Mother God. I love that. Not because my feminism demands it, but because it makes all the sense in the world. How can God not be mother too? Over recent years, I've heard Christians concerned or critical that people are worshiping the planet, Mother Earth, instead of God. I've worked to remain open to better understand this, yet, it continues filtering through my thought process as reductionist fear. Sure, my worldview might be skewed, but I don't think so. I'm willing to be wrong though.
In my experience, the people they're talking about are not worshiping, at least not in the way people worship "God" or experience holiness. They view the earth as sacred. There's a difference. They honor it, like one might a brother, veteran, or mother. Appropriate? I think so.
Honoring what is sacred is a universal experience placing something of value as set apart out of respect and love. It can be experienced as holy too. It's not worship, in my experience. It's reverence. Reverence for what sustains us in a web we are intricately part of. Many imagine God as the glue that holds our complex web together - and people have different ideas, concepts, or imagery of what that looks like - yet many would agree to agree to imagery that symbolizes glue of the universe. How we hold this imagery will differ. Some may see it as random or biological, while others hold it as a holy Presence, the Divine.
We might also question whether to recognize God as masculine and feminine, instead of the traditional male figure of history? Is God both mother and father? Is God's feminine nature synonymous to Mother God? Or is earth our mother? We can't have it both ways. Or can we?
Most agree "Mother Earth" is the source of our sustenance. If you have faith in a power greater than yourself, then the universe is a creative manifestation and expression of God. Earth is the home God gave humanity. Instead of judging people awed by the wonder and beauty of the earth, why not join them in these acts of gratitude and appreciation? Ask yourself how it serves to make someone wrong for appreciating what you believe is God's gift? From my view, it's a shared win - a meeting place.
When I've participated in ceremonies that recognize mother earth - as in Wicca, Shaman, or Native American traditions - it is not deification, but an expression of respect, gratitude, and belonging - with reverence. The planet is valued, and in relationship with humanity - the expression is how one might adore a newborn or respect a wise elder. They listen deeply to it - for it to speak to them - which it probably does through the language of nature. It's our footing, the hand that feeds us, shelter for our heads. It's our resting place.
As a nurturer and sustainer, earth naturally calls forth imagery characterizing a mother. That being said, isn't God both Mother and Father? Genesis says male and female are created in God's image.
God as Father was coined by Jesus. He wanted followers to grasp a personal concept of God. He was emphasizing God as not separate - or the disciplinarian keeping us in line. God with us - and formless. God was love and spirit. Experiencing emotional love with a formless deity was a stretch. They needed human imagery to direct their heart to, something they related to as relationship. In a male dominated culture, paternal imagery of Father could be associated with love and respect. Female imagery was probably too big a leap. Heck, a woman pastor in our church is a big leap today. Imagery of Mother would only create added and needless resistance. Jesus knew to pick his fights. He wanted to create a paradigm shift.
Without feminine characteristics; God is not whole. Insisting God be characterized as male, in a culture that honors gender equality, limits God today. It also places God as imbalanced. God is limitless and whole. If we look to the Bible to reject this idea, we're out of luck. We were made in God's image, male and female alike. Why not characterize God as maternal too?
Language is at the heart of conflict. It shapes ideology. Black and white thinkers often risk getting stuck standing in concrete, uncomfortable with fluidity and struggling to understand what can't be defined. This is a great opportunity to stretch and bend. After all, what is there to lose?
What has divided us no longer has to.
Finding reasons to criticize people who love creation, particularly when it might not be accurate or fair, is a waste of energy when we have alternatives that are inclusive. How about seeing it as an opportunity to be a peacemaker, turn the other cheek, or look at the pebble in your own eye instead? Rejecting God as mother and father only continues to dismiss the feminine from the christian narrative. Why would we do that today?
I received some great advice from my friend, Rebecca Birch, years ago. Her son was a few years older than my toddler son at the time. She said the most important thing to remember as mother of a two-year-old is, "Pick your fights."
Her advice has improved my quality of life ever since - with all ages. We'd all be well served to consider applying it to religion and ideological beliefs as well.