Keeping in mind that these ruminations are purely speculative.

We know She exists. The Proclamation on the Family cements her existence as standard Mormon doctrine, though She is not spoken of plainly in any of the Standard Works.*

Margaret Barker, a non-Mormon Biblical scholar (who has some acquaintance with Mormonism) finds evidence not only that God had a Spouse in ancient Israelite belief, but that the asherah was Her symbol and had a legitimate place in the Jewish temple prior to the Deuteronomic Reform, which took place shortly before Lehi’s time.

But we have no published revelation regarding Her and know very little about Her. We’ve had suggestions posted at this blog that this is because God foresaw the perils of radical feminism and deliberately withheld information on Her, because of the potential for a disastrous syncretism.

But what is Her function? Most of the speculations I’ve heard beg the question. The question of Her function is closely related to the question of what the eternal significance of gender is. The Proclamation on the Family declares gender to be a vital and eternal characteristic of the children of God, without really explaining why.

So I’ll offer a speculation:

What gives such great significance to the organization of a spirit offspring by God is that it places a new first cause in the universe. In other words, the outstanding characteristic of this spirit offspring is his or her agency.

The development of agency requires that there be meaningful choice.

But the most meaningful choices in this mortal world are between good and evil, and the choice for evil is damning. Perhaps the first exercises of choice by a new spirit offspring of God, in its infancy, need to be between alternatives that are consequential, but neither of which is damning.

Divine parentage by two complementary divinities — a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother — may be the key to providing meaningful choice for a new spirit offspring.

One possibility is that we choose our own gender, and that the choice of gender is our first exercise of agency. We are presented with divine Parents who are both perfected and holy, but nonetheless are complementary, and we can take only one or the other as our template. I note that the Proclamation on the Family states that gender is an eternal characteristic, but does not spell out that this includes eternity past. If the meaning is only eternity future, then gender may be something we acquired at some point. And the thought that we acquired it by choice, presented with either Father or Mother as template, has a certain appeal to me.

Of course, this is all entirely speculative. My point, I suppose, is that one can imagine reasons why gender is eternal and consequential. Even if the reason I’ve imagined here doesn’t happen to be the right one.

*Which raises the interesting question of why feminist Mormons, who are happy to suggest that the prophets might be mistaken about a great many things, accept without question the existence of a Heavenly Mother on the basis of teachings of past white male prophets that have no obvious basis in scripture. But that’s a matter for another post. Probably by someone else.

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