Most Christians are taught and believe that God has no gender. God is God, transcending humanity. And yet, God created us in His own image, male and female He created us. So God is both genderless but also contains both masculinity and femininity. It is a divine mystery.
While we believe that we can’t really assign a gender to God, we all refer to God as a “He”. We can say God doesn’t have a gender but we still envision God as masculine. It’s totally ingrained in us. If you don’t believe me, then try referring to God as “She” and see how you react. Feels weird, doesn’t it? It goes against our conditioning to think of God in feminine terms.
It never occurred to me until I was 28 that the Bible was overwhelmingly masculine. It’s writers were men, most of the main characters were men, the Messiah was a man, and God was a He. This had never struck me as being imbalanced or odd because I’d simply grown up with it. Sure, I’d heard people complain about the Patriarchy and male domination, but I never really paid attention to what I considered “angry feminists”. Up until this point, I’d never felt the need to question this male-centrality (I didn’t even recognize it!). But after a month of meditating on the Lord’s Prayer, which begins with, “Our Father,” it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t actually want a Heavenly Father right then. What I really wanted was a Heavenly Mother.
There I was, a woman: a daughter and a sister, a wife and a mother, having given birth to three children and continually suffering the loss of my first one. I played a variety of feminine roles, and I was struggling deeply with each of them. And then it hit me one day: How can a divine masculine tag-team of Heavenly Father and Son help me with all my feminine issues? I kept praying to a masculine deity to help me and guide me in my daily feminine roles, and this struck me as completely absurd. I wanted to be a better mother but I kept seeking the wisdom of a Father. This didn’t make any sense at all.
That’s when I finally understood Catholics’ obsession with Mother Mary. As good Protestants, we believe that Catholics are idolizing Mary and blasphemously elevating her to god-like status (“Mother of God”?! God has no mother!), but I realize now they are attempting to fill the feminine void in an overly masculine religion. The idea of Mary embodies the feminine attributes of God, particularly that of a nurturing mother.
I have found great comfort in addressing God as Mother. In this rough world of stress and strife, this modern culture starving for genuine connection and love, I think we’re all desperate for the unconditional love and nurturing support that is particular to a mother. Especially if we’ve viewed God as a less-than-nice masculine authority, it can be a relief to fall into the accepting arms of a perfect Heavenly Mother who listens to our troubles with compassion and no judgment. It truly has made a difference for me during my wrestlings with the Almighty. In some ways it has saved me from completely turning my back on God when years’ worth of unconscious anger towards this masculine deity arose within me. I could never fully deny the concept of God or my need of God, and so I had to envision that God truly was Love… and it turns out that to me, Love looks feminine. I was starving for a particular love that can only flow from the Divine Feminine.
Not only have I needed that particular feminine love and nourishment, but I needed the wisdom and strength of the feminine archetype known as The Crone, or Wise Woman. I see Mother God as also embodying this personality. My mother’s heart now finds solidarity with a Mother God who knows exactly how I feel and can help me better care for and connect with my own children.
Perhaps I will return to the Heavenly Father someday, but for now I need the unique female wisdom, strength, and nurturing of a heavenly Mother as I seek healing for my soul and as I navigate the trials and joys of motherhood.