God the Mother—It Actually Matters

By Cindy Koch

Opening my front door, I saw a man and woman smiling enthusiastically. “Hi, can I share a few Bible verses with you today?” she said flipping through a well-worn floppy book. I politely consented. “Who can get enough of God’s word?” I thought. After pointing out some nice words about our happy eternity, she said, “Now I sure you are familiar with praying to God as Father, but have you prayed to God the Mother?”

Whoa. Yes. She was actually at my front door on Thursday morning. I quietly shooed the curious little ears of my kiddos inside the house and stepped out on to the porch. “Hmmm…” I said, “I have never prayed to God the Mother before.” And for the next 45 minutes, I had an increasingly frustrating (and loud) conversation with a couple of heretics who believed they were Christian. They severely misunderstood Christ and his relationship to his bride, the Church.

Before Thursday morning, I was riddled with guilt and doubt. Whenever something in particular captures one’s attention, one risks filtering everything through that lens. I was concerned that was happening to me. The particular subject of the female place in the story of salvation has always fascinated me, to a fault. In college, I closely studied the debates. During graduate school, I translated the texts and weighed the commentaries. As a young wife and mother, I wrote my first draft of a book (unpublished and very boring). In churches, I’ve taught women for 14 years. And now, almost 18 years later, I’m still wrestling with a shocking story of woman taken from the side of Adam, working on the last chapter of that severely edited book. Yet, I cautiously back off the subject from time to time to ask myself if this all really even matters.

adam and eve

But these confused people arrived on my doorstep perfectly displaying the foolish logical conclusion of our messed up world. They pointed out that we observe a Father and a mother in a natural family. Therefore, a heavenly family with God the Father must have a mother. And yes, God the Son was born to this heavenly couple. They showed me verse upon verse mentioning a bridegroom and a bride, referring to this supernatural family. They had all kinds of funny delusions about the Mother Jerusalem delivering salvation (outside of Christ, that is). I laughed, I cried, and I was dumbfounded by their lack of understanding and their offense to the atoning work of our Savior.

Now, as anti-creedal and misinformed as these people are, they are not illogical. Arguments for a Mother God can be made if you interpret certain metaphors in Scripture and leave out other key parts. In fact, if you didn’t know it yet, you can make the Bible say just about anything if you are clever enough. The harder part of interpretation is extracting the meaningful part of the metaphor that agrees with the greater counsel of God’s Word. Some things in a picture are important, and some things really are just background. These pictures, analogies, and metaphors shape our understanding of an unseen reality with our God. And so, clearly hovering above all of their skewed interpretation was a terribly perverted answer to my years of questions about the female place in the salvation story.

In that frustrating conversation, they reminded me that how we all understand a woman’s role in the story of salvation does actually matter. She was created to help. He was created to lead. God molded her from the side of her husband. God shaped her from the blood and water that flows from Jesus’ crucified side. She loves him with a quiet, free submission. He clothes her and protects her with mercy and righteousness. And so even if you are not a woman, this mystery still matters. If it didn’t matter, she would strive to be his equal. She wouldn’t listen when he spoke. She would continue to cower under his heavy hand of judgment. She might even call herself Mother God.

The story of man and woman, Christ and His bride, matters to His Church.

Tribute to Addendum 7-A in What Does this Mean?