Farid De La Ossa Arrieta: God, the Mother (2002)
Mother’s Day makes me think about God’s maternal side. Christianity has been guilty of a patriarchal history that has been oppressive of women. Our conception of God as masculine, e.g. God as Father or King, certainly contributes to our slide into patriarchy. Although written in patriarchal contexts, the Bible itself does not refer to God exclusively in masculine metaphors. There are, albeit few, feminine metaphors used to describe God in the Bible. In this post, I want to highlight the maternal or motherly metaphors used.
God as Mother Bird & Mother Bear
One of the common images is God as a mother bird sheltering her children under her wings. We see this in Ruth 2:12 – “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (All references are from Today’s New International Version.) The Psalms used this imagery a number of times:
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psa. 17:8)
“… I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psa. 57:1)
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge …” (Psa. 91:4)
Jesus picks up these images when he laments over Jerusalem: Continue reading
“Then he (Jesus) appointed seventy others and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go… heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom has come near.” (Luke 10:1-9)
Throughout history, God has called certain individuals or groups to become trail blazers, pioneers, explorers, discoverers, entrepreneurs, the avant garde
of the march towards the future. Today, January 24, we celebrate the feast of Florence Li Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained in the worldwide Anglican Communion. (Click to Tweet
) We also read about the calling of the seventy disciples to go ahead of Jesus to announce that the kingdom of God has come near.
Scot McKnight, a NT professor, recently published a small book, it is more like an article, regarding the subject of women in ministry. I found a very brief summary of the article this morning on his blog, and I am re-posting it here for some questions and discussion. His argument is as follows:
The complementarians [those opposed to women in ministry] like to shift their footings when it comes to Junia. They want to find some argument on which they can stand to diminish the significance of the woman [Junia].
First, they argued she wasn’t a woman (Junia) but a man (Junias). The evidence disproved them so thoroughly even they gave in (or most of them gave in) and so they shifted to another footing to stand their argument on… Continue reading
Throughout our Feminist Ethics class, I have been thinking about Mary Daly’s concept of “Goddess” in her Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. I don’t believe that there is any sound theological argument that the term “God” itself represents patriarchy. Theologically speaking, if we study the Bible systematically, particularly Genesis 1:27, it is unquestionable that God is associated with both feminine and masculine imagery. God is imaged as both mother and father. In contrast to this nature, Mary Daly does not merely seek to erase masculine imagery from the term “God,” but the word “God” itself. However, “Goddess” without the masculine imagery can no longer be the Perfect Goddess, just as “God” without the image of the feminine also remains imperfect.
As I see it, the problem lies not with using the term “God” itself, but how we understand and interpret God with our knowledge and languages. In short, we need not eliminate the word “God”—we need only change our traditional understanding of God.