Outgrowing God

Presenting God as father creates a few problems in modern conversation. What seems like a blanket of comfort to some, feels more like a wet blanket to others.

Bad Dads

The most obvious issue with the idea of God as father is the negative connotation that the title “father” often carries. For many, father is the sperm donor who disappeared when the pregnancy test results came in. He is the man who was always on his way but never showed up—plenty of promises, no delivery. Perhaps he is the tough guy who likes to talk with his fists. The workaholic who put food on the table but never spent much time there. The sloppy drunk. The disgusting pervert.

With so many broken homes and horrible fathers, presenting God as Dad doesn’t always warm people’s hearts.

King of Never Neverland

More complex, and harder to wade through, is the Overbearing Dad narrative made famous by the late Christopher Hitchens, well-known writer and proponent of atheism.

Nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father that never goes away. – Hitchens

God, then, is like an immortal leach sucking every drop of independence out of humanity, an insecure father who refuses to let his children move out, the eternal king of Never Neverland.

Admittedly, this sounds awful. As a new father, I understand my infant son’s need for his parents; he is hopeless without us. But I also understand that as he grows he will gain independence and no longer rely on his parents for anything. In fact—fingers crossed—one day he may be the one feeding us and changing our diapers as we fade into our twilight years. Complete role reversal.

It’s pathetic, and frankly awkward, when a parent perpetuates adolescence and childish dependence in a teen or adult.

For this reason, Hitchens’ analogy deserves consideration. If God is just an overbearing deity who derives worth from stunting the growth of humans, then yes, let’s move out of his basement immediately.

But the God Hitchens aimed to dismantle is described in the scriptures as the omnipotent Creator of all things, the first and the last, the author of life. The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus, “…he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” In other words, without Jesus everything falls apart.

If this God exists, how does one outgrow a need for Him? The very concept is foolish, like a starving baby refusing a bottle, or a terminal patient declaring independence from life support.

If the eternal God of the Bible truly upholds the cosmos and is the ultimate source of human sustenance, of course he “never goes away.” And of course we remain dependent on Him. There is no other response.

So, have we outgrown God?

Have our enlightened scientific minds finally freed us from the oppressive chains of pesky religion, thereby allowing us to become better people?

I don’t know. Have we sorted out racism in the 21st Century? What about the whole murdering each other thing? Is that still wrong, or is it simply the process of thinning out the herd, a little survival of the fittest to move us along the evolutionary food chain?
We are further from a “God-fearing” society than ever in history. Are we better for it?
Of course, none of this proves the existence of God, but neither does miscalculating the cosmic difference between an earthly and a heavenly father disprove his existence.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Mitchell Photography

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2 responses to “Outgrowing God”

  1. Fred says :

    Heavy food for thought on a Friday afternoon!

    My dad passed away when I was ten months old and my mom never re-married. I never had an earthly father, and at times it’s difficult for me to grasp the concept of God as my heavenly father, I never had any kind of measuring stick.

    I don’t believe you can outgrow a relationship, you grow and change, go through seasons. As this happens the relationship evolves and changes with you.

    As my 3 year old son grows older, I know the way he sees me will change, but I pray that he doesn’t outgrow our relationship.

    • Anthony Garcia says :

      Fred, thanks so much for your words, man. I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to grow up without a father, but I really appreciate your vulnerability and your unique perspective. God bless.

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