I remember back in 2010 sharing with someone about God being addressed as a mother. As I told him that in our college we pray, “Our Mother! Who art in Heaven,” the person went bonkers and exclaimed, “This is blasphemous!” To be honest, I wasn’t not thinking on the same lines. I quite didn’t like the idea of God as a mother. There were days when I used to jump, clap, and shout praises to God when someone cried out, “Our God is a mighty Lion”. You see, I preferred a God who was tough, a warrior of sorts. To my mind, the masculine images suited this Holy Man up there. It was only in the years that followed I realized that viewing God as a Mother wasn’t blasphemous nor a heresy. In fact, it was biblical. The problem, however, is this: in claiming that men (humanity’s most inclusive word) are created in the Image of God, we have ended up creating God in the image of man. We have failed to see God as non-male.
With “Mother’s Day” soon approaching, I think it is only right to acknowledge the Divine in our mothers, and the motherhood of the Divine. Our mothers show us God, don’t they? How happy would mothers be to know that God is a mother? Or rather, how happy would God be to be called “Mother”? God is a mother, our mother. It sure sounds outrageous and may offend a few faithful but listen, God is a “Mom”, “Mummy”, “Ma”, “Mee”, “Amma,” and whatever variation you’d like to add.
Yet, the mistake we often make is in limiting motherhood only to a select few. You guessed it right, we reserve it only to those who have procreated. But can we broaden our understanding of who a mother is? Theodore Jennings, the theologian, says that mothers, according to Jesus, are not just the ones who procreate but ones who do the will of God. Look up Matthew 12:50. Here, the blood ties of the old is replaced by the ties of solidarity of the new. The idea of motherhood that the New Testament text seems to project is one that is non-procreative: emphasis being laid on spiritual procreation rather than biological procreation as a means of generating life.  There are those who become mothers in bringing forth life and there are those who become mothers in sustaining life by being motherly. This is what it means to be doing the will of God.
Can only women be motherly? Not at all. I don’t need to look any further than my grandfather who had to play the dual role of a father and a mother to his three little daughters after the death of his wife. May we also take a moment to thank those men who have embraced the role of a mother and never thought twice about about what it would mean to be ‘motherly’ to their children and those of others in a context where gender roles had to abided by.
I strongly believe that God is not someone seated up there far away from human experience but dwells amidst us, living and struggling with us and moving within us. Perhaps this is why I am going to start praying: “Our Mother, who art on Earth!” This motherly Being, the El-Shaddai—the Breasted One—feeds us, cares for us, touches us, empathizes with us, provides for us, protects us, and keeps drawing us back to herself. This is the God I know for this is the mother I have known. She shows me what God might be like.
May God the Mother bless and keep safe all the mothers, single mothers, soon-to-be mothers, and the ones that are motherly.
1] Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament, (Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2003), 216.