Pope Benedict XVI: Why God is Our Father and Not Our Mother



Generally, I have been posting on Wednesday’s but due to Christmas, I have posted this here on Monday.

The simplest explanation on why we pray Our Father and not Our Mother is because it’s been revealed to us in Holy Scripture that God should be referred to as Our Father. Benedict XVI writes, “God is never named or addressed as mother, either in the Old or In the New Testaments.” Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Vol. 1, p. 139.) In fact, even Pope Benedict admits further arguments may not be convincing other than the Holy Scriptures themselves writing, ” But even if we cannot provide any absolutely compelling arguments, the prayer language of the entire Bible remains normative for us…We make our petitions in that way to Jesus, with Holy Scripture in the background, taught us to pray, and not as we happen to think or want.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 140) Furthermore, God is father because he is our creator. Pope Benedict writes, “We belong to him because he has created us. ‘Being’ as such comes from him and is consequently good’ it derives from God. (Pope Benedict, 137.) Of course with that being said God does express a maternal love for us expressed in the word rahamim. Benedict XVI explains that “Etymologically, this word means “womb,” but it was later used to mean divine compassion for man, God’s mercy.

It’s important to reexamine in our age the development of priestly hierarchy in its early development within the Judeo-Christian religion construct as being an anomaly when it comes to their priestly class. In a region and time period of the ancient Near-East, most of all the religions and cultures had women serve in the function of a priestess. Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI explains ‘female’ goddesses surrounded the Israelites too, “The Mother-deities that completely surrounded the people of Israel and the New Testament Church created a picture of the relation between God and the world that is completely opposed to the biblical image of God. These deities always and probably inevitably, imply some form of pantheism in which the difference between Creator and creature disappears. ” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Vol. 1, p. 140) It must be cautioned that modernity’s secular culture that expresses disdain for patriarchy as villainous that the idea of a female priestly class has already been vetted and rejected in the foundational years of Judeo-Christian thought.

In many ways, the prayer language of how we shall identify God sets up the foundation of proper Christian anthropology. Our modern world, the progeny of Descartes and Kant have developed the prevailing epistemology in which individual perception informs what is a thing rather than the classical view where what things are are informed by the things themselves. Naturally, liberal Christians have started to use gender-neutral language such as Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit to refer to the Holy Trinity. So, again, the danger of these trends is theology are heresies against the Incarnation itself, as the second person of the Holy Trinity assuming manhood isn’t of any importance. The sentiment isn’t Biblical, what we have to learn as a society is that equality in dignity is not the same as equality in all things.

Sadly, this type of thought has seemed to emerge within the Catholic Church. I would encourage everyone to research the language used in the Amazon synod with references to God as both Father and Mother. I also encourage those to look at the pictures of the act of worship of the mother deity–Pachamama during the Amazonian synod. I implore you to simply trust your eyes. The issue at hand is that has created a conflict with modernity and Christianity that Christian culture is patriarchal and to Modernity that is anathema. Patriarchy is the boogeyman of the modern man. The issue comes down to the fact that words mean things and when some words and thus ideas are chipped away then the whole foundation gives way. What we should do as Christians is to affirm God as Father and make known his maternal divine love. We need to support the structure of the Christian family; and yes, I mean the one explained Ephesians 5. However, I’d ask husbands to focus more on their duty to their wives and their families that they should love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Christ was willing to pay the ultimate price, let us pray we are able to do the same.

The Father language sets up the foundations for Christian anthropology and the sacred institution of the family (As Ven. Fulton Sheen puts it). The family works in a manner similar to the Church—there’s a hierarchy. Naturally, this doesn’t mean there’s a lack of respect of dignity toward any member of the family,

So, what is at stake with this particular use of language? The right order of worship is at stake. If one prays the Liturgy of Hours, the usual canticle on feast days is from Daniel 3 where it tells creatures to bless the Lord—the creator. And this is what is a bit alarming with some of the language of working document at the Amazon synod with referring to God as Father-Mother. The document also speaks quite positively of pagan like the worship of the native peoples. So, when we look at the language of Daniel 3 and the Creation narratives of Genesis what we find is actually a progressive rejection of the worship of creatures by the pagan religions that surrounded Judaism. Furthermore, it’s the common trajectory in scripture from Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal to the Maccabean revolt.