Sunday, May 11, 2014

God as Mother

Most days, I'd like the Church to avoid referring to God as Mother or Father.  It's problematic in all sorts of ways.  What does that imagery say to those who can't relate?  What about those who had problematic parents?  What if we are the problematic parents and thus understand far too deeply the problems with this metaphor?

I'm also uncomfortable with the ways that the Church will celebrate motherhood, on this, Mother's Day.  Many people have been writing about this issue all week.  I will leave it alone.

I have noticed that the Church tends to emphasize the Virgin Mary, and often emphasizes the passive nature of her story:  Mary meekly accepting Gabriel's offer, Mary weeping at the foot of the cross.

Let us not forget that mothers can be fierce.  Let us not forget the force of that fierceness.  I think of mothers who danced in Argentina as they demanded to know what the dictator Pinochet had done with their children.  I think of the parents in Nigeria demanding to know what has happened to their girls.

The passages of God as fierce mother, or any kind of mother, aren't often proclaimed from our pulpits, so you may be having trouble remembering any of them.  Me too.  And so I did a quick search and found this blog post, which gives this list:

Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother

I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.
Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear

Like a bear whose cubs have been taken away, I will tear out your heart. I will devour you like a hungry lioness and mangle you like a wild animal.
Deuteronomy 32:11-12  
God described as a mother eagle

Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.
Deuteronomy 32:18  
God who gives birth

You neglected the Rock who had fathered you; you forgot the God who had given you birth.
Isaiah 66:13  
God as a comforting mother

I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.”
Isaiah 49:15  
God compared to a nursing mother

Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
Isaiah 42:14  
God as a woman in labor

He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.
Psalm 131:2  
God as a Mother

Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

How would our theology be different if our denominations stressed this view of God?  How would our Church be different?


John Flanagan said...

You certainly do not speak for orthodox Lutherans, nor do you speak for other Christians either, but you speak for a theology of your own imagination....something alien to the Bible. If you have trouble viewing the identity of God it is because you do not follow the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. You are impressed with your own Liberation theology, a false Christianity, and your own feelings, and you incorporate feminist rubbish, a sprinkling of the verses which support your thesis......and have come up with a very ambiguous and unbiblical worldview.

John Flanagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you John for saying what many think.