I was reading an article titled, “Exchanging God for “No Gods”: A Discussion of Female Language for God” (by Elizabeth Achtemeier) and thought about this beginning of our profession, because some people get stuck here. Because we have had a move toward more inclusive language when it relates to us, and because we know that God is not a male, and because for some people there is a wound in the image they associate with a father figure, there is sometimes a push back to referring to God as Father.
As to the last point, the USCCA (page 52, CCC 239) very plainly acknowledges that our image of both motherhood and fatherhood can be “disfigured” based on our personal experiences and the reality of fallible human parents. And we can take great comfort as it highlights that “no one is father as God is Father.”
But why “Father?” A simple response is: that is how God revealed himself to us. We studied in an earlier chapter about how God gradually revealed himself to us, and that revelation reached its fullness in Jesus Christ. And Jesus is eternally in relationship as Son to the Father and vice versa. To speak otherwise is to speak differently than the way God consistently spoke of himself in any metaphorical language – though there are comparisons (or similes) about aspects of his tenderness towards us using the image of mother.
Returning to the article, it raised some particular points, mostly relating how God the Father informs our understanding of God the Creator and how important it is to recognize that God’s identity is not bound up in his creation. And “because God is not bound up with his creation… the eternal God is able to take those who love him into an everlasting fellowship with himself… the pattern of human life is not that of nature’s endless round of becoming and passing away but becomes a joyful pilgrimage toward God’s goal of his kingdom.” The Catechism says it thus:
God is infinitely greater than all his works: “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Indeed, God’s “greatness is unsearchable”. But because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all that exists, God is present to his creatures’ inmost being: “In him we live and move and have our being.” In the words of St. Augustine, God is “higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self”. (CCC 300)
What we believe about God, about his being Creator, that he creates by wisdom and love, “out of nothing,” with order/design for good – even while creation journeys toward what it will become – that he transcends creation and is present to it, that he upholds and sustains is… is foundational to forming a world view that can look beyond what we sometimes see (a culture that increasingly marginalizes God as relevant, and where the dignity of the human person is often betrayed), and have a framework for our faith (for ourselves and to communicate with confidence to others) with hope and joy in One God who is truth and love. (Laurie E.)