02/24/2014 05:34 pm ET Updated Apr 26, 2014

God and Parenthood

It has been often articulated by some that God has a strong authoritative nature. Many ignore or minimize the gentle and loving attributes of God. This happens to all the major religious traditions. Some followers also seem to be more concerned with dogma and legalism. The problem with legalism, rules and dogma is that some followers place all their energy in deciding what God wants instead of looking at the obvious. Further, they would state that their respective holy book, e.g. the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

Reading and interpreting the Bible or another holy book as error free is a grave mistake. This is what is wrong the world. If God wanted us to abide by an exact rule book, He would not have given us freewill and would have just dropped the holy book from the sky on our robot heads. God gives us the intelligence to understand the historical, context and the logic behind the words written in any holy book. With that said, a strong and logical argument can be made for God not being a picky rule making dictator and/or ogre as sometimes the holy books portray Him, but instead a compassionate yet firm loving father. This is not to minimize the respect one should have for God. If respect for God exists, then naturally the respect for oneself and others will occur and vice versa.

As a preface for understanding and supporting the proposition in this text, it is important to digress for a moment and grasp a brief academic understanding of God as Father in the major religious traditions. All of the major religious traditions, especially the Abrahamic ones, equate God with father/mother. In Hinduism, there are multiple incarnations of God (Vishnu) through the centuries and one prime example would be Krishna who was the full incarnation (son) of Vishnu. In the Islamic tradition, God is described as most merciful and compassionate and the prophet of Islam has equated the mercy of God to that of a mother to an infant child. Judaism describes God as creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector. God as the Father is a central and important facet of Christianity. Further, Christianity states that humans are created in the image of God.

What is the obvious with regards to a central decree in Christianity? The answer is proper care for children. Rarely could one find a more imperative edict from Jesus as the one from all of the synoptic Gospels: E.g. Mark 9:42 states if anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. An almost identical directive exists within the other three synoptic Gospels and with Mark being the oldest, it is then almost certain the historical Jesus spoke these words.

Parents emulate God as father and care-giver. This is the obvious equivalence: responsible parents are to their children as God is father to all of humanity. As responsible parents, we are less interested in asserting our dominance over our children but instead act selflessly to insure our children are raised in a loving and accountable manner. God as father, within the Christian tradition showed the most extreme selfless act of allowing His incarnate Son to die for humanity's flaws. The same applies to responsible parents. We suffer to ensure our children are cared for, namely financially, spiritually and compassionately so in turn our children will treat others benevolently and subsequently make the world a better place. However the very opposite apply to abused and poorly raised children. And the abusive-vicious cycle often continues. Children that have been abused often abuse their children. Anyone that understands this vicious abusive cycle should appreciate why Jesus makes such a bold and vital statement regarding child abuse. As a father to older adopted children, I can attest to the horrors of trauma and the difficulty in reversing such trauma. This is why care and love of our children is imperative.

A responsible homosexual couple is least likely if not likelier to adopt an orphan. A strong argument can be made that God has little concern with the sexual nuances of the responsible homosexual. There is scarcely any declaration forbidding homosexual activity in the New Testament. Further, Jesus strongly condemns child abuse and never even mentions homosexuality. In the bedroom, no one is being hurt if it is love.

All of this is not to say that we make our children's life easy; on the contrary, love, hard work and firm discipline are important. Raising our children with firm yet loving discipline and watching their trial and tribulations certainly hints at a solution to the problem of suffering and evil in this world. The same applies to God and how He just doesn't give us everything we want. We must learn and endure. And as a parent suffers watching their children fail, suffer and learn from it, the same applies to God the father. He painfully watches humanity as his children falter but we ensure, become stronger and learn. This example does not by any means solve the problem of suffering and evil but it does indeed give some insight as to an explanation.

Scholars have come a long way in the past 50 years. The Bible is inspired and important but not without error. Literalism has always been a problem in all the major religions. Sin is essentially about hurting other people. We cannot hurt God without hurting others nor can we not hurt others without hurting God. The world would be a much better place with less concern for dogma, legalism and rules and more concern ensuring the well-being of our children.

"Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who -- who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results." ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird