Female Images of God
"God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them."
Genesis 1:27, NRSV
Have you ever thought about what gender God is? Well, of course God is bigger than (i.e. transcends) gender (verses like Number 23:19 make that clear), but we often use gender-based words to describe God. As Christians, we emphasize the image of Father and Son because that's the language Jesus used to describe his relationship with the divine. This image permeates the New Testament, and the ecumenical creeds are organized around this language; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a central way of describing the Trinity in Scripture and Christian tradition. But did you know the Bible has lots of feminine descriptions of God as well, and that Jesus felt free to describe his relationship with us using feminine images as well as masculine?
Below you'll find resources for all ages to help you learn about the often forgotten but beautifully rich feminine descriptions of God. As you explore God's female side, remember that God isn't a woman. Nor is God a man. There is a difference between true divinity and descriptions of the divine. But, just as importantly, we hope you discover that these resources enrich your vision of God and enrich your vision of life as a child made in God's image. How wonderful is it for women to discover that God's beauty is not just limited to male imagery? What does it say to men, who are called along with women to be reflections of the divine, that God doesn't act just as our Almighty Father, but also as our Almighty Mother?
Particularly for Children
How often have I (Jesus) desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her young under her wings? (Luke 13:34b)
Jesus describes himself as a mother hen, gathering little chicks to protect them from danger and keep them warm. Color this page of a mother hen and her chick.
How does God keep you safe and sound?
$ Lots of craft ideas for mother hen
(some ideas may be easy to replicate for free). Learn the bible verse, sing a song, and make a simple hen and chick.
What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)
Jesus says God searches for us like a woman looking who's lost something very important. Color this page of a woman looking for her lost coin.
Help the lost woman count her coins and find the missing one!
$ Lost coin crafts and more (some ideas may be easy to replicate for free). Make a purse or a diorama, play coin hide-and-go-seek, or learn to sing a song to help kids remember the story.
As a mother comforts her child, so I (God) will comfort you. (Isaiah 66:13b)
God is often described like a mother who is taking care of her children. Color these pages for your mom.
How is God's love like your mom's love?
Look at this cartoon of a mother comforting her child. Can you draw a picture of God comforting you?
Looking for a great book? Not specifically about female images of God, but "Images of God for Young Children" by Marie-Helene Delval is an excellent book filled with numerous biblical descriptions of God to which kids can relate.
Particularly for Teens and Adults
Now that you're familiar with some of the female images of God, read this short reflection on the maternal God.
Want to go deeper? The ELCA (our churchwide body) has developed an excellent study guide.
The ELCA also have a collection of artwork depicting the feminine side of God.
A beautiful hymn from our hymnal is called "Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth". God created you from nothing with the same intimacy and intensity that mothers have while pregnant. Read a reflection on the hymn as well.
Want something to listen to? Luther Seminary has a nice 12 minute podcast and blog post about the motherly images of God.
Former United Methodist pastor turner Roman Catholic Elise Barrett wrote a nice short reflection a passage in Isaiah that describes God as a nursing mother.
Read about more mothering images of God when you celebrate Mother's Day.
Another great brief overview of the female images of God and why they're important comes out of the Center for Christian Ethics.
Even the Roman Catholic church has begged the question: Can we call God 'Mother'?
We pray these resources have helped make your image of God more rich and wonderful than it ever was before. Some people find the image of God as male to be oppressive because they've encountered many oppressive men in their lifetimes. Even if you don't have such baggage in your experience of God, a strictly male view of God limits the breadth and depth of who God really is. God is neither male nor female. God is the source upon which the best of humanity is based.
God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them (Gen 1:27, NRSV).