I’ve worked as a Christian Science chaplain in jails for almost 20 years, and almost all the inmates I’ve met have appreciated the influence of someone they could call “Mom.” It might be their biological mother, grandmother, aunt, or other close relation.
As a result, great effort has been made by inmates to honor Mom on Mother’s Day. But the same can’t be said about Father’s Day. Many inmates don’t know their father, or he walked out of their lives with no male relative stepping forward to fill that role. Part of my work has been to help inmates see past gender and bloodlines to the true parent of God’s creating. This truth is helpful not only to inmates, but for every son, daughter, and parent to draw upon.
The Bible says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). Many might interpret this verse to mean God created two genders, male and female. But what if we were to consider the idea that since God is Spirit, His image is spiritual? And if we are truly spiritual, couldn’t we interpret “male and female created he them” to mean everyone includes both those male and female qualities? And to prove the point, if you talk with a child raised by a single mother, they will most likely say their mom not only includes kindness, compassion, love, and all the qualities associated with mothering, but that their mom also includes strength, discipline, courage – the qualities associated with fathering.
The reverse also holds true in my case. Up to the time when my mom passed on, leaving behind three teenage boys, my dad was somewhat distant from our daily activities. But when Mom was gone, Dad stepped up big time, and all those tender mothering qualities came forth. It was a wonder to behold, as we had rarely seen that side of him. And that’s the time I found Christian Science, which mothered me all the more, answering my many questions.
In regard to bloodlines, Jesus made the following bold statement in Mark 3:33-35: “And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
So for all those people who don’t have a blood relative serving as a parental figure, God has already provided those qualities through influential teachers, coaches, friends, and others, who are doing the will of God. When you think of a subject in school that really interested you, it may have been a teacher who made it come alive. And how about a sport you loved? There was likely a coach who inspired you to go up higher not only physically, but perhaps even morally and metaphysically. Camp counselors, Sunday school teachers, and, of course, dear friends – all are wonderful examples of God’s care and love for us.
And going up even higher, I’ve found that when I understand myself spiritually, I acknowledge every wonderful quality as coming straight from our Father-Mother God, from whom we are all directly descended. It is at this point I look directly to God for my validation, comfort, and well-being, which serve to make all my relationships healthier and happier. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 516).
So on this Sunday of celebration in the United States, and in many countries, we can honor the fathering qualities in dads, moms, and in everyone doing the will of God. And equally important, because the source of these qualities is divine, and each of us therefore includes them as God’s expression, we can feel celebrated – by God. This revelation makes for a very happy Father’s Day.