This week a number of my Facebook friends shared a video from the Mormon Channel, titled Earthly Father, Heavenly Father. It kept showing up in my timeline, and finally I watched it.
I’m generally a fan of the church’s public relations offerings, so I expected to like this short. I mean, who doesn’t love fatherhood? Instead, the film made me sad.
Before playing the video, I saw the blurb underneath:
Men on Earth have the opportunity to become fathers and experience some of the same joys that our Heavenly Father feels for us. Fatherhood is a divine responsibility to be cherished.
What is the female corollary?
Women on Earth have the opportunity to become mothers and experience some of the same joys that our Heavenly Mother feels for us.
Is this true? Does she watch us? Interact with us? Listen to our prayers? What does she feel for us? How do we know?
Within the first few seconds, we see a quote from James E. Faust:
Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine.
What is the female corollary?
Noble motherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine.
Is this true? In what ways does noble motherhood reflect divine motherhood?
The video gives an analogy between a father caring for his family and Heavenly Father caring for all his children on earth. He goes to work, provides for them, and they are pretty oblivious to his efforts.
This video is about fathers. It doesn’t have to be about mothers, too. But I was bothered by the fact that the setting is a family home, but for the first 70 seconds, these young kids seem to be unattended in the house, eating, playing, climbing on stools, etc. Finally mother comes into the picture, with this:
Now, it’s nap time. My wife likes nap time.
Good to know Mom can take a break from not attending to her kids so she can continue not to take care of her kids. Whew, that was stressful.
Later the kids can talk on the phone, ride bikes in the street, and climb tree houses on their own, too. Mom does show up at dinner and to brush teeth. And at church being “protected” by Dad. But Dad hugs, plays, reads stories, gets the kids in their jammies, and says prayers.
Is this the model of divine motherhood we are supposed to see? Mother is there. We can tell because a couple of times we see the back of her head or her arm. But she doesn’t really do anything — at least not anything we know about. Maybe she’s in her home office blogging or playing Words with Friends on her iPad in the den or scrapbooking in her dedicated craft room. Or something. Just waiting for the blessed nap time to be relieved of her duties (whatever they are).
The video ends with this:
I am a father. I am also a son. And while I may not understand all that he does for me, I do know that all that I am and all that I have is because he’s a father to me.
I now stand very aware of how it all came to be.
I’m kind of a sap. I was moved by the ending and thought it was powerful. But it was that power that left me all the more empty. As I wrote a couple of years ago, gender matters a great deal in our doctrine and policy. When such a strong message is given by the church to show how important this earthly-divine connection is, can’t they see how important it is that for half the church the connection is nonexistent?
I am a mother. I am also a daughter. And because I do not understand anything that she does for me, I am unaware of my potential future role and have no model to follow.