Earthly Father, Heavenly Father – Earthly Mother, Blank

January 28, 2013 | 124 comments
By

This week a number of my Facebook friends shared a video from the Mormon Channel, titled Earthly Father, Heavenly Father. It kept showing up in my timeline, and finally I watched it.

I’m generally a fan of the church’s public relations offerings, so I expected to like this short. I mean, who doesn’t love fatherhood? Instead, the film made me sad.

Before playing the video, I saw the blurb underneath:

Men on Earth have the opportunity to become fathers and experience some of the same joys that our Heavenly Father feels for us. Fatherhood is a divine responsibility to be cherished.

What is the female corollary?

Women on Earth have the opportunity to become mothers and experience some of the same joys that our Heavenly Mother feels for us.

Is this true? Does she watch us? Interact with us? Listen to our prayers? What does she feel for us? How do we know?

Within the first few seconds, we see a quote from James E. Faust:

Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine.

What is the female corollary?

Noble motherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine.

Is this true? In what ways does noble motherhood reflect divine motherhood?

The video gives an analogy between a father caring for his family and Heavenly Father caring for all his children on earth. He goes to work, provides for them, and they are pretty oblivious to his efforts.

This video is about fathers. It doesn’t have to be about mothers, too. But I was bothered by the fact that the setting is a family home, but for the first 70 seconds, these young kids seem to be unattended in the house, eating, playing, climbing on stools, etc. Finally mother comes into the picture, with this:

Now, it’s nap time. My wife likes nap time.

Good to know Mom can take a break from not attending to her kids so she can continue not to take care of her kids. Whew, that was stressful.

Later the kids can talk on the phone, ride bikes in the street, and climb tree houses on their own, too. Mom does show up at dinner and to brush teeth. And at church being “protected” by Dad. But Dad hugs, plays, reads stories, gets the kids in their jammies, and says prayers.

Is this the model of divine motherhood we are supposed to see? Mother is there. We can tell because a couple of times we see the back of her head or her arm. But she doesn’t really do anything — at least not anything we know about. Maybe she’s in her home office blogging or playing Words with Friends on her iPad in the den or scrapbooking in her dedicated craft room. Or something. Just waiting for the blessed nap time to be relieved of her duties (whatever they are).

The video ends with this:

I am a father. I am also a son. And while I may not understand all that he does for me, I do know that all that I am and all that I have is because he’s a father to me.

I know stand very aware of how it all came to be.

I’m kind of a sap. I was moved by the ending and thought it was powerful. But it was that power that left me all the more empty. As I wrote a couple of years ago, gender matters a great deal in our doctrine and policy. When such a strong message is given by the church to show how important this earthly-divine connection is, can’t they see how important it is that for half the church the connection is nonexistent?

I am a mother. I am also a daughter. And because I do not understand anything that she does for me, I am unaware of my potential future role and have no model to follow.

124 Responses to Earthly Father, Heavenly Father – Earthly Mother, Blank

  1. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on January 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Amen. The production values in the video were fantastic, but the absence of the just-as-significant female half of the partnership was just glaringly, painfully obvious the entire time. Such an incredible missed opportunity, especially when there is such a wealth of feminine symbolism in the scriptures that could have been put to good use alongside the masculine (Lady Wisdom is a Tree of Life to them that reach for Her, etc.).

  2. Dave K on January 28, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I share your sentiments. And I think it is clear why this disparity exists. Since Adam, prophets have called on Father, learned of him, and passed this knowledge to the people. Our prophets follow the same pattern. But our prophets do not call on Mother. They expressly forbid us to pray to her. So why would anyone expect that they could teach us anything about her?

  3. Howard on January 28, 2013 at 7:21 am

    This video is very well done! But I agree by omission it subtly (to those who are not sensitive) and painfully (to those who are sensitive) gender-centric, it’s what’s missing and downplayed that is at issue here. Was it produced out of chauvinist naiveté or sophisticatedly designed to stealthily fly under the radar of the church’s membership base with the purpose of reenforcing and showcasing male importance? Either way there is a significant problem here.

  4. James Olsen on January 28, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Even though I’m obviously in a significantly different position from you, Alison, I’m profoundly sympathetic to what you write here. This is in part because – perhaps in different way – I poignantly feel Her absence in our official discourse. As a man, my experience and nurturing and growing into becoming a man was – thankfully – not in an estrogen vacuum. I was not raised by a father and thus able to glimpse my Divine Father. I was raised by wonderful parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and a gloriously gender-plural family unit. And this earthly family has allowed me to glimpse the Divine Family. I look forward to the time when the bloggernacle contentiously debates why She was temporarily so conspicuously absent in our discourse.

  5. Julie M. Smith on January 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Amen, Alison. Thank you for this post.

  6. Rachel Whipple on January 28, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I’ve been thinking about this since the last time the YW visited RS and recited their theme. We teach them that their nature is divine because they are daughters of a Heavenly Father. When we combine that with the couplet that as man is God once was, we must conclude that as women are, our Heavenly Mother once was, and that we may become like her. Because if we don’t, then natural conclusion is that girls do not share the same divine nature and potential as boys.

  7. Cameron on January 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Try contacting the Mormon messages team?

  8. ji on January 28, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I thin the reason this thought is absent from our teachings is because it is absent from our scriptures — any thoughts anyone puts forth are their own thoughts, their own imaginings. God has not revealed this matter. The ears of some will itch for words on this matter, and others will provide some words, but those words will be their own thoughts. For me, for now, I am satisfied with worshiping God as he has been revealed — indeed, I am so very happy that God has revealed himself in the past and in these latter-days.

  9. Suleiman on January 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Alison, let me offer you and your fellow T&S followers a challenge. Write a doctrinally sound alternative to the above PR message that includes the concept of a Mother in Heaven.

  10. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I want to thank you all for your contributions.

    James Olsen, thank you and I share your hope!

    Rachel Whipple, very well said. Your comment could branch into so many discussions. What IS the “divine nature” we teach in YW?

    Cameron, I will look into that. If anyone has contact info, please pass it on, but I’ll dig around a bit.

  11. Brian on January 28, 2013 at 11:18 am

    ji, I think you’re on the right track here. Until we have revealed truth about Heavenly Mother, are we not just fantasizing?

  12. hkobeal on January 28, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Sad. Seriously sad, but that is our unfortunate reality as members of the church.

    Nice post, Alison.

  13. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Ji:

    any thoughts anyone puts forth are their own thoughts, their own imaginings

    Actually, that isn’t true. There are quite a few authoritative statements about Mother in Heaven, if we’d just stop quoting the stupid myth about being commanded not to talk about her, maybe we could get a start. Try “A Mother There,” published by BYU Studies.

    ji, you may be satisfied, but, indeed, I’m not. That difference need not be disparaged.

    Please not that little if any revelation comes about unless someone in authority on the matter ASKS. And our leaders are fairly busy folks. They TEND not to ask about things unless they see a NEED. And they will not see any need on such matters unless they PERSONALLY are not satisfied with the status quo or they find that OTHERS are not satisfied.

    That dissatisfaction does not mean things will change or that God will reveal more. I think we all understand that. But I hope that God will provide more info to us about MY divine counterpart.

    Perhaps this is the most important point: when the church promotes the IMPORTANCE of men having a divine model, it becomes more obvious that the female divine model is probably JUST as important — and absent. Note this video did NOT make some kind of Earthly PARENTS – Heavenly Father comparison, it was strictly about how having a divine model was helpful, important, useful to MEN.

    If, indeed, a divine female model would not be as helpful, important, useful to WOMEN, please tell me why?

    Suleiman, do you think the references in the above paper give enough info to do so? Either way, I have little interest in screenwriting, but more interest in encouraging the powers that be to see the disparity we live with every day. If there is something that CAN be done to diminish that, I hope they will.

  14. Dave K on January 28, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Alison, from a male perspective, I am also uneasy with another (strong) implication of this video; namely, that men should accept how little time they spend with their children because, hey, that’s just following God’s pattern. He is not around that much either.

    I know all too well the feelings of the father in the video – peering at my sleeping children as I leave for the day and, if I’m lucky getting a few seconds for hugs and “jammy time” before it’s over. At least this dad gets to sit with his children in church. So many others do not.

    Hopefully this comment does not detract from your post. Your concerns are just as real as mine. I too yearn to know Mother. But I don’t think we can adequately address the gender roles our culture assigns to women, without simultaneously addressing those assigned to men. I, and so many others, want to be active parts of our children’s lives, not just rarely-seen providers and protectors. We want to be more than Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

    On a lighter note (not to threadjack further), I find it kind of humorous that one of the kids calls their father on “mom’s phone”. What does this mean for our relationship to our heavenly parents? Maybe our prayers have been to mother all along, but we just mixed up whose phone number we are using?

  15. Jami on January 28, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I appreciate your post. I actually stopped the video halfway through yesterday for this very reason. The lack of mothering bothered me and the obviously coming analogy of a caring Heavenly Father and absent Heavenly Mother was painful.

  16. Bonnie on January 28, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I was so excited by this video, not just because of the truths it shares, but because of the opportunity that is presented by the glaring absence of the obvious. That tension developed by the question is probably the best thing the Church could have done to increase curiosity among the members at large in the existence and role of our Heavenly Mother. Truth and light can only come when people seek it and are ready to act on it, and now many more will be seeking! All God needs from us is an intentional question offered in humility at the right time and in the right place – perfect! I look forward with great anticipation to the promise in AoF 9: that “He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Huzzah! Step one!

  17. john f. on January 28, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I enjoyed your thoughts about this, AMS, and I think you’re right to recognize and wonder about this disparity. I doubt there is a good (or satisfying) answer to this problem.

    Another problem: there is an uncomfortable level of similarity here to the aesthetic of Terrence Malick’s recent film Tree of Life (in fact a friend pointed out that it seems to follow the trailer of that movie quite closely). I would recommend that people go straight to that film for inspiration. It is one of the best films I have ever seen.

  18. Howard on January 28, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I was so excited by this video…That tension developed by the question is probably the best thing the Church could have done to increase curiosity among the members at large in the existence and role of our Heavenly Mother. Bonnie seems to see the silver lining inspiration in any church related situation!

  19. TopHat on January 28, 2013 at 11:50 am

    To those saying that anything said about Heavenly Mother is speculation since we don’t have her in the scriptures, I might say that we could say the same about Heavenly Father. I know I’ve been told that that the god of the Old Testament is Christ, and the heavenly speaker in the D&C is Christ. And for the first part of the Book of Mormon, god is Christ (since the BoM peoples are still following the Law of Moses at that point, like OT peoples). Really, the only scriptural evidences we have of Heavenly Father are the voice from heaven introducing Christ in 3 Nephi, and Christ’s references to “my Father” in the New Testament. Yet we have fleshed out an image of Heavenly Father that is full and personable. I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same for Heavenly Mother.

  20. Dave K on January 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    TopHat – I agree with your reasoning, but I think most members want more than “speculation” about Mother. Our challenge really revolves around the Savior and whether his example can establish divine motherhood. For men, the analogy is simple. Christ was male. He is a perfect example of Father’s attributes. Be like Christ and you will become like Father.

    Where does that leave women? We have no genetically female corollary to Christ. To the degree the Savior does not (or cannot) fully serve as an example of Mother, then where should women look for instruction? On the otherhand, if the Savior does fully reflect the attributes of divine motherhood, what then of all the gender distinctions we so strongly enforce?

  21. Sarah Familia on January 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Wonderful post, Alison. What a perfect way to illustrate the glaring absence of Heavenly Mother. The missing parallel could not be more clear.

  22. Cameron N on January 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Mother in Heaven is the first principle my mission president was taught as a catholic high school guy who came to seminary because of his LDS girlfriend (in the 70s).

  23. Cameron N on January 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    As ward music chairman, I’m tempted to have O My Father as a hymn for mother’s day, but the title I think makes it hard to do so without causing a stir.

  24. Jenn on January 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    For me, the lack of a heavenly mother is painfully obvious most of all in the temple video. Is she in a back room making more babies or something? If her and heavenly father are joint rulers, where is she in these critical parts of earth’s existence?
    I can look at this current youtube video and think “well, the theme was fatherhood, so it makes sense it focused on….fatherhood”. The problem comes when I realize they couldn’t create a similar video for mothers. I will say nienie’s mormon message (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHDvxPjsm8E) did much the same thing and did focus on motherhood a bit, but it was still about motherhood in a male-dominated theology. (Can you imagine if she had expressed love for her heavenly mother’s example?)

  25. EdwardJ on January 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Cutting off the Saints from the love of their Heavenly Mother is spiritual abuse, just as severing a child’s connection with her or his loving human mother would be abusive.

    I am a Primary music leader and it tears me apart to teach song after song about Heavenly Father without so much as an acknowledgement that we even have a Mother.

    Theologians can argue about what we do or don’t know about Her. But we know She exists and She loves us and She is equal in power and glory our Father. That is more than enough to get some songs and hymns and lessons and true worship going.

  26. Dave K on January 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Cameron N (#22). Every ward I’ve been in sings O My Father for Mother’s Day. It happens so much that it’s almost part of the unwritten order of things. The reason is not the title, but the stanzas discussing Mother. The hymn contains one of the few church-sanctioned references to her. In fact, to my knowledge, it is the only church-sanctioned prayer we can pray to Mother. [See D&C 25:12].

    Now, if you really wanted to cause a stir, try singing Mother by Pink Floyd. That would be awesome, but you have to have a good organist for the solo.

  27. Julie M. Smith on January 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    A glimmer of light: those teaching youth Sunday School next month have this as one of the teaching modules:

    “Write the following headings on the board: “Premortal Life,” “Mortal Life,” and “Life after Death.” Invite the youth to sing or listen to “O My Father” (Hymns, no. 292). Ask them to identify what this hymn teaches about these three phases of the plan of salvation and write what they find under the appropriate headings on the board. What else do they learn from this hymn about Heavenly Father’s plan for us? What other hymns or children’s songs can they think of that teach about the plan of salvation? Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about how the Spirit can teach us through music.”

    I call that an opening . . .

  28. Demaris on January 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I’m glad they corrected the imbalance of featuring a YM mission prep video, but not a YW one on the church website yesterday. I know saying something makes a difference, because they pulled a youth video about a “depressed” teen coming out of his depression by turning back to the Lord/ without any professional intervention when I wrote them about my concerns about it.

    I’d like to see the divine womanhood corollary as well. I think there are plenty of women who are types of Christ and Heavenly Mother in the scriptures, symbolically and real women. Christ is not just a perfect example of God the Father. As a spirit son, he also bears Heavenly Mother’s divine traits and attributes. In talking about the atonement, He describes himself as a mother hen and a laboring and breastfeeding woman. Is that not maternal enough?

    The same is true in the reverse. We are to liken ourselves to the figures and stories in the scriptures regardless of gender. Women have done it forever. Men just need to learn how to do it, too. Emma was given in the D&C as an example “TO ALL”–not just all women. So are you men following her example, too?

    Cameron: “Oh My Father” is perfect. You might also consider “On This Day of Joy and Gladness” as it contains maternal imagery perfect for mother’s day. Also “Sing Praise to Him Who Reigns Above” because it talks about how God guides as “as with a mother’s gentle hand.” I also like “Home Can Be A Heaven on Earth” since it doesn’t assume that every home (or even LDS home) is a happy one. Apologies to Sherri Dew and others who try to make childless women feel better by saying all women are mothers, but as a formerly infertile woman in baby-craving LDS culture, please don’t use “As Sisters in Zion.” Better to acknowledge that we’ve all been profoundly affected by our mothers and/ or lack of them than to accentuate the pain of those who keenly feel the loss of NOT being in the perceived ideal situation.

  29. Tony on January 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Great post. Couldn’t agree more.

  30. EdwardJ on January 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Julie (#27), there is a glimmer of light in Primary, too. The main quotation on the 2013 Sharing Time guide is “All beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.” From the Family Proclamation, of course. That frees me up to say “Heavenly Parents” as much as I want to in Primary. :-)

  31. EdwardJ on January 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Demaris (#28), I wholeheartedly agree. Jesus was the perfect representative not only of His Father but also of His Mother. He was clearly in touch with His feminine side: deep relationships with women, profound compassion for children, ability to look beyond women’s societal/sexual roles to see them as individuals, His care to tell stories that connected with women’s experiences as well as men’s, and as you pointed out, His characterization of Himself as a mother hen gathering her chicks.

    I like to think that the parable about the woman searching her house for a lost coin is about our Heavenly Mother.

  32. Bonnie on January 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    #27 YES JULIE YES!

  33. Ziff on January 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Great points, Alison!

  34. mapinguari on January 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Am I the only who felt the short video struck the right tone, that the relative absence of the mother was perfectly acceptable for a video about fatherhood, and that depicting the children in carefree play was a breath of fresh air? Since when is it required that a message about the divine nature of one role (i.e., fatherhood) necessarily cover the divine nature of the other (i.e., motherhood)? Would you have been equally disappointed by a video that emphasized the important role and perspective of the mother but gave little time to the father?

    I am a father. I play a critical role in my children’s lives, as does my wife. I appreciate the Church’s effort to remind me not only of the wonderful blessings of fatherhood but also of the similarities between my earthly role and the eternal role of a kind, loving Father. I will savor the message and the tender feelings it stirred. And when the Church produces a video about motherhood, childhood, the teenage years, the golden years, young single adulthood, old single adulthood, etc., I will strive to embrace the underlying message even though it may not be directed at me.

  35. john f. on January 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Part of the point of this post is to ask whether it would even be possible for the Church to make a similar video featuring a mother. Earthly Mother/what? — Heavenly Mother? The author of this post seems to doubt that could ever happen with the current Mormon posture toward the implied Heavenly Mother role.

    It’s great that you loved this video. I’m not sure that’s a relevant objection to this post.

  36. Workin' Mom on January 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    This video came across my newsfeed last week and I watched it, feeling all the obvious holes mentioned already. I also realized how little the video matches life in my family. I work about 50 hours a week. Most of those are in the home but a few are not. My husband cooks most of the meals because he finishes work earlier than I do and he does about half of the “bedtime routines” completely on his own because I’m tutoring.
    Our dynamic can’t be entirely unique and yet I know of no other family with a work/responsibilities balance like ours.
    And what about those families who work incredibly hard but the financial blessings just don’t come? How is any father who keeps getting the raw end of the stick going to feel when he sees this?

  37. wreddyornot on January 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Where is my Mother in Heaven? Until our prophets can answer that question more fully, we can not adequately answer why we have mistreated and continued to mistreat women. Where is my Mother in Heaven? Shout it from the rooftops.

  38. JT on January 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    (34) – I loved this video as well and think you make an important point. For those wondering where the women’s role was, you may want to peruse some of the other Mormon Messages online (see, e.g., “Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God”: http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/mormon-messages?lang=eng&start=49&end=60&order=alpha#2010-06-13-motherhood-an-eternal-partnership-with-god). One could equally ask where the father was in all of these videos. Frankly, I thought the recent fatherhood message was a breath of fresh air.

    (35) – Comment 34 was a perfectly relevant response to the 33 comments before it.

  39. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Dave K, you made some great insights about fatherhood. We are told he is ALWAYS with us, so why are we using an analogy that says otherwise?

    At least this dad gets to sit with his children in church. So many others do not.

    Oh, amen. The years I spent struggling in the pew while Sam sat either on the stand or, worse, on a stand in a distant ward/city/county were very difficult.

    On one hand, I truly felt blessed to be married to a man who was good and dedicated to the gospel. On the other, I did feel a bit resentful that he was taken from the family for work AND church.

    Interestingly, about four years ago, we were interviewed about Sam being a bishop of a singles ward in another city. After a number of questions, they asked about our kids and their ages — and found our our “baby” was only four — they expressed concern and literally cut the discussion right off.

    I was struck and appreciative of their concern FIRST for our family. When I was about 14 (I am the youngest child in my family), my dad was called as bishop of a married student ward at BYU. He was there until after I was in college. He always did a very good job of balancing things, so I didn’t feel slighted, but he was gone an awful lot. Same thing when he was a branch president at the MTC.

    too yearn to know Mother. But I don’t think we can adequately address the gender roles our culture assigns to women, without simultaneously addressing those assigned to men. I, and so many others, want to be active parts of our children’s lives, not just rarely-seen providers and protectors. We want to be more than Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

    Very well said.

    I find it kind of humorous that one of the kids calls their father on “mom’s phone”. What does this mean for our relationship to our heavenly parents? Maybe our prayers have been to mother all along, but we just mixed up whose phone number we are using?

    Interesting thoughts!

  40. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    So many very good comments, I’m sorry I can’t respond to all. TopHat, very good point about the fact that we use very little info about Heavenly Father to extrapolate an image, why not for Heavenly Mother as well?

    Love hearing about updates to curriculum, etc., that help this issue.

    Also care to point out that changes in temple ceremonies were brought about by people expressing concerns about what they heard. Of course, men and women are still treated differently (and perhaps they should be), but it’s less problematic than when I first went through in 1985.

  41. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    mapinguari #34:

    Am I the only who felt the short video struck the right tone, that the relative absence of the mother was perfectly acceptable for a video about fatherhood,…Since when is it required that a message about the divine nature of one role necessarily cover the divine nature of the other? Would you have been equally disappointed by a video that emphasized the important role and perspective of the mother but gave little time to the father?

    Sigh.

    mapinguari, in the post I explicitly said that the video was powerful and that “This video is about fathers. It doesn’t have to be about mothers, too.”

    My sadness, if it’s still not clear, is NOT that the church produced a great video about fathers. It was that “they” seem to understand how powerful and important it is for FATHERS to have a divine model, but not to notice that MOTHERS do NOT have one. The church CAN produce this video for men, but CANNOT produce a similar one for women, given the status quo.

    JT posts a link to a video. It is nice. There are other nice ones, too. Of course, I haven’t claimed that the church has made no nice statements, speeches, or videos about motherhood. They talk a lot about how awesome we are. But that isn’t the same as having a divine model.

    The video posted to said this (quoting Elder Holland):

    I know deep down inside that I am doing God’s work. I know that my motherhood is an eternal partnership with **HIM**.”

    Let’s just suppose — by some wild stretch of the imagination — that I actually become a god. Will *I* have any connection to my spirit children? Will their fatherhood AND motherhood ONLY be my spiritual HUSBAND’S work? Or will it be MINE as well? Will they be in an eternal partnership only with my spiritual HUSBAND, or will they be in a partnership with ME as well? (Is that just too many partners?)

    For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    We know our Heavenly Father’s work. As Dave K addressed, I also have strong feelings about men who get to have very little time with their children BECAUSE I think the most important thing we can do here is to help our children return to God. So I can see this being a Mother’s eternal work.

    But is it? Is that also our Heavenly Mother’s work and glory? And if so, why do we not include her? If not, why don’t we address what her work is?

    I appreciate the Church’s effort to remind me … of the similarities between my earthly role and the eternal role of a kind, loving Father.

    As you should. If only they could “remind” me of the similarities between my earthly role and the eternal role of a kind, loving Mother.

  42. Clean Cut on January 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    It was just a few days ago that I first read Carol Lynn Pearson’s “A Walk In Pink Moccasins”.

    Similarly, this post garners much sympathy from me as a result of living in a “motherless house”.

  43. Adam G. on January 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I am going to assume that the poster’s inability to enjoy a pro-fatherhood message without there being an exact equivalent with just the genders switched is only a rhetorical device.

  44. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I am going to assume that commenter 43′s inability to sympathize with anyone who experiences pain he doesn’t understand is only an emotional shortcoming.

  45. Bryan H. on January 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    Sure this is God’s work. Most often quoted in the context of missionary work. Which is done on this earth by full-time human beans of both genders. If this is God’s work, our work, everyone’s work, then is it really some great mystery whether or not it is also our Heavenly Mother’s work?

    If deity is to have every good and wholesome attribute in perfection, is there a whole lot you can say about our Heavenly Father that you can’t also say about Heavenly Mother? If for whatever reason we prayed to Christ or the Holy Ghost instead of our Heavenly Father, would you expect a different answer or experience?

  46. CJ Douglass on January 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Adam, the video message (and Mormon theology) begs for a female exact equivalent. Allison is simply asking for the second half of the sentence.

  47. the other side on January 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I am a LDS mother and was not the least bit bothered by this, nor did it make me sad. It was about fathers. I think it covered a man’s love and devotion for his family through hard work very well. I am grateful for the time that my husband spends working each day for us. Yes, the movie left out mothers… because it wasn’t about them. I understand that we do not know much about our Heavenly Mother, for whatever reason, but feel that the church upholds, cares for, and exalts the role of motherhood. It does entail lots of teeth brushing, feeding, bathing, etc. But it entails much more than that-yes and I don’t think the church downplays that divine role. Again, this just wasn’t the movie about mothers- it was about the divine role of fathers.

  48. Sam Brunson on January 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Bravo, Alison (both on the post and comment 44).

  49. RCH on January 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Well, if my divine role really consists of cooking and laundry, I’m screwed.

  50. Jax on January 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    K… i haven’t read all the comments, but wanted to hit ji’s early comment that all comments about Heavenly Mother are just “their own thoughts”. A quick glance at Alma 12:9 gives us this rather remarkable quote

    It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men,

    Their are therefore a potentially great number of people who have intimate knowledge about a Heavenly Mother, but because that knowledge isn’t “the portion of his word which he grant[s] unto the children of men” (meaning it isn’t given openly/publicly/to everyone to know) they are commanded to keep it to themselves. Hopefully that means they aren’t spouting out about it on blogs, but they probably have some insight into the matter that isn’t just “their own thoughts”.

  51. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Bryan H. #45:

    If this is God’s work, our work, everyone’s work, then is it really some great mystery whether or not it is also our Heavenly Mother’s work?

    Absolutely. And that is the point.

    The church makes a very big deal about GENDER differences. The church makes a very big deal about GENDER roles. The scriptures use male pronouns — that SOMETIMES apply to women and SOMETIMES don’t, with no discernible way (that I can see) too distinguish.

    When President Hinckley told the story about the girl who wrote to him, asking if girls could also go to the celestial kingdom, this MIGHT clue people into the fact that it’s not always apparent when gender matters and when it doesn’t in the church.

    So, yes, whether Heavenly Father’s work and Heavenly Father’s eternal partnerships and Heavenly Father’s roles are ANYTHING like Heavenly Mother’s IS a mystery.

    And that is the point.

  52. Alison Moore Smith on January 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    the other side #47:

    I am a LDS mother and was not the least bit bothered by this, nor did it make me sad.

    I admit that I often wonder when someone says something and the response is, “Well, it doesn’t bother me.” I’m glad that you aren’t sad about it. Good for you. But I’m not sure what that means in the discussion. I don’t believe I implied that all or most women/men SHOULD be bothered.

    It was about fathers…Yes, the movie left out mothers… because it wasn’t about them…Again, this just wasn’t the movie about mothers- it was about the divine role of fathers.

    If you actually read the entire post, you’ll see that I state that myself. If you read the comments, you’ll find that emphasized again and again. So, for the umpteenth time, I’m not sad because this video is about fathers. I’m sad for two other reasons:

    (1) It CANNOT be about mothers. There IS no female corollary in the current dogma. Whether they want to make it or not, they can’t.
    (2) “They” do not seem to recognize that emphasizing the value of the earthly/divine fatherhood connection emphasizes even more the lack of earthly/divine MOTHERhood connection.

    I understand that we do not know much about our Heavenly Mother, for whatever reason…

    Perhaps that’s because those with authority to receive such revelation for the church don’t ask. Perhaps they don’t ask, because they don’t think anyone cares. Perhaps they think no one cares, because every time someone tries to ask, someone else has to put them down or act as if caring is some bizarre state of affairs.

  53. Jax on January 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Perhaps that’s because those with authority to receive such revelation for the church don’t ask. Perhaps they don’t ask, because they don’t think anyone cares.

    Perhaps they ask and are told nothing, so they pass on nothing. Perhaps they ask and are told to keep it strictly to themselves (see Alma 12:9 that I added earlier). Perhaps they don’t ask. Perhaps it is up to US to find out for ourselves on an individual basis (see Alma 12:9 again). I totally see how this lack of info is frustrating for some women. I don’t think it is entirely the fault of the GA’s. Perhaps you don’t think so either, but this paragraph made it sound like you do. Good post by the way!

  54. Jenn on January 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I must say, i couldn’t be more impressed with Allison for her post and her follow up comments/responses. So nice to see someone who not only “gets it” but is more articulate and respectful than I can be.

  55. Manuel on January 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Well, there She is at comment 47… except, I am not sure if I should listen to Her, since in my religion I have never been taught she could even communicate with me. I know my Heavenly Father can, and I know I should listen to Him. I also know through teachings in my religion I should NOT try to communicate with Her. I am not supposed to direct a word to Her, so am I allowed to listen to Her, if that was the case that She wanted to make me feel She is there for me?

    Good post!

  56. wreddyornot on January 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I’m the adoptive father to three wonderful kids (all adults now). When they ask about their biological mother, what is the loving thing I should do? There are biological father’s out there who’ve raised kids on their own. When those kids ask about their biological mother, what should their father say to them? What is conceivably wrong with asking where my Mother in Heaven is? It took me a long time to mature to the point where I want to know. Why don’t we ask? Also, should we just give up asking when we don’t get an answer or get a discouraging reply? Is She important enough to keep asking?

  57. JT on January 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Alison (41): “Sigh.”

    Alison (53): “I admit that I often wonder when someone says something and the response is, ‘Well, it doesn’t bother me.’”

    I’m confused. Is this post and thread supposed to only be about how you feel about the subject? What exactly are you looking for in the comments? To me, if I post something about a video, talk, piece of art, etc. and take a certain view on it, I would certainly hope that there would be alternative views mentioned somewhere in the comments. If not, there is nothing for me to learn – just pats on the back for thinking the way I do.

    The majority of the comments validate your feelings on the subject. Does it hurt to consider a few dissenting opinions?

  58. wreddyornot on January 29, 2013 at 1:20 am

    jt,
    I try to appreciate reasoned and esthetic views, even in dissent. When views, however, are not reasoned or esthetic to any appreciable measure, I just often feel sorry, hurt, disgust, and/or chagrin.

    I’ve found Alison’s and the majority validating her feelings here are both reasoned and esthetic. Yours, jt, not so much so.

    What exactly, jt, have you learned from this interchange?

  59. Rebecca on January 29, 2013 at 1:31 am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEKe76Zb6s&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    I like this video as a companion to the father one and considering the roles displayed in the two, it has me feeling much more appreciation and connection to my heavenly mother as a teacher, comforter, nurturer, giver of wisdom, perspective, love, safety, peace, connection to life and nature.

  60. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Sam Brunson, thanks. ;)

    Jax:

    I totally see how this lack of info is frustrating for some women. I don’t think it is entirely the fault of the GA’s. Perhaps you don’t think so either, but this paragraph made it sound like you do.

    Jax, I didn’t intent to lay fault at the feet of GAs in that statement, rather more to those who attempt to stop discussion and questions that might prompt them to act. Can you see it that way?

    Jenn #54, I read your comment three times to see if I could tell if you were sincere or sarcastic! I’m not often thusly “accused.” In fact, I get in trouble for my “tone” more than anything else :? So, I’ll just assume the former and say thank you. If it’s the latter, I can take that, too. :)

  61. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 2:07 am

    wreddyornot, I was adopted nearly 49 years ago. I’m a big fan of adoption. Good for you! And I like your analogy very much — even though I’ve never really cared about my bio parents. :)

    JT #57:

    I’m confused. Is this post and thread supposed to only be about how you feel about the subject? What exactly are you looking for in the comments? …Does it hurt to consider a few dissenting opinions?

    No, it doesn’t. And I’m sorry if I sounded dismissive since that’s what I find most problematic in these discussions.

    To be clear, the “sigh” in #41 had nothing to do with differing views, but with the fact that fairly often (and in that particular case) the commenter didn’t seem to have actually read the post before “disagreeing” with a point that was already addressed and re-addressed.

    I should have been more accommodating in #52. It is fine for someone to say that they feel differently. The problem was that it seemed to be used as a reason to dismiss contrasting points of view. “Well, I don’t feel that way so there’s obviously no problem.” And then, she also launched into the same “disagreement” that generated the earlier “sigh.”

    It’s hard to have a conversation about a post unless both parties know what the post contains.

  62. Bryan H. on January 29, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Allison, I’m sorry that’s incorrect. The answer is “no.” If you had actually engaged my response to your argument instead of just repeating yourself then I think that would have become obvious.

    Also, I couldn’t help but notice you left my other questions unanswered.

  63. Daniel on January 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Alison, whilst I understand and appreciate your concern about the lack of corollary messages about the example of a Divine Mother, it must be remembered that Mormon Messages are not intended to be complete statements of doctrine nor of the whole position of the church. These are ‘teaser leads’, small snippets intended to get non-members interested in exploring the church and its teaching further. They are a foot in the door for missionaries (members and full time alike). You could call them the milk before the meat.

    What is needed in the world at the moment is more strong messages about the importance of fatherhood. Our church is one of the very few I know that has an explicit, repeated message of the importance of both parents sharing the raising of children equally – comment itself, although shielded, on the role of Heavenly Mother – when the rest of the world is telling fathers they have no obligation to the children they spawn. I applaud the church for trying to get men interested in the teachings of the gospel and in attendance in church. Especially given the recently release statistics on the impact of a father’s attendance at church on future attendance by children.

    For me the main problem with the message, implied by the absence of the father’s comments on the wife’s part to play, is the implication that he simply doesn’t know what she does day-to-day.

  64. merriwyn on January 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

    To me, the point of this message is to get men to refocus on the importance of filial relationships and the role of a man as a father as the most important obligation he has. To refocus the purpose of his efforts in other spheres to being all about family. I think that it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the church’s position is that family relationships (and indeed all human relationships) should be our main focus, and that as a society we (largely) do a fine job of telling women this but a pretty shoddy job of explaining this to men. This is about looking at all of the roles within the family as care-giver roles, regardless of which of the many jobs you are currently undertaking. It is about modelling active parenting, thinking about your family as your reason for working, not just coming home and sitting on the sofa but engaging with your family and building relationships. I think the link to Heavenly Father is to reinforce the message that Heavenly Father sees his most important role is that of Parent, and I think you could say exactly that of our understanding of Heavenly Mother, minimal as our information may be.

  65. merriwyn on January 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Also, I tend to think of it this way: things we know about Heavenly Father all apply to Heavenly Mother too, and that when we seek guidance from Heavenly Father we are pretty much seeking divine guidance from a team of Gods (Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, and Jesus Christ, with a dash of Holy Ghost thrown in) who communicate with us via their appointed spokesperson (usually the Holy Ghost). I think that we find it much easier to take this view with Christ and Heavenly Father and we should probably extend it to Heavenly Mother, given that most of the specifics that we know apply to them all as they have a joint purpose and are united. Good parents always have a united parenting position, right? :)

  66. Chadwick on January 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Hi Alison:

    I too agree a sister post about motherhood would be appropriate.

    I actually did not like this video. I don’t understand why they live on a farm yet he works in an office. Who takes care of the farm?

    I also don’t like comparing the way a father provides temporally for his children to the way Heavenly Father provides for all of us. Firstly, I don’t think Heavenly Father gets up before us to commute so we can have pillows and full pantries. My guess is his work is quite different from that. But I guess the overall theme that he does things for us we don’t always understand or appreciate is accurate. But still. Didn’t like.

    After all, don’t mothers often do things for their children they don’t always appreciate or take notice? Absolutely. I guess the difference is they are not necessarily absent when they provide said service. But that doesn’t mean the children aren’t oblivious.

    I’m probably reading way too much into this video =).

    I think recently the church as an institution has begun investing in the women much better than in the past. Perhaps we’re on a trajectory now that will only get better. We can hope.

  67. Emily on January 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Here’s the complimentary video:

    Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbYLKVgwztY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    It’s a man explaining what mothers do and praising them. It makes me sad that if I want more than that, I won’t find it in church.

  68. ARC on January 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t know why I read the comments, but I did. And I wasn’t going to leave a response, but I will. Alison, just going to say that this post has been used by more than a few people in my small group of young Mormon feminist friends as a stand-in for their feelings on the subject. I’ve seen it pop up quite a lot when the video above is posted with the commentary often simply being, “This sums up my feelings perfectly”. Thank you for the post and for your repeated attempts to continue respectful discourse amongst poisonous comments. My main point in commenting is just to respond to what seems to be a pretty thread-jacked convo about The Men and let you know how much this has been helping people at least in my immediate sphere of (primarily BYU stationed) friends.

    Thanks again.

  69. David T on January 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    How cool and powerful would it be if a future new version of the Temple video had, at the very, very least, an additional personage visually and physically present at the side of Elohim.

  70. Suleiman on January 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    @ David T: Wouldn’t that take a revelation? As much as some want a “Mother in Heaven,” going further doctrinally is thin ice. It is still quite speculative.

  71. john f. on January 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    “when the rest of the world is telling fathers they have no obligation to the children they spawn.”

    Is that true? Do you really think that is what “the world” is telling fathers? If so, what is “the world” and what is the exact message? Now, if you are just pointing to rap music or some TV shows that seem to celebrate non-commital sexual encounters, I’ll have to doubt that “the world” in general is really broadcasting the message that fathers don’t matter.

    And are children “spawn” even if born through the participation of an irresponsible biological father? Isn’t that attitude (that children are “spawn” if the father is absent) a problem in and of itself?

  72. john f. on January 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    re #70, my vote on any new temple video would be an aesthetic preference not to show the personage of God the Father at all. Is that really necessary for the teaching that occurs in the endowment? Couldn’t it be done with a voice?

  73. David T on January 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    @Suleiman – I didn’t say it wouldn’t. I didn’t even say they should – just that it would be cool and powerful. However, the Family Proclamation, and our hymnbook, authoritative and doctrinal resources, affirm it, and consistently preach it. More substantive changes, IMO, have been made to the Temple ceremony in the past, and in fact, we now identify roles to the personages involved that are very different from those as when it was originally understood. Seems to me a logical evolution, and a powerful place to introduce and begin the mainstreaming of the concept of an HM in our liturgy and practice, and form a logical bookend to the ordinance in general.

    Again – not dictating, nor protesting its lack of inclusion. Just observing it would be neat to see.

  74. Jax on January 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I think having a temple video with the physical appearance of the Mother in Heaven would be perfectly sound doctrinally. “Heavenly Parents” is a sound doctrine, and having a female presence with a Heavenly Father crosses no unspoken boundaries in my mind.

    The way things are here were modeled after they way they were in Heaven, and we’ve been told that the sociality that we have here will continue in heaven… so a Father and Mother is entirely doctrinally sound from Pre-Earth life to mortality and into Eternity. I wouldn’t expect her to say anything in a new video, since knowledge of what role she played is missing, but having her present would not be a revolutionary step in my mind. I’ve often wished she were in them now.

  75. Courtney Peck on January 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Great post Allison. The part I like best about this video is focusing on the divine role of fatherhood, with no mention of priesthood, as the implied corollary to motherhood. I feel the same deep pain that a video for women relating to their Heavenly Mother isn’t possible. I like the idea some had of trying to write what that could be. I teach the young women and agree that it wouldn’t be so hard to change the theme to read, “I am a daughter of Heavenly Parents who love me, and I love them.” The proclamation uses that language. I also agree that including a heavenly mother in the temple video is doctrinally sound, although it might be hard to see her standing there not talking or doing anything. Thanks again for the great thoughts.

  76. VaLynne Stoddard on January 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    All the questions that you asked about our Mother in Heaven, the answer is Yes! We as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, know that Exaltation is a family affair and that woman are as exalted as men are. I am paraphrasing here but you don’t have to look far in Mormon Doctrine to see we do believe, neither the man without the woman nor the woman without the man.” I believe that this video clip has come out not to put down motherhood (Society is who does that, not the Church), but to remind fathers of their potential and role in being equal partners with their wives in helping one another to raise the family. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World) Instead of thinking this is leaving mothers, all mothers, out, you should see it as trying to bring fathers back into the families and not leave the mothers to fulfill their important role by themselves.

  77. Mike on January 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    The other night I was watching a program on how to barbecue steaks. I had to switch the channel halfway through because they weren’t talking about salad and vegetables.

    I don’t mean to be flippant, but who was the target audience for the video? Is there a video out there targeting mothers? Is there one in the works? If this video had also talked about mothers, then its target would be parents or families. Perhaps they were targeting fathers.

    I can’t speak for those who produced the video, but it seems that might be something to consider.

  78. VaLynne Stoddard on January 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I am saddened not by the video but by your lack of knowledge of our divine heritage of our Heavenly parents. Your last statement is so contrary to everything we have been taught in the church. If your earthly parents (including your mother) did not teach you that please do not blame the church. I am sorry you are unaware of my potential future role and have no model to follow.
    I know the Church teaches that our divine roles are equal but different. Have you bought in to the idea that different means less, that as society says woman are less and not what the Church teaches. Here is what I heard at BYU Woman’s conference that you may need reminding of. Look at your thumbs they are equal but different they are not interchangeable. Look at the wings of a plane. They are equal but different, you can not take off the right wing and put it on the left side of the plane. Which is more important, your left thumb or your right, the left wing or the right wing, fatherhood or motherhood.
    What is sad is that instead of making a valid point you made me wonder what you would have said if this video, like many others the church has produced, shows once again the mother at home nurturing her children. I believe that would have said something about “another video making you sad because it shows women only being a mother and being told they should stay home with the children instead of out doing something important and contributing to society.”

  79. Cameron N on January 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    #73 – I think it is crucial to demonstrate the person of God, regardless of whether that person doesn’t fit our image of him.

  80. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Bryan H #62:

    Allison, I’m sorry that’s incorrect. The answer is “no.” If you had actually engaged my response to your argument instead of just repeating yourself then I think that would have become obvious.

    Could you please tell me (1) how my direct answer to your question did not respond to it and (2) what it was that was repeated from elsewhere?

    Also, I couldn’t help but notice you left my other questions unanswered.

    No slight was intended, Bryan H. You’ll notice there are lots of comments/questions I haven’t directly responded to. I choose those that seem most meaningful within the time I have available. But I’ll humor you, with the understanding that sometimes things you post on blogs don’t get a direct, personal response. Deal?

    If deity is to have every good and wholesome attribute in perfection, is there a whole lot you can say about our Heavenly Father that you can’t also say about Heavenly Mother?

    I don’t know, and neither do you. While I *assume* Mother in Heaven is a being of high moral character, I don’t even know what that means for sure (and neither do you). Humans and God seem to be fairly different on many counts.

    Is she loving? I hope so. But how do you define “loving” in a non-relationship?

    Is she kind? I hope so. But how do you define “kind” in a non-relationship?

    Is she loyal? I’m not sure what that means in an eternal sense. I was raised being told that celestial women had to be polygamists — which has since been kind of, mostly, retracted — so in that sense earthly loyalty isn’t like eternal loyalty and certainly isn’t the same between men and women. And no matter what it means, how is it meaningful in a non-relationship?

    This applies to just about every “good and wholesome” attribute you can name. How is it meaningful in absence? It’s like expressing attributes of someone you’ve never met, know nothing about, and can’t even talk about without people snarking on you. What does it mean?

    You position seems to be: We know one god and that’s all we need to know. They are the same. It makes no difference.

    But that is simply untrue. If you are actually a member of the church, you know full well that things that apply to men do NOT necessarily apply to women. So let me answer your question directly:

    …is there a whole lot you can say about our Heavenly Father that you can’t also say about Heavenly Mother?

    Did Heavenly Mother direct Christ in the creation of the earth?

    Is Heavenly Mother the earthly mother of Jesus Christ?

    Are Christ and Heavenly Mother one?

    Was it Heavenly Mother’s voice that introduced Christ?

    Did Heavenly Mother appear to Joseph Smith?

    Is she omnipotent? omniscient? omnipresent? Who knows? What indications do you have to address any of those questions?

    In fact, how many things can you definitively, authoritatively say about Heavenly Father than you CAN also say about Heavenly Mother? What are your sources?

    If for whatever reason we prayed to Christ or the Holy Ghost instead of our Heavenly Father, would you expect a different answer or experience?

    I’m unsure what you mean by this or how it relates. What answer are you referring to?

  81. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Daniel #63:

    First, thank you for your polite tone. I will try to return it, but I’m aggravated with having give the same explanation repeatedly. Please realize that I recognize your efforts at a civil conversation and appreciate it.

    Alison, whilst I understand and appreciate your concern about the lack of corollary messages about the example of a Divine Mother, it must be remembered that Mormon Messages are not intended to be complete statements of doctrine nor of the whole position of the church.

    Daniel, I’ll say it again. I don’t mind that this message is to men. I don’t mind that this film doesn’t include a corollary for women. I mind that there IS NO COROLLARY MESSAGE FOR WOMEN! I mind that the emphasis on how awesome it is for MEN to have a divine model, reminds me how NOT awesome it is that I do NOT have a divine model.

    I think male promotion is great. In fact, I get in trouble with the feminist crowd an awful lot because I’m too conservative, too man-loving, too whatever. I LOVE men (well, most of you ;) ). I don’t believe in quotas to promote women (I believe in excellence and performance). I don’t believe that the way to give women equality is to take men down a notch or two. I get crazy with the advertising, etc., that mocks and ridicules men.

    I am proud to be in a church that promotes fatherhood and encourages fidelity and all that. And I don’t expect or want to have women included in every breath, every bit of counsel that comes from the church.

    It just makes me sad that I do not have the same divine model that men have and that this film promotes as being super duper.

    Our church is one of the very few I know that has an explicit, repeated message of the importance of both parents sharing the raising of children equally

    I have to take a bit of an issue with you on this. I do not think the church really promotes equality in child raising. Even this video has guy off to work and mom (kind of, sort of) home. I’m not making some grand statement about that. I LIVE in a “traditional” home setup and I value my husband’s contribution as much as my own, but the church still promotes the dad-breadwinner, mom-nurtered setup.

    I was bothered by the fact that this video was SET in the traditional MOTHER’s domain, using a tradition dad-at-work, mom-at-home scenario, but even in her own home, the mother was largely absent other than being super happy the kids would be out of her hair for a couple of hours. I thought that was a backhand.

    comment itself, although shielded, on the role of Heavenly Mother

    This seems a bit like a relative privation argument. Sure, I’d rather have them allude vaguely to Heavenly Mother than deny her existence. But that still doesn’t give me the divine role model the men are shown in this video.

    For me the main problem with the message, implied by the absence of the father’s comments on the wife’s part to play, is the implication that he simply doesn’t know what she does day-to-day.

    That’s an interesting insight. I think most real men are more aware than that. At least my husband is. We always talk about our days. I hope most couples do.

  82. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Chadwick #67:

    I actually did not like this video. I don’t understand why they live on a farm yet he works in an office. Who takes care of the farm?

    Ah, so that’s where the mother is while the toddlers feed themselves and use up cell phone minutes! She’s out milking!

    I think recently the church as an institution has begun investing in the women much better than in the past. Perhaps we’re on a trajectory now that will only get better. We can hope.

    I hope so, too, and I see evidence of it!

    I don’t pretend to know where it will eventually lead — and to be honest, I don’t even have some ultimate desired outcome — but I have hopes that these issues will at least be noticed and addressed. I don’t think it’s a problem for active, believing members to note problems and ask questions. I think we get better from such things.

  83. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    ARC #68:

    Alison, just going to say that this post has been used by more than a few people in my small group of young Mormon feminist friends as a stand-in for their feelings on the subject.

    I sincerely appreciate you passing that on to me. Most of the people I associate with IRL are much more, well, content than I am with the way things are. Sometimes it’s nice to find kindred spirits. :)

  84. Daniel on January 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    “I mind that the emphasis on how awesome it is for MEN to have a divine model, reminds me how NOT awesome it is that I do NOT have a divine model.”

    But that is rather the point isn’t it. Im going to sound harsh, and I hate to do so, but this is not a failing of the church doctrine and teaching about Heavenly Mother but of your understanding of those teachings. As Merriwyn said in 66* the Godhead – and one can include a Heavenly Mother in that team – works in unison and with a common purpose. Emulate one and you emulate them all.
    We, as Saints, place a lot of emphasis on gender roles. Apart from the practice of Priesthood, and even then not entirely in an segregated way, God(s) doesn’t make that distinction. He/They are primarily concerned about behaviours and present a common, constant message of a model of thought and behaviour that we should aspire for. The practice of life is largely left up to us.
    If you want to be able to emulate Heavenly Mother, model Heavenly Father. Because although our mortal relationships are flawed and disbalanced, the Celestial ideal lived by the Godhead is one of absolute alignment of purpose and practice.

    As for child raising, when you live in a patriarchal wider society that says men go to work and women raise the children, and that men don’t need to know or care what women do all day, sometimes this will rub off. It is important to make the disnction between doctrine, culture, and worldy influence on culture. If you are looking at the MM as a piece of advertising, it makes sense to engage a male storyteller who is approachable and understandable to your target audience: men who work but still believe in family.

    “I was bothered by the fact that this video was SET in the traditional MOTHER’s domain, using a tradition dad-at-work, mom-at-home scenario, but even in her own home, the mother was largely absent other than being super happy the kids would be out of her hair for a couple of hours. I thought that was a backhand.”

    If you were to ask me honestly what my wife does each day when Im at home, I could only give you a vague idea and it would be in the context of how the activities affected me. Don’t judge the church and its promotions on the realities of a worldly culture that promotes this separation of work, family and “life”. At least the video’s father uses the “we” pronoun more that the “me”. “We provide for our family, and I contribute through work.”

    I disagree with you also. This video was not set in the mother’s domain at all. It is set in the father’s limited understanding of his children’s domain. It was never a discussion of the mother’s role but rather of the father’s relationship with his children. Why does mother not feature prominently? Because this is not a video about families. It is a video about how father’s need to make their children the primary focus of their motivations in life.

    And that’s no small message.

    *Disclaimer: Merriwyn is my wife, and although I dont always agree with her 100% we act as a team in many of our opinions

  85. Daniel on January 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Also what’s the tag for quotes in comments on this thread? I could work out most of the others, but not that one!

  86. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    VaLynne Stoddard #76:

    All the questions that you asked about our Mother in Heaven, the answer is Yes!

    I’m unsure what questions you’re referring to. Could you clarify and give a source for your affirmative response?

    We as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, know that Exaltation is a family affair and that woman are as exalted as men are.

    I did not question whether or not women are exalted. ???

    I am paraphrasing here but you don’t have to look far in Mormon Doctrine to see we do believe, neither the man without the woman nor the woman without the man.”

    Mormon Doctrine isn’t, well, doctrine. :/ But I’m not sure what you are answering here. I didn’t make any mention of separate exaltation.

    I believe that this video clip has come out not to put down motherhood, but to remind fathers of their potential and role in being equal partners with their wives in helping one another to raise the family.

    I have not taken the position that this video was designed to put down motherhood. Again, not sure what you are addressing.

    #78

    I am saddened not by the video but by your lack of knowledge of our divine heritage of our Heavenly parents.

    Could you enlighten me as to the “divine heritage” that I’m lacking? I (obviously, I think) recognize that we have dogma about a Heavenly Mother.

    Your last statement is so contrary to everything we have been taught in the church.

    What have we been taught “in the church” about Heavenly Mother?

    If your earthly parents (including your mother) did not teach you that please do not blame the church.

    Please don’t presume to disparage my parents. You know nothing about them.

    I am sorry you are unaware of my potential future role and have no model to follow.

    Please, tell me! What is my future role? Tell me about my model! That’s what this post is all about. If you know, please don’t leave me (all of us) in the dark.

    I know the Church teaches that our divine roles are equal but different. Have you bought in to the idea that different means less, that as society says woman are less and not what the Church teaches.

    This means nothing without a context of what “different” means. Saying that Heavenly Mother has a DIFFERENT role than Heavenly Father doesn’t give me a role model – unless you mean that I should just try to be as different from Heavenly Father as I possibly can.

    What is sad is that instead of making a valid point you made me wonder what you would have said if this video, like many others the church has produced, shows once again the mother at home nurturing her children. I believe that would have said something about “another video making you sad because it shows women only being a mother and being told they should stay home with the children instead of out doing something important and contributing to society.”

    VaLynne Stoddard, I sincerely recommend you read more carefully. I also sincerely recommend that you withhold extreme judgment of people you don’t remotely know and haven’t bothered to learn about. I welcome disagreement on the topic at hand (assuming you actually read it and take a minute or two to think about it), but to branch off into all sorts of nonsense is, well, just nonsense.

    If you really want to know what I think about women who stay at home, I’ll tell you.

    I have been a homemaker for 26 years. I have six kids, ages 9-25. I homeschool. I’m kind of dedicated to the whole idea.

    When You Have It All, Kids Get Nothing

    Mothers Who Know and Others Who Don’t Have a Clue

  87. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Mike #77:

    I don’t mean to be flippant, but who was the target audience for the video?

    Mike I don’t mean to be flippant, but I think I’ll just refer you to the OP and about 4,000 comments here. You can start with #41, #53, and #83.

  88. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Daniel #84:

    the Godhead – and one can include a Heavenly Mother in that team – works in unison and with a common purpose.

    So, Daniel, your argument is that we know exactly what Mother in Heaven does because the godhead has a common purpose and you’ve decided that — contrary to actual doctrine, policy, and practice — Mother in Heaven is the fourth member?

    I respect your opinion on the matter, but we’re talking about the LDS church here, not the Church of Daniel and Merriwyn.

    We, as Saints, place a lot of emphasis on gender roles.

    I’m not so interested in what “we, as saints” emphasize, as what the church officially emphasizes.

    God(s) doesn’t make that distinction.

    Sincerely, as far as the church is concerned, God does do so. I respect your right to believe whatever you want, but this discussion is about the LDS church and it’s dogma and practice. To make sweeping claims about what Heavenly Mother is or does isn’t consistent with actual church teaching, because we don’t have sweeping claims about her.

    I’ve already addressed the problem (ad naseum) with assuming Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are identical — if that’s not already exasperatingly apparent to everyone. So I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for your input.

  89. KLC on January 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    “As Merriwyn said in 66* the Godhead – and one can include a Heavenly Mother in that team – works in unison and with a common purpose. Emulate one and you emulate them all.”

    Oh please Daniel, I’ve been a member my whole life, served a mission, served in branch presidencies and bishoprics, taught gospel doctrine, etc, etc, etc and never, NEVER have I heard heavenly mother referred to as a member of the godhead. Every primary child can tell you who is in the godhead by reciting the first article of faith. It’s not a family council, it’s a first presidency. Your comments remind me of a story sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

    “If I should call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs would it have? ‘Five.’ No, only four, for my calling the tail a leg would not make it so.”

  90. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    KLC, bless you. :)

    I’m sorry, I’m compelled to comment on this last bit of Daniel’s #84:

    This video was not set in the mother’s domain at all. It is set in the father’s limited understanding of his children’s domain

    In other words, the man in the video is an idiot. He goes to work and THINKS his toddlers feed and fend for themselves until their mother GRATEFULLY puts them down for naps, after which they fend for themselves until he comes home to rescue them.

    That makes it so much better!

    It was never a discussion of the mother’s role but rather of the father’s relationship with his children.

    Um…yea…we’ve kind of covered that.

  91. Bryan S. on January 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Also what’s the tag for quotes in comments on this thread? I could work out most of the others, but not that one!

    blockquote and /blockquote

    Surrounded by the html brackets of course.

  92. Howard on January 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    #84 Heavenly Mother is a member of the Godhead now?! Cool!!! Did that come through Monson or the church Newsroom?

  93. Alison Moore Smith on January 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Alert the Protestants! They now worship the Quadrality!

  94. Manuel on January 30, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Allison,

    Wow. After reading most of the posts, I have to say you have been blessed with some serious patience. What I can see is that no matter how many times you write an answer, when someone is not willing to share your perspective because, they simply will not get the message of the text in front of them. For what it’s worth, there are many of us who share your views. You have a valid point here, in our minds, we should be able to watch the video about fatherhood and create an instant corollary to the motherhood side, but currently, we do not have the elements to do that.

  95. Science Teacher Mommy on January 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

    My thought was exactly the same when I opened the Church’s home page and saw this. In primary this month we talked about being children of God as our theme for the month’s sharing times. I mentioned Heavenly Parents in passing during my testimony that week; the Spirit was powerful and the children were still and we heard the truth of it. My eight year old (son) asked me about it later and we had a lovely and touching conversation, albeit brief.

  96. Daniel on January 30, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Yeah okay so my phrasing was a little sloppy there. Forgive me, because the time difference means I was writing that response at about 1 in the morning. I do not mean to suggest that church doctrine makes Heavenly Mother a direct member of, as KLC puts it, the presidency structure. But how many of our presidency contain a 4th member of the “leadership team” who participates in leadership meetings, offers opinions when sought and generally contributes – albeit in a non-official capacity. And before anyone jumps down my throat Im not suggesting HM is actually just a secretary. In fact if current family modellling was to be replicated eternally Im sure she would currently be busy looking after all her children who are currently still “at home” with her.”

    Im guessing my stupidity was in assuming you were actually inviting discussion on and appraisal of your feelings, rather than just seeking a “yeah, you’re so right love” response. Ill be sure to keep my thoughts to myself unless I can provide at least three peer reviewed responses with a side of Official Declaration to counter your argument. I rarely comment on T&S posts like this and you have only strengthened my resolve to no longer do so. I’ll leave it all to you clearly more experienced “old hands” and just take my 10 years of membership and deep thoughtful prayer and go back of to Gospel Principles where I belong!

  97. stephen hardy on January 30, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Alison: I have enjoyed your post and many of the comments. This stream has made me think about this:

    During Mitt Romney’s run for office we had to endure many slights and mis-understandings about our church, doctrine, and practices. One that I heard or read from time to time was the we believe that “Jesus was our brother” or that “Jesus and the devil are brothers.” We also had to face the repeated questioning of our credentials as Christians. There are some so mis-informed as to not know that we believe in Jesus Christ. However, most suggest that while we worship Christ, we can’t be “real” Christians because many of our beliefs are non-orthodox.

    I can’t imagine that right now, in the midst of trying to “fit in” with the larger Christian movement, that we would at this time start to strongly emphasize Heavenly Mother. You can almost hear the committee meetings: “Aren’t we strange enough?”

    I am not suggesting that our doctrine and decisions are decided by committee or by some PR consultant. Only that a strong emphasis on Heavenly Mother is not likely to occur right now.

    I am with you on this. Your use of the word “sad” is perfect. You are not angry. You aren’t demanding anything. You aren’t campaigning for change. You are simply sad that we have a culture and doctrine that allows a meaningful role-model for men as fathers, while ironically there is no real female role model for women (who we expect to be the primary care-givers to children.)

  98. Alison Moore Smith on January 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Manuel, thank you. And thanks to al who gave thoughtful responses.

    Science Teacher Mommy, good for you. I’m always hesitant to do things like that because to some it seems “edgy.” And as recently as last month I heard a woman (in Gospel Doctrine) promote the myth that we can’t talk about Heavenly Mother. (I could have argued, but doing so would require much more than a simple comment in class.) But I do think I’ll do a post relating just to that at Mormon Momma sometime soon.

  99. Alison Moore Smith on January 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Daniel #96, when I used to say things like that last paragraph of yours, my mom would poke out her lower lip and say, “Well, then. I’m just going to take my tin dishes and go home!”

    In other words, it’s not a great discussion tactic to pout and stomp your feet — and threaten to go home — when your friends won’t play the game you want to play. There’s give and take here.

    YOU said, “Im going to sound harsh, and I hate to do so, but this is not a failing of the church doctrine and teaching about Heavenly Mother but of your understanding of those teachings.”

    In other words, even in your own words you can be harsh, and it’s OK, but no one can push back? Let’s all play by the same rules.

    Note that the “harsh” statement you used to dismiss my concerns was that Heavenly Mother was already part of the Godhead so we knew everything we needed to know. And you were wrong about it, by your own (later) admission. So having people (even “harshly”?) denounce your “harsh” claim is probably acceptable.

    But how many of our presidency contain a 4th member of the “leadership team” who participates in leadership meetings, offers opinions when sought and generally contributes – albeit in a non-official capacity.

    Let’s assume you are correct. Heavenly Mother is a non-official doctrine whisperer. Kind of like the 2-for-1 Billary Clinton thing. So my divine role is to shush up and stay in the background and gently, carefully, suggest to The Man my oh-so-humble-and-gentle opinions that he might consider, if I can have His Royal Highnesses attention — and if he doesn’t behead me for approaching him unrequested.

    I don’t know, but that doesn’t sound so great to me. And it doesn’t sound “co-equal,” either.

    When I was at BYU I took a religion class (family relations or something ) from George Pace. (Anyone else old enough to remember him and all his controversy?) Anyway, in my opinion, he was a rather doctrinally extreme character, BUT a good teacher, in that he really cared about the students and really tried to keep us interested and thinking.

    Still — other than the day he jumped up on his desk to declare something — the thing I remember most was the day he had his wife come to class to talk about women’s roles in marriage or something along those lines. To the best of my recollection, this is part of what she said:

    *******

    When George makes a decision, I do not question it. He is the head of the house. Even though I may know he’s wrong, I don’t tell him so. He is the priesthood leader. And when he goes out and does what he wants, I don’t say, “I knew it was wrong” or “I told you so,” her finds out he was wrong on his own.

    ********

    I realize this isn’t what you’re suggesting, but it’s only a step or two away, I think. We are non-official. We are sidelines. We are optional.

    Maybe — from your unofficial model — she should have said, “My dear, may I make a suggestion?” And then, upon approval, continue with, “I know you are brilliant and accomplished, but I’m unsure if you have considered the ramifications of putting all of our life savings into that new multi-level marketing program?”

    Or maybe she should do the manipulation dance, where she tries to get him to think her suggestion is really his own?

    Or maybe she should talk to him about the problems while he listens respectfully, but then he goes public with the whole thing as his idea, so that he saves face by not being seen as a hen-pecked husband kowtowing to his little wife?

    But why, oh, why can’t women just speak to men — on equal footing — and make sound decisions together? Sincerely, I don’t get it — on earth or in heaven.

  100. chris on January 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Alison,
    “So my divine role is to…”

    Just curious, would you be happier if a woman’s ideal divine role mimics their ideal earthly role? Being a mother, raising and nurturing spirit children so they can enter the world and progress to fulfill their own potential?

    We don’t really know the precise details of the divisions of “work” in the next life. But we know what our Father’s work is, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I think we’re on pretty firm ground when we assume that’s the same ultimate work that not only the Lord shares with the Father but a Heavenly Mother as well. The divisions of labor are certainly different (even though there is unity of purpose in the end result) between the Father and the Son, so we can be confident the same is true with Mother and Father.

    The division of inside the home vs. outside the home parallels with premortal and post mortal.

    I’ve had personal revelation on this subject, and while I don’t claim what I’m stating here is that revelation or that it’s necessary for anyone to believe what I’m saying, I do know there is more to our understanding of a Heavenly Mother that will be clear as we understand more of the eternities (both our past “life” and potential future role).

    Ultimately, to me, what’s most important is not knowing the differences and distinctions but understanding the unity of both purpose and glory. In that sense there is not a “blank” when it comes to Heavenly Mother. There’s a lot there.

  101. Alison Moore Smith on January 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    stephen hardy #97, thanks for the kind words.

    One that I heard or read from time to time was the we believe that “Jesus was our brother” or that “Jesus and the devil are brothers.”

    I think our biggest misstep in responding to such attacks is that we try to deny them. Yes, they are specifically twisted to make us look bad or crazy, but they are true. Rather than get all crazy with them, I think we do best when we say, “Yes, we do! Here’s how…”

    Simply put, this is a tactic that tends to deflate the other side. When we agree with them, they have no argument.

    It reminds me of the time our family attended the Orlando Temple open house. There was a guy sitting right outside the gate in his chaise lounge with a big old picket sign. It read:

    DO YOU KNOW that MOST of the baptisms done in this temple are for the DEAD????

    I couldn’t help myself. I rolled down the window and called out, “Yes! And if you go on the tour, they’ll tell you all about it!”

    I can’t imagine that right now, in the midst of trying to “fit in” with the larger Christian movement, that we would at this time start to strongly emphasize Heavenly Mother. You can almost hear the committee meetings: “Aren’t we strange enough?”

    I absolutely agree with your speculation on this. In my reasoning, that’s also why blacks didn’t have the priesthood for so long. The church didn’t push the culture beyond what it (in it’s corrupt state) could bear. It was almost as if the church maintains the “traditional” appearance, until a change is not only welcome, but also a relief.

    I am with you on this. Your use of the word “sad” is perfect. You are not angry. You aren’t demanding anything. You aren’t campaigning for change. You are simply sad that we have a culture and doctrine that allows a meaningful role-model for men as fathers, while ironically there is no real female role model for women (who we expect to be the primary care-givers to children.)

    Thank you for understanding and for rewording my thoughts so perfectly. :)

  102. chris on January 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    But your characterization of of Heavenly Father/Mother dynamic through your hypothetical in #99 is completely uncharitable. The dichotomy you presented is outrageous and offensive.

  103. Suleiman on January 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Alison, I echo Chris in #102. This discussion is approaching sacrilege. And I think we are operating from a false premise. I am not sure that God the Father is utilized as a “role model” by many LDS men, in spite of schmaltzy videos produced by the Church. And is God the father of our spirits in the same way that our biological fathers are genetically the fathers of our bodies? Spirits are co-eternal (according to Joseph Smith). We really know so little about the personality of God. Both genders are operating from a position of faith to know God.

  104. john f. on January 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    How would you characterize it chris?

  105. Alison Moore Smith on January 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    chris #100:

    Just curious, would you be happier if a woman’s ideal divine role mimics their ideal earthly role? Being a mother, raising and nurturing spirit children so they can enter the world and progress to fulfill their own potential?

    As I said above, I don’t have a particular outcome that I need to be “happy.”

    I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom and now I’ve been one for nearly 26 years — and it started with Ezra Taft Benson’s “To Mother’s in Zion” speech that I attended — while a student and pregnant with our first child.

    In other words, I’m sincerely willing to accept counsel — even if it differs from what I THINK I want — and move with faith (in a very imperfect way).

    I suspect I would be happy with whatever the divine role is, because in spite of the seeming disparity between men and women, I don’t think God has set us up to be miserable for eternity. But I’m sad I don’t have any counsel on what that divine role is. ****And I think if we recognize that having that divine role model is helpful to men, it would probably be helpful to women as well.****

    Please reread that last sentence. I honestly don’t know what could be controversial or misunderstood about it.

    But we know what our Father’s work is, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I think we’re on pretty firm ground when we assume that’s the same ultimate work that not only the Lord shares with the Father but a Heavenly Mother as well.

    And, rather than be forced to speculate about it, I would love to have authoritative information about it.

    I guess the thing that continues to surprise me is that — over and over and over — people say they same things. Sincerely, did you think I didn’t know that I could speculate that maybe Heavenly Mother does something somewhat generally remotely distantly related to what Heavenly Father does? Maybe she’s in the vicinity or has some idea of what’s going on?

    In case you aren’t sure, I did. I think most people who feel the absence of maternal doctrine know they can guess about it and they probably also know the general area in which to guess. (I mean, they probably won’t say she’s ice fishing in Alaska.)

    But in general, guessing about stuff isn’t terribly satisfying and often it’s very unhelpful.

    The division of inside the home vs. outside the home parallels with premortal and post mortal.

    How? What is your source for saying this?

    Ultimately, to me, what’s most important is not knowing the differences and distinctions but understanding the unity of both purpose and glory. In that sense there is not a “blank” when it comes to Heavenly Mother. There’s a lot there.

    I appreciate what you’ve shared, but please understand that *I* can’t act on *your* personal revelation.

    #102:
    chris, except for one line, that wasn’t a characterization of the Heavenly Father/Mother dynamic. Sorry to have been unclear. It was a characterization of MY eternal role to MY HUSBAND’s (“The Man”) and then of various tactics real people use in spousal relationships, beginning with the real life description by GPs wife in our class. And my distress that we can’t see the problem in this kind of suggestion that an “unofficial,” behind-the-scenes, silenced, unknown Heavenly Mother isn’t much different from the earthly dynamic most of us agree isn’t appropriate in an earthly marriage.

    Suleiman #103:

    I am not sure that God the Father is utilized as a “role model” by many LDS men

    I agree. But this video is promoting the idea that this is a good and important comparison. Thus the post.

    I also agree that we all operate on faith. But in the case of Heavenly Father, that faith has a lot more authoritative backup than it does for Heavenly Mother. And that’s what makes me sad.

  106. chris on January 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I think Christ is setup as the divine role model for all. Male and female. Clearly he doesn’t provide specific guidance about a variety of things, but I’ve never heard someone suggest he was an insufficient example, right?

    104 – I thought I provided one potential characterization about the dynamic between a Father, Mother and Son in #100. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough?

    Different roles within each “dispensations” so to speak. A child is born, nutured, raised, instructed, protected, provided for and then they go out in the world and in best cast seek to do the same. I don’t see why that pattern can apply eternally.

  107. STW on January 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    My daughter sent me this link, wanting to know what I thought. She was particularly struck by the last paragraph. My response:

    Interesting. Obviously, this is not really about the video. The emphasis on fathers in the video is simply a reflection of society’s need. Absent, uninvolved mothers are not the problem, missing fathers are.

    I have to be careful here because I’m going to have a male perspective and, if the lack of a Mother in Heaven is an issue, a simple “don’t worry about it” is not sufficient. In part, the difficulty is that the traditions present when the church began and developed was of One God Indivisible. A Father and Son separate and distinct from each other was/is radical enough to cause palpitations among Christians worldwide. Tossing a Mother into the mix would just send them over the edge. Similarly, there is the danger of going Catholic where followers pray to Mary because “who is better to advocate with the Son than His own mother?”

    In reality, the focus of the Church is and should be primarily on the Son. He is our Savior and our advocate with the Father. It is by Him, of Him, and through Him that we return to our heavenly parents. If you accept the Son as the perfect embodiment of all things good and holy then the attributes, in both a father and mother, that should be emulated are perfected in Him. In assessing or mirroring these qualities His maleness should be of only passing interest.

    Taking an honest look at what we actually know about the Father suggests that we know very little. We pray to Him through the Son. What else? We either get into sexless descriptors like all knowing or all powerful or we fall back on using the Son to describe the Father, one being like the other. We have no such shortcut with a Mother in Heaven. Perfect momness? Really?

    Beyond a bit more acknowledgement that She exists I’m not sure what else can be done. There are lots of guesses and assumptions just as there are with the Father. Expansive doctrine? Not so much. I’d rather error on the side of caution and say too little then put too much of my own or anyone else’s thinking into fleshing Her out.

    I’m comfortable knowing She and the Father exists and that we can look to the perfect expression of their love for us in their Son. It is through Christ that I can learn all revealed truth. It’s through Him that I can get hints of what is yet to be revealed. Emulating Him can make me a better father. Emulating Him can make you a better mother.

  108. wreddyornot on January 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    STW “…Taking an honest look at what we actually know about the Father suggests that we know very little. We pray to Him through the Son. What else? We either get into sexless descriptors like all knowing or all powerful or we fall back on using the Son to describe the Father, one being like the other….”

    Seriously, you think we know very little about the Father? He has appeared, spoken, acted, interacted, etc., etc. throughout time. Seriously? Our Church has not been hesitant to show representations of Him in film, in music, and art. There are replete scriptures claiming to be His words. Seriously.

    STW “…Beyond a bit more acknowledgement that She exists I’m not sure what else can be done….”

    Seriously, STW, ask. Where is Mother in Heaven. Just ask.

  109. Chris Z on January 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    @97:

    I can’t imagine that right now, in the midst of trying to “fit in” with the larger Christian movement, that we would at this time start to strongly emphasize Heavenly Mother. You can almost hear the committee meetings: “Aren’t we strange enough?”

    So, we avoid asking for greater truth and knowledge about our own doctrines, and resist sharing that truth and knowledge with the rest of the world, because doing so would be inconvenient and make us look weird? Really?

    Huh. That appeal to inconvenience sounds like a pretty convenient reason for why we don’t have to upset our own status quo. And it sounds pretty out of sync with Matthew 5:

    10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

    12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

  110. Tyson on January 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Alison-

    I think it’s sad that you cannot appreciate this message for what it is, a reminder of how important fatherhood is in all of our lives and how important it is to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is a message the entire world needs. Can you be critical and content at the same time? I hope your paradigm is not this critical in all aspects of your life because there is a lot that you will miss out on if your lens is so critical.
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preaches more than any other church that I can think of the importance of women and mothers in our lives. The Relief Society of the church is the largest women’s organization in the WORLD. The fact that the church chose to create this video in no way means that the church is sexist in any way or devalues women in any way or is trying to subtly preach that men are more important than women. There are so many talks given on the sacred role of women in our lives by leaders of the church that I will not waste time trying to prove the point that the LDS church gives proper focus to the sacred role that women and mothers play in all of our lives. The world needs to hear this message for what it is. Please don’t cast a negative light on such an important topic.

  111. Chris Z on January 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Tyson 110

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preaches more than any other church that I can think

    Keep in mind, Tyson: that doesn’t prove anything at all. You might simply not know very much about other churches. That seems not only possible but likely.

    stressing the importance of motherhood does not in any way mean that an organization values women as people with minds and talents. It just means that the organization values reproduction.

    There are so many talks given on the sacred role of women in our lives

    Talk is cheap. It’s the easiest thing in the world to tell women, “Oh, you’re so important! What you do is so important! We love you! We value you! You’re equal!”

    it’s not so easy to point to actual ways in which women are equal in the church. Do they get to pray in meetings? Preside? Receive revelation? Give blessings? Are they explicitly depicted as deity? Do we recognize the female divine in our scriptures, our talks, our art, our prayers?

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. So women aren’t equal. And trying to insist that all those talks make up for lack of action is plain old deception. The fact that you can so easily deceive yourself, Tyson, doesn’t mean that any of us have to follow suit.

  112. Julie M. Smith on January 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

    ” The Relief Society of the church is the largest women’s organization in the WORLD.”

    I don’t think you can in any reasonable sense be called a “women’s organization” when every single leader is either chosen by or vetted by a male and your budget, curriculum, policies, goals, and activities are determined by or vetted by males.

  113. Suleiman on January 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Nasty males… the Godhead, those prophets and apostles, their patriarchy, their patriarchal order… she hates them, she hates them, she hates them!!!

    FYI, both men and women sit on various curriculum committees, and the RS is pretty well self-directed. The First Presidency may give prophetic direction, but the RS Presidency carries the ball. But I guess “prophetic” direction is bad, it comes through a male from a male.

  114. wreddyornot on January 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Suleiman, could you clarify in your most recent posting (113) your antecedent to “she?” Would that be asking too much of you? Where does such vitriol come from anyway? It’s certainly not anywhere evident as deserving in the posting or in the consequent comments, not that I need to defend any “she” who has participated here. They’re more capable than I by far. From what I see, than you, also.

    Relative to your, “…the RS is pretty well self-directed…but the RS Presidency carries the ball.…” could you say where you gathered your asserted information/experience?

    I might observe that your last sentence, “But I guess ‘prophetic’ direction is bad, it comes through a male from a male,” doesn’t anywhere seem to be portrayed as anyone’s position in the posting or in the comments. It all boils down to questioning the why of things. Like I can ask, where is my Heavenly Mother, others can ask why males rule the roost. It’s a legitimate question, although its answer might be long in coming.

  115. Chris Z on January 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    @113: Right, Suleiman, cuz feeling that women have been and are mistreated automatically and necessarily involves hating men and all attributes of maleness.

    If you’re a woman who feels that the world and the church have been unfair to women, you hate men, don’t want to marry one, and can hardly stand the fact that you have a father and perhaps even a brother or uncle or grandfather or two.

    If you’re a man who feels that the world and the church have been unfair to women, you’re a self-loathing mess.

    and which ever category you’re in, you’re ugly and nasty and smell bad.

    Sure. Despite the fact that feminists, both male and female, have been shown by various studies to have the most successful heterosexual marriages and the best sex lives, if it makes you feel better to project your nasty little fantasy onto them, by all means, continue. No one requires you to embrace the truth and let it set you free if you really don’t want to.

  116. Suleiman on January 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    @ 114: She = every woman silly enough to adopt a feminist philosophy and interpret church doctrines and practices in light of that philosophy. Since when did we become so intellectually egotistical that we thought should interpret the work of God in such a manner?

    “…where you gathered your asserted information/experience?” I have several family members who have served with the RS General Board and curriculum committees. I have an interest in how the church operates, so I interviewed these sisters on how they were treated by and worked with the Brethren. They said they were respected, treated as equals and frequently asked for advice by the First Presidency and Q of 12. They detailed projects they initiated and saw to fruition and were at the time quite proud of their service. One of these women was my grandmother.

    @ Chris Z (115) “…a woman who feels that…the church have been unfair to women.”

    How has the Church been unfair to women? Is it currently being unfair to women? By developing a video promoting the role of fathers? By not assigning women prayers in the General Session of Conference? Good grief! Women’s feelings of unfairness… are they based in reality? I know for a FACT that the Brethren take the opportunities for women very seriously. But unlike modern feminists, they do NOT interpret “equality” to mean “the same.” They define it to mean “equal in value.” Men and women have differing roles and opportunities in this church.

    Now as far as a “Mother in Heaven” goes… I’ll wait for appropriate authorities to speak on the issue…

  117. john f. on January 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    If women disappeared entirely, would it have any impact on the administration of the Church? I think the answer has to be no given the current constellation of authority (see, e.g. Julie’s comment about male sign-off on RS initiatives and budgets — it’s been a long time since the RS was an independent auxiliary, eliminating that was one of the main goals of Correlation). And if the answer is no, then women are already essentially invisible — or at least voiceless (this ties into the recent inquiries into why women are not allowed to pray in General Conference, contrary to stated Church policy that women are allowed to pray in all meetings) — in the here and now, aren’t they? Is it that much of a stretch to observe that they (and by extension, HM) are also invisible in the eternies?

  118. john f. on January 31, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    eternities

  119. Chris Z on January 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Suleiman @116

    Women’s feelings of unfairness… are they based in reality?

    Of course. The fact that YOU lack the perspective to recognize or appreciate the vast evidence women are able to show of their unfair treatment does not in any way render women’s experience unreal.

    This is one of those times when “those who have ears to hear will understand.” You might try praying for insight and help here in understanding the other children of our heavenly parents. It could do you good.

    I know for a FACT that the Brethren take the opportunities for women very seriously.

    I have no problem believing this. I am certain that they do take “opportunities for women very seriously.” However, I also look at the results of the brethren’s efforts, and I can see that they are failing. Women are telling the brethren, both by word and deed, that they are unhappy, that they feel undervalued by the both the doctrine and the practices of the church. Women are leaving. The church is hemorrhaging women. Inactivity runs from two-thirds to three-fourths of the membership of the church, and many of those people who no longer want to be part of the church are women.

    But unlike modern feminists, they do NOT interpret “equality” to mean “the same.”

    Again you display your ignorance. Modern feminists likewise “do NOT interpret ‘equality’ to mean ‘the same.’”

    I won’t bother to explain the details to you because it’s information that is readily available to people who care enough to be educated and aren’t too arrogant and proud to be unteachable.

    They define it to mean “equal in value.” Men and women have differing roles and opportunities in this church.

    The church CLAIMS that it defines equality “to mean ‘equal in value.’” And what more and more people are telling the church is that the evidence demonstrates to many that the claim is false, a way for the hierarchy to reassure itself that there is nothing seriously wrong, that it doesn’t need to change, that women’s dissatisfaction will never become as serious a problem as race and the priesthood was in the 1970s or polygamy was at the turn of the century.

    Continue to tell women that they’re delusional, that you, in privileged position, can tell women how they SHOULD feel. But if you do, here’s a valuable tip for you, my smug little friend: it’s not gonna help. It’s just gonna make you–and the brethren you claim to speak for–look more and more out of touch and not very nice.

    You and the brethren can persist in your naive dismissal of women’s unhappiness. But you will do so to your regret and to the weakening of the church.

  120. Suleiman on January 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Chris Z:

    So LDS feminists DO NOT interpret equality as sameness? I have to admit, that is news to me. Then WHY do they want the priesthood? Do they think the priesthood allows them to “rule” over others? Why do videos about fatherhood bother them so? Why does an assignment to the Q of 70 for saying prayers in the General Session of Conference suddenly become an affront to their sensibilities? If revelations say all are equal in the eyes of God, if the Book of Mormon is true, if prophets receive revelations from on high, if God is love, if in our Father’s house there are many mansions, why the worry?

    Please explain to me why more liberal denominations, so tolerant of feminism and social liberalism, which embrace the ordination of women, are actually declining in numbers? If a feminist perspective or practices improves religiosity, makes adhering to a belief system easier, the opposite would be true.

    Feminism heightens sensitivity to gender differences. It promises a utopia… much like the other “isms” of the 19th and 20th centuries. They will all fail. But it has delivered some good things… but it is not a perspective with which we can judge the Church. And it will never save a soul in the Kingdom of God.

    Let’s pray and wait on the Lord’s anointed.

    Sincerely,

    Your Smug Little Friend

  121. Chris Z on January 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Suleiman @120:

    So LDS feminists DO NOT interpret equality as sameness? I have to admit, that is news to me.

    I have a feeling that a great many true things would be news to you if you had wherewithal to encounter them.

    Then WHY do they want the priesthood?

    Many of them have explained this in various formats. Some are easily available online. I have every confidence that if you are a resourceful person who truly wants to answer this question, you are capable of pursuing it.

    Do they think the priesthood allows them to “rule” over others?

    Of course not. Feminists are not, by and large, interested in ruling over others.

    Why do videos about fatherhood bother them so?

    Suleiman, this is part of what makes you little and smug: there is an entire discussion addressing this question, and yet you ask it again, as if simply you had no way of discovering the answer!

    Why does an assignment to the Q of 70 for saying prayers in the General Session of Conference suddenly become an affront to their sensibilities?

    What makes you think the affront is “sudden”? All that has been “sudden” has been your recognition of the situation they are calling attention to.

    If revelations say all are equal in the eyes of God, if the Book of Mormon is true, if prophets receive revelations from on high, if God is love, if in our Father’s house there are many mansions, why the worry?

    Oh! You mean, why do some people seek for an increase of wisdom and understanding? Why do some people want to know more about god’s plan for us? Why do some people who can see all the areas where we lack wisdom ask of God for more of it, instead of just being content with exactly what we already know, as if it’s obviously all we need now or might ever need?

    I think a better question is, “Why are there some people who DON’T ask God for more wisdom?”

    How sad that they don’t exercise a right that God so explicitly encourages them to use.

    Please explain to me why more liberal denominations, so tolerant of feminism and social liberalism, which embrace the ordination of women, are actually declining in numbers?

    Religion overall is experiencing a decline in numbers. Atheism and agnosticism are rising around the world.

    And more liberal denominations, which count the people who attend, rather than the people who were once baptized but have not bothered to have their names removed from the records of the church, do not have the inflated membership numbers the LDS church has. If the church counted only active members, its membership would be declining or barely holding steady, despite its aggressive missionary work.

    If a feminist perspective or practices improves religiosity, makes adhering to a belief system easier, the opposite would be true.

    And what of religions like wicca, which are profoundly women-centric and growing? Perhaps even protestant churches are declining because they are still not feminist enough. You don’t have enough data to say for sure, and you certainly don’t have enough imagination to have any idea of all the possible reasons why religion is in decline.

    Feminism heightens sensitivity to gender differences.

    LOL! Oh, that’s rich.

    So does section 132 of the D&C. So does the proclamation on the family, insisting that gender is an essential and eternal part of who we are, and that roles and responsibilities are divinely and eternally determined by gender.

    I’m still chuckling. Oh, the irony.

    It promises a utopia… much like the other “isms” of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    No, I don’t know any feminists who expect a utopia. Once again, you really ought to do a bit of research before you leave a comment.

    They will all fail.

    That’s neither here nor there, since feminism doesn’t envision a utopia.

    But it has delivered some good things… but it is not a perspective with which we can judge the Church.

    Of course it is. It helps people see reality and truth, and reality and truth are always useful in helping us determine what else is also reality and truth.

    And it will never save a soul in the Kingdom of God.

    You are wrong. It has already helped women and men realize more about their worth and discover ways to behave with more attention to and care for themselves and their fellow human beings. It has made people more loving, more kind, more respectful. It has helped people understand what charity, the true love of christ, really is, and how we can express it.

    Let’s pray and wait on the Lord’s anointed.

    You pray and wait. Some of us are going to pray and take action.

    In short, my sincerely smug little friend, if you were as wise as you think you are, you would join us. At the very least, you would realize that you know very little about the topic at hand, ought to study it more, and that until you do, your objections are easily refuted.

    Have a nice night, and try to do better tomorrow.

  122. wreddyornot on January 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Heavenly Mother, Blank?

    Okay, let’s pray.

    Ask, seek, and knock! Ask, seek, and knock! Ask, seek, and knock!

    I see no reason why asking, seeking, and knocking has to be limited to just prayers to the Lord. So, ask, seek, and knock at the doors of those who are called to instruct, those who preside, the GAs, etc.

    Where is my Mother in Heaven? Make certain others understand how important it is to you. Be persistent and consistent.

    And when we’re all doing this persistently and consistently we can then perhaps wait patiently. Unfortunately, we’ve not been diligent in asking, knocking, and seeking, have we?

  123. Paul on March 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Dear Allison, dear other sisters who posted here,

    Your mission as mothers is as important. Do not feel disappointed or left behind.
    Without further delay, let me send to Dr. Valerie M. Hudson’s view of the role of women and womanhood in the the LDS Doctrine. This piece is astonishing and will open your mind to things you had never thought about.
    After reading this, you will not be sad anymore or feel like you are less than men. It has never been the case and was never intended…

    Thank you for being what you are faithful women in Christ!

    Please, find the article below:
    I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist
    http://mormonscholarstestify.org/1718/valerie-hudson-cassler

    Sincerely,
    Paul

  124. Chris Z on March 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Dear Paul:

    Plenty of us have already read Valerie Hudson and think she’s full of crap.

    Please, find any number of forums where LDS feminists discuss all this stuff, so you’ll have some idea what we’ve already covered.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Z

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.