Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Demands on Our Father

I had lunch with a dear friend this afternoon. We have written a number of Christian songs and chorales together. We share the same childhood faith experience – pretty conservative. Recently I wrote a lyric for a melody and orchestration he had developed and we were both quite enthused about its potential.
In the meantime my friend has quietly shared our recent work with other colleagues in the ‘Christian’ music business and a few ministers and music directors within our community. He shared the results. The title of our recent piece is ‘Blessed Father.’ It has not been well received. ‘Father’ is not so widely accepted in the halls of modern Christendom: it offends, detracts, minimizes, unduly celebrates, degrades, underestimates, etc. He was not so much asking me if I would consider changing the gender word – he knew what my answer would be and I know, deep down, he agreed – as he was reminding me of exactly what is going on in our culture and what we were facing. It was also clear to me that our potential distribution systems had narrowed. Many (most) mainline Protestant denominations are reluctant to publish hymns that use male gender words for God. (Open a hymnal in any mainstream Protestant sanctuary in America and you shall encounter the gender-bending antics of many so-called songwriters and music editors who have infiltrated the process over the past 4 decades.) I told my friend, ‘I’m not going to change this. I will happily work at Papa John’s, Five Guys or Burger King rather than write songs that alter and redefine Christ’s relationship to God. This is, after all, my Father’s world.’
As I was driving home I got really angry. I realized that those who cannot (or refuse to) tolerate the truth and reality of the Bible have placed so much pressure on the body that they have caused us to hesitate using the word Father to address and define God. Today, for just a moment, they actually had two worthy and creative people wondering what they should do. This is repulsive; it may be much more than that; it may be a dark spirit.
I, for one, shall refuse to move from my position. Jesus referred to God as His Father; far be it from me to disagree. I love my mother, I love my wife, I loved my sister, I love my mother-in-law, I love my daughter and I love my nieces. I treat them with the utmost respect. Men can be cruel, violent, abusive and unfaithful. Father, forgive them.