Wednesday, 24 June 2015

God our Mother: an oversight?

It has become pretty cool to consider that God the Father might have been a construct from patriarchal cultures (read antiquated). The Liturgists say: "we know all about God our Father... but to know only God the Father would be like knowing just the day-time and never the night".

I am a big fan of the Liturgists, I listen to their podcasts, I discuss their episodes with friends. They blow away the horrible religious cobwebs from your soul! But I think here they should have done a lot better, given their pedigree.

First, listen to Pink and Blue. I actually find it shocking that so many of these "maternal" attributes are considered to be maternal! Is it not paternal to look at your son or daughter and say "Son, I believe in you"? That - to me as a father - strikes me as so paternal. What it means to the child will be different whether they hear it from their mother and the father, but it is just so, so simplistic to assume that these themes they are throwing out there are so black and white. Another theme was "motherly" protection.

Second, bring us back to the Bible. Please. God does not just reveal himself as a Father through Scripture, in a direct "I am God your Father" way, not much anyway. What he does is reveal his fatherhood through his incredible relationship with his monogenes, Jesus Christ, by whom we are also adopted into the same family if we follow Jesus our Brother, His way, His stance of son. We understand God as Father in and through his unique relationship with the Messiah, right? 

So while it is not clear to me now that we need to concede the first person of the Trinity to now be the Parent, there is someone else that I feel would have to be conceded on the same level. Only half of us can really strive to be a son like Jesus is a meaningful way. Reason dictates that, obviously, but also the diversity in the early church across gender and ethnic background, requires it: that we look to the male Jesus for his stance as child before God, and not only as Son. This much is granted (and it is interesting that monogenes does also apply to only daughters, see my monogenes post). Yet the one who is physically irrefutably male, or perhaps that Trinitarians would say became male, his condition of child of God is rarely if ever examined. It probably carries with it the whiff of heretical belittling because a child is small relative to the parent, while the Son can be as big as the parent. Yet the female half of the population called to ressemble Christ as uniquely Son, and not child, might, according to the God our Mother method, be left with a lack of role model.

But what about the one Jesus called "God" and "Father"? Was Jesus so caught up in a patriarchal culture that he himself was unaware of the gender choices he was making or endorsing? Jesus can strike as very counter-cultural, capable of exchanging blows with the religious elite of his time, but was this one just out of his human perceptual capabilities? Would not the God who wants to reveal himself (or should I say, themselves, to conserve the gender neutrality) so fully to us, in and through Jesus, have allowed Jesus to grasp that they were more Parent or Mother as well as Father, rather than this whole Divine Dad thing?

I have a feeling that this throws us back, quite sweetly, to the Liturgists poor delineation we commented at the start of this post. Could it be that all the qualities that we require in a perfect parent are equally present in both the perfect father and the perfect mother, but expressed differently? I think that could be right. In which case there is nothing in the Father that is lacking, because the perfect Father lacks nothing the perfect Mother would possess, while he will express it in a male way.

Of course, the "God-bearer" Mary, Theotokos, via her own immaculate conception as required in the Catholic church (or just sinless life according to the Orthodox church), may have embodied some of these same aspirations of the God our Mother propagators in times past.

There was more in my mind on this, but the post is long enough and I am half asleep so I bid you goodnight!

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