Our Father and our Mother
Have a very special child.
He is our older Brother,
With manners meek and mild.

His sisters and His brothers,
We love Him oh, so much,
And we know there are no others
Who can match His loving touch.

We gathered in a council,
Conducted by our Father,
Who said, "I need one to fulfil
A mission like no other."

The voting was unanimous
By all who loved each other
Yet another's voice was venomous
Against our Heavenly Father.

Our Mother's heart was broken
As harsh words that son did speak,
But the Eldest gave a token
That our Father's will He'd seek.

He said, "I'll go to glorify the name
Of our Father, kind and loving."
But the other wanted fame,
So he started others shoving.

A fight ensued which saddened all
To know that one we loved
Had lifted up his prideful heart to fall,
His wicked plan...to rule above!

Our family grieved the tragic loss,
One-third the family's total,
Because one tried to be the boss,
A great controlling Mogul.

But though the loss was greatly felt
Among our family's hosts,
With burning joy our hearts did melt
Our shout shook earthbound coasts.

The plan complete, the first came down
His life endured the testing.
Obedient Son received the crown,
And now is ever resting.

Oh what joy our Parents feel
To know their Son's returned,
Now His brothers and His sisters kneel
When we find our souls...He earned!

© Diana M. Isham

Based on the following passages of Scripture:  Job 28: 4,7, Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 14: 12-14, (mournfully lamented) and 15, Rev. 12: 7-10
(clarifies more fully Isaiah's lamentation). Also see Ensign, "The Lord as a Role Model for Men and Women"  1980: www.lds.org.

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church) all my life always made me different from everyone else. My family didn’t drink alcohol after a long work day and Folger’s coffee and R rated movies didn’t exist in my house. I invited friends to church and had a poster of the prophet on my wall. I was the Mormon girl. And then I got into high school and became a young adult. My liberal Seattle upbringing of church-less friends influenced me. Suddenly almost as if overnight I became the anomaly again, but this time as a member of the church. I no longer supported my religion’s stance on same-sex marriage, I didn’t apply to BYU, believed there was no excuse for polygamy, and had serious career plans instead of just becoming a stay at home mother. I noticed over time that women are treated as the second class gender in the church. This bothered me, and no longer was I a Mormon. I was now a Mormon Feminist. The key solution to sexism in the LDS church is to bring Heavenly Mother to her equal glory by changing the Young Women’s theme to daughters of Heavenly Parents, lifting the ban to praying to her, and further establish her reality. 
The LDS church is still stuck in the 1950’s. Women are to stay at home with the kids all day, cooking and cleaning while the husband goes to work all day to provide for the family and presides as the speaker and head of the household. Divorce is rare, and LBGT are too afraid to come out. Mormons believe in gender roles, as is clearly outlined in the Proclamation to the Family, which can be found on lds.org. Females have babies. Males provide for those babies. Men preside over the family, women support their husbands. This extends into church callings. Ladies teach children, teens and other women while men are in charge of the whole church on regional and overarching levels from Bishops (priests) to Prophets. Extending up to the deity level, Heavenly Father is in charge. Organizations such as Ordain Women and Feminist Mormon Housewives have tried to combat such issues of sexism in the church, which recently led to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, the Ordain Women founder (Goodstein). Though these are great movements which have my full support, another issue of the church is often overlooked which contributes to the church’s attitude about gender.
Heavenly Mother exists, but is never talked about. LDS theology believes the trinity is separate. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have human bodies of flesh and bone. Also, they believe heaven is divided into 3 kingdoms, and divided 3 times inside of the highest kingdom (the Celestial Kingdom, which qualifies you to become a God/Goddess yourself). A part of getting into the Celestial Kingdom is celestial marriage. This paired with a vision from the founder, Joseph Smith, brought about the idea of Heavenly Mother. However, she remains a mystery and given no credit. She is not taught in children’s Sunday School and rarely mentioned in older classes. She is merely a blurry idea and forbidden to be prayed to. Heavenly Father is the focus of worship, the man.

Girls are not taught their own divine future. The youth program of the church is divided into the Young Women and the Young Men. Every Sunday, the Young Women stand up and recite the “Young Women’s Theme,” which starts out, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love him” (lds.org). Why is it not stated as “daughters of our Heavenly Parents, who love us and we love them”? The Church believes those of the Celestial Kingdom will one day become just like God, with their own children as the way we are now his. Women will one day become Goddesses and men will become Gods. Even in a women’s only class, the female future of greatness is ignored by ignoring their own example by only stating to be daughters of their Heavenly Father. Especially in the children’s Sunday class (called Primary) she is ignored completely and not taught at all, even though their class has extreme emphasis on family. The church feels the need to vigorously force teaching on gender roles but yet completely disregard the role of the heavenly future for more than 50% of its members. 

Perhaps the biggest irony of the forbidden prayer to Heavenly Mother is that the role of women in the family taught by Mormons is to be nurturing caregivers of the children. Classic LDS families are three or more children with the mother caring for them at home all day while the husband goes to work, putting his PhD to use to make a high enough salary to support the family by being the main money maker. Heavenly Mother, “gives birth, then renounces any involvement in her children’s lives, even at points when they could very much use her nurturing and guidance… What good is a Heavenly Mother if interaction with her is so irrelevant to humanity’s spiritual growth on earth” (Welker 33). Forbidding communication means that the Mother in Heaven can’t be a nurturing mom. Prayer to Heavenly Father is not addressed to her. This is the root to LDS sexism. When it is even taught that Heavenly Father presides over the family of all of the billions of humans beings that now and have ever existed, of course husbands preside as well. Needless to say, men presiding can lead to oppressive marriages and an unnecessary dictatorship within a home, which is only damaging to families. 
Any Mormon, if asked why Heavenly Mother isn’t talked about, will say that apparently Heavenly Father sought to protect his wonderful wife from her own name being used in oaths and curses or from her name being taken in vain. However, this is completely ridiculous and only a theory that spread. How could a goddess not stand up for herself? The idea of  Heavenly Father ”protecting” her deepens the Mormon philosophy that men are too preside and aligns right with the sexist ideas of the church, such as withholding leadership roles from women.  The invisibility of a feminine divine “sets [female members] up to be weak” (Johnson-Bell). So, not only is the argument by church members pathetic, it is also “incredibly damaging to women because it continues to render them voiceless and unrecognizable” (Johnson-Bell).
Holly Welker states in her article, Beyond Big Love, that “It’s one thing to believe you’ll someday become a god, and another to believe you’ll someday become Mrs. God, or perhaps one of several Mrs. Gods” (Welker 33). By Welker referring to Heavenly Mother as a “Mrs. God”, she points out that the heavenly wife is treated as merely a sidekick with no individuality or equal level of importance. “One of several Mrs. Gods” of course refers to the Church’s belief in polygamy. Because the Heavenly Mother doctrine is so vague, one may speculate we don’t know her well because God has many wives. Yes, Mormons were polygamists when they first started out and no longer marry more than one wife at a time.

But a lot of people may not know that they still believe in multiple wives being married to one man in the eternal scheme of things. A man can get married in the temple to his BYU sweetheart. Then, if she dies before him, he can go marry his LdsMingle.com companion, also in the temple. Marriage in the temple is eternal, meaning it will last even after death. Civil marriages tend to say, “till death do us part”. Therefore, this man has married two women in the temple which means he will have both wives for eternity. Yet a woman whose husband died could not do the same thing. Polygamy is still believed! Believing God himself even had many wives, or is even possible, is the most demeaning outlook to women ever. She’s either essentially worthless, or Heavenly Father is a scumbag according to true believing Mormons. Polygamy is obviously demeaning to women. Believing that even God would participate in such an ugly practice is the most sexist, horrifying idea ever developed.      

Heavenly Mother needs to be further established as a doctrine of the church in order to place women as equals to their male counterparts. She is a blur of confusion, a question mark and given no credit, even though the doctrine is supported. The church hymn book has two songs that mention her. The third verse of O, My Father, written by Eliza R. Snow chimes, “In the Heavens, are parents single? No, the thought make reason stare! Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there” (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 292). Joseph L. Townsend’s song, Oh, What Songs of the Heart, ends with “oh, what songs we’ll employ, when our heavenly parents we meet!” (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 286).  Yet, searching the church’s official website for “Heavenly Mother” returns few results and just further overshadows her because the overwhelming majority of the results simply swap in returns for Heavenly Father with no mention of Heavenly Mother at all (lds.org). Until Heavenly Mother is given credit and further explained, sexism will continue. 

If being different means that I believe women are equals to men, with neither being better than the other, I will gladly stand even if I’m alone in those beliefs in the religion I was raised in. The Church needs to open its eyes to the strength of the 21st century. Girls need to be taught their own divine future. And communication needs to be opened to Heavenly Mother without the fear of excommunication because her children deserve her nurturing and she deserves to hear our gratitude. Heavenly Parent theology needs to be better directed and used more often. Sexism within the Mormon church is a problem that can only lead to horrible consequences. Movements of Ordain Women and feminist blogs can only do so much. Bringing to light the Church’s current doctrine will go further, especially since apostles are finally beginning to use the term Heavenly Parents more often. There is no reason for Heavenly Mother to be placed higher or lesser than Heavenly Father. She simply needs to be equal. Men and women are people, each with a brain, a heart, and abilities. Mormons already hold unique beliefs. God having a wife isn’t even weird. Ignoring her, however, is bizarre.    
Works Cited

Goodstein, Laurie. “Mormons Expel Founder of Group Seeking Priesthood for Women.”  Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 23 June 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014

Johnson-Bell, Jennifer. “OxyMormon: Feminism Ain’t Got No Place on the Pulpit… Or Does   it?” LUX: A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont  Graduate University. 2.1 (2013): 6. Web. 6 Oct. 2014

LDS.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2014

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: LDS, 1985. Print.

Welker, Holly. “Beyond Big Love.” Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture 2011: 30-34. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.

Recently I found out that Nicholas Cage will be starring in the remake of Left Behind to be released in theatres this October. This came as a total shock to me, considering what a great actor he is. I was equally appalled that he would even consider taking part in a B-grade evangelical film about – of all things, the Rapture? He does not strike me as a believer in this doctrine.

The Rapture is the belief that Jesus Christ will return and take all the “true Christians” to heaven in a “secret Rapture” while everyone else will be left behind to suffer through the Great Tribulation. It belongs in a theological category called Premillennial Dispensationalism which divides the ages of humankind into seven key dispensations. At the moment, we are in the dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age. The next dispensation will be set off by the Rapture, which will usher in the Great Tribulation prophesied in Revelation when the Antichrist will reign supreme over all the earth.

Many Mormons can consider themselves lucky to have never heard about “the Rapture,” but as an ex-evangelical who grew up tortured by this belief, I have a firm testimony of this destructive theology.  I was just entering middle school when I first heard about the Rapture in the form of a four part video series called A Thief in the Night – which made the Left Behind series look like a Stake single’s dance.  For me this film series, along with the corresponding doctrines, created issues of divine abandonment –and understandably so. In these films Jesus is presented as a divine tyrant who can save and condemn at will. I was thoroughly convinced I would be one of the ones “left behind” by the very Jesus who was supposed to be my Savior. I thought I would wake up one morning and find everyone gone- including my parents!

The Jesus I now know and love would not do something like that to one of God’s children. And neither would our Divine Parents. In fact, I will go as far to postulate if I had been raised with a belief in Heavenly Mother, I do not believe I would have suffered through those intense fears of divine abandonment. There would be no need for fear because I would be secure in the love of a Divine Mother. With a loving Mother in Heaven, there would be no fear of being “left behind” by Her beloved Son. She simply wouldn’t let it happen!

And perhaps if the evangelical churches opened their hearts to Heavenly Mother, this destructive doctrine would not even exist. After all the Queen of Heaven is mentioned in Revelation 12:1 right before the Antichrist even makes his debut in chapter 13. - How in the world could so many Christians miss this? –

Revelation 12:1 “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” (representing the twelve tribes of Israel)

That’s my theory anyway. But then again, I do not believe the Rapture is substantiated by Scripture. It’s nothing more than a couple of random verses grossly taken out of context. But that is an argument for a whole other time.

But here’s something even more interesting – it seems to me Heavenly Mother already serves that same protective function the Rapture purports to fulfill. Her job is to protect her children. God is described in the Gospels as a mother hen gathering Her children in time of great peril, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered my children together, even as a hen gathereth her children under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto desolate.” (Matthew 23: 37-38; compare also with 3 Nephi 10: 4-7 for Mormons).

Have evangelicals created the erroneous Rapture doctrine in the absence of Heavenly Mother because they are looking for shelter from the storm? If so, it is due to our lack of a belief in Heavenly Mother that our spiritual houses are left desolate.

The Rapture does nothing more than reflect- and reinforce- our fears of divine abandonment. But it does not have to be that way.

Israel, behold thy Mother!

As I was reviewing the 1991 Ensign article "Daughters of God" by Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, I began to see a correlation between Hinckley's prohibition against praying to our Mother in Heaven and the later call to "faithful agitation." The question that came to mind is are both of these challenges instead of prohibitions? Let's examine his statement in context.

In this talk/article, Hinckley is addressing the concerns of a young girl, "Virginia" who has a testimony of the Restored Gospel, but is concerned she will not make it into the Celestial Kingdom simply because she is a female. Hinckley reassures her that she will enter the Celestial Kingdom if she remains faithful to her testimony of the Gospel.

However, once he finishes addressing her concern, he moves on to a more pressing matter; expressing concern that someone has "secured" a copy of his talk delivered earlier at a meeting with regional Church representatives. He reassures them that there is nothing "sinister" being hidden from the general populace, "as if it had been given in a secret and sinister manner" and then he goes on to read a portion of that same talk concerning prayer to our Mother in Heaven. In this talk, he regards it as "inappropriate" to pray to Heavenly Mother, using first the Lord's Prayer as an example, and then moving on to the Presidents of the Church- from Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Benson. He adds, "The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her"...."of whom we have no revealed knowledge."

Inappropriate, perhaps but not explicitly forbidden? 

First the declarations made in this talk are in response to some concerns being addressed by local authorities, that some had begun praying to Heavenly Mother in private prayer, a practice which made inroads into Sunday worship. The fact that Hinckley would feel pressured to tack this issue on to another similar issue and speak with the authority of the First Presidency, strikes me as odd, considering it is in response to a concern that someone had confiscated his earlier talk! Even the transition utilized in this speech doesn't quite fit, "Always let your Father in Heaven be your friend, to whom you may go in prayer...And now speaking of prayer....", as if he was trying to force a transition from one talking point to another.

Then he goes on to say, "because of the activities of a few who are evidently seeking to lead others in the path they are following....I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven." Who, I might ask, are these "others"? (as in a small pocket of feminists in the Church?) And doesn't this statement seem more reactionary than revelatory? - an attempt to try to keep the power of a few in check? Do we not see these same reactions from our leaders today regarding the women's ordination movement, among other similarly related causes? It's almost as if Hinckley is forseeing the eventual escalation of these issues, as the feminist movement grows and expands across the global Church.

Notice here that Hinckley never denies the existence of Heavenly Mother. In fact, he goes on to affirm Her existence, quoting from the familiar hymn by Eliza R. Snow. However, he points out that She has not been revealed yet, thus leaving open the door for further revelation on down the road. In keeping with Hinckley's prophetic challenge for "faithful agitation," I would like to add the charge to keep "seeking and knocking" (Matthew 7:7) so that the door to further revelation will someday be open.

And who is to say Heavenly Mother hasn't revealed Herself? We just don't have "eyes to see and ears to hear."(see Mark 8:18).