I recently posted a poll on my Instagram account asking, “Can God be viewed as a mother?” View my account here for frequent polls about faith and theology.
Many of my followers did not like the idea of depicting God as a female.
Why is this? Do we think that God is really a male?
I believe a lot of people view God as a father because that is what has always been taught. Many of us remember growing up praying to our heavenly father.
Further, we know that Jesus, as a human, was male. It seems only logical that God is a male. Many of us find this concept of God to be comfortable and easy to understand and believe.
However, is it that simple? Even though we call the first member of the Godhead “father,” is he actually a male?
Is God a mother? Everyone calls him “Father.”
Even Jesus calls him “Father.”
Is God a Male?
I think we need to start here. Before we can answer if God is a mother or female, we need to ask “Is he male?”
I don’t think so. Think about how we try to describe God (not specifically the person of Christ).
Do we really know how to describe the almighty and truly glorious being we call God? I don’t think we can ever fully understand God. However, the Bible, and its authors, try to describe God as best as they could.
Humans attempt to explain the unexplainable using terms and concepts which are familiar to us.
Many times, the Bible uses imagery or comparisons to explain God and his nature. Images like a father.
Why do we call God a father?
He cares and loves us like a father ought to. He guides and teaches us. The father protects us. The image of the father allows us to understand an aspect of God and his nature, but that does not mean God is male.
Christ was male in his humanity, but does that translate to the rest of the Godhead?
The image of God
I don’t think it does. Truthfully, I think God is beyond our human characteristics and limitations. We only mirror or reflect portions of his nature. One of the main foundations I think there is on this subject comes from Genesis 1.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”Genesis 1:27
Some translations suggest that only man was created in the image of God. It is important to note that the account of woman’s creation has yet to take place. However, even here it is affirmed that God creates both male and female. God created both male and female in his image.
In chapter 2, woman is formed directly from man. Would that not make woman also the bearer of God’s image?
There are many different interpretations and ideas defining what the image of God is. I do not think it is purely physical or sexual. I do not think we can limit God to being solely male.
If God was male, how could he fully understand and reflect the nature of women? Would women be unable to know God in the same way men do? I think it is damaging to our view of humanity if God is reflected only in males.
So is God male? I do not think God is solely male. Rather, in my understanding, he is a spiritual being that can be be reflected by us.
Each of us. Male and female.
Have you ever tried to describe God without using human terms or attributes? If you have, you know it’s pretty hard to do. Remember in the Old Testament, they did not have the revelation of Christ. They had to describe God in ways they understood. A very easy image to utilize… a father.
The OT writers then found images they were familiar with and used them as the foundation to describe the indescribable.
*Que Christ Tomlin
So is if God is not solely male, he is not solely female either?
That would be my understanding.
If our humanity is the bearer of God’s image, then it is not our sexuality that links us to him, rather our identity as his creation and ultimately our identity with Christ the Savior.
So, lets imagine that God, “the father,” is not really male or female…
What is he then?
I think he is the totality or the perfection of all that is good. Let’s go back to our reasoning for calling God “Abba, our father.”
As we said before, we call him father because he acts in a good and perfect way that the father would. His nature as father is found in his actions and character, not masculinity or sexuality. We call him a father because of the traits they define.
So, the same could be for mother right?
Is God motherlike?
There are several places in the Bible which display God in female ways. Most people do not know these passages very well, but try not to write them off. Here is a very short and compact list if you want to look at each of them.
Here are the references for the main ones. I encourage you to read them.
- Deuteronomy 32:18
- Psalm 131:2
- Isaiah 42:14
- Isaiah 66:13
- Hosea 11:3-4
- Matthew 23:37
- Luke 13:34
It is pretty easy to see that God is described in female terms. These passages compare God and his actions to a mother’s actions and attributes.
So, “Is God a mother?”
I think God CAN be viewed as a mother!
God displays many traits which are motherly. The passages linked and listed above show us that even the biblical authors view God with motherly characteristics.
Just like we don’t say that God is a “male” being, we are not saying is “female” either. Rather, we are saying God can be viewed by the characters he has revealed to us.
God can be a mother to us in situations. Just like the biblical authors described God with these characteristics, we too can at least acknowledge this is a way God can engage with us.
HOWEVER, I do not think it should be common practice to call God THE Mother.
While he has these particular characteristics, Christ identifies God as his father. This should be our example for his title. While he is not solely male, we have come to understand him in that light.
God can chooses to engage us in a variety of ways. So, should we forbid motherly or female language when referring to God?
I don’t think so, as long as we are accurate to God’s nature and character.
We should not deny God’s attributes, especially those highlighted in the holy scriptures. However, we should value the understanding which has been understood and used by our Lord.
God can be seen as a mother. God is the Father.
This is our understanding of a complex, holy, and almighty God. We will continue to seek him, at at times we may understand him, yet we will continue to fail at fully grasping his fullness!
Hopefully this will provide you with some thoughts and ides to ponder! As always, I would love to hear from you! Reach out to me on my contact page or my social media accounts.
Further, I take into account, I am always open to the truth. My goal is to provide you with deep content that is hopefully easy to understand or helpful as you process it for yourself. Please show me love as I continually seek to grow and discover God’s truth as well. I would love your kind and constructive feedback! Peace!
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