Mormonism teaches that we all have a heavenly mother. But she was rarely mentioned by Mormons. One LDS hymn, “O My Father”, talks about her. Verse 3 states: “In the heav'ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me I've a mother there.” Verse 4 picks up the thought: “When I leave this frail existence, When I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet you, In your royal courts on high?”
That was about it. Once in a while heavenly parents were mentioned. Rarer were specific mentions of heavenly mother. The two basic LDS manuals, True to the Faith and Gospel Principles, don’t mention her.
Things are changing. Heavenly mother is emerging from the shadows. More and more frequently, Mormons are bringing her up in conversations. In this they are following the lead of their church. In the last few years, the LDS Church has published articles on lds.org addressing controversial topics. One such article is entitled “Mother in Heaven”. It’s only six paragraphs long, but it is the most extensive official recent treatment of this teaching.
So how should we respond when our LDS friends refer to heavenly mother? This is not a hypothetical question. In the past month alone, it has happened more than once.
Their mentioning heavenly mother gives us a good opportunity to contrast how differently Mormonism and Christianity views the gap between God and mankind. Mormonism sees the gap as quite narrow. It narrows the gap by teaching a god who is different from us not by kind but by degree. Let me explain. Christianity teaches a God who is a totally different Being – one who is vastly superior and so different that we can’t begin to comprehend him. Mormonism, on the other hand, teaches a very human god. He only differs from us in degree; that is, he is like us (he once was a man) who has just progressed further than us. He is so human he has a wife.
By lowering god and making him only a more developed human, Mormonism greatly diminishes the gap between God and mankind.
It narrows the gap not only by lowering god to a human level, it further narrows the gap by elevating humans. For example, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states: “Each (person) is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” Not only does Mormonism teach “as man is, God was”; it also teaches that “as God is, man may become”.
By lowering god to the status of an exalted man and teaching that humans have divine natures and destinies, Mormonism makes the great gulf existing between God and man a sliver of a ravine. This then leads Mormons to think they have the ability to bridge that ravine with just a little help from God. “By grace are we saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
So how would I respond when a Mormon mentions heavenly mother? I would grab the opportunity to talk about those different size gaps and run with it. I would testify to how great it is to have a God who is so far beyond me, who is so different from me, a God who truly deserves to be worshiped. I would lay bare how weak, frail, and sinful I am – that I don’t just need a leg up or even a crutch to lean on. I need a stretcher to be carried on! And finally I would talk about how God, who is so different and superior to me, loved weak, frail, spiritually dead me – loved me so much he took responsibility for all my crimes and paid the price for them. Who loved me so much he put himself under his own law to keep it perfectly as my substitute. Who saved me freely and fully, without any works on my part. In short, I would use the opportunity to praise God for the great things he has done for me.