[I posted this thought-provoking tweet on a Facebook discussion group page:
My concern is not whether God is portrayed with what we would call female attributes. That happens in the Bible. It’s the issue of whether God should be addressed as Mother when Jesus (in the Sermon on the Mount) said we are to address him as Father.
Mindi Silich gave a thoughtful response. It was so good I asked if I could run it as a guest post here. Mindi said yes, and I’ve reproduced it below.]
My mother, whose father died when she was 3 and had a mother who never showed love to her, came to the Lord a few years ago. She dove right in and began reading the Word, praying, it was a beautiful sight. Then her sister, whom she admired greatly, invited her to her Catholic church. (Now I’m not looking to spark debate on church doctrines and whether or not they line up biblically.)
My mother stopped reading the Bible as much and spent her time reading book upon book about Mary and the Saints. She even traveled to Medjugorje with my Aunt and trekked up the hill where a sighting of Mary was “seen” and supposedly gave messages to the world.
All that to say, the subject of doctrine became a sore spot between us. I saw her pull away and look at me and my understanding of the Lord as inferior and full of error. I grieved a lot as I watched her knowledge of Jesus dwindle and her knowledge of Mary and saints greatly surpass.
One night when she was in town visiting, and after several stories she shared about this thing and that thing that Mary or a Saint had done, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to ask her why she speaks more of what Mary did and nothing of what Jesus has done for all.
Her response I’ll never forget, as God used it to help me better understand my mother and where she was coming from. It was understanding I had prayed and asked the Lord for. She said, “I guess I love and admire Mary because I never had a mother that loved me, and the Catholics talk about Mary as the mother of all; about how much she loves us, and I guess I relate with that because, I really need a mom.” And then she broke down into tears in front of me.
So when people talk about calling God “Mother” I often wonder what battles they’ve gone through that makes the idea of “Mother” more comforting to them. I also wonder how many people wouldn’t need to call God “Mother” if, as a church, we didn’t soil the reality of God’s femininity by degrading women, insulting them, and making them “less than.” Or worse, using them as the butt of a joke.
From the pulpit and beyond the church has marginalized, sexualized and ignored women that God created in His own image. All the while also hammering into the minds of many men that they don’t measure up. They aren’t “manly” enough, they aren’t stepping up to lead in an area that, deep inside, maybe they may know they aren’t gifted or called to lead in, and being who God made them to be just simply isn’t enough.
I was reminded of things I had believed in early in my own walk that looking back, weren’t very aligned with or rooted in scripture but yet were used mightily by God to meet me in deeply hurt places that later propelled me into a better (and later more scriptural) understanding of Him.
What if we preached on the feminine side of our Father in such a positive way that one could relate to Him by way of those feminine traits too? So that people can grasp and understand that He encompasses a father and a mother, not just a father. Even though Jesus instructs us to call him “Father.” What if we preached that these “feminine” traits are not something bad or shameful, but rather they are part of who God is and part of who He made us to be.
The church has oppressed one half of the body of Christ and those in that half that are coming up for air and seeing the REAL truth are looking for validation, and for some that means looking at God’s motherly aspects. I believe God understands the hearts of people such as these who call him Mother and gives grace in this area.
Mindi Silich blogs at Ramblings, where she describes herself as: Wife, Mother, Photographer and writer. Born in Arkansas, moved to Iowa, and now live in Racine, Wisconsin with my husband Ryan and daughter, Kinder. I left the life I knew in small town Iowa for a job transfer in Racine in 2002, where God has since grown me into a place of great freedom in knowing who I am in Christ and the purpose he has on my life. In 2013 God called me into ministry and I have since been letting Him mold me and prepare me for what He has in store.