CoverThe Family: A Proclamation to the WorldGeneral HandbookTeaching the Doctrine of The Family (Beck)Unit 1: Truth & LawUnit 1 ScripturesThe Love and Laws of God (Nelson)Truth and the Plan (Oaks)The Eye of Faith (Andersen)The Prophet of God (Andersen)Becoming Like GodMother in HeavenUnit 1 Additional ReadingsUnit 2: Gender & Eternal IdentityUnit 2 ScripturesMarriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan (Bednar)It is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone (Dew)Excerpts from "A Plea to My Sisters" and "The Price of Priesthood Power " (Nelson)Spiritual Treasures (Nelson)We can Do Better and Be Better (Nelson)Excerpts from “Brethren We Have a Work to Do” & “Let Us Be Men” (Christofferson)Helping Those Who Struggle With Same Gender Attraction (Holland)Unit 2 Additional ReadingsUnit 3: Covenants & OrdinancesUnit 3 ScripturesThe Importance of a Physical BodyCome, Follow Me (Nelson)The Power of Covenants (Christofferson)Let This House Be Built unto My Name (Bednar)The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power (Renlund)Celestial Marriage (Nelson)Divorce (Oaks)Unit 3 Additional ReadingsUnit 4: Chastity & The Sanctity of LifeUnit 4 ScripturesOf Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments (Holland)We Believe in Being Chaste (Bednar)Children (Andersen)Love and Marriage (Nelson)Making the Right Choices (Scott)Pornography (Oaks)Intimacy in MarriageUnit 4 Additional ReadingsUnit 5: Happiness in Family LifeUnit 5 ScripturesGeneral Handbook of the ChurchLiving After the Manner of Happiness (Holland)Parents and Children (Oaks)A Prayer for the Children (Holland)A Sin-Resistant Generation (Jones)Mothers Who Know (Beck)Covenant Women in Partnership with God (Eyring)Fathers (Christofferson)Unit 5 Additional ReadingsUnit 6: Protect the FamilyUnit 6 ScripturesChristian Courage: The Price of Discipleship (Hales)Promoting Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: Fundamental Principles, Practical Priorities, and Fairness for All (Wickman)Of Rights and Responsibilities: The Social Ecosystem of Religious Freedom (Kearon)Defenders of the Family Proclamation (Oscarson)To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse (Scott)What Is Abuse?What Matters Most is What Lasts Longest (Ballard)Unit 6 Additional Readings

Mother in Heaven

Gospel Topics Essay

Pictures of nurturing mothers

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. This understanding is rooted in scriptural and prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the godly potential of men and women. The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.
  2. While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven. The earliest published references to the doctrine appeared shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, in documents written by his close associates. The most notable expression of the idea is found in a poem by Eliza R. Snow, entitled “My Father in Heaven” and now known as the hymn “O My Father.” This text declares: “In the heav’ns are parents single? / No, the thought makes reason stare; / Truth is reason—truth eternal / Tells me I’ve a mother there.”
  3. Subsequent Church leaders have affirmed the existence of a Mother in Heaven. In 1909, the First Presidency taught that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that “the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.” And in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”
  4. Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family. “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us,” taught Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Harold B. Lee stated, “We forget 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.”
  5. Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.” Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.” Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”
  6. As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints believe that this pattern is reflected in Paul’s statement that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Men and women cannot be exalted without each other. Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”

The Church acknowledges the contribution of scholars to the historical content presented in this article; their work is used with permission. Originally published October 2015.

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