Calling God “Mother” – Do You Preach a Sexist Jesus?

Calling God “Mother” – Do You Preach a Sexist Jesus? June 3, 2015

Public Domain Image:

Apparently, support is growing among Anglicans to revise official liturgy to refer to God as “Mother.”

Now, when I first came back to the Church I was pretty green. I was away for over ten years so I came at issues like this with an open mind and a clean slate.

I did not magically agree with Church teaching the minute I returned to the Church. Instead, I slowly grew into orthodoxy through prayer, research and discussion with people I respected.

But I still did and do find lots of positive things in communities on the fringes of the Church that are not always exactly in line with Church teaching. I feel that the Church in the United States has been greatly damaged by a highly divisive political atmosphere that forces Catholics to choose between very important issues. In my view this has pushed some people into heterodoxy who in other cultural contexts would most likely have been orthodox.

You probably see traces of this empathy for people who disagree with Church teaching in my blog posts. It drives all kinds of people crazy. But I am grateful for my perspective. It is one of the many good things that God brought out of my more than ten year hiatus from the Church.

But there are some issues for which I have little sympathy.

One of them is the “gender inclusive” language for God that seems to be gaining more and more traction in the Church of England.

I once asked a religious sister I knew who was fond of “gender inclusive language” why anyone would think that the word “Father” that Jesus himself gave us for God was not good enough. She responded by telling me that Jesus preached in a context that was patriarchal; the people would not have been open to Jesus preaching God as “Mother.”

I was dumbfounded.

I do not see how calling God “Father” is an affront to women. Perhaps I am too completely in love with my own femininity to even consider the idea that calling God “Father” would somehow mean that I am less than. Being a woman is one of the greatest gifts God has given me besides life itself.

I replied, “I am not sure which Jesus you are talking about, but it sure is not the Jesus I know. Jesus did not withhold truth simply because it was uncomfortable or because people couldn’t take it. If Jesus believed that “Abba” was the closest word one could use to humanly understand our relationship with a genderless God, then that is what he would preach and that is what I accept as truth. Jesus did not preach a watered down truth.”

I run into this same argument when I defend the Church’s position barring the ordination of women.

“Jesus didn’t institute the female priesthood because of the times he lived in, of course he would support it now.”

Of course?

So, let me get this straight. You believe in a Jesus who was either sexist or had to hide behind chauvinism because he didn’t want to rock the boat?

Do we believe in the same Jesus?

The Jesus who spoke to women in public, even though that was completely inappropriate at the time? The Jesus who had women followers in his inner circles? The Jesus who appeared to women first after the resurrection, even though at the time women were not considered credible witnesses?

This is a Jesus who treated women as equals.

Or how about the Jesus who preached that by literally eating him, one would come to have eternal life?

He basically preached what sounded like cannibalism to his audience!

And some people believe he was just too wimpy to suggest that women should be priests and God should be called “Mother”? Please.

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He instituted the sacramental priesthood for men and used the word “Father” for God, not because men are better in any way but because gender means something. God is called “Father” because that gender most appropriately describes God’s relationship with his people.  If Jesus thought so, I think so.

God has sewn us a beautiful tapestry of salvation in which gender plays a crucial role, all for the purpose of teaching us about God. About love.

This is the Jesus I believe in.

How about you?


Browse Our Archives