"Blatantly sexist."

"Hierarchical."

"Offensive."

"Oppressive."

"Domineering."

What would provoke such harsh declarations? The writer of those words goes on to identify the reason: “capitalized, masculine pronouns in…every description of God.”

These severe pronouncements appeared in a recent Amazon book review of my book Daily Reflections on the Names of God. This review didn’t make me angry. It broke my heart. Not because someone didn’t like the devotional. That did make me sad, but my heart aches because this person considers capitalized male pronouns in reference to our heavenly Father to be offensive and oppressive.

An Ongoing Battle

For thousands of years, the multiplication of sin across humanity has slowly and inexorably destroyed the joy of our gender identities. It has corrupted the blessing of family roles. Men—even Christian men—have abused their positions, failing to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and lacking grace and tenderness in their leading. Women have responded out of frustration, throwing off the shackles of abuse.

And the enemy rejoices. By destroying God-ordained roles in marriage and families, he has also destroyed our joy in relating to God as Father. Because, whether we prefer it or not, God has chosen to reveal Himself in His Word as a father-figure (and yes, I intentionally capitalized the pronoun!).

We’ve seen the battles played out over the Internet, especially in recent months. Writers quote Scripture to support their position and dismiss the validity of those who disagree. Women claim the male descriptions are obstacles to viewing themselves as formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

All this while an unbelieving world watches.

Male Role Models

Few things are as heartrending as a father who betrays the trust of his children. Accounts of children who have been physically and sexually abused are tragic. When the abuser is the child’s own father or a father-figure, the reports are even more appalling. Yet these crimes are increasingly commonplace.

Even more heartbreaking is the knowledge that those who have been betrayed by their earthly fathers often go on to reject their heavenly Father. They find it painful to relate to any father-figure, including God.

But God isn’t just another imperfect father figure. He’s not a deadbeat dad, a philandering papa, or an absentee parent. He is the perfect, holy creator of the universe. He is faithful, righteous, and just. He is always present, loving, and merciful. Regardless of our family circumstances, good or bad, we can choose not to allow the failures of earthly fathers to limit our view of our heavenly Father.

Still, the failure of earthly fathers has led to a dismaying movement in our society: the denial of the fatherhood of God. This growing movement to deny God as Father permeates our society with dangerous results. If He is not our Father, then we are not accountable to Him. If we’re not accountable to Him, then sin is not a problem. And if sin is not a problem, then we do not need a Savior. The consequences of this reasoning are more than bad—they are eternal.

Anthropomorphism