Is the recognition of God’s nature as Mother as well as Father gaining momentum?

As a man who is totally at peace about uniting with, and serving in, a religious movement founded by a woman, my initial reaction to the vote in favour of a woman’s right to be ordained as a Bishop in the Anglican church was a wholehearted “Yes!” And the best way to describe the sorrow I felt at reading that the Vatican has proclaimed the ordination of women as priests “a crime against the faith” is to confess that it took me some time of prayer to regain my spiritual poise.

On close scrutiny, though, this could be seen as taking sides in a battle in which I don’t actually belong.  The church I belong to, the Church of Christ, Scientist – commonly referred to as the Christian Science church – doesn’t have hierarchical leadership, male or female.  It is a lay church in which two books – the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures – are referred to as the “pastor” of the church.  This “dual pastor” is accessible by anyone, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and it is read at branch churches on Sundays by two church members (a woman and a man) elected democratically from the congregation.  So isn’t it a contradiction for me to get excited about the victory of women climbing up a ladder I am actually glad doesn’t exist in my own faith?

Well, yes and no.

The “yes”?  A favourite Bible line says that we are to work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling”.  I take this to mean that we are to work out our salvation with reverence for God and in humility before God, and I feel this applies to denominations too.  I respect the rights of each faith to work out, in communion with God and with respect to its own traditions, the journey and destination appropriate for them, according to their highest light at the time.  It is not my role to even want to interfere with another church’s internal deliberations.

And the “no”?  At the end of the day, true religion is less about the structure and workings of an organisation and more about how a better understanding of God makes a difference to the way each individual lives in relation to others. This is where I feel that the struggle to recognise the role of women in traditional religion speaks of a need for shared progress across the spectrum of faiths.  It suggests a deeper and broader resistance to the recognition of God’s complete nature as Mother as well as Father.

The latter idea is one of the theological points I most appreciate in the teachings of Christian Science that are laid out in Science and Health.  It is consistent in its references to the one God being equally Mother and Father in terms of His/Her attributes. This idea is firmly rooted in scriptural descriptions of God’s mother-love, even if the term Mother is not explicitly used in the Bible.

I find tender evidences of this understanding of God gaining ground.  A colleague of mine recently attended an event in Yorkshire facilitated by an Anglican who led the mixed male and female audience in an exercise of rocking back and forth as if holding a a baby.  He explained that this was to show the motherhood of God “because to many of us God is Father and Mother, one Parent caring and loving each and every one of us.”  At a recent meeting a Baptist talking about God deliberately said “He…or She!” with a sense of stating something dear to her heart that would be challenging and provocative to fellow Christians.  It needn’t be.  To anyone who has ever felt God’s love, it seems to me that this is stating the obvious.

To the Christian Scientist this understanding of God’s complete nature empowers both men and women to better understand their own inherent ability to express the full palate of good qualities sourced in God, including those commonly ascribed to “the other sex” according to  “Venus and Mars” generlisations.  This helps men and women become more fully rounded human beings.

So, yes, even as a sidelines observer I can’t help but cheer every success in women’s efforts to have their right to an equal place on the platform of spiritual leadership honoured, and I can’t help but mourn every setback, because I feel this reflects Christ’s own cheers and tears in regards to humanity’s progress in knowing and honouring God’s mother-love.

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Categories: Christian Science, Uncategorized

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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2 Comments on “Is the recognition of God’s nature as Mother as well as Father gaining momentum?”

  1. Patricia Brugioni
    July 18, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Wonderful comments. What a revelation it is to feel the undivided nature of Father/Mother within one’s own heart! The simple recognition that the masculine and feminine qualities cannot be divided and are not dominant/submissive but ‘all-harmonious’ has quickly stilled my thought in many situations and brought peace to others as well. We are undivided in our very nature and slowly but surely this is coming out in the world as this true nature dawns within each heart.

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  1. Is the recognition of God’s nature as Mother as well as Father gaining momentum? :: Christian Science Texas - July 18, 2010

    [...] Tony Lobl, spokesperson for Christian Science in British and Irish media and in UK, Irish and EU legislatures, again provides us with a Guest Blog.  It think you will enjoy this one.  (Tony’s blog) [...]

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