Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day and God the Father

 I have fathers on the brain, since it's Father's Day in the U.S. I know how lucky I am to have emerged from an intact family, to have a mom and a dad who continue to love each other, and continue to love my sister and me. I grew up in the 1970's and saw plenty of wrecked families. I've always wondered how people who come out of those wrecked families, especially those with absent or abusive fathers, react to the idea of God as a Father.

Even though I have a good relationship with both of my parents, I'm not crazy about the idea of God as Parent (of either gender). I think that God as Parent is an infantilizing metaphor. If God is a Dad (or so much more rarely, a Mom), then it follows that we're children, and too often, we see that as a reason for inactivity. But God needs us to be active in the world. I'd go further and say that God is counting on us. I much prefer the idea of God as partner. God can be the Senior partner; I'm cool with that.

Of course, I see the value of viewing God as a loving parent, but I'd love for us to expand our metaphors for God. I'd also love us to take our view of God, and see if it could have impact on our own lives. How might our parenting change, if we used God as the parenting model? What if we viewed God as someone who packed our lunch for us? What if we saw God as soccer coach or the one who taught us to sail or program computers?

On this Father's Day, I plan to call my own Dad, to say thanks. I plan to write my father-in-law, to say thanks. I plan to pray for a world where fathers are there to shape their children in positive ways. I plan to pray for fathers everywhere. And in effect, I'll be praying for us all--we are most of us shepherding people from a variety of generations in a variety of ways.

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