The belief in a Heavenly Mother is possibly one of the most distinctive beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s not just something that we wonder or hypothesize about. It’s a doctrinal necessity.
Based on our belief in the principles of exaltation, eternal marriage, and spiritual families, there’s no way that we couldn’t have a Heavenly Mother. In fact, according to revelation received by Joseph Smith, Heavenly Father could not be God without a Heavenly Mother.
However, as grateful as we are for the assurances we have received from modern prophets and general authorities, we long to see a hard reference to the Mother we know watches over us from above.
Well, as it turns out, the Book of Mormon may have a surprisingly clear and intriguing reference to Heavenly Mother.
I found the reference as I was doing a careful study of 1 Nephi 11.
It all starts with verse 18 where the Spirit of the Lord is teaching Nephi about Mary, Christ’s earthly mother.
“And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”
It struck me as I read this verse that the Spirit made a careful and subtle clarification. He could have just said, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.”
But instead, he clarifies with the equivalent of: “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, or rather, his Earthly mother.”
If Mary was Christ’s only mother, there would have been no need for the Spirit to clarify that she was the mother of Jesus…“after the manner of the flesh.”
It’s almost as if, out of sacred deference to our Heavenly Mother, the Spirit could not bear to say that Mary was Christ’s mother without emphasizing that Christ also had a spiritual mother.
So, that’s pretty cool.
But here’s what else is interesting.
This verse was translated when Joseph Smith was only 23 years old—long before he ever revealed the doctrine of exaltation and eternal marriage.
So, the Book of Mormon indicated the existence of Heavenly Mother years before Joseph Smith had time to even consider the doctrines that would divulge the necessity of a Heavenly Mother.
That’s amazing, and it’s just one of thousands of little evidences that Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God.
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One final thought:
We belong to a Church where the nature and potential of women is so beautifully revealed. We may be ridiculed for our stance on the family and the distinction between gender roles, but which aspiration is more breathtaking: a view limited to an earthly career or one that centers around divine motherhood?
All I know is that setting our sights on emulating Mother in Heaven is way cooler than any job you’ll find on Earth.
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By Dustin and Brittney Phelps