Some thoughts on Christian Doctrine
There is much said about gender nowadays. Human wisdom dominates. The very idea of holding beliefs set down in a book written ages ago is seen as foolish. We hear it said that those beliefs were part of an ancient world; we must adapt them to accommodate modern life and opinion. It is the opinion of some leaders in the Christian religion that the term ‘Father’ is outdated and misleading. It has become an easy thing to rip words, sentences, even whole paragraphs out of the Bible and insert new, modern thoughts. In fact, it is possible to buy a Bible that has removed gender specific pronouns about God; even one that replaces he with she and father with mother. The idea of taking a stand about the Christian faith has become a risky business that could incur accusations of misogynist, sexist, homophobic and of stirring up hatred.
Does it matter how we speak to or speak of God?
Ephesians 3:14-15 NIV For this reason I kneel before the Father, (15) from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
This Bible verse shows that addressing God as ‘Father’ is a matter of Christian doctrine. So, it is not subject to changes because of what the world believes about gender or because someone struggles with earthly fatherhood. God is Father. He chose to create the world and all that is in it. He chose to receive sinners into His family through faith in Jesus His Son. We might point out that God has characteristics of a mother too. A mother gives birth. The child born is hers and belongs to her. There is no choice about that. The father must choose the child. The father chooses to love and protect the child that echoes the Bible doctrine of adoption.
Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
We should not let the failure of human fathers or the arguments of gender to cloud the wonderful truth that God chooses and adopts sinners as His children – His sons, through repentance and faith.
Matthew 23:9 NIV And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
The context here is that of a title. People would ascribe the noble title of ‘Abba’ on Rabbis and religious leaders. Jesus taught that we ought not to us the title out of context (OK for one’s actual father). Used as a title of nobility and respect it must be reserved for God alone. So, we revere God by addressing Him as Our Father.
Matthew 6:9 GNB This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honoured.