WaPo 'On Faith' Contributor Waxes Poetic About 'God the Mother'

Okay, so it's not as immediately offensive as say calling for support of Planned Parenthood on Mother's Day, but Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite's "God the Mother" post at "On Faith" on May 7 is another example of how the site thumbs its nose at traditional Christian orthodoxy:

I always miss my mother a lot on Mother’s Day. My mother died when I was in my early twenties. Yet, through being “mothered” by others, especially my mother-in-law, I continue to know the deep and abiding mystery of this kind of love in an immediate and powerful way. This helps me understand the divine mystery, in the Christian tradition, that God’s infinite love for us is not only imaged as father, but also as mother.

To be fair, Brooks Thistlethwaite is correct when she notes that language about God in the Bible is "so often misunderstood as literal description" when in context the descriptions are metaphorical. And I can't begrudge her love for her mother and for the God-given gift of motherhood.

But Brooks Thistlethwaite strays off the orthodox reservation when she adds:

 


This mistake is the source of a lot of the controversy in the use of female images for God, despite the fact that they are all over the scripture. But God the Mother, God the Father, God as “Rock” etc. are all metaphors. Metaphors are a powerful way language conveys both similarity and difference in order to make meaning.

 

[...]

 

God the mother is a metaphor for the work of God in both mercy and justice, both compassion and righteousness. Even as you surely know mothers who embody all of those characteristics, or perhaps tragically, none of them, you also know something deeply metaphorical about who God is and who God is not.

 

God the Mother. It’s a mystery.

To the Christian, however, the persons of the Trinity are not mere metaphors and hence our names for them are not interchangeable with others we may prefer for politically correct reasons.

The Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father." Jesus's prayer in Gethsemane and his cry of abandonment on the cross are directed to the Father. The New Testament epistles contain language of prayer directed to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, from the beginning of the church, Christians have been baptized in "the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

To the orthodox Christian, God eternally was, is, and ever will be one God in three persons, and He has chosen to reveal Himself and His character in specific ways with specific terms with specific connotations for a specific reason.

That in no way diminishes the God-given value of motherhood or unduly elevate fatherhood above motherhood. But surely a site like "On Faith" should understand why orthodox Christians have a huge problem with labeling God as Mother.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters