John T. Willis

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Biblical Metaphor of God as Mother

It is well known that the Bible portray Yahweh or God as Father--to cite only a few examples, see Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalms 68:5; 103:13; Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9 in the Old Testament, and Matthew 6:9; 7:11; Luke 15:11-32; John 17:1, 5, 24; 1 Corinthians 15:24. This is a METAPHOR. There certain ways that God is LIKE an earthly Father. The Bible makes it very clear that God is NOT SEXUAL. God is NOT MALE. God is SPIRIT, not flesh--see John 4:24.

The Bible equally teaches that God is like a MOTHER. There are certain aspects of God's nature that are more appropriate for the nature of a woman than for a man. God is NOT SEXUAL. God is NOT FEMALE. God is SPIRIT, not flesh. Here are just a FEW of the texts in the Bible which portray God as MOTHER.

1. Numbers 11:12. When the Israelites complained because they had only manna in the wilderness when they desired meat and fish and cucumbers and melons and leeks and onions and garlic, Moses replied to God: "Did I CONCEIVE all this people? Did I GIVE BIRTH to them, that YOU [Yahweh=God] say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, AS A NURSE CARRIES A SUCKLING CHILD,' to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors?" This statement assumes that Moses is thinking of Yahweh's role of CONCEIVING and GIVING BIRTH to the Israelites when God brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.
2. Deuteronomy 32:18. In the Song of Moses, the composer addresses Jacob or Jeshurun:
You were unmindful of the Rock that BORE you;
you forgot the God who GAVE you BIRTH.
Giving birth to a child is the domain of a female, not a male. This verse portrays God as a mother who gave birth to a child.
3. Isaiah 49:15: The prophet asks:
Can A WOMAN forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of HER WOMB?
Even these may forget,
yet I [Yahweh=God] will not forget us.
Here, the prophet of God portrays God as a woman who gave birth to and sustains a child.
4. Isaiah 66:13: Yahweh says:
As a MOTHER comforts her child,
so I [Yahweh=God] will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
God compares herself with a mother, not with a father in this text.
5. Luke 13:34: On one occasion, Jesus cries out:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together AS A HEN [not a rooster] gathers HER brood under HER wings, and you were not willing!
Jesus, the divine Son of God, compares his being with a MOTHER HEN that protects and cares for her little chicks.
Biblical composers and speakers and writers embrace the metaphor of God as mother just as much as they embrace the metaphor of God as father. A metaphor is a comparison, used by speakers to proclaim a message. It would be a serious error to think of God as a male or a female. God is not sexual. God is neutral.

Share YOUR ideas and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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