Question: Is Heavenly Mother not talked about more because the prophets are sexist?

FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Question: Is Heavenly Mother not talked about more because the prophets are sexist?

Introduction to Question

Critics assert that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not seek revelation about Heavenly Mother because they do not want to know about her. These critics believe that a supposed “cultural belief” of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is that men are inherently superior to women and thus the prophets only seek revelation from God the Father and not God the Mother.

Additionally, it is sometimes asserted that Jesus was sexist in the scriptures because he instructed his followers to always pray unto the Father when praying to God (3 Nephi 18: 19-21, 23, 30).

This article will provide a brief response to this question.

Response to Question

Heavenly Mother Would Answer Prayers the Same as Heavenly Father

The first point is that Mother in Heaven would answer prayers in the exact same way as Heavenly Father. You do not miss anything by not praying to her. Some people feel that praying to the Mother will yield a different answer and/or spiritual feeling than when praying to the Father. But the Mother is going to be in total unity with the Father. Thus, when you pray to the Father and receive spiritual impressions from Him, you can be assured that the Mother is in total alignment with the Father and that you would not feel differently if you were praying to her.

Heavenly Mother is in Unity with the Father, Christ, and Prophet

The second point is that Mother in Heaven must be in unity with the Father, Christ, and the Prophet. If the instruction by Jesus to pray only unto the Father and/or our lack of knowledge about her were obviously wrong, we would hear about it. Nothing can keep a Mother from her children.

The thought that it might just be a sexist prophet or Heavenly Father patriarchally asserting their dominance over Mother in Heaven and restricting her from revealing herself to humanity more is frankly laughable. She is a goddess and has infinitely more power than the prophet.

All this to say that there has to be something deeper going on that we need to be sensitive to and seek out more. Her silence must be something that goes deeper than mere sexism.

It should also be mentioned that prophets have spoken repeatedly about Heavenly Mother.[1] They obviously want to know more about her. It's highly improbable that they have kept back knowledge about her by their own biases since their biases clearly lean towards learning more about her. Elder Dale G. Renlund stated plainly that "[v]ery little has been revealed about Mother in Heaven, but what we do know is summarized in a gospel topic found in our Gospel Library application.[2] Once you have read what is there, you will know everything that I know about the subject. I wish I knew more."[3] Learning more about her would certainly solidify and illuminate Latter-day Saint doctrines of marriage, sex, deification, and morality.

Keep in Mind What Sexism Actually Is

We’ve written a modest philosophical essay on the FAIR Wiki about sexism and how to properly define it. We recommend that, if the reader hasn’t had the chance to get through that, they read that now.

As one can see, part of the definition of sexism is that providing justice is possible but not acted on. The possibility of justice can be defined in terms of morality or practical circumstances. We cannot accept that sexism is something that God endorses. He has declared that “he inviteth all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembered the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33, emphasis added). There must be a moral and/or practical reason that Heavenly Father and Mother cannot reveal more about Heavenly Mother to us.

What could that reason be? It’s very unwise to commit ourselves dogmatically to any reason. Elder Dallin H. Oaks observed the following in relation to the priesthood and temple restriction but it easily applies here:

...It's not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we're on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that.... The lesson I've drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.

...I'm referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking.

...Let's [not] make the mistake that's been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that's where safety lies.[4]

Elder Renlund made the same point in relation to Heavenly Mother:

You too may still have questions and want to find more answers. Seeking greater understanding is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation. Speculation will not lead to greater spiritual knowledge, but it can lead us to deception or divert our focus from what has been revealed.[5][3]

Thus, let’s not commit to any reason dogmatically. Let’s consider potential reasons in a spirit of prayer and humility but then not teach those reasons as the reasons for silence.

Conclusion

In the 21st century, questions about sexism in Church doctrine, history, and practice are going to abound. We need to be ready to give "a reason for the hope that is in [us]" (1 Peter 3:15). To do that we will continue to need to be sharp moral thinkers and courageous in pushing back against these accusations so that we can hold a place in the marketplace of ideas.


Notes

  1. David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido, "A Mother There': A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven," BYU Studies Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2011): 70–97.
  2. See Gospel Topics, “Heavenly Parents.” Another resource providing information on this subject is the Gospel Topics essay “Mother in Heaven” (topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dale G. Renlund, "Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny," Liahona 45, no. 5 (May 2022). Emphasis added in 3.0.
  4. Dallin H. Oaks cited in "Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban," Daily Herald, Provo, Utah (5 June 1988): 21 (Associated Press); reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life's Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), 68-69.
  5. Even sincere questions about partially revealed or unrevealed truths can lead us to look “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14). In particular, we need to rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19), Jesus Christ. Suggesting the need for something more than what Jesus Christ offers effectively diminishes the scope and power of His infinite Atonement. In so doing we divert our attention from the ultimate “source [to which we should] look for a remission of [our] sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).