Love your Mother

Recently I posted an image with the following caption: “the church is your mother, love her!”

I had a message from a friend who gave some pushback saying, “no, the church is the bride of Christ. I have never heard of it being called our mother.”

Do we have any articles or podcasta on this subject in the blogs on warhorn? I couldnt find anything myself.


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Dear Mrs. Folks,

We see it in Galatians 4:26:

But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.

And then Revelation 21:2:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.



“He who does not have the church for his mother, cannot have God for his Father” (Tertullian, attrib).


Cyprian, and quoted by Calvin. If you want a whole lot more on this, read The Church Reformed.


I just finished Church Reformed last week. Something that I found helpful to drive home this concept of the church as our mother was your discussion of the Lord’s Supper. Namely, the way you discussed that the Lord’s Supper doesn’t belong to “the Christian,” but to the church. As the family meal, it belongs to the family, not the individual. Yet we’ve erred in our churches by making it an individualistic experience.

I had this thought as I was reading. I wonder if in a similar way, when people speak of the church as the bride of Christ, do we make the subtle mistake wherein we inadvertently insert the individual Christian as the abstract placeholder for the bride of Christ. We essentially make the Christian out to be the bride of Christ, which means Christ alone is the Christian’s head.

In other words, we use this concept of the church as bride of Christ to deny the authority of the church. “Christ alone is my husband and my head,” says the Christian. Well, not exactly. Just as the Lord’s Supper doesn’t belong to the individual Christian, neither does the bridal honor.

That’s where the concept of thinking of the church as our mother just seems to click with me, and provides the missing link in how to think about it all. Even if the term had no biblical support, I’d still find it insightful.


You should find and read Leon Podle’s book The Church Impotent. Podles is a Roman editor of Touchstone Journal, and his book is addressed to other Romans. However, as you read it, you’ll see that a lot of what he points to as an insidious emasculating dynamic in the Roman Church has been at work for a very long time within ostensibly orthodox Protestantism in both Europe and North America.

Podles pins the blame on Bernard of Clairvaux, a Burgundian abbot and a major leader in the revitalization of Benedictine monasticism through the nascent Cistercian Order (Wikipedia). Through Bernard’s teaching ministry the New Testament’s bridal imagery was willy nilly applied to the spiritual life and experience of individual Christians. It doesn’t take much thought to see how emasculating this is for a male Christian.

Even one as usually lucid as C. S. Lewis was captivated by this mistake, and it led to some very murky ponderings about the nature and function of the sexes. But, as I say, the error was not confined to the Roman Church, though it became popular there before the Reformation. You can find plenty of examples of the same mistake post-Reformation in Protestantism’s teachers.


Another result of this thinking: the “God-is-my-cosmic-boyfriend” tone of too many of the modern worship songs. As one of my female friends put it, “Some are so bad that even women can’t sing them”. Vineyard have been some of the worst offenders here.