September 6, 2019 – Family Resemblance

September 6, 2019 – Family Resemblance


“In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground – then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:4b-7)

A certain patriarchal tendency has been noted in much of our language around and about God. Following Jesus’ instruction in the Gospels, we traditionally have called God “Our Father;” we tend to think of God in masculine terms, even when we recognize from Jesus’ own teachings that God is Spirit, and obviously does not conform to any anatomical or biological sex.

In response to this one-sided sexing of God in our language, there has been a push to change the way we talk about God. Instead of “Our Father,” may we call God “Our Mother” as well? There is some precedent in Scripture for feminine images of God, most directly when Jesus references himself as a mother hen, who would gather the inhabitants of Jerusalem under the protection of his wings in Matthew 23 and Luke 13. However, these examples are few and far between. For
most of our religious history, God has been our Father. And maybe, just maybe, there is reason to keep this language.

You see, if God is our Father, rather than our Mother, then we must have a Mother somewhere. The creation narrative of Genesis 2 gives us the Mother we seek in the Earth. In an image of intimacy, we see God the Father stooping to get his hands on the clay of the Earth, forming out of the Earth a human being. Like a mother giving birth to a child, Adam comes forth from the dust of the ground, from the Earth herself. God puts his own Spirit, as a living breath, into this inanimate mud-baby and the man becomes a living being.

In two ways we neglect the seriousness of Earth as our Mother: both by emphasizing God the Father as the exclusive agent in humanity’s creation (which is not true) and by insisting on God taking the role of both Father and Mother (which also seems to not be true). We have forgotten that we already have a Mother, the Earth herself, from which we came, born from the primeval mud of creation. Our creation is an act involving two characters: God our Father and the Earth our Mother.

Perhaps if we reclaimed this simple recognition that both of these agents came together to produce us as our Father and Mother, the way we treat our planet may change. Instead of degradation, we may offer protection; instead of exploitation, we may offer reverence; instead of use, we may offer love towards our Mother Earth. We share a family resemblance not just with God our Father, but also with the Earth our Mother. Recognizing ourselves in each of our
parents, and recognizing each of our parents within ourselves, has the potential to change the way we see and interact with the cosmos all around us.

Cody NygardAssociate Pastor