It is sometimes said that the type of relationship a person has with his father will have an effect on his perception of God. I suspect the same is true of how one views authority more generally.
When I entered Florida State University in 1988, one of my first courses was an honors section in American literature. For the first time in my relatively sheltered life, I absorbed the liberal jeremiad against the white male.
Regardless of the collective merit of that case (I suspect the problem has much to do with human beings and power and less to do with white males specifically), I kept thinking of my own father. Did what I was hearing square with my own experience of the white male who had authority over me?
It did not. As a professor today, I realize that what I did in class was a bit silly, but one day I’d had enough and held up my hand to be recognized. When called upon, I explained that my father was one heck of a great guy and defied the constant negative stereotype I was hearing. I’m sure I convinced no one as the reasoning from the specific to defy the general is not always meaningful.
But the greater point is this. My father’s love and leading in my life caused me to respect him and to want to defend him and others like him. He was (and is) a hard working man, a tremendous solver of problems, an extraordinarily smart individual, and a patient person. In addition, he gave generously of his time. How many hours did he spend catching balls I threw as hard as I could? How many of those did he catch on a ricochet to the chin which bounced up from the ground as I pitched to him crouched in the catcher’s position? What good thing did I ever ask for that he withheld?
Do you know what may have been my favorite times with him? There were occasionally nights when I’d been sent to bed and would wander back out to the den to find him settling in for a late movie on CBS such as a showing of The Avengers or The Nightstalker. He’d invite me to join him on the sofa. Was a boy ever happier than those times?
Well, maybe agonizing together over the awfulness of the Atlanta Braves in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. That was great, too. If they ever won or one of them was hitting .300, it felt like a tremendous victory.
When it came time for me to have a relationship with God the father, my earthly father was no impediment at all. It was easy for me to believe that I could have a heavenly father who loves me.