A Mormon Apostle Explains the “Component Parts” of God

Foundational to the Mormon gospel is the existence of Heavenly Mother, the spouse and counterpart of Mormonism’s Heavenly Father. When Mormon Apostle Erastus Snow taught on this concept in 1878, he explained that God is a component being, consisting of both male and female “parts.”

While Apostle Snow’s remarks could be misunderstood, I believe that consideration of his fuller argument (supplied below) suggests that he was talking about social unity in the Godhead, not a blending of male and female into one Being or essence.

Beginning with the idea that the creation of Adam and Eve in God’s image necessitated a male/female Creator God, Apostle Snow’s argument reached its logical (?) end:

“…there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female.”

Erastus Snow’s Sunday morning discourse provides an unfortunate real-life example of something Paul wrote about in Romans 1; this Mormon apostle exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, and taught others do likewise (see Romans 1:22-25).

Man in His Image—Male and Female Created He Them
Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow (excerpt)

And every organ adapted to its special use, and for its special purpose, and combining a whole, a grand union—a little kingdom composed of many kingdoms, united and constituting the grand whole, the being we call man, but which in the language of these Scriptures was called Adam—male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, which in the original, in which these Scriptures were written by Moses, signifies “the first man.” There was no effort at distinguishing between the one half and the other, and calling one man and the other woman. This was an after distinction, but the explanation of it is—one man, one being, and he called their name Adam. But he created them male and female, for they were one, and he says not unto the woman multiply, and to the man multiply, but he says unto them, multiply and reproduce your species, and replenish the earth. He speaks unto them as belonging together, as constituting one being, and as organized in his image and after his likeness. And the Apostle Paul, treating upon this subject in the same way, says that man was created in the likeness of God, and after the express image of his person. John, the Apostle, in writing the history of Jesus, speaks in the same way; that Jesus was in the likeness of his Father, and express image of his person. And if the revelations that God has made of himself to man, agree and harmonize upon this theory, and if mankind would be more believing, and accept the simple, plain, clear definition of Deity, and description of himself which he has given us, instead of hunting for some great mystery, and seeking to find out God where he is not and as he is not, we all might understand him. There is no great mystery about it; no more mystery about it than there is about ourselves, and our own relationship to our father and mother, and the relationship of our own children to us. That which we see before our eyes, and which we are experiencing from time to time, day to day, and year to year, is an exemplification of Deity.

“What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself, and anything pertaining to the creation and organization of man upon the earth, I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman. Now this is simplifying it down to our understanding, and the great Christian world will be ready to open their mouths and cry, “Blasphemy! Sacrilege!” Open wide their eyes and wide their mouths in the utmost astonishment. What! God a man and woman? The Shakers say he was, and Ann Lee says, “Christ came in the form of a man in the first place, and now comes in the form of a woman,” and she was that form.

Then these Christians—they say he has no form, neither body, parts nor passions. One party says he is a man, and the other says he is a woman. I say he is both. How do you know? I only repeat what he says of himself; that he created man in the image of God, male and female created he them, and he called their name Adam, which signifies in Hebrew, the first man. So that the beings we call Adam and Eve were the first man placed here on this earth, and their name was Adam, and they were the express image of God. Now, if anybody is disposed to say that the woman is in the likeness of God and that the man was not, and if vice versa, I say you are both wrong, or else God has not told us the truth.

I sometimes illustrate this matter by taking up a pair of shears, if I have one, but then you all know they are composed of two halves, but they are necessarily parts, one of another, and to perform their work for each other, as designed, they belong together, and neither one of them is fitted for the accomplishment of their works alone. And for this reason says St. Paul, “the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” In other words, there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female. (Journal of Discourses 19:269-270)


What do Christians believe it means to be made in the image of God?
Conformed to His Image by Greg Bailey
The Image of God from Tabletalk Magazine

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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56 Responses to A Mormon Apostle Explains the “Component Parts” of God

  1. shematwater says:


    Thanks for the references. I find it all fascinating, though I don’t believe the Israelites took anything from the Canaanites. I think the Israelites preserved the truth from the time of Noah, and that other religions are corruptions of this truth. That is partly why I am fascinated, as I love to see just how close those early religions were to the truth.

    Thanks again.

  2. Mike R says:

    Shem, I’m afraid you’re not seeing how ridiculous some of the “godly counsel” by your
    heirarchy can be , and no where is it on display as with how they have counseled their
    followers to treat their Heavenly Mother. This whole issue is the direct result of men
    creating the notion of a divine Mother Goddess, that’s strange enough , but to turn around
    and teach so much about proper respect and devotion to earthly mothers and then prohibit
    that same love and devotion thru communication to Heavenly Mother is just plain wrong .
    I think Mormons in their hearts see this disjointed reasoning from their leaders but are
    afraid to call their “counsel ” on this matter into question . Sad.
    Susa Young Gates of the Relief Society many years ago understood her Heavenly Mother’s
    position : ” the Divine Mother , side by side, with the divine Father has the equal sharing of
    rights, privileges, and responsibilities ….” [ Improvement Era April 1920 , p 542] .
    What greater example of a Motherly privilege than to receive communication from her children
    no matter where they are . Yet you tried to smooth over your leadership’s illogical position by
    using some story about how a father’s children being ” ” no longer welcome in the house” and
    having to exclude the mother and deal with him directly in order to be allowed back .
    You went from one terrible example ( with using Pres. Monson ) to this new one in trying to
    defend your apostles “godly” counsel.
    Last year I caught an advertisement on Yahoo news by Proctor and Gamble Co. about the
    Olympics in London , I wrote it down for future reference it said :
    ” While the rest of the world celebrates the London 2012 Olympic games , see how P&G honors
    Moms who got them there , let Mom know you appreciate her , say ‘ Thank you Mom ‘ ” .
    Mormon leaders should take a clue from this .
    In the April 1971 Gen Conf. Elder Bernard Brockbank stated the obvious :
    ” IF we love our Father in heaven , we should pray and talk to Him.”
    So IF LDS love their Mother in heaven should’nt they ALSO pray and talk with Her ?

    May the Mormon people come to see how their leaders have invented the doctrine of a
    divine Mother God , one of the wives of an exalted human male God , and packaged this
    as “latter day ” revealed truth from God. These men then saw the chance to convince people
    that this is not a man-made doctrine by claiming to find it in the Bible in Genesis chapter 1 .
    The Bible does’nt teach it . I can’t trust Mormon leaders because they are confused on who
    is the ” us” and “our” in Gen 1:26 . Some teach this is the Father talking to His Son , and others
    teach that this is the Father conversing with a Mother Goddess ( one of His wives ).
    No thanks . It’s ironic that the LDS Newsroom was onto something because in Sept of 2001 in
    responding to the Sept 9, 2001 NewsWeek article on the Mormon church , it said in answer to
    a quote where the NewsWeek story said ” He has a divine wife, whom Mormons call ‘ the
    Mother ‘ “. The LDS Newsroom responded : ” The Mother ‘ is not a term that is used among
    members, in Church meetings, classes or lesson manuals. While the official Proclamation of
    the Family affirms that each human being is a beloved son or daughter of heavenly parents ,
    THERE IS NO TEACHINGS about a Heavenly Mother in Latter day Saint scripture. ”

    Not only have the prophets of these latterdays in the Mormon church came up with the idea
    of a divine Mother God , they have also came up with their own idea of how their followers
    should treat Her , and the evidence shows that these prophets were wrong on both of these
    issues. The reason : Matt 24:11

  3. shematwater says:


    You really don’t get it. You are trying to impose the modern philosophy onto an ancient and divine system, and it will never work.
    A mother who understands her role in the family will tell the outcast child to first seek reconciliation with the Father, as he is head of the house. This does not mean she does not know and love her children, or that her children do not know and love her. It means that they both understand and respect the system by which the family operates. There is nothing illogical about this. It may contradict what we have become used to in a modern day when the family unit is not held as it should be, but it is in perfect accord with how God set up the family from the beginning.

    I am reminded of the movie “The Work and the Glory.” The father told his wife that he did not want her reading the Book of Mormon. So, when her son brought her a copy she refused to take it. When pressed she declared “I will not go against my husband.” The son could not understand that in offering her the book he was asking her to ignore the father’s authority to preside in the family, but she understood this.
    Now, in mortal life people are not always perfect, and so this system can be abused. However, in a perfect family, where all people share equal knowledge and understanding, and all members of that family share the same purpose and goals, when the Father declares something as law He is doing so knowing that his wife is in perfect accord with him, as they are one in thought and purpose.

    For us to seek out our Mother when such has been prohibited is to do as the son did in this movie and attempt to circumvent the authority of our Father; to basically say to him that his position as head of the Family means little to us. This will not be tolerated by him or by our mother. To attempt this will not gain us a relation with either, but will drive us farther away as we are ignoring the very system upon which heaven operates.

  4. Mike R says:

    Shem, actually I get it very well. I get that latter day prophets have not invented the idea
    of a Goddess in heaven, but then have proceeded to display convuluted reasoning in how LDS
    are to treat Her when compared to how they also are instructed to honor the earthly mothers.
    LDS are taught that a noble mother deserves the highest honor that man can give, that they have
    a sacred duty to honor their mothers, proper honor is to show gratitude and that means telling
    your mom you are grateful and appreciate her . LDS are taught that their home should mirror
    the heavenly home above , yet suddenly their Mother above is to be ignored , communication to
    Her not allowed ! Thus this dishonoring doctrine is seen for what it is : the ” precepts of men ”
    [ 2Nephi 28:14] . The Ensign mag ( April 1998 ” Behold Thy Mother ” F.P. message)
    has some appropriate information for those who refuse to communicate with your mothers :
    ” Shame on all who thus make of a noble woman ‘ mother forgotten ‘ ” . Ironically, in the past
    Heavenly Mother has also been referred to as a noble woman . Refusing to talk to your mom
    is wrong , at any age. This is why I can’t take your analogies seriously. Quite frankly you should
    drop the movie lines and of creating convenient analogies , and simply exchange your
    prophets and their latter days doctrine about God being a polygamous human male in heaven
    amongst His Goddesses. Replace these men with the authentic apostles in the New Testament,
    as these are men who have revealed how God can be a Father to anyone who learns how this
    can take place —Jn 1:12 ; 1Pt 5:7 . You have confused the Father as head of the home with his
    obligation to govern only in love , and to deny a mother from talking with her children no matter
    where they may live is not loving your wife it’s denying her the motherly longings/nurturing
    that God put in her very nature .
    Now this thread is getting farther behind , so I’m moving on .

  5. Mike R says:

    The first sentence above should have read : ” I get that latter day prophets have invented the
    idea of a Goddess in heaven ….”

  6. shematwater says:


    As long as you keep claiming an inconsistency you prove that you don’t understand anything. I have tried to explain the reasons and the workings of truth, but you refuse to understand them because you refuse to see that truth.

    Our heavenly Mother is not forgotten, and is honored in our thoughts and our deeds, as it should be. To say otherwise is false or ignorant. However, we will always hold our Father in His rightful place of authority, and will not seek to circumvent that authority in any way.

    I have no need to exchange anything for the ancient apostles. They are just as much a part of the truth and church of Christ as the modern prophets and apostles are. They are the ones who first ordained men in these days to the Priesthood, and thus brought about a great restoration of truth. I can hold claim to all they taught because they embraced the truth in all its fulness, just as we do now.

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