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Why God is Father, Not Mother

The authority of Scripture mandates God must be called Father.

I want to begin by reading you a new hymn just to stimulate your thinking. I don't know the tune, but the text is as follows:

"Who is she, neither male nor female, maker of all things, only glimpsed or hinted, source of life and gender. She is god, mother, sister, lover. In her love we wake, move and grow, are daunted, triumph and surrender."

Or this recent production of a Jewish feminist doxology to God:

"Blessed is she who in the beginning gave birth. Blessed is she whose womb covers the earth."

These are two admittedly dramatic and extreme examples of a project that's going on in academic and religious circles not only to make language about people inclusive but language about God inclusive as well.

There are less shocking versions of this project. In some circles, there is the desire to at least speak of God as both mother and father, or to avoid the use of personal pronouns like "he" and "him" when speaking of God—use only the proper noun "God"—or, perhaps, to spend more time preaching and teaching on the feminine side of God or the feminine images of God.

Why is this going on? I don't know all the reasons, but I want to spin out at least one legitimate reason: Very simply, women have been given a raw deal through a good portion of the history of Western civilization. That may be a valid motivation for the desire to somehow correct this injustice.

But as you probably guessed by the title of my talk, I think this is a giant step in the wrong direction to correct the problem.

But I believe there is a problem.

We need to recognize the importance of this issue.

Now why should you care about this? Ideas have consequences. I want to give you three images of what I'm talking about.

First, ideas have trajectories to them. It's ...

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Ben Patterson is campus pastor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and author of God's Prayer Book: Praying the Psalms (Tyndale House).

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Sermon Outline:


There exists a current trend to redefine the character of God as Mother.

I. We need to recognize the importance of this issue.

II. Scriptures reveal God exclusively as Father.

III. God's masculine reference does not degrade women.

IV. Depicting God as Mother is a descent back to pagan theology.

V. God and Scripture cannot bend to ideology.