(Photo courtesy LDS.org Media Library.)
(Photo courtesy LDS.org Media Library)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an historically complicated relationship with the doctrine of Mother in Heaven. On one hand, the Church is unique in its bold teachings of Her existence, and prophets, apostles, and hymn writers have all testified of Her reality.

However, Church leaders have also been historically tight-lipped on the subject, mostly because little about Mother in Heaven has been revealed to the Church as a whole. A few quotes have appeared here and there — including in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s most recent general conference address “Behold Thy Mother” — but not until recently has the Church released an in-depth essay on Heavenly Mother.

In case you missed it, here are five outstanding quotes from the Church’s new Gospel Topics essay “Mother in Heaven”:

1. “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.”

In a 1909 statement published in the Improvement Era, the First Presidency explicitly mentioned the existence of Mother in Heaven. Though Joseph Smith was quoted after his death as having taught some women this doctrine, there is no record of a formal revelation stating as much.

2. “[T]he divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.”

Susa Young Gates, who was serving as the recording secretary of the Relief Society general presidency in 1920, wrote then that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings taught this truth. (“The Vision Beautiful,” Improvement Era 23, no. 6 (Apr. 1920): 542.)

3. Our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family.

President Harold B. Lee taught in 1964 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.”

4. Women have the potential to become like their Heavenly Mother.

Though we do not pray to Heavenly Mother or speak as much about her as we speak about Heavenly Father, She is indeed divine, and Her daughters have potential to become like Her. Elder Rudger Clawson wrote in 1910, “We honor women when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”

5. Her existence is foundational to our theology.

In 1995, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”

23 Responses

  1. Does Father have only (one) wife ? All of His spirit children came from only her ? What will Joseph or Brigham or the other early leaders wives do for sealed husbands ? What about today and a man looses his faithful wife and remarries in the temple to a women who had never been sealed. Does only the first wife count and the others are given to someone else to whom they are not sealed too ?

    1. I would suggest checking out Doctrines of Salvation volume 3 which focuses on marriage. You will learn most of your answers there. A man can be sealed to more than one woman but we don’t know the details of how it will work out in the end. A man can only have one living person sealed. ( they divorce and he wants to marry in the temple again but she is still alive, he would have to break the temple sealing or wait until she passed)

    2. I don’t have quotes or direct teachings from the church to make reference to but I’m sure if I looked into it i could find some. But I speak from my own personal experiences.
      I don’t know about Father having multiple wives but I know that men can be sealed to more than one wife. I was sealed to my husband even though he is still sealed to his first wife (divorced). The only way for her to be unsealed is to be sealed to another man.
      Part of the sealing power is for us to be sealed to the family of God not just to a (spouse).
      From my own personal revelation regarding this issue when I was going to marry my husband, the spirit told me ,it really doesn’t matter who’s first, It will depend on our individual worthiness.
      Some answers we may never know I this life, but pray and you can get answers for yourself.

    3. This is an article about revealed truths. Then you ask questions that have no revealed answers. It is probably best to ask God these questions.

    4. Great questions! I wondered that too. When we look at our first earthly parents, Adam and Eve we see that there was only one wife. The lord could have created many women for Adam to populate the earth faster but he didn’t. This tells me that God has one wife. Also, in the bible it talks about having only one wife. This is just my thought and opinion, just like the rest of the comments you’ll receive. The best way is to discover the answer for yourself.

    5. Does it matter? I’m a woman and I’m not concerned but you don’t seem to be asking a question. The way you mention Brigham and Joseph sounds like you are trying to stir up problems. I trust my Heavenly parents and as with my own children, I know that they only want the best for me and will provide the best chance for me to return to them. I have 5 adult children and 9 grandchildren. I would do anything to help them become all they can be. I know that my ability and love for them is just a fraction of what my Heavenly Parents have. Just trust them.

  2. Polygamy is still a doctrine of the church. We never abolished the doctrine. We stopped the practice for a time. Jacob 2:24

    1. “The standard doctrine of the Church is monogamy, as it always has been, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (Jacob, chapter 2): “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none. … For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”

      In other words, the standard of the Lord’s people is monogamy unless the Lord reveals otherwise. Latter-day Saints believe the season the Church practiced polygamy was one of these exceptions.”

      1. Among the majority of Saints, monogamy was the standard practice even in Brigham Young’s day. But that doesn’t mean polygamy is just a temporary or temporal-based principle. As stated in D&C 132:63 “for they [multiple wives] are given unto him [an exalted man] … for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they [the multiple wives sealed to the one man] may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.” God the Father will be glorified by His exalted children begetting spiritual children of their own throughout the eternities. Although polygamy is not an easy principle to understand (especially in our day where it comes across as mysogynistic by the temporally-focused), it is nonetheless an eternal principle.

  3. Lee- the short answer to your question is that we do not know. But, my personal belief is that God the Father has one companion. Historically, biblical times included, polygamy has never worked out. Most likely it was a product of man, not of God. And as far as sealings- early church leaders practiced polyandry. Women were also married to multiple men at the same time. Our Heavenly Mother was and is not just a breeding machine… And Her daughters are more than that also. Polygamy is a degrading principle. It’s time to put polygamy behind us- not only in practice but in our theology as well.

    1. Have you read D&C 132? From the section heading “relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage.” Plural marriage is called a “principle” in our scriptures. In particular, read D&C 132:63 “for they [multiple wives] are given unto him … for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they [the multiple wives sealed to one man] may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.” Call it what you will, it is a principle and according to the scriptures, an eternal principle.

      1. Jerold, yes- I have read and studied D&C 132. I’ve actually researched and studied polygamy for over 10 years now- which is why I finally came to the conclusion that it is not divine. Several sources during the early days of the church went on record saying that Joeseph Smith himself said that he had been deceived when it came to polygamy. Women are not property to be “given”. Our Heavenly Parents had an eternity to create their children. And, we really don’t understand how spiritual children are made… But as a woman, I can’t worship a God who treats his daughters and his own wife as property to be “given” to men. And this theology only allows men to, at the least, continue to marginalize women and their divine potential; and, at the worst, to degrade and abuse women. Joseph was also “sealed” to men in the temple- a principle that was abandoned. The history surrounding this principle is very complicated. I think if you did a little research you would see that it is not as cut and dry as “read D&C 132”. The Doctrine and Civenants have undergone serious changes over the years. I don’t wish to argue- this has just the conclusion I came to after years of study and prayer. You can come to a different conclusion for yourself.

  4. You have a lot of great questions and all of your great questions have answers.

    But before answering them here I would ask, are you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If so, then these are great questions to bring up in a Gospel essentials Sunday school class, or your home teachers.

    If you are not, these are great questions to bring up to missionaries, or a Gospel Essentials Sunday school class when visiting the church.

    I say this because Gospel answers are always better understood by our minds and hearts when the Spirit of the Lord is present and when we are actively and earnestly engaged in seeking out the truth through searching, pondering, and prayer.

    I know that I have received answers to these same questions you have, and that you will know the answers through scripture study, and having discussions with members of the church who have testimonies of these principles that you are seeking to better understand.

  5. Sorry, but none of these statements purports to be a revelation. In actuality, nothing has ever been revealed about a Heavenly Mother. Nothing. Everything that has ever been said is speculation and conjecture.

    But regarding having just one mother for about 200 billion spirit children who will (by the end of the Millennium) have been born on this earth and another 100 billion (we presume) who followed Satan, the math gets problematic. This piece is naive on several levels.

    1. The math gets problematic? You’re putting limits on eternity and Deity? Father can create the earth and universe but “the math gets problematic” when considering the number of Their children? Hmmm…

  6. I love and miss my Heavenly Mother as I often think of, love and miss my Heavenly Father. I’m grateful for this divine, glorious principle, only taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints.

  7. Fascinating discussion. For one I don’t see the numbers as problematic. To God all things are possible. to finite minds they are not.
    Whether one wants to believe or not, it is in a eternal principal. The reason being is because there are so many more righteous women than men. Those that remarry and are sealed are not going to have to go find a new partner in the next life! These principles are about companionship and love. Our heavenly parents are all about love! 🙂

  8. I think Heavenly Father new his name would be taken in vain and he had so much love for our heavenly mother that her existence is not spred about in disrespect

  9. This article seems to be using a fairly elastic definition of “revealed” – most of the quotations aren’t actually referring to any revelations. We can presume that there’s some revealed doctrine behind this (otherwise it’d be corrected), but we have nothing unambiguous in the standard works or other recorded revelations. The biggest formal statements are those that are in several of the first presidency official statements (in addition to the 1909 statement, ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ mentions “heavenly parents”.

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