Womanhood, Motherhood and Godhood

Everything that the West does or does not do reflects on Christianity in the East. Even though Christianity sprung out of the first monotheistic religion, Judaism, in the East, yet the arrival and spread of Islam in 600 AD as a religion and militaristic invasion of Christian territories in the East uprooted Christianity from that part of the world and limited it to the West as the major faith. Therefore, many of the preceding Christian values and practices in the East were either adopted or replaced with the Islamic-Arabic values and practices. Consequently, after 1400 years it is commonly accepted in the Islamic world that Christianity is a Western religion while Islam is an Eastern religion.

Motherhood and Womanhood in the East.

Growing up in Pakistan, we did not have mother’s day. I did not know about such a day until I arrived in the United States. By the time, I was able to understand how important it is to set aside a day to acknowledge my mother and all that she has done for me it was too late because I was forced to live in exile because of my faith, probably never to see my mother again. It has been 9 years since I departed from my mother, yet every time I speak to her on the phone, she reminds me of how much she misses me and desires to see my face and hear my voice.

The internet has reduced the feel of long distances and has converted the world into a global village, so information travels faster than ever. Cultures mingle and adopt whatever seems fit to the needs of the indigenous people without invading and taking over their cultures. Mother’s day is such an adaption into the Islamic world. Even though Mother’s Day is considered to be a Western idea, yet the Eastern culture is gradually adopting it with some skepticism.

Love and respect for one’s mother is treasured and taught in the East yet the predominately-masculine culture diminishes the respect and value of women. Women are treated poorly, and used for domestic needs and pleasure. The chasm between motherhood and womanhood is so deep and wide in the Eastern world that it demands a thorough anthropological and theological research to identify the key factors that are employed to reinforce the practice of double standard as a social norm. Why does a mother deserve the utmost respect and reverence while a wife, daughter, sister or a random woman including someone else’s mother is treated as a second-class citizen?

As I ponder the origin of Mother’s Day, I also wonder what is true womanhood, more precisely what is Christian motherhood and womanhood. I am convinced that after God, if it wouldn’t have been for my mother I wouldn’t have been serving God. Even though my father was a pastor, when it comes to living out your faith, my mother was the embodiment of faith. In this utterly convoluted world, her life enabled me to see and understand the sovereignty of God in the midst of confusion, hostility, injustice, and hopelessness.

Therefore, I believe that Mother’s Day is more than just simply recognizing mothers and taking them out for lunch. For us Christians, I believe it is about remembering and acknowledging godly motherhood and womanhood and how they impact the world and shape history; how they create and sustain a family, how they influence their children who come to be grown men and women; how they help us to define who we are as husbands, brothers, and fathers; also sisters, daughters, wives and mothers.

I want to divide my article into two halves, in this first half I want to discuss how the Bible: Categorically dismisses and dispels some of the most popular notions of our times pertaining to the nature of God in order to apprehend a Biblical understanding of motherhood and womanhood.

Why is understanding the nature of God critical to understanding motherhood as well as womanhood? Here are 5 reasons why.

1. Both Godhood and womanhood are under attack: “There is a growing trend that is sweeping the globe that portrays God in the feminine sense. In fact the ‘Goddess Awakening’ is permeating nearly every facet of society and religion. This reemergence of the Divine Feminine is also prominent in the visible church…Some even suggest that the ‘Goddess’ is Biblical.’” [1] The argument seems very appropriate that just as we need a Divine Father, we also need a Divine Mother. Of course this concept would appeal to the natural man, as we are predisposed to yearn for a mother figure in our lives. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, we read “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (ESV). However, we have the spirit and new nature, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV).

The premise of such an argument is that: “most of us run to our mothers when we are hurting or in trouble or need someone to talk to or if we are just in need of some tender loving care.”[2] We know it would appeal to the human mind because man has a corrupted nature and since the fall of Adam, man is inclined to do whatever despises God. But what does the Word of God say? Is there a Divine Mother in heaven? Does God the Father have a female counterpart? No, absolutely not!

2. God gives us the Biblical image of Godhood: He does not need a female counterpart because He is the Triune God who is well pleased within the unity of God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, He exercises his paternal and maternal characteristics. God is the Spirit (John 4:24) and together we as males and females reflect more completely the spiritual attributes of God. This is precisely why marriage between a man and a woman is a holy union ordained by God.

Therefore, the creator who is the cause of both the male and female would possess an ideal father’s heart as well as a perfect mother’s heart. And this is what the whole counsel of God reveals. This is why,

• God the Son used maternal language in Matthew 23:37 “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” This is Why,

• God the Father used maternal language numerous times throughout the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 32:11-12 He said, “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him” (NIV). This is why,

• God the Holy Spirit exercised maternal attribute in Genesis 1:2 where it says “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” The word translated hovering is the Hebrew word rachaph. In the OT rachaph is used only three times and two of them are here in Deuteronomy 32:11 and Gen. 1:2. It means to move or shake or flutter or brood over. It is the same word used to describe an eagle fluttering or brooding over her young in Deuteronomy 32:11. So, as soon as we open the living Word of God, He shows us His Triune nature with His attributes of maternal as well as paternal characteristics.

The brood hen (mother hen) does much more than just move or hover over her young. She forms and lays the egg, protects and warms it until incubation, and then feeds and protects the chicks until they are mature enough to go it on their own.[3] So, our Triune God cares like a mother would and defends like a father would. Along with providing, disciplining, teaching and looking after us like a perfect father and mother would.

3. God gives us the Biblical image of womanhood.

The world always has, is and will oppose God, and God’s word. This is why humans are always trying to use their limited, impotent and improvident knowledge to comprehend the divine’s infinite and unprecedented knowledge. In regards to womanhood, God made it very clear from the beginning that man and woman are equal before God, and together as husband and wife, as one they complete the union God desired from the time of creation. Even though man is the head of the women just as Christ is the head of man according to Eph. 5:22ff, 1 Cor. 11:3–12, 1Tim. 2:11–15, Rom. 5:12, 1 Tim. 3:1–2, together they complete and provide a more accurate picture of God. Women is neither lesser nor more because God created man with a plan to create woman. Dr. Terry Mortenson helps us to understanding that by comparing two verses Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 1: 27. He writes:

… Gen. 1:26 says “And God said, ‘let us make man [adam, with no ha before it] in our image …’“ and 1:27 is parallel to v. 26, giving more definition and precision to the statement in v. 26. Verse 27 says “so God created man [ha-adam] in His own image, in the image of God he created him.“ So we are thinking of a single man at this point. But then it adds “male and female he created them“ (plural). So now we see that “man” comes in two forms: male and female.

In v. 26 that God (singular in English, but a plural noun in Hebrew, sometimes elsewhere translated as “gods”) said (third person singular verb form in Hebrew), “let us ”(plural) “make man in our” (plural) “image.”“ But then in v. 27 God says that He created man in “his” (singular) image. This is a subtle but very significant witness to the triune nature of God—a plurality in unity. We were created in the image of Triune God.

Something similar is going on with the use of Adam,- is used to convey plurality in unity. It means a single person (a male member of the human race) or it refers to a plurality in unity (representing the whole human race, just as in English we say “man” to mean mankind or in representing male and female together).[4]

So, the study of these two verse Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 1: 27 tells us that God in his foreknowledge saw the need for women to represent the complete image of God.

4. Our culture is against God and His perspective: The ever growing Anti-God culture was, is and will be in agreement with the exploiters and continues to exploit our evil desires, and unfortunately the church is not far behind culture in promoting the heathen agenda to forsake the honorable biblical calling on a woman’s life. According to John Piper, this biblical calling is “to weave a fabric of family life out of commitment to a husband and his calling, and commitment to her children and their training, and commitment to Christ and His glory.”[5]

The distorted image of womanhood, motherhood and Godhood we are receiving today is the byproduct of the entertainment industry and this well analyzed, sophisticated system exploits us because of our selfish, self-centered, self-pride and self-delusion to be something that we are not and were never meant to be. This self-delusion exists because of the ongoing human efforts to define and redefine God as it deems fit to fulfill our evil desires.

5. Believers are commanded to oppose false teachings: Contrary to what the culture promotes, God desires both men and women to, teach and practice that what is Godly and holy and divine for womanhood. In 1 Timothy Chapter 1, Paul Charged Timothy to Oppose False Teachers and Categorically Dismiss and Dispel Some of the Most Popular Notions in His Time Pertaining to God, His Word, and the Christian Doctrines (including the Godhood, and womanhood); and we ought to do the same even today .

v. 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk (1 Timothy 1:3-6, NIV).

This was true then and is true today, the church was to oppose false teachers and teachings then and the church is to oppose false teachers and teachings now.

In this half of the article, I want to: Celebrate and honor motherhood as the divine activity of God in the human world to reveal God’s true love and the complete image of Him for us so that He may receive all the glory and honor.

Why should we do that? Is it biblical to do that? The answer is yes, here are 5 reasons:

1. Because Jesus set the example for us: By celebrating and honoring motherhood we “glorify Jesus Christ who designed it, created it, and blessed it by his incarnation in Mary’s womb. Also, He honored her motherhood by caring for Mary”[6] (a mother and a woman) on the cross while He was in excruciating pain and was gasping for breath: “[John], Behold your mother” Jesus said in John 19:27.

2. Because God demonstrates it through His action of Grace. His Common grace provides the necessities of life to everyone, such as rain, sun, water, and even the oxygen that we inhale; same common grace also blesses every woman with motherhood and everyone with a mother because God knows that everyone needs a mother figure to present the full picture of God. This mother figure could be your biological mother, or the one who adopted you, or your older sister, or your spiritual mother or a teacher, or your grandmother. Can you imagine a world without that mother figure in your life?

God’s common grace is for everyone but His special grace is only for those who are believers. As it is written “whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). God requires more from godly women and godly mothers.

3. Because godly mothers/women are ambassadors of God to their children and other women.

Scriptures teaches us that we all are Ambassadors of Christ. But godly mothers/women have a special privilege and opportunity. All Christian women, whether mothers, or not as godly woman they have been appointed on earth to act according to the most blessed, rich, deep, precious, high and holy calling a human can receive that is confirmed in the scriptures so that your heart may long to the absolutely essential need to shape your children and younger women to create a God-centered, Christ-exalting church and culture.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 makes a few observations about how a Godly mother can make difference here on earth as well as in the Kingdom of God.

“But as for you [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Here are three Observations about 2 Timothy 3:14-15v.

1. in verse 14a-Paul talks about the source of Timothy’s firm belief: “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.” It shows that the training Timothy received was according to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ unlike those false teachers and prophets Paul warned Timothy in 1 Timothy Chapter 1.

2. in verse 14b- Clue no. 1: “From whom you learned it,” that Paul credited Timothy’s solid understanding of doctrines and the scriptures to the one from whom Timothy had learned. Apparently, its not Paul but somebody else. So, from whom is the question?

3. in verse 15a -Clue no. 2: Paul gives us clue that it was someone who was with Timothy in his childhood when he said “From Childhood.” So, it must be someone who understood the biblical mandate in Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” It was no other than his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois.

How do we know that? Because Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”

4. Because godly mothers/women are the embodiment of faith. In our test Paul commend Timothy for his sincere faith. What is faith? We know from Hebrew 11:1 that faith is “the assurance of hope and evidence of unseen things” but in layman term Faith = Belief + Action+ Confidence. Now, belief is– “An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded” while confidence is “trust that is based on knowledge or past experiences” but one must willfully ACT on it in order to exercise faith. So, Timothy’s trust was based on the knowledge that he received from his mother and grandmother, who had a solid understanding of the scriptures. He also based his trust on their experiences as Jewish believers. How do we know that they were Jewish believers?

The answer is found in Acts 16:1 “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” So Timothy is a son of believing mother and an unbelieving father. That’s why Paul didn’t mention his father at all.

Paul’s acknowledgement of Timothy’s understanding of the scriptures and commission to Timothy to continue what he has learned is the reflection of Paul’s acknowledgement of the pure understanding of the scriptures by Eunice and Lois and the effectiveness of their ministry in Timothy’s life. It is evident from Paul’s instruction to Timothy that Timothy’s training convinced Paul to urge Christian women to continue to teach their children as well as younger women in Titus 2:4-5“Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Here is an important point for Christian ladies, if you are a single mother, or your husband is not a believer, you still have a divine obligation to your children as a believing mother like Eunice and Lois, to teach and train them in the scripture. Older women who are Christians are commissioned by the word of God to teach and train younger women in their family and churches. This takes me to my last point.

5. Because mothers are the observers of scriptures and exemplars of character. 2 Tim 3: 14-15 is also an encouragement to mothers and women that they must learn scriptures and doctrines. If they are responsible for teaching their children and younger women then they must know the scriptures and doctrines themselves first.

In Pakistan, Islamic society makes sure that mothers teach Islam to their children and especially to their daughters so that when they grow up they can teach their daughters. Where did they get that? Without even a hint of doubt it was from Christian scriptures. This is one of those things that Islam adopted from Christians when Islam invaded Christian communities and lands occupied by Christians.

Growing up I was taught about Islam everywhere, especially at school. But it was the sweet sound of my mother (to be honest, which as a young child I understood as a nagging voice) that taught me the discipline of prayer, faith, patience, and above all reading the scriptures. We had a tradition of finishing the Bible from beginning to end before every January 1st, so as a family we competed for who may finish first.

As a young child, up until I left Pakistan, I witnessed my mother waking up every morning at about 3’O clock to sing hymns, read the bible and prayer. When our church was were under constant attack, or my father was hiding from the police, or was taken to prison, or when no one was there to help, when there was no food to eat and at many other times when all hope ceased to exist, my mother would say “It will turn out to be good.” As much as I was upset and unable to understand her faith I was amazed by her commitment to God. Because of her faith I learned to have faith in God’s faithfulness. My mother quoted the scriptures intensively. Many of those verses became the first portions of scripture that we, the Javed children memorized. My mother was not only the observer of the scripture but she was the exemplar of a Christ like Character.

Here are fives lessons that we can learn from a comprehensive study of godly motherhood, womanhood and Godhood:

1. The Holy Spirit Rachaph still, just as He did at the creation. He hovers over believers and flutters within them. He covers them with His wings; keeping, cultivating, and nurturing them with love, care and affection. He is the one who comforts, guides and helps them through uncertain period of times with their weaknesses. He is the one who will always be there; hovering and watching over His children; taking care of them as one over the young in their nest.

2. No matter what research we look at today it shows that the Christian youth in North American are abandoning their faith when they enter college. If Christian mothers know the scriptures and doctrines very well they will be able to equip their children from an early age so that when they enter any ungodly environment of society or college they will be able to present a reason for their faith. The church or youth pastors alone can’t do that. So, ladies must embrace their godly womanhood, and godly motherhood. Without them this world would not make any sense, and it would be impossible to fully and completely understand God

3. Christian men have a tremendous blessing and honor to stand with women as they nurture, train and care for their children. If you are a son, be a Godly son, honor your mother, listen to her counsel and know that God has appointed her over you as a guardian and authority to provide you with the moral compass that you need, to navigate through the rough and dark times. And even if she has grown weak and old, she is still your mother and deserves your utmost respect.

4. If you are a husband, God demands you to treat your wife as Christ treats the church. It is your Christian duty to be the best husband you can be, you must provide for her needs, you must love her, respect her, and care for her. Even if she has grown old, remember the day when you saw her for the first time and found her to be the most beautiful women in the world, and always abide by your commitment to honor her and cherish her.

5. And if you are a father or brother, know that God has appointed you for a period of time to serve your daughter or your sister until her husband comes and takes her away. You are to show her the love of Christ and the care she deserves.

Footnotes.

1 Unknown, “God’s Maternal Nature.” http://www.eternal-productions.org/PDFS/God’s%20Maternal%20Nature.pdf (accessed May 20th).

2 Ibid.

3 The example adopted from “Creation Days” http://www.accuracyingenesis.com/CREATION%20DAYS.pdf (accessed May 20th).

4 Terry Mortenson, “An In-Depth Look at the Translation of the Hebrew Word Adam.” https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/adam-and-eve/in-depth-look-at-translation-of-hebrew-word-adam/ (accessed May 20th).

5 John Piper, “Honoring the Biblical Call of Motherhood.” http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/honoring-the-biblical-call-of-motherhood (accessed May 20th).

6 Ibid.

About the Author

He was born and raised in Pakistan, and received his formal education in Pakistan. He was saved as a result of his family’s miraculous deliverance from an intense wave of persecution. In 2003, he planted a church in Athens, Greece among Indians and Pakistanis. The church continues to grow. He has also ministered in Iran and Afghanistan. He flied Pakistan under religious persecution and made the USA his permanent home.

He speaks nationally and internationally on the subject of Islam and Christianity as well as persecuted Christians. He is faculty member of Davis College, NY and New York School of the Bible; also serves at Calvary Baptist Church, Manhattan, New York City, NY, USA as the director of outreach.

He is a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He holds, BA, BS, BRE, MS, MBA, Ed.S and Ed.D in Leadership.

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Dr. A. R. Javed

Dr. A. R. Javed is on faculty of New York School of the Bible, offering and heading the department of Missions and Understanding Islam. He is a lecturer at Davis College's NYC site and regularly gives lectures on Islam, Missions, Christian Theology nationally and internationally.

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