God as Mother and Father

What I found most interesting when reading Julian of Norwich was the idea that the Trinity is made up of Fatherhead, Motherhead, and Lordhead.  In chapters 58 and 60, God and Jesus are described as mother of mankind.  This surprising view on theology asserts that the Motherhead of the Trinity is merciful and loving.  Jesus is considered like a mother because he feeds mankind with himself, like a mother feeds a baby with breast milk.  This idea relates to the Miracle of the Virgin in which Mary heals a sick man with her breast milk.  We discussed in class that Mary’s breast milk was seen as magnificent.  Julian of Norwich’s chapter 60 also brings up the holiness of breast feeding by paralleling a mother’s milk with Jesus’s sacrifice of himself.  Julian of Norwich describes the Motherhead as merciful, kind, loving, sensual, wise, and knowing.  Many of these words are traditionally used to describe God but as a “Father” not as a mother.  The tenderness, sacrifice, and love of a mother is equated to the Motherhead of the Trinity, which gives us an idea of how women and mothers were seen in this time, which is very comparable to common descriptions of mothers today. In a way, the mother figure conforms to gender norms, of today at least, being loving and tender and the father figure has “high might” like a stereotypical masculine ideal. The Fatherhead is described as mighty and the Lordhead as gracious and greatly loving.  However, Julian of Norwich points out the importance of all three parts that God is made up of, especially the significance of the Motherhead. The idea of the Motherhead, I imagine, would have been a pretty radical idea at the time and even today, it is a new take on classic theology, which is one reason why it was so interesting to read.

One thought on “God as Mother and Father

  1. This concept of God as not only a Fatherhead, but also a Motherhead, interested me too. I grew up in a traditional Methodist congregation and I learned all about God the Father and God the Son. In my experience, loving and merciful qualities are usually given to “God the Son of the New Testament,” while retribution and condemnation are characteristics of “God the Father of the Old Testament.” This binary didn’t always align perfectly, but it worked well enough for most people. To learn about another dimension of God to which his merciful and loving qualities can be attributed is pretty neat. Keeping gender roles and norms in mind, this makes a lot of sense. Mothers have traditionally exhibited a more tender role and disposition. Her proposal of God the Motherhead is fascinating. This idea is so radical when compared to much of the theology I’ve heard before, and this was written hundreds of years ago by Julian of Norwich.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *