Yesterday, Marshall wanted to know about his dad’s experiences of being parented as a child in the 1960s. Behaviorism was the norm back then; a lot of kids were expected to do chores on threat of punishment, and spanked or hit for disobedience.
Marshall said, “Is God like that?” His words echoed in the spiritual air.
“No, God is not like that,” I said. “That’s what Jesus came to show: a God who doesn’t condemn, but restores” (e.g. John 3:17).
God doesn’t really fit in today’s parenting climate, either. I guess if Mother God’s actions as a metaphorical parent were analyzed, she’d be labeled as one of those moms, you know, a Lenient Mom. She gives her children all this freedom, and in response, they hurt each other and don’t trust Her. Mother God gives rules, but complete freedom to reject them. She even gives up the right to judge, allowing Her Son Jesus to do that, at some future date (John 5:22-24). I can’t imagine She’s all that happy with the situation, despite having the end all planned out.
Of course, the big books of theology have God in the category of “Never Takes Celexa” (because God’s emotions, if She has them, don’t affect God, or so the story goes). But I don’t know; some days She’s got to feel discouraged and angry, just like Jesus did about the Pharisees (e.g. Mark 3:5) and the people of Jerusalem (e.g. Matthew 23), and his own followers (e.g. Luke 9:37-56). For example, how could the recent shootings in Florida, or before that, Paris, not affect Her?
They must, yet She refuses to get Her children under control. She is only frustratingly present at all times, in all kinds of suffering. Frustratingly, because She suffers with us, but doesn’t always stop the pain. She nurtures by listening, by giving gentle guidance, by answering prayers in the way we want sometimes, and even bringing healing. She is unrelenting in forgiveness and kindness. We are most likely to feel Her presence through Her followers who reach out hands to help.
She’d get a lot of criticism, I suspect, if she were a human mother. Parenting by proxy?
That’s how God as Father parents, too, of course, but we let fathers get by with more. We expect less.
What do you think? Would you be less lenient, if you were Mother God?