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Question and Answer

Is it proper to call God “Mother”?

Question:

Is it proper to call God “Mother”?

Answer:

Thank you for your question. I would like to answer it in the way that Asaph answered the question as to whether God was good (Ps. 73); I will give the brief answer, then give the reasons why this is the answer. The answer is “no.” It is not OK to call God “Mother.”

Many pagan religions have female goddesses (from Asherah to Aphrodite to Gaia/Nature), but the Bible always and only refers to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in masculine terms. None of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity are referenced by female pronouns or terms. So the biblical persistence in referring to our God with masculine pronouns and terms is not based on culture; it is, in fact, counter-cultural.

One of the pertinent core issues is that God speaks. We are not left to our own devices to figure him out; he gives his very word in Scripture. We therefore are not free to “figure out” what he is like or try to define him; he tells us, using human language, who he is. The things revealed are what the Scripture calls a “mystery”: something unknowable apart from revelation. We cannot reason from cultural preferences to God but must learn from God’s Word as our point of absolute reference. He always speaks of himself in masculine terms—never as Mother. Jesus said specifically that we are to address God as Father in our prayers (Matt. 6:9). Whenever Paul speaks of God, it is in terms of “Father” (e.g., Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2).

A part of the description of God is that he is spirit, and has not a body like men. When he created man and women, he did it in a way that they bear his image. In calling himself “Father,” he does not denigrate women in any way. Rather, he describes himself in the role he has assigned to men as protector and provider. The church is described as a “bride,” dependent on her husband.

In the midst of our generation’s gender confusion we are repeatedly told that we should refer to individuals by the gender term that they prefer. God is very clear on how he wishes to be addressed: call him “Father” through Jesus Christ, his Son.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you have further questions that are not answered by this, please feel free to write again.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

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The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

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You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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