PASTOR COLUMN - The love of mothers offers us a picture of God, too

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A simple prayer for anyone might be, "Dear God, I want to be more like you."

For the past 40 to 50 years, a significant amount of writing has been done on the way we view God, particularly as it relates to what gender we perceive God to be.

Many of us have grown up with an understanding of God as a distant old man.

The movie "Oh, God!" of George Burns fame certainly reinforces that idea. But challenges to that image have come from many angles, but particularly from the feminist movement.

The heart of their critique says that God is not only masculine in attributes, but also feminine.

They point to a number of Biblical texts to make this claim, such as God is like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child or that God is like a hen who covers her chicks.

Further, they point out that words such as "sophia" (wisdom ) and "zoe" (life) are feminine.

While I believe this is a helpful correction to our understanding of God, it misses on one significant point: God is not both male and female; God is other than male or female.

The Bible tells us God is a spirit, infinite in being. So while God has characteristics that we associate with gender, God is far beyond being both.

The important point here is that our view of God often does not just need to be expanded; it needs to be radically transformed.

To return to the simple prayer I offered at the start; the real issue is this - not that we make God more like us, but that we conform ourselves to God.

We - all of us, male and female - should seek to be more like God. On this Mother's Day, I would offer Proverbs 31:10 and following as a helpful place for mothers to look as they seek to answer that prayer. Proverbs is all about being wise, and as we pointed out above, sophia is a feminine word.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wise women who have nurtured us, and in doing so, have lived out a very Godly attribute.

The Rev. Albert Gillin is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Contact him at 509-525-1093 or by email at gillin@wwpcusa.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at ca

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