Sunday, May 1, 2016

Godlike Parenthood

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name…”

My motorcycle sold the same week my daughter was born. My wife, terrified of our new role as parents, was convinced I would be road kill and she’d be alone to raise our daughter. So I reluctantly put the bike on the market and had three full price offers before the week was through. 

My daughter’s birth was also the catalyst of my personal faith crisis. Fitting that as the years rolled by, I would soon buy another bike and the time spent on the lonely road would give me the opportunity to explore my apostasy. 

I’ll back up a bit. God is allegedly our father in heaven, a name he prefers. Clearly, parenthood is an important aspect in God’s eternal plan for our existence. Of the many names God is known by, the one he asks us to use when we address him in prayer is the name that speaks to his nature as a loving and attentive father. 

I always went with those descriptions because up to that point I could only assume what parenthood was like. 

I remember vividly a moment alone with my newborn daughter late that first night in the hospital. My wife, exhausted from a grueling labor process, was sleeping soundly. I held my tiny daughter in my arms, and felt an emotion that was as new and foreign to me as it was cliché. I knew then my child was the most important responsibility I would ever have. I vowed I would do whatever I could to protect her and ensure her opportunity to pursue happiness.

The problem was, I had no idea how to be a father. Certainly I had good influences in my life. My father raised me to be a hardworking and honest man. But being the student of a great teacher does not automatically make one an equally superior teacher. 

I had to figure out how to be the best father I could. A scripture I had read (and glossed over) many times began to needle its way deep into my brain. I read it often. The scripture comes from Jesus when he preached the Sermon on the Mount:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:7-11)

I like that scripture because it speaks of a love I could never comprehend. A love so perfect, that men like me can only aspire to it. The scripture is only a few short verses, but it gives a blueprint for the type of parent I want to be. One who gives my children good gifts like confidence, education, and love. 

Before I knew the love a father could feel for his children, these scriptural verses were poetic but meaningless. My wife and I have since added two more children to our small family, and the same feelings of protector, provider, and parent accompany me as soon as I meet each new child. 

I make no claim to being a perfect father. I often feel like I fall short. There are times I wish I spent more quality time with my kids. But I feel like I’ve given them a good life, and they know they are safe with me and I would never do them any harm. 

Perhaps, then, you can understand my building confusion over the years over a god who speaks of such love and compassion but who seems so willing to murder and destroy his children. 

The scriptures are filled with examples of man being commanded by god to murder others. Additionally, there are many stories of god himself committing mass murder and even genocide upon his so-called beloved children. I’ve been upset and disappointed in the actions of my kids before, but the carelessness and disregard for life displayed by our “father in heaven” is the attitude of a deranged sociopath. 

I’m not a perfect parent, but I have a hard time picturing a scenario where I would want my own children, who I love dearly, to be murdered for disobeying me. I am not god. I have better morals than that. 

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