The Breastfeeding Father

This is part of a synchroblog on the topic of Queer Theology. You can visit Anarchist Reverend’s blog for more posts on the theme. The synchroblog subject is “The Queer God.”

I have always found it difficult to relate to the image of God as Father. I don’t have an especially healthy relationship with my earthly father, and could not make the leap to an understanding of a “better” heavenly one. Nor have I found it easy to relate to God as Mother, though I was close with my own until her passing. Perhaps that is because God as Mother is often only about nurturing and care giving, neither of which I associate with myself as a mother (or even mothers generally).

As I spent time contemplating what I would write for this synchroblog, I realized that I’ve been locked into binary thinking about who God is (or even could be). I began to imagine something different about God: A God who isn’t binary. One who is not either Father or Mother, but both, and neither, and everything in between, all at once. I noticed that there is a growing trend to identify God in pronoun form not as He, but as They. It’s fitting for a God who Themselves identified in the plural, right from the beginning.

This is a God who spoke into the uninhabited Earth and said, “Let us create people in Our image.” God cannot be contained in a singular pronoun, neither a He nor a She, and God cannot contain this image in merely male or merely female created beings.

This is a God who inspired his Apostle Paul to write that there are neither male nor female in Christ. No longer must we be constrained by the bodies with which we were born in order to relate to God, to love and be loved by the Creator.

This is a God who calls Philip to teach and baptize a eunuch, that the Good News might be spread further. The message isn’t only for people who fit the prescribed roles and bodies dictated by societal norms.

This is a God who is a breastfeeding father—called Father by Jesus, but likened to a nursing mother by the psalmist.

The idea of God as Father/Male permeates all our religious thinking. It’s in our hymns, our scripted prayers, our conversation. Sometimes, we might compare God to a mother for instructional purposes. Other times we liken the Holy Spirit to God’s “female” aspect. But in all things, we still hold tight to the image that God is our version of Male/Masculine.

This is not the true God. I want to hold the picture of the non-binary God in my heart, the picture of God that transcends cultural expectations and boundaries. Not a God who is sometimes fatherly and sometimes motherly, but always and inextricably all.

We, in our human limitations, can only experience this in part. But God, in the form of the breastfeeding father, is fully, completely whole. And it is good.


Here are the other posts in the synchroblog:

the Anarchist Reverend shares his thoughts on the Queer Christ over on the Camp Osiris blog.

Peterson Toscano shares “The Lost Gospel of Thaddeus.”

Shirley-Anne McMillan writes about Mother Christ.

Adam Rao shares why he is not participating in today’s synchroblog.

Kaya Oakes writes about God, the Father/Mother.

Brian Gerald Murphy talks about A God Bigger Than Boxes.

Clattering Bones writes about The Queer God.

Daniel Storrs-Kostakis writes writes about An Icon of God.

Jack Springald writes about Avalokitesvara and queering gender.

Amaryah Shaye Armstrong writes about Inclusion and the Rhetoric of Seduction.


3 thoughts on “The Breastfeeding Father

  1. I love this! I remember struggling so much with the picture of God as male/masculine growing up. I remember asking my mom is God was a man how could he understand what it was like to be me (I think I was talking about my period at the time). 🙂 When I went to college I was introduced to a much broader concept of God, for which I am so grateful.

    • Oh, that is fantastic! Thank you for sharing that. I had no idea such a hymn existed; what beautiful imagery. It’s too bad that so much of early theology is virtually unknown in the church today.

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