo, much of our discussion of much of this relies on our mortal assumptions about the creation of life – but there is absolutely nothing in our canon or in our current materials that spells out how an intelligence becomes a spirit. We are God’s children because God created us as such, but to extrapolate any particular process for that creation is shaky, at best. We believe Heavenly Mother is integral to the process of creating spirit children, but when it comes right down to it we have no idea whatsoever how accurate that is. We know nothing of how their relationship operates – nothing at all.

  22. Julie M. Smith
    October 29, 2007 at 10:45 am

    “We have absolutely no idea how spirit children are created,”

    Aw, c’mon, Ray, I was so looking forward to an eternity of stretch marks, nausea, and waddling and you just ruined it for me.

  23. October 29, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Y, I agree that there are other ways the Nephi conversation could be interpreted. My McConkie info says it could be either the Holy Ghost or Jehovah. From the context I would be very surprised if it were Jehovah. First of all, the being cries Hosanna to the Lord in a way that would be very strange if he himself were the Lord (v.6). Second, when Jehovah appears in spirit form to the Brother of Jared, he announces himself as Jesus Christ. Every time he appears to man, his identity is made unmistakably clear. Third, once the “Spirit of the Lord” disappears, an angel appears. If the former were merely an angel, why not call them both angels? What made this first being different from the other?

    But you’re right, I can’t use such reasoning to make a rock-solid conclusion.

    As for Joseph Smith’s vision, I see no wiggle room.

  24. Julie M. Smith
    October 29, 2007 at 10:54 am

    “As for Joseph Smith’s vision, I see no wiggle room.”

    Well, as long as we are all speculating, here are some options: What if either He or She can appear alone as representative of both (the same way a counselor can extend a calling on behalf of the entire bishopric to you?)? What if They can appear as One? What if Joseph didn’t have the language to describe what he saw?

  25. Ray
    October 29, 2007 at 10:58 am

    I’ll stick with, “I have no idea.” *grin*

    Now I really do have to run.

  26. BBELL
    October 29, 2007 at 11:03 am

    The answer to the question asked which is a poor one FWIW is false.

    God the Father has a Spouse but the Godhead is composed of the 3 members F-S-HG

  27. October 29, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Ray, we don’t need to know how spirit children are created to say that God the Father can’t do his Godly work without his wife.

    To end the quibbling about fulfilling callings, let’s switch to Bishop instead of Stake President. My point is this: God the Mother is not only a supporting, sustaining influence to God the Father, the way a Bishop’s wife is (if the Bishop is married). She participates in Godly labors (no pun intended) in a much more direct, central way.

    So. I’m just musing about the fact that Mormons (many, if not most or all) believe God is a married couple, and while we (accurately) refer to God as a married man, we rarely if ever refer to this other being–this partnership which is also rightly referred to as God. I suppose that is because we don’t know how the partnership works. But certainly, when we say “I am a child of God” we can just as accurately be talking about two parents–and yet, we sing, “he has sent me here.”

    If we believe in the partnership, are there appropriate ways to talk about the partnership? I’m not one for stretching the boundaries that General Authorities have set. I’m wondering how we can talk about this married couple within the status quo.

  28. October 29, 2007 at 11:09 am

    BBell, I’m crushed that you don’t like my question.

    Are you saying that the three members of the Godhead are the only Gods? And are you saying that God the Son and God the Holy Ghost can be complete Gods–i.e. exalted beings–without being married?

  29. BBELL
    October 29, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Who is God? The answer in most minds would be God the Father. I think you phrased the question wrong.

    A better question would be….. In your view is God the Father married? Or is there a Heavenly Mother?

    My answer would be Yes. She would be consider a God but not in the same sense as the F-S-HG

  30. Julie M. Smith
    October 29, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Re #27, Kathryn, I believe that the ways that we talk about God are somewhat dependent on culture. There’s a reason that “Lord” was so popular; there is a reason that the OT has its share of military metaphors; there is a reason why “Lord” and images of a warrior God don’t sit well with some people today and some people are asking whether it is appropriate to use gendered references to God.

  31. October 29, 2007 at 11:28 am

    We have absolutely no idea how spirit children are created,

    Well, according to Joseph Smith, God never had the power to create the spirit of man.

    As I see this, it is religion making at its finest. Is there any evidence in discourse or revelation when God is specifically personified that we see more than one person? I don’t think so.

  32. October 29, 2007 at 11:29 am

    A better question would be….. In your view is God the Father married? Or is there a Heavenly Mother?

    This is question doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, which is this: the marriage enables God to be God. Not in the sense of “you have to be married to be God” (like, you have to be 35 years old and a citizen of the USA to run for president), but in the sense of God cannot operate as God as a lone man. Or even, I say, as a team of 3 men.

    The union of male and female is an integral aspect of God-power. At least, that’s what Erastus Snow says.

  33. October 29, 2007 at 11:30 am

    …plus we have the formal prayers (i.e., sacrament prayer, Lord’s Prayer, etc.) were the individual of God is expressly identified.

  34. October 29, 2007 at 11:31 am

    he marriage enables God to be God.

    I simply disagree. Was Jesus God before he was born?

  35. October 29, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Those kinds of distinctions are what I’m hoping to look at in this discussion, J. Stapley. Those of us who believe God is a married couple–can God be God before he’s married? Apparenly yes, because Jehovah was. So, how does that change things?

    I would say one cannot be a full God–an exalted being–alone.

  36. October 29, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I would say one cannot be a full God–an exalted being–alone.

    Are you saying that Jesus wasn’t a full God?

  37. October 29, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I believe that premortally he had not yet filled his measure of creation as a God.

    If parenthood is not essential to exaltation, than what is exaltation?

    If exaltation is not essential to full godhood, then what is it? Optional?

  38. October 29, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    This is the kind of speculative discussion that can be fun — but do you really hope to resolve anything, even in your own mind? I mean, we have so little to work with, beyond analogy and scraps of odd statements that may or may not be reliable. So we bat it around and come up with an answer that satisfactorily incorporates every available remark, and then what? When the question is so far beyond revealed doctrine — and I believe it is — what assurance is there that the tidy answer bears any resemblance to the truth?

    For instance, I would argue vehemently that parenthood is NOT essential to exaltation, at least in the sense of a prerequisite, else you condemn a goodly number of righteous individuals to something less than exaltation for failures that are absolutely beyond their control, and you simply do not have justification for that. You don’t know enough — don’t have enough raw material to work with — to concoct a trustworthy resolution.

  39. October 29, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Ardis, I meant eternal parenthood.

  40. October 29, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    I know you do. But for those who do not bear children in mortality, eternal increase comes only AFTER exaltation, and cannot be a prerequisite.

  41. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    I agree with Kathryn Lynard Soper, one cannot be God alone. It requires an indwelling unity of perfect love to be God. In a sense, just as love is a verb, so is God. Is the love that the Son has for the Holy Ghost different than the love that the Father has for his wife different? I would say no. The relationship may be different, but Godhood depends not on having a sexual relationship, but on loving perfectly. The definition which makes God or Godhood into a loving relationship with a spouse is not scriptural, and there is ample evidence against it.

  42. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    I like to change the paradigm from “Godhood = ultimate best” to “Exaltation = fullness of joy”. Of course godhood is necessary to experience a fullness of joy, but is it necessary to define godhood with a fullness of joy? I say no, obviously the Holy Ghost is God, but does not currently experience a fullness of joy. Start from that paradigm and you will get past the difficulties inherent in a discussion like this.

  43. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    One more thing, just because a baby can’t do hardly anything that an adult can do (except basic biological functions), this does not mean that we are different species. Christ was a God/human when he was born just as we are a God/human when we are born. Christ became fully human while we are yet merely human. Any definition that divides Christ into two natures instead of one nature in different stages of development will fall on its face when seeking to describe the atonement.

  44. David Clark
    October 29, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    I believe that the ways that we talk about God are somewhat dependent on culture. There’s a reason that “Lord” was so popular; there is a reason that the OT has its share of military metaphors; there is a reason why “Lord” and images of a warrior God don’t sit well with some people today and some people are asking whether it is appropriate to use gendered references to God. I heartily agree. The OT examples are particularly important and it’s too bad we don’t read the text more closely to see just how culture/context dependent references to God are. El Shaddai, El Roi, Elohim, YHWH, ehyeh asher ehyeh, all approach God in a different way, but tend to be lost in translation and glossed over anyway. None of them picture God as a waspy 2 parent household with multiple kids complete with white picket fence, which I think many of us dearly want to say is what God is because it is so much of what contemporary Mormon culture values. Yes I exaggerate but you get the point. We approach God through the culture we live in and we should all recognize the limitations of that approach.

  45. October 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    I believe that premortally he had not yet filled his measure of creation as a God.

    That is fine, but the Isrealites didn’t seem to mind worshiping and praying to such a being. I also imagine that if you were to have told them that their God wasn’t a full God, they might have been a bit perturbed…and the OT would seem to justify such a position.

    If parenthood is not essential to exaltation, than what is exaltation?

    Pretty much what the temple says it is (esp., in the introductory rituals).

    If exaltation is not essential to full godhood, then what is it? Optional?

    I believe that everyone in the Godhead is truly God. If you want to argue otherwise, that is ok, however, I think it is mistaken. While every member of the Godhead is truly God, they all have different roles. Now, if you want to ask what it means to be “God the Father,” then that is a different question entirely. Modern Mormon conceptions that exaltation mean being “God the Father” is a relic of Adam-God and doesn’t really pay much attention to the Temple Liturgy. Joseph described what it took to become “God the Father” in the KFD and SitG, and it appears that it takes being a Savior.

  46. Mark IV
    October 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Just to derail the discussion even more –

    The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, but he is neither embodied nor married. How de we explain that?

  47. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Mark, I just did explain that.

  48. Bob
    October 29, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Can you lead the Church without a wife?

  49. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    I know, poor President Hinkley.

  50. October 29, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    No, KW, you really haven’t explained anything. You’ve made a few assertions is all. What is the basis for your claim that the Holy Ghost does not experience a fullness of joy, for instance? You might reason from analogy depending on what qualities you draw from scripture as being necessary to “fullness of joy,” but you/I/we really know so little about the Holy Ghost as a personal being apart from some limited ideas of the influence and role and “job description” that the assertion is unsupportable.

  51. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Ardis, I am deriving my position from D&C 93:33-34:

    33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
    34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.

    What is your assertion?

  52. October 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I have to ask to what degree this scripture applies to the Holy Ghost. It speaks specifically about *man’s* joy, which I assume is referring to the premortal/mortal/postmortal progression of any random human being, but the Holy Ghost appears to occupy a position and condition that is not typical of man’s progression — are these verses applicable to the Holy Ghost?

  53. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    I did point out that I believe we are of the same species, so I do believe that the Holy Ghost must receive a body to experience a fullness of joy. If we don’t need bodies to experience a fullness of joy, why are we here and why did the Father take upon himself a body?

  54. October 29, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Ardis, you’re right, I didn’t phrase that parenthood/exaltation thing well.

    KW, I like your point that perfect love and unity can exist in ways other than the male-female-sexual relationship paradigm.

    J. Stapley, temple language is what tells me that I have the potential to be an eternal parent. I’m assuming that this is part of every God’s existence, at some point. I could be wrong. Maybe there are varieties of Godhood and only one of those includes parenting (and that kind of Godhood clearly has two sub-varieties, male and female). But as far as I can tell, this parenting Godhood is the only kind I’m privy to, so it’s naturally the one I’m most interested in. And it’s the one I’ve taken as the default setting. As BBell pointed out, if you ask someone “who/what is God?” most Mormons will think of God the Father. So, I was trying to get a feel for how Mormons think about God the Father as an individual, vs. God the Father and Mother as a creative partnership. There’s very little we know about that partnership, other than the fact that it exists. As Ardis pointed out, speculation about the nature of it is pointless and potentially dangerous. I agree. What I want to know is, how does this partnership figure in our thinking about God? When we’re communicating with, being blessed by, learning from or about God, do we think of the team, or the individual?

    I should clarify that my intent with this post was to hear how a variety of people would answer my original question, and how they might respond to people who answered differently. I have some pet ideas that I’ve thrown in as part of the comment thread, but those are presented with the “Ardis clause” per #15. I’m here to learn rather than try to teach (of course, none of us can teach each other, but your comments get my spiritual thought-gears moving, and that reflection invites further light and knowledge). So thanks for all the comments, everybody. Keep talking.

  55. October 29, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    See, KW, that’s exactly my point, and thank you for stating it so clearly. We argue whether the Holy Ghost has a fullness of joy, and the extent to which the premortal Christ was fully God, and whether God-the-Father is really God-the-Father-and-the-Mother(s) — but only by analogy to what we think we understand about human progression. *We*don’t*know* — it’s fun speculation, but I get concerned that our discussions tend to solidify opinions in areas that are almost entirely speculative.

  56. October 29, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    True, Ardis, and I don’t want to encourage speculation that might solidify half-baked opinions (which are the only kind we can really have at this point.)

    So let me start over.

    When we say “God,” what do we mean? What do we picture in our minds?

  57. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I absolutely agree Ardis, this is speculative doctrine. I do find certain strains of speculative doctrine and folk doctrine to be particularly contrary to what has been revealed, and I agree that our speculations should derive from the scriptures. The issue with speculative doctrine is that it actually affects our world view very deeply since it deals with the “Great Questions.” We must remain open ended and not too deeply invested in any particular world view awaiting further light and knowledge.

    Blake Ostler has provided additional ways of approaching these questions that do not fall under the category of “folk doctrine” but rather theology, which is ultimately an exercise in philosophy. The next installment of Blake Ostler’s series Exploring Mormon Thought is titled Of God and Gods and if you click on this link you can find the overview which I will briefly quote here.

    There are certain concepts that Joseph Smith elucidated at the very end of his life that challenged the tradition at its foundations. These concepts may be summarized as follows:

    1. The creation occurred by organizing the world not “from nothing” but from preexisting matter.

    2. There was a grand council consisting of a plurality of gods in the beginning of the creation of this earth.

    3. There was a Head God who presided over the council of gods.

    4. The council of gods, under the direction of the Head God, appointed one God to preside over us in the work of creation and redemption.

    5. Among these gods in the pre-earth council were intelligences who existed eternally without creation before they became mortal.

    6. Humans have the potential to be gods because they are the same kind as God.

    Also BlakeOstler.com is an excellent site and many of the papers there deal with these questions in a faithful and sophisticated way. It is from Blake that I get my idea that God is more about the relationships than the individual attributes.

  58. October 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    When we say “God,” what do we mean? What do we picture in our minds?

    I subconsciously picture the storybook grandpa-with-a-white-beard-and-white-robe surrounded by vague sunlit mist. Yet if asked to justify that picture, I not only can’t, but I would disavow it.

    Even when I consciously throw in the presence and cooperation of a mother as well as a father, I don’t picture them officiating jointly as “god” any more than I picture the bishop and his wife acting jointly as “bishop.” I just don’t know how or whether to incorporate a feminine dimension to “God” as used in, say, “We believe in God the Eternal Father (!) and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.”

  59. October 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    “But if we believe God is a married couple, when do we ever refer to this being?”

    I usually use “they” as the pronoun for God in my writing. And when I picture of God, I tend to think of a combination of Father, Mother, Brother — of a connection to deep, familial love.

  60. BBELL
    October 29, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    The Son is in the “Express Image of the Father”

    See Hebrews 1 vs 3.

    This is why when images are shown of the First Vision you see 2 rather similar exalted men pictured.

    Some sub-groups in LDS culture wish to take the whisperings of Heavenly Mother in our Church discourse and writings further then the doctrine itself does. See #59 as an example.

  61. October 29, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    BBELL, I don’t think there’s anything amiss in Deborah’s comment.

    James E. Talmage said,

    “When the frailties and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom. Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted men stall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God.”

    I use this description to flavor my imaginings of God, male and female. I pray to the Father, and I believe that by doing so I am also in touch with my Mother. I don’t speak to her directly, because that is not the order of things here. Yet I believe she is one with the Father and that every time I have an interaction with Him I am also interacting with Her, by association, through the medium of the spirit.

  62. October 29, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    “The Family: Proclamation to the World” uses an almost identical substitution as I do:

    “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.”

  63. October 29, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Kathy: I could have written your last paragraph word for word. This is central to my faith — and my practice resembles yours.

  64. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Deborah, are you saying that belief in a Mother in Heaven is central to your faith?

  65. MikeInWeHo
    October 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I doubt the Romney Campaign is going to link to this thread as he courts the Evangelical vote.

  66. CS Eric
    October 29, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    As I was reading this thread, a strange image popped into my head of a Heavenly Father, who, after getting the same petitionary prayer over and over again, finally gives up and says, “I don’t know–ask your Mother.”

  67. October 29, 2007 at 4:25 pm


    one for CS Eric, one for Mike.

  68. October 29, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Yes, in a sense — because if we believe in “divine nature and destiny,” the potential for limitless growth for our souls, then this must be equal for men and women.

  69. smb
    October 29, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    My answer would be: almost true.
    As I read the contemporary sources, early Mormons, contra Shakers and other metaphysical believers (Jakob Bohme’s famous Virgin, the worship of Sophia, etc), does not present a dyad, which I believe is what you mean by the question. So on those grounds, false.
    On the other hand, there is a fluidity in the early Mormon theology that emphasizes the interrelationships of Divinity. Rather than a God who incorporates all humanity into His incorporeal body, the Mormon God incorporated everyone into his family. There is a sense in which the entire web of interrelationship could be called “God,” though the Saints tended to call it the Priesthood chain. In this sense, one would say true if by God you mean Priesthood chain.

    I personally would be delighted with something closer to a dyadic God that more strongly affirms the feminine divine. This is an interpretation that RS sisters in the late 19th century advanced, but I just don’t see evidence of it in the 1840s. Not that we need to be bound by the 1840s, but we ought to be clear about what they mean and meant.

  70. KW
    October 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    smb, you are correct on the lack of discussion in the early church. There is nothing from Joseph Smith regarding a Mother in heaven.

  71. October 29, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    KW, I’m looking for my source for this quote:

    The earliest references we have in LDS history to belief in a Mother in Heaven stem from events that took place in 1839. Jospeh Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus CHrist of Latter-day Saints, consoled Zina Diantha Huntingtom upon the death of her mother on July 8, 1839 by telling her that not only would she know her mother again on the other side, but “more than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.” When Zina in astonshipment asked “And have I then a Mother in Heaven?” the Prophet replied, “You assuredly have. How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood?”

    here’s one possible place I’ll check out later: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52841/T-H-E-W-O-M-E-N-OF-M-O-R-M-O-N-D-O-M

  72. Scott Fife
    October 29, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states on this subject among other things, that our “Mother in Heaven who is a partner with God in creation and procreation…” The entire entry is very interesting and supportive of the Mother in Heaven doctrine, and is well documented.

    By the way, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is now available on line, free to everyone. It is an amazing resource to all students of the Gospel.

  73. smb
    October 29, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    KW (70), you may have misunderstood me. I do believe Smith preached a Mother in Heaven. My point is merely that Smith familialized divine beings in a way almost no one else did, and that the divine dyad is not in Smith. I have no doubt from contemporary sources that Smith believed God-Eloheim had a wife. Remember that within a few months of Smith’s death Phelps (Smith’s 1840s ghostwriter with whom he had worked on a heavily maritalized theology in their interpretation of the Chandler papyri) was already preaching the Queen in heaven.

  74. smb
    October 29, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Kathryn, Tullidge is an important venue for the late 19th century RS dyad preaching and is heavily influenced by Eliza and Zina. I believe that Smith preached mother in heaven, but the dyad appears to be more a later RS importation. Incidentally, Catherine Albanese has written perceptively (if incorrectly, in my view) about this topic in Sunstone and in her new book, Republic of Mind and Spirit.

  75. Bob
    October 29, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    I guess I am going to have to wait: Two mothers, two fathers, either 3 sisters or 30 billion siblings, no kids who are not also my siblings. Two completely different families…….too much for me to follow.

  76. October 29, 2007 at 7:06 pm
  77. Abish
    October 29, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    \”Mormons believe God is a married couple.\”

    I don\’t speak for all mormons, but for myself. I believe God is married to the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Mary the mortal wife of Joseph. I believe, and restored scripture tells us, many plain and precious parts are lost (1 Ne. 13:28).

    It makes sense to me Joseph could have been proxy for God, all due respect intended. I think the temple explains so many things.

  78. Ray
    October 29, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    #77 – Yes, it does, but it doesn’t explain that. I’m not saying you are right or wrong – just that it doesn’t explain that.

  79. October 29, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Abish, fwiw, McConkie agrees with you. He said Mary is one of God the Father’s wives.

  80. Clair
    October 29, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    False. Mormons believe God is a transcendent, familial union of all exalted beings. B.H. Roberts spoke of this in one of his last discourses, entitled, “God.”

    Now, were the question, is “Our Father, who art in Heaven”, to whom Jesus asked us to pray, a married couple, the answer is still false, but for more obvious reasons.

  81. Mark D.
    October 30, 2007 at 1:58 am

    (Colloquially) False. Mormons (almost) inevitably use the term God to refer to an individual.

    (Doctrinally) False. The only place in the scriptures where the term God is explicitly used to refer to more than one individual is in reference to a Godhead composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. (cf. Mos 15:4-5, Morm 7:7, D&C 20:28 – the Mormon “Trinity” scriptures).

    On the other hand, Mormons (almost) invariably believe they have a divine Mother in heaven, whose absence would leave a gaping void in doctrinal understanding and practice reaching back to Brigham Young. This principle is repeatedly endorsed in the publications and by the authorities of the Church, usually by way of reference to “heavenly parents”. (cf. The Proclamation on the Family).

    I think “Gods” with an uppercase G is a grammatical error, but also that getting anyone to think of God in sense that refers to the effective union of more than one individual is virtually a lost cause.

  82. Ray
    October 30, 2007 at 2:10 am

    #81 – “getting anyone to think of God in sense that refers to the effective union of more than one individual is virtually a lost cause.”

    The use of the term “Heavenly Parents” and the belief that Godhood cannot be reached as an individual – that I can’t become like God without becoming one with my wife – is not “think(ing) of God in a sense that refers to the effective union of more than one individual”?

  83. Mark D.
    October 30, 2007 at 2:33 am

    Clair (#80),

    Could you provide a more precise reference for where to find that B.H. Robert’s discourse?

    Ray (#82),

    One cannot get married without a spouse, but that does not mean people use the terms spouse, husband, or wife to refer to the married couple.

  84. Ray
    October 30, 2007 at 2:47 am

    Mark, you said “thinking” not “speaking.” When we speak of God we usually reference a singular being – the one who speaks in our scriptures and our history, but when we think of defining God and Godhood we almost always think of a union of husband and wife, father and mother. At least, nearly all of the active Mormons I have known in my life think that way.

  85. Mark D.
    October 30, 2007 at 3:08 am

    Ray (#84),

    I believe most people use a mental language that is compatible with spoken language. It is easier that way. Of course, if you conciously shift senses, you can pull it off.

    Personally, I share the B.H. Roberts view described by Clair, and believe that it is the only doctrinally consistent way to conceive of the one true and living God.

  86. BiV
    October 30, 2007 at 5:42 am

    True. Explanation here.
    Gen 1:26–Mankind, male and female, created in the image of God (Elohim, plural, consisting of male and female Deity)

  87. meems
    October 30, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Note to BiV: I wondered why you changed your name! I can’t find your e-mail on your site, so I just have to tell you here that I’m in Saudi too, since August – Eastern Province. I’ve followed your comments for so long – I can’t believe you’re here!! e-mail me if you want at meemsgomez at gmail dot com.

    Sorry for the aside.

    To answer the question at hand – I believe that Heavenly Mother is directly involved in carrying out the office of “God” and that she is involved on every level. She is part of “God.” However, I can’t say that I think most Mormons believe this.

  88. October 30, 2007 at 9:32 am

    True. I know more than one Mormon with this belief, thus Mormons believe this.

  89. Clair
    October 30, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Mark D., The B.H. Roberts discourse is in the book, “The Last Seven Discourses of B.H. Roberts.” I have not found the discourse online. He takes his theme from 2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,…” He believed the divine nature is not a single attribute, but some kind of melding (sealing?) into a functional unity, while still maintaining individuality.

    The idea of a unified God entity seems consistent with Jesus’ prayer for being one in John 17, with the general LDS notion of the Son and the Father being essentially unified (one in essence, consistent perhaps with even the Nicene Creed), with the sealing ordinance and power, and perhaps explaining the nature of the priesthood as the unified/unifying power by which God operates and creates.

    In this notion of unity, the individual is still distinct. That allows personal prayer to our Father in Heaven, who is “the only god with whom we have do to,” per Brigham Young. Since a specific heavenly mother is not revealed to us, it seems to me presumptuous to worship one, as it would to worship a heavenly uncle or aunt, which are just as consistent with our understanding of a sealed divinity.

  90. Mark D.
    October 30, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Thanks, Clair. I was hoping it might be in “The Discourses of B.H. Roberts” (1948).


    That is not a conclusive argument for a dyad. “Elohim” could refer to a divine council consisting of a much larger number.

  91. KW
    October 30, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Clair, this is also the position Blake Ostler takes. You are in good company.

  92. Abish
    October 30, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    #87 – I don’t dispute we don’t have scripture on the specific question. However, as LDS we have the ability to receive personal revelation if we need it. As I understand the gospel, it makes complete sense, in the natural order of things, that our Heavenly Mother is active and aware. There is peace and comfort in knowing all things will be revealed. What is it we are to focus on now?

  93. October 30, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    In case there’s any room for doubt, I emphasize that I have never said, nor do I believe, that Heavenly Mother is a member of the Godhead. The Godhead consists of 3 beings. However, one of those beings–Father–is part of another unit: an eternal marriage. Our young women sing “I walk by faith, a daughter of Heavenly Parents.” Heavenly Mother is part of the status quo. We know very little about her, but that does not mean we must never speak of her.

    I understand that some members of the Church take this issue too far. Some become critical of the established order of things (e.g. praying to Father); some call for change within the Church. I don’t advocate such thinking or behavior. I believe mainstream members of the Church can describe how they perceive God, including whether Heavenly Mother is part of this perception, without crossing any boundaries of orthodoxy. That was the purpose of this post.

  94. Ray
    October 30, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Very well said, KLS.

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