Why we need to see God as both Father and Mother – Our Identity: In God, Part 2

The Bible says that God is not just our creator, but our parent.  The Bible uses both Father and Mother imagery for God. We normally call him God, the Father.  But God does not have a gender.  God is not actually male.  God is not human. God is a Spirit. 

We could be missing out on the ways in which God loves us in a fully feminine way.  And that has ramifications for our identity.

For example, there are numerous times when God is described in the Bible symbolically as having a womb, such as Deuteronomy 32:18, “You forget the rock who begot you, unmindful of the God who gave birth to you.” Consider what is perhaps the most common metaphor of salvation: being born again.  We find that in John 3:3, when Jesus met one of the religious leaders, Nicodemus, under cover of night, and he said, “you must be born again.” The central salvation metaphor is feminine!  Did you ever think about that? 

Sometimes God is described using feminine terms in other ways, and these verses tell us about what God is like. 

In Isaiah 66:13 God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” In Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 Jesus says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Why does it matter that we see God as both mother and father?  Because our core identity is not rooted only in God as masculine father, but also in God as feminine mother.  Fathers and mothers each have unique tendencies.  Think about your own fathers and mothers and how different they are or were.  God is both.  If we only think of God as masculine, we are missing something very important, and that has great implications for our identity. We would do well to rest our lives on God as both mother and father, the perfect loving mother and father.  This is an important image because none of us had perfect mothers and fathers.  None of us are perfect mothers and fathers.  Yet God is.  It can be very difficult for those of us who had difficult experiences with our own parents to view God as the perfect parent.  So it starts with a decision to trust in God that he is not only creator, in whose image we are made, but also the loving perfect parent we long for.  We know how important stable family is for children to develop their identity as loved, cared for.  We have that stable parent in God.  He loves and cares for us like no other, in both the masculine and feminine ways of parents.

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

9 thoughts on “Why we need to see God as both Father and Mother – Our Identity: In God, Part 2

  1. Great approaching! It is about time for the church understand how important is the feminine role for us as body of Christ, working in partnership with men! Nothing better than see that in God first! Only together we can reveal the glory of God!

  2. Good pointing out the verses that speak to God’s non-lack of feminine capacities, but we have to remember it doesn’t make him a female-ish deity. The Apostle Paul wrote “As apostles of Christ, we could have imposed our will on you, yet we were as gentle in our treatment of you as a mother nursing and caring for her own children” (1Th 2:7 NCB). St. Paul was no hermaphrodite, he just used an appropriate illustration to make a point (like the Scriptural similes used of God). God did create us male AND female, and He lacks no feminine attribute since He is the one who placed them into us (with one half of the population getting a defining dose) but God has always revealed Himself as just that, a “Him.” We have to relate to God the way He wants us to, and when asked how we should pray, Jesus said “pray ‘Our Father’.” All throughout the Bible God presents a masculine persona, even in His incarnation. Of note, religions that worship God as a female generally end with very sexually perverted rites, and the goddesses are usually fertility deities. To neutralize our God is to negate perhaps His most powerful attributes and those he placed in defining measure with human males. Mother’s Day just passed, and I know there were churches that prayed in unison “Our Mother which art in heaven….” That’s not biblical, and I think harmful. My two cents.

    1. Thanks Bryan for your comments. I appreciate your cautions. I think it is important, however, to emphasize that God as spirit is nongendered, and thus the masculine references to God only describe aspects of his character, but are not his core identity.

      1. Are you certain that spirits are not gendered? We are. God before His incarnation was without outward sexual cues, but now…
        I’ve wondered why God made a male first, then held him accountable for his wife’s sin. Why are all the angels masculine? Just thoughts to ruminate.

      2. I am not certain. I agree with Thomas Oden who said that we should be comic theologians, always willing to laugh at our feeble attempts to understand God. So I could be wrong that God is not gendered. That said, the majority view of orthodox Christian theology throughout the ages has been that God as spirit is not gendered. The exception being, as you rightly mentioned, the person of Jesus who took on male human flesh. An excellent study that covers far more ground on this is Our Father In Heaven: Christian Faith And Inclusive Language for God by John W. Cooper.

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