GEEKERY  
ADVENTURE  
CONTEMPLATION  

20110707

The Holy Ghost and Heavenly Mother

When the in-laws visited a bit ago, I had a conversation with my MIL in which she conjectured about the Holy Ghost being the enigmatic Heavenly Mother.  It was an interesting discussion and given that the conjecture again appeared on FMH recently, I decided to articulate my thoughts on it (in written form, my MIL already got an earful), because while it's nice to have the Godhead be a family, LDS doctrine doesn't simply slip into that mold.

The first thing that came to mind was of the conceiving of Christ by Mary.  In this aspect, the concept of the Heavenly Mother coming to Mary for her to act as a surrogate is really beautiful.  ...as opposed to the creepy Brigham Young quote: "if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties." (JD1)  Oh, Brigham Young.  Anyway, there's some weird sexual tension in the immaculate conception, and this would fix that for me, with one mother passing responsibility to another.

The second issue is that in LDS doctrine, the Holy Ghost is disitinct from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in that (s)he doesn't have a body.  From lds.org:
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.
We obtain the doctrine of embodiment from the first vision, where Joseph Smith sees God the Father and Jesus Christ.  This is backed up by the fact that the resurrected Christ is touchable in both the New Testament and The Book of Mormon.  Much later, Joseph Smith gives instruction on the nature of the Godhead, which is recorded in D&C 130:22:
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
The nature of D&C130, however, seems to be more conjecture than anything else--prophets are entitled hypothesize too.  JS backs up his assertion with logic (as did BY in his above quote), which to me indicates that it is possible he came to that conclusion on his own (well, it's possible he came to everything on his own, but that's another story).  Of the LDS Godhead doctrine, I find the Holy Ghost's required disembodiment to be the least convincing.  Still, however, it would be a major obstacle in any sort of official consideration of the Heavenly Mother-Holy Ghost theory.  (Hey, that sounds kinda like the Adam-God theory.  Maybe we just need a wacky prophet in order to swing it.  Packer, I'm counting on you.)

The third issue I want to consider here is the role of women in general: what would Heavenly Mother as the Holy Ghost imply for the rest of us?  There are sufficient reasons for not wanting to propagate a doctrine of Heavenly Mother at all, namely that without a divine role model, women have more choices; as long as society is patriarchal, having an archetype may not be the best for women.  If the Holy Ghost were the female archetype, though, would that imply that women are inherently comforters, that they bring wisdom and peace?  Would we dispense with the fire metaphor as being too masculine?  Given that we know little about the Holy Ghost, would it take on an even more obscure and less understood role?  Would we impose feminine characteristics on the Holy Ghost?  Would doctrine such as this humble the patriarchy enough to enable true equality between men and women?  Or would it encourage further pedestaling of women instead of giving them any real say?

12 comments:

Lindsey Hicks said...

I have been thinking this since way back when I was in college but it isn't something you can discuss in Sunday School. Today I just thought google Heavenly Mother Holy Ghost and see what came up. I really enjoyed reading your speculation and just want to say that it all makes perfect sense to me:)

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the way you simply pose more questions than statements! I rarely comment on anything I read but decided to on this one. I do not have and opinion/belief as to one way or the other but there seems to be great logic in the possibility that HM = HG! if there is one absolute...it is we don't have a clue! If we can only handle so much in this linear reality and have to TRY to comprehend what Heavenly Father is like and considering what eternity is like, to consider HM = HG is far to non-linear for most...

If we start to consider life outside of the physical linear reality we step into some pretty deep stuff that most people will turn around and walk back into the linear reality of what they think is real but that is the illusion..

darkagefiction said...

The Holy Ghost IS Heavenly Mother. I know it is so. And if the church wants to excommunicate me for saying that, I don't care. I refuse to budge on this issue.

ajbc said...

Part of me is jealous of anyone who can say that they know anything about the transmundane.

Darkagefinction, how do you handle the embodiment or lack thereof of Heavenly Mother?

Anonymous said...

Came across this today after talking to a friend and doing some research- interesting stuff. Anyway, as to the Holy Ghost not having a physical body- I don't know that I agree with that. To say that the Holy Ghost is only spirit so (s)he can dwell within us- but aren't we supposed to invite Christ to dwell within us also? Isn't that part of being in Christ's image? How would we do that because He has a body?
Surely, nothing is impossible for God and yes, I believe that having Christ in us is literal, but we have to invite Him in and really be willing to do as He would have us do- don't think I'm quite there yet! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank God, after reading The Bible after 27 yrs of being of LDS I saw the same exact thing your talking about, Clear as Crystal hidden in plain sight. I didnt know until I was older they even taught I mean talked about a Mother, But not of One but Several. I am not alone now, and I'm sure the eagles that are gathered under the Olive Tree all know of this, and they don't run to church, I look forward to the Resurrection of The Body. Of course they told everyone I was an AntiChrist.

Anonymous said...

MAMMA SHKHINYAH GLORY is the RUACH HA KODESH (HOLY SPIRIT)and she is our HEAVENLY MOTHER. I know it in my spirit only the true bride of YAHUSHUA HA MASHIACH (JESUS CHRIST) KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. We have been shown this truth. Seek GOD's face and search the word of GOD. Find out for yourselves the truth.

Blessings all.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say that I know of. It is very much possible that others know that our heavenly mother is holy spirit but each person should seek for themselves.

blessings

Jason Horton said...

Good post, I like that you seem open to all possibilities. For me, I always struggled with where this 'ghost' fitted in, until I replaced it with 'mother'.

Where I disagree with you is that I feel that the only way to challenge the inequality inherent in the patriarchal church is to accept that women share the divinity and give them equal access to the priesthood.

ajbc said...

Jason, thank you for your comments.

I didn't say anything about the priesthood; I consider that to be a different, though related, issue. I think that there are many ways to challenge gender inequality in the church, and equal access to priesthood is certainly one of them, but not the only one.

I believe that if we are to have such substantial changes, we need to make some more gradual changes first, lest the church suffers doctrinal whiplash. Equality in the priesthood might be the final step in a long journey, but I'm not certain it will be. It seems to be a pattern with me: I'm open to the possibility, and welcome it, but I don't know the mind of God.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Holy Spirit as mother in the Godhead. Biblical proof is Isaiah 50:1 about spiritual divorce. Luke 1:31-35 . Verse 32 calls jesus " son of the highest ". The highest is God the Father. Jesus wasn't begotten by the holy spirit, but born of the holy spirit. Jesus is God the Father's only son in the Godhead. Men beget children which means to give seed, but women bare children or born of woman. Women carry the seed. Verse 35 says the holy spirit came upon her, which means the holy spirit possessed Mary and the power of the highest overshadowed her. Which means God the Father overshadowed the Holy Spirit which came into Mary. Thus, mary only a vessel carrying jesus. He had no sinful blood from mary neither Joseph. Begotten of the Father born of the Holy Spirit. I have more examples in the bible.

The New Perspective said...

Quotes only Sorry
Amongst the Eastern Church communities there is none more clear about the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit as the corpus of the Coptic-Gnostic's. One such document records that Jesus says, "Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away to the great mountain Tabor [in Galilee]."

The 3rd century scroll of mystical Coptic Christianity, The Acts of Thomas, gives a graphic account of the Apostle Thomas' travels to India, and contains prayers invoking the Holy Spirit as "the Mother of all creation" and "compassionate mother," among other titles. The most profound Coptic Christian writings definitely link the "spirit of Spirit" manifested by Christ to all believers as the "Spirit of the Divine Mother." Most significant are the new manuscript discoveries of recent decades which have demonstrated that more early Christians than previously thought regarded the Holy Spirit as the Mother of Jesus.

One text is the Gospel of Thomas which is part of the newly discovered Nag Hammadi texts (discovered 1945-1947). Most are composed about the same time as the Biblical gospels in the 1st and 2nd century AD. In this gospel, Jesus declares that his disciples must hate their earthly parents (as in Luke 14:26) but love the Father and Mother as he does, "for my mother (gave me falsehood), but (my) true Mother gave me life." In another Nag Hammadi discovery, The Secret Book of James, Jesus refers to himself as "the son of the Holy Spirit." These two sayings do not identify the Holy Spirit as the mothering vehicle of Jesus, but more than one scholar has interpreted them to mean that the maternal Holy Spirit is intended.