By Adam Ericksen 6-26-2015

Beware!

People like me are out to get you with our radical feminist agenda! What’s that agenda? I call God Mother.

Father Dwight Longnecker gives voice to the fears of many when he warns that people like me “will continue with this radical feminist agenda until they are actually holding hands with witchcraft and worshipping devils.”

What?!? I guess calling God Mother is a slippery slope, right? First it’s “Hi Mom! You sure are swell.” Then it’s off to the House of Satan for a little devil worship!

Father Longnecker is critiquing an Anglican movement that wants to call God Mother. He claims the “feminists” in the movement are mean because “their tactics are clearly not of the Holy Spirit … They started pressure groups, ran publicity campaigns, bullied their way into political positions, used tactics of playing the victim combined with emotional blackmail to get their way.” According to Father Longnecker, “This is the way progressives work everywhere, and [you should] never appease these people.”

But apparently the Holy Spirit is totally OK with creating fear among your audience by claiming that those who disagree with you practice witchcraft and worship devils because they call God Mother.

Right.

Here’s the thing. God is your father and your mother and God transcends those categories because God is neither literally male nor female. But Father Longnecker thinks calling God Father and Mother is just too confusing for people. Apparently, the fact that God is One, yet Three, but really One … that isn’t confusing at all. But to call God Father and Mother … we can’t wrap our minds around that.

Father Longnecker is right that when his disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, he responded that they should pray to the father. Father Longnecker claims this is his slam dunk against calling God Mother. Jesus didn’t teach us to pray to our mother, but to our father.

But it’s not a slam dunk against praying to God our Mother. After all, Jesus never said, “You can’t call God Mother. That would make you devil worshippers!”

In fact, Jesus referred to God as a mother-like figure, just as he referred to God as a father-like figure. He refers to himself, who Christians believe to be the second person of the Trinity, as a mother hen. He also claims God is like a woman in search of her lost coin.

Of course, we could take Jesus literally when he calls God Father. But he was speaking metaphorically. When Jesus spoke of God as father, he didn’t mean that God is a male. He meant that God is father-like in his love for his children.

But Jesus also claimed that God is mother-like in her desire to find and care for her children.

And then there’s the Old Testament. Take Job, for example. God asked him a series of rhetorical questions, “Where were you … when the sea burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment, the dense clouds its wrap? ... From whose belly does ice come; who gave birth to heaven’s frost?”

Whose womb is God talking about? Not Job’s. Every biblical scholar will tell you that God was referring to himself, err, in this case, herself.

And then there’s Isaiah where God refers to herself as being “like a woman in labor.” And, in one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture, Isaiah continues to declare God’s motherhood. While in Exile, Isaiah’s people thought God had forgotten them. But God responded that she hadn’t forgotten them. In fact, God comforted them by telling them about her motherly compassion, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

If you need the words attributed to Moses, then a little motherly reprimanding from Deuteronomy will suffice, “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Did you know that the Old Testament uses the word “spirit” 84 times in ways that Christian tradition assumes to refer to the Holy Spirit? From those 84 times, the context refers to the spirit in masculine form nine times. The other 75 times the context refers to the Holy Spirit as “explicitly feminine or indeterminable (due to lack of a verb or adjective.” In Judges, for example, the spirit is always feminine. In Genesis 1:2 where the term “Spirit of God” first appears, it is in feminine form. And in Proverbs, the Wisdom of God, which Christian tradition understands to be the Holy Spirit, is personified as a woman.

To refer to God as mother isn’t part of some modern feminist agenda. It’s the Bible’s agenda. And Christian tradition isn’t afraid to continue this biblical agenda.

Julian of Norwhich, whom the Catholic Church calls a Doctor of the Church, claimed in her book, Revelations of Divine Love, that God is our mother. She even claimed that Jesus is our true mother!

It is a characteristic of God to overcome evil with good.

Jesus Christ, therefore, who himself overcame evil with good, is our true Mother. We received our ‘Being’ from Him and this is where His Maternity starts. And with it comes the gentle Protection and Guard of Love which will never cease to surround us.

Just as God is our Father, so God is also our Mother.

If calling God Mother confuses you like it confuses Father Longnecker, then please feel free to continue calling God Father. It is a great way to approach our heavenly father.

But, if you can hold together the metaphorical paradox that God is our father and mother, then go ahead and call God your Mother.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a devil worshipper. In fact, she who gave birth to you will appreciate it.

Adam Ericksen

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Like his Facebook page Adam Ericksen – Public Theologian and follow him on Twitter.

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