I have to write again on a topic which generated a lot of posts: the feminine imagery attributed to God in the Bible. I described a few days ago that if I were to preach on Mothering Sunday, I would preach on God's presentation of himself in imagery that is feminine, in descriptions of God as mother.
God as mother captures the sense of the fierce protective instincts which mothers have about the welfare of their children. This nurturing impulse is a divine impulse. We are God's chldren and God helps us to relate to God as to a mother and father so that we might come to understand God better.
The word for 'compassionate' in the Bible in Hebrew is 'raham' which means womb and there are so many places in scripture where God is described with imagery which we associate with the feminine. Our God is compassionate, womb-like? Well, he certainly created us and labours and suffered for us through his Son Jesus Christ.
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
"Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God transcends gender, as we are all aware, God is spirit and yet God includes what we understand about men and women in descriptive imagery. We are all so used to envisaging God as patriarch, would it really harm our theology to envisage God as matriarch too? If it does damage our faith to envisage God as matriarch, then perhaps we need to ask ourselves why this is. What else is going on in our psychology for this to make us feel uncomfortable. Dwell on God's feminine side.
The Church has worshipped God the patriarch, God the warrior, God the judge, God the rock, God the bridegroom/husband and I am certainly not suggesting that this is not what God is - God is. But we need to widen our view to include all of the other ways in which God is made known to us.
Jesus presents us with a radically inclusive God. Jesus was radical in his treatment of women as was Paul with his 'let her learn' and his corrections to the traditional idea that women were owned by their husbands. Christian men are exhorted to treat their wives as Christ treats the church - this was all radical stuff against a patriarchal, first century back-drop.
God made us male and female in his image and so God is understood in both male and female terms, for only male AND female reflect the image of God.