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On one occasion, I heard someone prayer, "To God, our Father and Mother." In The Shack, the Trinity is represented as three persons, where God the Father is a woman.

Is there any biblical justification for referring to God as Mother?

Are there any denominations or movements which do call the first person of the trinity 'Mother'?

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Hope you don't mind the edit. I'm trying to help it avoid this fate. –  Richard Dec 15 '11 at 14:09
Also, there's always one of God's names: El Shaddai (loosely interpreted as "the breasted God") –  Richard Dec 15 '11 at 14:11
I've seen some devotionals at my church (of 7 years ago, as I've moved since) where the daily prayers in the back started "Father and mother God" - my pastor failed to provide any biblical support for it, but also wouldn't say he disagreed with the idea. I didn't see the logic then, and I still don't. –  corsiKa Dec 15 '11 at 16:40
It's an attempt by some pastors and Christians to be inclusive. –  Gilbert Le Blanc Dec 16 '11 at 13:16
It's a realization that God isn't a human being, so of course He (;-)) has no gender. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Dec 23 '11 at 21:41

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There is a significant distinction between calling God "mother" and the Bible identifying aspects of motherhood (and fatherhood) as reflecting the glory and character of God.

Both men and women reflect the glory and character of God in different ways, as men and women, fathers and mothers, teachers, judges, etc.

However, God is spirit (John 4:23) and not physical. In the beginning, God created the physical universe, including genders. Yet, He Himself was not biological, but is and was outside of creation.

When He entered into creation, He did enter into it as a Man. In the Lord's prayer, God the Son instructs us to refer to God the Father as "Our Father" (Matthew 6:9-13). Nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to refer to God as mother.

The example of Paul is of note as well. He himself indicated that he cared for the Thessalonians like a mother cares for her children:

But we were gentle[c] among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV

But no one used that as a basis for calling Paul "Mom".

This in no way disparages women, and both men and women reflect the glory of God. Yet, God has chosen to reveal Himself in the masculine sense. If we are devoted believers, we recognize that He is the One who has the right to define how we should refer to Him--not us.

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I think the key to understanding this is to remember one thing:

God is not male...     ...and not female either.

"God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24 NET

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Yes I agree.. God probably transcends gender. These are just ways in which we try to anthropomorphize some of his characteristics to better understand him/her/it –  Neil Meyer Dec 19 '11 at 11:23
@Neil: did you just say that God is... transgender? ;-P –  Jürgen A. Erhard Dec 23 '11 at 21:43

Isaiah 49:15 - Can a mother forget the child nursing at her breast? Yes, but even if she could, I would not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

As a practical matter, the case for "Mother God" tends to be made only by the more liberal wings of churches.

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Good answer, reminds me of Matthew 23:37: "“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." –  Wikis Dec 15 '11 at 11:51
Hmm. Was Julian of Norwich a liberal? Admittedly I'm not sure that she had much in the way of Biblical basis for Jesus as Father, Mother, spouse, brother and Saviour. –  Andrew Leach Mar 21 '14 at 21:30

The only biblical justification for calling God a mother would be to hyper-literalize passages like these:

Luke 13:34 ESV O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Luke 15:8-10 ESV Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Isaiah 49:15 ESV Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

And an overwhelming percentage of Christians across all denominations view these passages as metaphorical. It's only the small, liberal, fringe-feminist Christian sects that choose to interpret these passages otherwise.

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I think Luke 15 also contains a passage in which God is depicted as a woman. See also my comment on Affable Geek's answer. –  Wikis Jan 27 at 15:29
@Wikis Hah, good point(s). You are on it. –  LCIII Jan 27 at 15:46

There is no biblical justification in the King James bible.

Matthew 6;9 After this mamner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

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This does not answer my question. Of course the Bible refers to "Our Father". The question is whether that necessarily excludes Mother as a title for a God who has no gender (He is Spirit) –  Wikis Mar 23 '14 at 4:17
God has asked us to use "Our Father" when we pray. If we choose to do differently, we are saying his way is not good enough, and our way is better. Should not his will be done? –  V. Rollins Mar 29 '14 at 4:59
Perhaps you should consider the feminine qualities that God has: prayertoday.org/NamesofGod/names/hen.htm –  fredsbend Jan 20 at 0:25
"There is no justification" seems like a legitimate answer to this question. –  David Stratton Jan 20 at 0:47

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