I’ve been pondering a theological thought lately about why God is not pictured in any form as a woman. I understand that a lot of this comes from the patriarchal structure of the post-Renaissance church where the degradation of women took root in most Christian churches, but what evidence is there that God doesn’t have a feminine side, or even parts that could be considered a “mother”. If men and women were both created in the likeness of God, then there must be feministic value to the persona of God itself. For women do not come from man, but man comes from woman. Being a Christian myself, I wonder why the God of my churches is not female in any way. One of the reasons that churches deter me is because of the lack of female presence within the elders and other positions important to the church. If I, as a woman, was created in the image of God, then women must be a part of God as well.
There are many times in the Bible where God is personified as a woman, or at least the feminine tendencies of God were personified as a woman. An example being in Proverbs 1:20 where God’s wisdom is personified as a woman, “Wisdom is like a woman shouting in the street; she raises her voice in the city squares.” Much of the book of Proverbs seems like a mother giving advice to her children rather than a father; in our reality of thinking, it is womanly advice that men don’t usually partake in, like warnings against adultery and rash choices. In chapter 8 of Proverbs, Wisdom also states that “I, wisdom, was with the Lord when he began His work, long before He made anything else” (Proverbs 8:22). Though wisdom is also personified later as Jesus, there is still the fact that it has a female persona attached; this could mean that perhaps Wisdom and the Father God birthed Jesus in a way, leading to Him being the personification of wisdom.
There is also the question of how God as a father alone could create all of life itself, when in fact life comes from the mother with help from the father. And of course, if women were created in the image of God, then there must be a female part of God because it would be impossible to create something in your own image if it was nothing like you. In Deuteronomy 32:18 it says, “You left God who is the Rock, you Father, and you forgot the God who gave you birth,” where there seems to be two sides of God; the one who is the father and the one who gave birth to mankind. Rather than saying the father is the rock and the one who gave birth, it is the Father the rock and God who gave birth. They are two separate identities of the same God.
Of course, there are all the times in the Bible where God has shown kindness to women and to mothers. Where God granted women the ability to give birth to children that they wanted, or saved or blessed their children. Jesus Christ Himself came from a woman with no relation to an earthly man. There are books in the Bible specifically about women, and some of the most prevalent characters are women, such as Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus. If God was a male form alone, why would there be such a preference for women? If God was the Father alone, there would be no need for the mother because if God the Father birthed this world and His son despite being male, then why would He not create man in the same fashion without women?
God’s love for mankind is also presented in a similar way that maternal love is considered. God’s love is “agape” love, meaning self-sacrificial and unconditional. The only comparison we as humans have to this form of love is the love that a mother has for her children. A mother gives all of herself to her child from the first moment of conception, which rears a love bond that is unbreakable, the same kind of unbreakable love that God has for mankind. In Isaiah 66:12-13, God states, “Like babies you will be nursed and held in my arms and bounced on my knees. I will comfort you as a mother comforts her child;” if this does not present a feminine side of God I don’t know what will.
Examples such as these continue throughout the Old and New Testament, and the argument of God’s femininity has been occurring since the Middle Ages as people have seen this femininity along with the masculinity of God. In my own readings, I have found that the masculine side of God is the proud Father of man or the war-like jealous God, which is heavily represented in the Old Testament. But there are also the feminine sides of God I have notice, like wisdom and unconditional love that I have mentioned before. For me personally, I think that it is impossible to have only the male form of God, but it is so engrained in the religious aspect of the Christian faith due to hundreds of years of patriarchal power that it would be hard to shed light on the female God that must also exist. Online I found this quote which I think embodies this: “Of course, God is so far beyond us, that He is certainly not a man or a woman. Though we are made in His image, and reflect some of who God is, we as humans certainly don’t represent all that God is. Even if an artist were to paint a self-portrait, the artist himself is far more than his art”.
Over and out- Lauren