Why My Mom is Like God (And Why that Matters)…

“God is a parent,” that was a thought that rambled around the brainpan as our church’s traditional Mother’s Day service processed. “That’s a strange formulation,” my argumentative nature responded. I argued with myself a bit more, “No one is going to (or should) start saying, ‘I believe in God, the parent, maker of heaven and earth…’.”

Now, I don’t believe in replacing lines from the creeds,[1] but this line of thought did not horrify me. I am not here to argue scripture; plenty have done that better than me.[2] What I am here to say, is this, that while we in the church spend a lot of time talking about how fathers are metaphors or images for our God. Our moms stand equally as images for the reality of the Godhead.

We use the term Father because this has been revealed to us by Christ. He talked about His Father, and so do we. That language should not be abandoned as it is real and truthful. Yet there are many times that our same Messiah talked about God as being like a mother (and our same God has revealed Himself in terms of his motherhood). Looking upon the city of Jerusalemas he traveled down the pass on a donkey (to the celebratory crowds of followers), Jesus said,

“Jerusalem,Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

How often has God been like a mother to all of us, gathering as together like a mother hen with his chicks? How longsuffering? How patient? How loving?

As a man, I connect rather easily with my Dad. We have a lot in common, interest-wise. We go to all sorts of sports events together, and I cherish all of times sitting in stadiums across the country: eating bad food, drinking too much soda, getting sunburnt, or rained upon. And so I have often tried to develop ways of spending time with my mom. One of the things we do is watch TV- we have some similar tastes in programming. One of our favorite programs is Survivor. We watch (sometimes together, sometimes apart) and talk about our favorites and the strategies of it all. Last night we saw a great ‘Mom’ moment. The main villain of this season was Colton, the naïve, arrogant, abrasive, sheltered rich boy from South Alabama.[3] On the reunion show they brought his mom on air, when she apologized to the nation on behalf of her son stating that while she did not approve of his antics, she loved her son and hoped he would learn from his mistakes. What a great mom, I thought. Here she is taking on the offenses of her son, making amends, and attempting to use the teachable moment to improve the life of her son. How like God wasColton’s mom?

Yet I am struck that on Father’s Day we get theological sermons talking about how a father is like God, and we can all come to know the true Father. And on Mother’s Day we get well-meaning, emotionally compelling, but sometimes vapid sentimentality about how great it is that Mom cleans up after us. Where are the sermons about how a mom is like God? Where are the pronouncements that you can come to know the true Mother?

Many of ya’ll,[4] are thinking the man has gone off the deep end; but there is a real pastoral concern here. Because language matters, image matters, how we talk, and what we do matters. When all our talk of god is exclusively male, phallic, and macho, those who do not possess these qualities tend to believe that only these people can be ‘like’ God. And when people begin to get this mistaken notion, they come to believe that they cannot be ‘like’ God. And if they are thus excluded from the ‘god’ club, then what is the point of faith, and church, and the Christian life?

This is what happened in England,[5] and I worry about what census and polling numbers tell us about the loss of Christian impact among females here in the States. More and more women are pulling away from Evangelicalism, and its churches. It’s not because of homosexuality, liberalism, or feminism. It’s because we the leaders of the modern church are more scared of having someone accuse us of being ‘liberal,’ than of actually being the church, and discussing the ways in which scripture speaks today. We need more sermons unafraid to boast of our God’s radical feminism.

So let me say this clearly and succinctly, my mom in all her greatness, her generosity, her outspokenness, her silliness, her great love for her children is like God. And thank God for that. We need more moms afraid to be like God, and more than that, we need a God who is a mommy God.

[1] It’s why I refuse to say the Filioque. If I find myself in a Western church reciting the Nicene I say “and from the Father” go silent and pick back up with the congregation afterwards. It’s not that I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment ( I am not a communal Trinitarian as opposed to the hierarchial nature of the Filioque).

[2] See the repost from yesterday: Is God Male?

[3] Honestly my initial thought was why from my state? Why? Don’t we have enough reasons for the rest of the country to look down upon us, without this idiot making us look all the more stupid, racist, and mean.

[4] Most predictably my conservative friends, and those who wish I would stop ‘criticizing’ the Church, and get on with talking about how poor people, socialists, gays, feminists, and atheists are evil, have ruined the country, and are now trying to destroy the church.

[5] I know I quote this book extensively but I think Callum Brown’s Death of Christian Britain is a formative read that everyone must get. This analysis of how the church in Britain lost traction, lost its influence, and lost the ability to speak to the British on a real level is a horror story that we all must understand, and outside that island kingdom must work to avoid elsewhere.


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