Rop tú cech maithius dom churp, dom anmain; rop tú mo flaithius i n-nim ‘s i talmain.
Be thou my great father and I thy true son.
I am so grateful for Tom Hazen. I feel a little guilty for how unbalanced my affections are for my parents. I love my mother, of course, but I resonate with my father. He was by no means perfect. In fact after his death, his foibles became more apparent. However, he was just the right father for me.
Motherhood would (on at least a biological level) seem so much more significant than fatherhood: carrying the child inside her body, nourishing the baby with milk, etc. There is an intimacy between mother and child that would seem to recommend it as the preferred analogy for God and Creator. And it’s not that it is never used in scripture…it is. Yet the concept of father persists in the narrative about human/God relations. As I examine the concept of “father”, I encounter mystery. Is it the very separateness that makes it valuable? The one step removed from motherhood that makes it an accurate, well, more accurate analog? Is mother too close to child to represent the relationship accurately?
Father is a part of the child, but he is still other. Father stands separately and chooses to engage with the child. The mother is…well, she’s obligated. A mother MUST love her child, right?
Of course I’m being hyperbolic here. There are mothers who are capable of abandoning their children, and normal fathers feel a compelling love for their children. But for the purposes of metaphor the differences are clear and I suggest, meaningful.
In patriarchal cultures like those through which God spoke, father is an authority. A protector. A teacher. The provider. The source of Identity. The disciplinarian.
The gifts of the mother are priceless…and the gifts of the father are beyond value. God…my great Father.
There is a lifetime and more worth of exploration in the Bible. Check out AC3 Applications to learn about studying the Bible for ideas like God’s fatherhood, the culture of the ancient Hebrews and more.