Why God Is a ‘Mother,’ Too

A professor at Princeton Theological Seminary explains why women embody God's loving care

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Long before I became familiar with the academic debates concerning calling God “Mother,” debates that I am now currently a part of as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, I was being raised in a household where I instinctively understood that the divine presence was manifest in the loving hands and arms of mothers, and most especially in the life of my grandmother who raised me. My grandmother’s kitchen was a theological laboratory where she taught me how to love people just as naturally as she taught me to make peach cobbler and buttermilk biscuits. I watched and listened as she ministered to the sick and the lost, with a Bible in one hand and a freshly baked pound cake in the other, despite having no official ministry role.

I knew that if God was real, if God truly loved me as a parent loves a child, then God was also “Mother” and not only “Father.” Only years of dogma and doctrine force you to unlearn what you know to be true in your own heart, demanding “Father” as the only acceptable appellation and concept for God.

(MORE: Don’t Call the Planet ‘Mother’ Earth)

Scholars who oppose the notion of God as Mother often focus on the gender of Christ and his naming of God as “Abba” or Father. Others argue that God is beyond gender, all the while privileging masculine language to understand God. There are also scholars, myself among them, who support the naming of God as Mother along with God as Father, deriving their support from biblical passages which privilege more “feminine” metaphors and analogies, including the image of God as a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15; Numbers 11:12); God as a midwife (Psalm 22:8-10); and God as one who gives birth (Isaiah 42:14). We do not have to choose only one form of address. God is Creator and Sustainer. God is Protector and Defender. God is Mother and Father. If we are humble, we know that human words and metaphors are incomplete and can never do justice to describing the majesty of who God is.

(MORE: Why We Question God)

I am among the millions of women facing Mother’s day without a mother, and now without my precious grandmother. There is no greeting card to capture both this powerful sense of loss, but also profound wellspring of memories. I experience what is known in theological terms as the “absent presence” of my grandmother. Though gone from my life, though absent from my everyday reality, my grandmother’s presence and wisdom are still here with me, guiding and shaping me. As a Christian, it is the same “absent presence” as my relationship with God: the knowledge that I am loved by the Divine, even and perhaps most especially in those experiences of absence and loss. I understand God as Mother because of all the mothers, aunties, grandmothers, “play” mothers, godmothers, and church mothers who were made in the image of God and who embody God’s loving care. As the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich eloquently summarized, “As truly as God is our Father, so truly God is our Mother.”

MOREFrom the Archives: Is God Dead?


I say that actually the one created only the universe, heaven and angels is actually in reality a woman a mother not a man any bit and not a father she is actually also my real mother and she was like almost like my wife or girlfriend you could say im both the real LUCIFER and im really JEHOVAH i (as  LUCIFER/JEHOVAH) created music, planet earth, hell, purgatory and humanity YAHWEH/GOD and i (LUCIFER/JEHOVAH) fell in love with each other and started a family together after more than 100 million years together we after almost 1 billion years together conceived JESUS CHRIST and we for one reason or another entrusted our youngest son to Mary maybe because i felt too tired to raise anyone again that i have been father enough times despite YAHWEH/GOD pleading to keep him raising him too but i convinced her and then everything happened mostly as you were told would you imagine if things turned out different imagined like i left YAHWEH/GOD because of fear of becoming a father she pleading to me to not give up our child saying i would be a good father but i not listening giving him to Mary went behind her back and then told her and left she crying and feeling sad every day ever since i left heaven would you find it tragic and sad if she did miss me if i was gone for over 2000 years she wanting me to return and if asked some to look for me and many searched and then miracously found me and then escorted me to heaven and YAHWEH/GOD trying to convince me to be with her again if asked me even why i ran off if its because i resent or because i was afraid of being a father or even afraid of getting married if got cold feet it would be saying a little or if we did argue over much and then i left anyway and made her feel sad and i saying i not wanted to return to someone who seems to be ungrateful if i did put lot effort into everything and yet she complained about how i do things and drinking habits for example it would been ways to imagine about myself and YAHWEH/GOD what has happened between us two but actually these things are not true not what i feel and i do yet still feel regret for few mistakes i did and would felt i should remained on earth forever ruling and remain away from YAHWEH/GOD because i would risk hurt her again if i was allowed to be with her yet another part of me wants to be with her no matter how much i rationalize i guess i did become little like the humans like you whom i created i do want to at least tell YAHWEH/GOD i love her i always will even from afar i love her thats why i not want to hurt her anymore that i being apart would be easier for her i know her she is just afraid of taking new step starting a new chapter of her life without little old me being by her side i no longer embracing her no longer spending most of my time with her its sad yes but its not the worst thing to move on i feel she should thats all i had to say farewell you foolish, blind, naive and misguided mortals.


Actually. The Bible clearly testifies about the existence of God the Mother. See video above. We MUST come to Mother in these last days according to bible profecy so we may receive eternal life. @YNPierce


In Indian scriptures there is a Mantra " TAWAMEV MATA CHA PITA TAWAMEV................in praise of the God which means You are my Mother as well as Father. 


“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky displays what his hands have made.
One day tells a story to the next.
One night shares knowledge with the next
without talking,
without words,
without their voices being heard.
Yet,their sound has gone out into the entire world,
their message to the ends of the earth.”

Believing is a choice, as is so much else in this life. 


The Russians in WW 2 ......fought for the Motherland.......Russia is the Motherland.........the Germans......on the other hand....fought for the

             Fatherland.......Germany .....is the Fatherland......

Toda ro  Today, May 12, 2013.......the neo-communist socialist leftwing radical environmental wacko democrats.......wants you to renounce Christianity ......and other religions and veliefs.....and.....the god......is GOVERNMENT OR THE DICTATOR i.e. Stalin....etc....

Valentine, world historian......comedian.....lol


Have you ever noticed

the significant differences

between the holy documents

and oral stories of various religions

around the world?

What happened,

did God change His mind?

Or, is God a multiculturalist,

adapting his story to suit different cultures,

times and places around the world?

Remember, this is the God,

the all powerful,

who created multiple universes,

populated with billions of galaxies,

each galaxy having billions of stars

and a trillion planets

or more.

Also, this a God who is everywhere

at the same time,

including standing right next to you

when you pray to Him

to help find your contact lenses.

This is a God that need tell only one story,

take it or leave it.

Moreover, it took more than nine billion years

for God to get around to creating

earth and mankind.

So, it is not like God

didn't have time to figure out

what He wanted to say.

So, why did God change his mind?

Maybe mankind was God's first attempt at sentient creation.

So, maybe it took God several times

to get right what He wanted to say?

Even so, why does the nature of God and religion

vary significantly by culture?

I would think God would have influenced writers

in all cultures to tell the same story,

if only to save chisels and stone

and ink and paper,

a lot of effort to create wonderfully different

and complex stories,

the kind only a mid-level bureaucrat could imagine,

and keep people from slaughtering each other

over different religious beliefs and interpretations.

It is not like radically different cultures can't comprehend

Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism or Islam, for example.

Maybe God was experimenting with different ways

to communicate His ideas to mankind?

In any case, I can only speculate.

I don't have any answers,

never mind verifiable facts and repeatable results

that can prove anything

beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the end, it all really comes down

to a matter of faith:

what people want to believe,

what adds value and comfort to their lives.


mother and father, father son and holy ghost, jesus, saints, popes, satan, angels, withes, demons, fairies, leprechauns, ghosts, goblins, santa clause, and the easter bunny to name a few that fill volumes of children's stories and fairy tales. then there is the whole voodoo of the catholic church with its costume's, gold trimmed cathedrals which are graven images of vanity, incense, candles, bread and wine--none of it found in any bible, of which there are as many as you need to have in multiple translations and even the addendum of the mormon books, which takes the whole pile of rubbish into the area  of absurd science fiction (oh wait, that's scientology, same thing).

your religion is a mental disorder based in childish wishes and founded on irrational thought and belief.  your leaders are a danger to themselves and other in proportion to their zealotry and in general have been the scourge of humanity.

thank god i'm an atheist and have freedom from religion as a founding principle of this nation, but as much as i try to ignore your irrelevant cultish and tribal notions you attack my belief in science and try to forcibly impose your foolishness on me and society at every turn.

i wish i could prat for the rapture.  it would come and suck up all the ignorant self righteous and leave the planet to sane people.


The use of supernaturalism to manipulate and control people is the world's oldest confidence scheme, it relies on the ritual abuse of children at their most impressionable stage by adults who have themselves been made childish for life by artifacts of the primitive mind.- Your Mom on a CNN comment.


It does not really matter whether you perceive God as masculine or feminine or gender neutral. All that really matters is that believing in God one way or the other adds value to your life.

Early man did not have science and a rational explanation for the change in seasons and weather, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and so on. Early man did have a belief in spirits and the supernatural and that some control over the environment could be achieved by appeasing supernatural entities. Also, like man today, early man hoped that there was life after death. Moreover, religion and judgement in the afterlife provided an additional level of social control.

Hence, early man created various religions all over the world. Religion is fiction, a manmade convention and social construct. We believe because we want to believe.


The really operative phrase is, "I knew that if God is real. . ."

Children need parents: or, at least, someone to function in the role of parent.  And the object of a parent is to take care of a child who grows into being adult.  At that point, he or she may become a parent, in turn.

But one should not have a need for parents all of one's life; nor should one transfer that dependence to a deity for one's sustenance and stability.  In short, as we grow up, we ought to take over the role of parent, ourselves, much as we become Santa Claus in our tern, instead of the beneficiary of a   Santa Claus.  We are as we are, human.  And that should be enough for us.


Scholar? Professor?
How can one claim these titles, and know nothing of the subject they "teach"?
It's called COMPREHENSION. It's called READ it before you critique it.
The Word of God, the Holy Bible is quite clear on this subject. God always refers to himself in the masculine.
God has many names in the Word of God, and they are all masculine.
But, you say, "it was written by men with an agenda". Really?

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. - 2Tim. 3:16-17

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. - 2 Peter 1:21

You are either a believer, or not. If not, then maybe you should stick to things you actually know something about.
But I would not expect any better from a non-believer and heretic

But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14


GOD is the woman that is why Hitler want to kill the JEWS and everyone in the planet, is world order 9/11 was done new era Obama mama is all our mama we all a family is all in the moral ,respect and honor but who does now day only greed and ignorance , LOVE is respect 50/50 created to make babies but now day ,this nation want you gay retard like a sheep ,the CIA explain all in movie bless who invented GOD we all had a mother and we all are brain wash is shipper ,are we Human front the planet earth o what ,not only few the real citizen the soldier. 


"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."            Jesus loved as a mother would.


True, there is widespread worshipping of Mother Nature and maternal pagan deities in religions and tragically in oeven some christian denominations, but true biblical as delivered in accurate translations of the Bible, leave no doubt as to the paternal gender of God and indeed the Trinity. New Testament Greek, and indeed the enormous Greek vocabular


Gee, how human of this guy, finally recognizing that God has no sexual preference or sex organs for that matter. God is a unit, a single being and defining him by a patriarchal or matriarchal is strictly a human thing. As for the "absent presence", it's a human condition felt some people but not all. Physical death only being the spiritual birth, a cycle that's all inclusive of soul experience, at least to those that believe in it, which I do. 


Why is this essay so short?  There is much more to be said on the subject and it seems the author just introduced the topic and the piece was done.


I'm a fairly conservative catholic priest and I have experienced God in the way Yolanda expresses it here. It's good to read something that isn't strident or aggressive. Pope John Paul II on his CD 'Abba Pater' speaks of Jesus' personal experience of God as His Father and goes on to refer to the fact that, in the songs of the Prophet Isaiah, God is spoken in terms of motherhood.


Interestingly this is how we learn and perceive God in Islam.        


God is neither but energy . Why people have to quote the Bible , I do not know . If you know right from wrong , you know the Bible .


I suspect that the origin of the words Jehovah, Jove, Jupiter and Jahve originate from the name of an ancient babylonian goddess named Iahu, which is spelled IAHV in latin. I suspect that Sara, the wife of Abraham may have been a priestess of Iahu. She did not create the world, she gave birth to it.


You lost your marbles, have you? Is time trying to hit the bottom of journalism? You are getting close, Good luck!


This makes me thank Zeus that I'm an atheist.

The gender of "God" doesn't matter, because it doesn't exist. What is the gender of the Easter bunny? How about the tooth fairy? It doesn't matter. They don't exist.

But, the fact that we refer to god as "He," as "Father," and as "Lord" shows that it was invented by males, for males, in order to get what males want--power and money. That's what all religion is about anyway. Men (and by that I mean males specifically, because women had no part in any of this crap, specifically the monotheistic nonsense) created god in their image, not the other way around. It's a paternalistic dictator that legitimizes their monopoly over power and control of society. It's so obvious it's like pointing out the sky is blue.

Trying to change the image to include mother won't ameliorate this misogynistic crap.  


@bidiboom Nope. It's not one layer. It's the entire thing.

It was all created by males for males, starting in the beginning. The fact that I point it out doesn't "obscure" anything. People like you, who talk in circles, are obscuring what it is true--it's all made up. By males.

Especially in Islam, btw. Muhammad made it all up.



If we are humble, we know that human words and metaphors are incomplete and can never do justice to describing the majesty of who God is. "

You are correct in that human words and metaphors are invariably incomplete and can never do justice to describing... what you obviously consider to be more of the 'biblical god.'

This creative process of existence is beyond, will most likely continue to be beyond our comprehension... should 'it' (and don't think it's even an 'it') even exist.