Question

Is it biblical to refer to God as Mother or “God the Mother”? I’m not speaking of the Catholic Church (Holy Mother of God or Mother of God), but the Bible’s usage.

Answer

This is an important question in such a gender-confused society as we live in today. God is a spirit (John 4:24) so in reality he doesn’t have a gender. God is neither male nor female. He transcends all such types of actual categories.

This said, in Scripture, God does compare himself to a mother in numerous ways. For instance, as giving birth in Deuteronomy 32:18, a weaned child with its mother (Psa. 131:2), a nursing mother (Isa. 49:15), and a comforting mother (Isa. 66:13). Also, think of how a Christian is "born again" by the Spirit of God (John 3:1-8). These and a few other texts reveal that God is sometimes depicted as having motherly traits and acting in motherly ways. But these are merely terms to describe God. While it is proper to speak of God’s motherly characteristics, nowhere in the inspired text do we find God being called "God the Mother."

At the same time, the Bible also refers to God in masculine terms such as father (Deut. 32:6; Matt. 6:9; Rom. 8:15), husband (Isa. 54:5), and king (1 Sam. 12:12; Rev. 17:14). Even Jesus calls God “Father” (John 5:17, 18).

It should go without saying that kings are male in gender. In Genesis 2, we observe a King (God) interacting with a king (Adam) in a covenant relationship (cf. Hos. 6:7). God the King made Adam the king both a provider and protector: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Note the references to “man,” “him,” “work it,” and “keep it.” This is similar to God’s role as provider (Gen. 22:14) and protector (Psa. 18:2). Like God, Adam was also supposed to be a preserver: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'” (Gen. 2:16-17; cf. Psa. 145:10; Phil. 1:6). God’s role as King throughout Scripture emphasizes his masculine characteristics.

Also, God is not both male and female. Some attempt to use Genesis 1:27 which says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” to claim the image of God is both male and female. But look carefully at the pronouns – “him” and “them” – that are employed. The first pronoun is singular; “in the image of God he created him.” The second pronoun is plural; “male and female he created them.” The first pronoun refers to all mankind. So, all of us – each and every one of us – are created in God’s one image. But the second pronoun is plural, revealing that among the "all of us” there are two – and only two – different sexes (male and female). More importantly “the image of God” isn’t referring to God’s sex because he has none. As London pastor, Thomas Vincent (1634-1678), wrote in his commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism in reference to question 10, “Negatively, the image of God doth not consist in any outward visible resemblance of his body to God, as if God had any bodily shape.” [1] This goes for both male and female.

It’s not biblical to say or pray to God the Mother. But Jesus did teach us to pray to God the Father (Matt. 6:9), as we are to always look to our Father as our provider (Matt. 6:11), protector (Matt. 6:13) and preserver (Matt. 6:12), etc.

Footnote

[1] Vincent, Thomas. The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture. Banner of Truth, 1980.

Related Topics

Praying the Rosary?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).