What constitutes motherhood?

WIDELY reported cases involving ``surrogate mothers,'' and other recent events in our society, have prompted many people to consider more deeply what constitutes motherhood. Such issues, and their implications in human lives, can be deeply disturbing. As a Christian Scientist I take refuge in this unassailable fact: God is our true Mother. Intimations of the motherhood of God are found in the Bible. In the book of Psalms, for example, the image of finding safety under the shadow of God's wings appears frequently.1 And in Isaiah, God is represented as saying, ``As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.''2 Many passages in the Bible convey a sense of the comforting, nurturing, mothering love of God.

The understanding that God is our Mother as well as our Father has brought healing to my own experience. When I was a girl of twelve or thirteen my mother developed a puzzling resentment toward me. This went on for many years and tormented me. I felt that if my own mother didn't like me, I could not be worth anything at all. Self-respect and peace of mind eluded me. Eventually I was married, and my husband and I became Christian Scientists.

The healing of my unhappiness did not come all at once. I remember sitting in a Christian Science Reading Room, perhaps two or three years after I had become a serious student of this Science. I was praying deeply to see myself more as God knows me. Suddenly I understood that from a spiritual standpoint, God is my true Mother, now and always, and that in God's sight I am now and have always been His beloved and perfect offspring.

From that time on I began to find a self-respect and peace I had never known. I found that I could actually like and love myself. My marriage became more stable, and I was soon doing work that was commensurate with my education and ability. Not only that, my relationship with my mother became harmonious for the first time in almost thirty years. There are still occasional problems, but the momentum of healing predominates. My mother seems happier and healthier than she has been for many years.

Acknowledging the motherhood of God doesn't belittle the human sense of motherhood but purifies and elevates it. The realization of God's motherhood can free women from any sense of inferiority. There are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of heaven. God is both Father and Mother, and each individual in his or her true selfhood reflects all the qualities of Deity.

The comprehension of this spiritual fact can heal injustice in individual instances like my own and on the larger stage of society as well. Social action undergirded by such metaphysical understanding is less likely to lead to discouragement if new forms of exploitation crop up to replace the old. We find in a spiritual understanding of God and man a truly radical and efficacious approach to the troubles that plague humankind.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, `Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, -- whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.''3

We do not have to settle for injustice or exploitation for ourselves or others. And the perception that God is indeed our Mother shows us why.

1See, for example, Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4. 2Isaiah 66:13. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tener mercies are over all his works. Psalms 145:8,9

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