I have thought for many years about what it means to be called a father. I have been called dad more often than father but are they not much the same. My small children have now grown up. I am not alone in my experience as countless men share the calling. I have a father, he has a father and so on. While we have discovered some of our family roots we don't know them all, yet each was an essential link in a chain of creation implemented by God in the Garden of Eden. It is about understanding who we are as individuals and human beings.
How important is this opportunity to share in creation? How does one describe the feeling of seeing their newborn child and thinking about the potential of their life? What is the power or influence of a father or the lack thereof? When viewed with an eternal perspective, understanding begins to unfold and we see why God is our Eternal Father.
Our first born was a boy followed by more boys and girls and now grandchildren. The wonder of this experience is shared with my companion. Her divine nature as a mother and woman never ceases to amaze me. Our time together has brought a seemingly endless opportunity to watch unique individuals grow and develop under our care as their parents. It has been and is a learning experience beyond compare for us and them and still is. While I set out to count my blessings as a father I have to ask the question. What is fatherhood without motherhood? Can it even exist without motherhood?
Raising children in this world can be such a consuming experience that it is possible to take it for granted while it is happening. When the opportunity to reflect on a child's growth and achievements arrives it can be amazing. If we try to make it a point to reflect often and also appreciate the moments when they are happening our lives will be filled with amazement.
I think perhaps the greatest calling in life is to raise the next generation of parents. Whether as a parent, aunt, uncle or friend it is something that must happen to keep love at the center of our relationships. Our extended families provide support when shortcomings, unexpected death or other challenges enter the picture of life. We try our best to teach and love but we are still learning and in the process ourselves. Why does God want us to have this experience? He created the world. Why? So we could be partners in creation and learn on a small measure what he does.
Fatherhood is about creation and teaching and it is inseparably and eternally connected to motherhood. I think and ponder on what it means to be eternally and inseparably bound in perfect union as co-creators with God. An intimacy and relationship so vital to His process of creation that he places bounds and limits to be followed. It is a perfect union not because of us but because that is how he designed it. The imperfections of mortal life as we see it in society today have certainly given way to difficult and confusing circumstances and ideologies. These can cloud the eternal perspective yet we must see the truth of our most intimate relationships.
What does fatherhood mean when speaking of God and His title "Father in Heaven"? As I have asked that question in religious discussion I have heard from most traditional Christians that it is not a literal fatherhood. It is only figurative because he is our creator and the title father is used only as a manner of speaking because such language is biblical. Traditional Christian doctrines do not teach that God is a father in any literal sense. It is wholly figurative. The only christian religious group that recognizes God as the literal father of our spirit is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
I always imagined and do believe that our relationship is personal and that Heavenly Father is a title that is very literal to both us and to Jesus Christ and that we are God the Father's spiritual offspring in a divine and significant way.
Parenting and creation of life is naturally served and set forth in a pattern of an observable nature. It is taught in the first and fifth chapters of Genesis. Our pattern of creation is set forth in the image of God, male and female. Think about what that means. It is to be a parents with children, teaching them truth and inspiring them to observe and learn the laws of life even the laws of eternal life.
One question to think about is when did our relationship with Deity begin? It is a common belief that a part of our nature is spirit creation and united with a physical body. To Latter Day Saints, this is the soul of man. There is scriptural teaching to this effect. When did this creation of our spiritual nature come about?
I am only aware of two basic beliefs regarding this subject. One is that God created our spirit instantly out of nothing to give our body life with no significant eternal purpose. The other is that our spirits and intelligence existed prior to earthly birth and have been enjoined for an important eternal purpose for spiritual growth through a pattern of natural and intimate creation.
If we are eternal beings on a journey that will be everlasting it makes more sense to me, that although we may not understand how, that the part of us that makes us unique and different from everyone else, our spiritual intelligence, has always existed. Our spirit is a literal natural creation flowing from the eternal truth and from a divine and sacred relationship. We have a spiritual DNA endowed from God that we should become aware of.
When we look at our creation and existence, a question about creation and fatherhood should be asked. What is it without motherhood and womanhood? When the creation of the world was finished, they the Gods, (It says let us, plural, there were at least two and I understand that to be the Father and the Son) then created man in their own image and likeness. That creation included both man and woman. Based on this and other scripture passages the likeness and image of God cannot be a single man by himself.
The Genesis story makes the nature of our relationships perfectly clear. He, the man, is not complete without woman and neither is she complete without man. The "image" of God is described as "male and female". That is how we exist, now and forever. Alone neither can create any living thing but together they can create after their own image and likeness. This is an endowment from our creator. This is an eternal truth. It is his pattern. It does not change.
Think of the greatest birth ever recorded that we celebrate and revere as Christians. Our eternal hope is based on a sacred birth which never could have occurred without the divine power and gift of motherhood.
Links to Articles on Parenthood
Comments, observations and articles are the author's opinions from his perspective as a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints regarding spiritual truth. They look at the scriptural accounts, philosophical reasoning and revealed teachings about man's existence and purposes. The opinions expressed are my own and do not represent the church's position. In most cases links are included to official church materials or other interesting articles.