Mother in Heaven recently made a cameo appearance in correlated materials. As I was preparing my Elder’s Quorum lesson for yesterday, I read the following passage in chapter 8 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff. Speaking about the place in the resurrection of those who die as children, Wilford taught:
Our children will be restored to us as they are laid down if we, their parents, keep faith and prove ourselves worthy to obtain eternal life; and if we do no so prove ourselves worthy to obtain eternal life; and if we do not so prove ourselves our children will still be preserved, and will inherit celestial glory. This is my view in regard to all infants who dies, whether they are born to Jew or Gentile, righteous or wicked. They come from their eternal father and their eternal mother unto whom they were born in the eternal world, and they will be restored to their eternal parentage… (Id. at 85, emphasis added).
One might argue that the eternal mother and eternal father referred to are the earthly mother and father, but I don’t think this is correct. First, Wilford is clearly addressing his remarks to parents who live when their children die, so it doesn’t make sense to read him as referring to children who die returning to their earthly parents. Second, such a reading would require that we think that parents are also the parents of their children’s spirits. The doctrine of spirit birth is somewhat debatable, but I have never hear it suggested that earthly parents are the parents of their children’s spirits.
I think it is fitting that we get a Mother in Heaven reference from Wilford Woodruff. The most common citation for this doctrine is Eliza R. Snow’s poem/hymn “Oh My Father,” which Wilford Woodruff declared to have been written under inspiration. I don’t know if it makes much sense to read the tea leaves on the inclusion of this passage as a prelude to anything else from the Church on the topic of Mother in Heaven. Probably not. On the other hand, it is nice to see her showing up from time to time.