Our Mother, who art within us, Hallowed be thy name

4 min readOct 22, 2021

There are many ideas of God. This article is not about which one is true (because really, how can we know?). However, it offers a different perspective from the patriarchal idea of God. The title is an iteration of the Lord’s Prayer from the Christian Bible in Matthew 6:19 — “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . .”

Our Father . . .

The prevalent Christian tradition views God as father, based on the interpretation of Jesus’ portrayal of the supreme being. This, of course, holds its own beauty in the sense of a personal relationship with the divine. What we often do not address, however, is that Jesus may not have meant “Abba” (Meaning “source”) to mean male parent, but as an acknowledgment of his nature as divine. In my opinion, the Jews understood what it meant to speak of God as source, realizing that source and offspring would be of the same essence. If Jesus regarded God as source, he was declaring his divinity and the price of such blasphemy was death.

An abstract illustration of a mother
Photo: “Mother” by Linn Fritz via https://agentpekka.com/artist/linn-fritz/

Our Mother . . .

The Ijaw tribe of Southern Nigeria hold a feminine view of the supreme being — Teme Arau (she who creates) and Ziba Arau (she who births). I find this particularly interesting because of how this theology/cosmology impacts on the elevated socio-cultural place of women in this society in comparison to other patriarchal societies. This is covered in an essay by Endurance Uzobo, titled, “the implications of feminization God among the Ijaw people”.

You may argue that the genderisation of God is quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things, because God, in most theological contexts, is spirit and spirits are disembodied beings, therefore, they cannot be categorised by sex or gender. I may agree with you, but only partially. In the religious tradition that I was raised in (and most other religious traditions), even though “God is spirit”, God is only ever imagined or referred to in masculine terms and believe it or not, this impacts our view of gender. What we have subconsciously imbibed, is that God is male — Father, king, priest, judge, warrior, provider — all of these then inform our expectations of gender. And representation matters, even in theology.

For mystics, your mental picture of God goes on to define your spiritual or soul experiences. And because our societal view of the masculine is characterised by strength, power, courage, assertiveness and sometimes, aggressiveness, we miss out on the softer elements of the divine, characteristics we have socially assigned to womanhood/motherhood — presence, care, nurture, tenderness. For people who define God as “unlimited”, we tend to fit Them in our perfect, little boxes. This is not a call for the erasure of the male view of God. This is a call to, at least, expand our boxes, and therefore, our experiences of the divine. If you cannot see God as female, you may have trouble seeing the divine in women around you.

This is a call to, at least, expand our boxes, and therefore, our experiences of the divine. If you cannot see God as female, you may have trouble seeing the divine in women around you.

It took a few months to write this piece because I wanted to experience, firsthand, what a feminine view of the divine would mean for me, personally. This took a while because my mystic side has been quite lost lately. I’m in free-fall mode. I started by changing my mental picture of God to a woman — mother, female friends, and sometimes, myself (picture bigger me rocking a smaller me). Then I started to change my language in self talks, prayers, benedictions, songs, all of it. I sometimes use “mother” instead of “father”, and included she/her/they/them as my pronouns for God. This has provided a richer experience and expanded my mental image of what is sacred and holy. If we believe that language is important to reclaim culture and identity, then language is surely important in expanding or rethinking our ideas of God.

“The language we use to define, explain, and identify God shapes the way we understand God. By having an essentially masculine view of God, we blind ourselves to other ways we may connect to God and understand God.” — Abigail Dolan

For the bible-believing Christian . . .

If you are a Christian reading this, wondering if this is heretical. First of all, I applaud you for even making it this far. Secondly, we are all heretics in our own way, I suppose, but this paragraph is dedicated to you. I will draw on the prevalent Christian theology to state, once again, that God is Spirit. The first mention of God in the Christian bible is “Elohim” (Genesis 1:1), which is pluralised pronoun. And the Spirit/breath/wind is the feminine noun, “ruach”. This tells that both masculine and feminine energies (?) are represented in God. And in the creation of humanity, per the bible, “ . . . male and female, God created them . . .” All forms of gender emanated from the divine. Why view God through only one lens?

Other portions of the Christian Bible also speak to the mother/feminine metaphors to speak of God — mentions of God gathering people like a mother hen (Luke 13:34); God as the womb of creation (Numbers 11:12, Deuteronomy 32:18); God as a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13). According to some biblical scholars, to be “born of God” as presented in 1 John 4:7 presents birthing by a mother, and 1 Peter 2:2–3 speaks of the believer desiring milk, as newborn babies. Milk for newborns is derived from the mother’s breasts. My point remains, why enjoy only one view of God when you can experience more?




“Silence is a dangerous thing to give yourself to, especially if you were born to speak.” - Eloghosa Osunde