Mother, mothering, and motherhood: each is a facet of the beautiful and divine nature of every daughter of God. To separate one facet of our eternal role as women is to minimize our divine destiny made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: eternal motherhood. The Family Proclamation teaches the eternal and absolute doctrinal truth that gender is eternal. Our spirits were created either male or female before our mortal birth. Femaleness is not a social construct but is both biologically and physiologically created and stored in the DNA of every female soul by loving Heavenly Parents.
“That women were born into this earth female was determined long before mortal birth, as were the divine differences of males and females. I love the clarity of the teachings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the Proclamation on the Family. They state: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” From that statement we are taught that every girl was feminine and female in spirit long before her mortal birth.” (Margaret D. Nadauld, “What You Are Meant to Be,” New Era, Oct. 2002.)
The simple, yet glorious truth is that because we are female, we are inherently mothers. The state of motherhood is gender specific and is what compels the acts of mothering in different ways and stages of our lives. For reasons unknown, not every woman here in mortality has the opportunity to give birth. The full glory of our divine nature as females will be when every facet of being a daughter of God is made manifest—having become as our Heavenly Mother: exalted.
Not growing up enamored with thoughts about becoming a mother in the way most young Mormon girls do, I was surprised when, at age 17 and inactive, I met the man of my dreams and married him in the Los Angeles Temple a year later. Being a child of divorce, I had never envisioned myself becoming the mother of little children. I used to ponder why I chose this route at such a young age, having experienced the marital failure of my own parents and the devastating impact it had on my own young life. I was broken.
Hope for the Future Through Motherhood
Although I wasn’t raised in the Church, I was exposed to the idea that families can be forever and together through my extended family and limited church attendance. These truths resonated deep within my soul from a very young age. When I saw the opportunity to create a life much happier than my own upbringing for my future posterity, I snatched it! I’ve never looked back, not even once. Every good thing in my life is a direct result of making and keeping covenants with God and embracing my eternal responsibility as a woman: motherhood.
At age 19, I gave birth to the first of my five children. I became determined to ensure that they were raised in a family where covenants were the glue that would hold our little family together forever! Heavenly Father’s plan became my own work here upon the earth. It has been my focus since the day I made eternal covenants in the temple with my husband for time and all eternity. Raising these five wonderful, independent spirits challenged me beyond my natural abilities—and nearly took me out a time or two! Not to mention those difficult times during the turbulent teen years. To this day, when reflecting on that period of our lives, my husband and I give thanks that we don’t ever have to go through the teenage years again! Like most parents, we feel like we barely survived, and our heart rate is only now returning to normal. But that’s a story for another post.
Is Placing Motherhood as the Great Cause of Our Lives Worth It?
With all of my heart, I believe that it is. The joy that our Father in Heaven desires that His daughters’ experience in this life can only come as we fully embrace the many opportunities He has made possible to bless us as women.
We are living in a world that would culturally rob us of our divine nature. We are females and as such, motherhood is our divine role, which makes us one with God’s purposes. Womanhood cannot be divided without eternal consequences. As Latter-day Saint women, my prayer is that we will come together, study our doctrine and through personal prayer, gain deeper testimonies of the power of being female.
Personal Thoughts About Motherhood and the Priesthood
It is natural for us to take particular interest in Mary, the earthly mother of our Savior Jesus Christ. It was her divine errand to provide safe mortal passage for the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.
Mary, from today’s perspective, was only but a girl when betrothed to Joseph when the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared and told her that God favored her among women. He gave her a message regarding the role she was to fulfill in the great plan of salvation: the mother of the Son of God.
The tiny, innocent babe was to be the prophesied King of Kings; the long awaited Messiah come to save her people. Her humble response was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
Mary’s commission was accomplished without earthly priesthood ordination. In contrast to current conversations about female priesthood ordination, I see Mary’s faith as a prime example of what it means to “becometh as a little child.” She submitted to her role in God’s incomprehensible plan, with likely very little comprehension of its magnitude and the great adversity and sorrow she would experience throughout her life because of who Jesus was.
Being Like Mary, the Mother of the Son of God
Today, covenant Mormon women can learn a great deal from, Mary, the mother of the Son of God.
Her faithful willingness to exercise complete obedience, without a full understanding of the ramifications of her sacrifice, enabled the oath and covenant of the priesthood to be fulfilled. As a faithful young woman, Mary became co-creator with God in order to provide the mortal body necessary for the Savior to accomplish the work He was sent here to do.
Is it possible that all women were ordained to the high and holy calling of motherhood before coming to earth? A “hood” is generally understood to be a covering, placed to shield and protect and is firmly mounted above that which it guards. Likewise, the female body is designed to shield, protect, and bring forth the physical body of a male or female infant into mortality; womanhood.
With all the advances in modern reproduction, only the female body is capable of bringing forth new, sustainable life into mortality. Therefore, it could be determined that her authority to do so is innately embedded into her physical makeup, and granted by her Designer. Thus the female body bears witness of this authority which enables her to accomplish that which is deemed nothing less than miraculous!
Therefore, if we determine that a “hood” can be compared to “authority” (put in place by one with authority in order to guard that which is of great value and in need of protection), then surely motherhood is something authorized in order to enable her to perform her vital role in God’s plan. It is a sacred calling.
I believe that in the very creation of the female body, women naturally fulfill God’s promised blessing of immortality for the spirits who, through obedience, qualified in the pre-existence to enter mortality. If this is so, then the reception of that universal gift or part of the “Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood” is literally fulfilled through the process of motherhood.
Fatherhood. Motherhood. Priesthood. Power. Authority.
It seems to fit, then, that faith in Jesus Christ and how He has ordered His Church upon the earth are the critical factors upon which we must trust. We must trust that our obedience to God will bring about the desired equality in each of our divine natures and destinies.
In this respect, could there be a more important role or responsibility for any woman than to also participate in the great work of salvation, in similitude of the mother of the Savior of the world? Every woman who is willing to sacrifice her own life both physically and emotionally in order to give birth participates in the greatest act of all humanity. She provides the portal and body by which a child of God may lay hold on eternal life through the mission of Jesus Christ!
The gravity of Mary’s mission can be seen as co-equal in importance to the mission of mothers today. So we go forward with faith on this earth, seeking motherhood in all of its glorious capacities, becoming one with our Heavenly Parents.
You might also enjoy reading this post that I wrote on my personal blog in 2012: Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus
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