“Our Father” can have an anti-patriarchal, subversive tone to it. Like calling God “king,” it stakes out a claim for the believer with respect to which “powers” have ultimate authority. It can also be a very egalitarian and democratic claim, because it puts all people on the same level; all as equally loved and deserving of respect under the loving authority of God.” – Kyle Roberts
It is no coincidence that the “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” from the highly woman-oppressing Vision Forum started this way:
God as Masculine1. God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine. God is the eternal Father and the eternal Son…
By, contrast, the classical Christian view states God is neither male nor female. God is spirit, having neither male nor female body parts, with both man and woman made in God’s image. If God is neither male nor female, what significant reason could God have for revealing Himself as “Father”? (Or, for that matter, “Him” and not “Her”?)
In Bible times, “father” had both a literal and a figurative meaning. It is unlikely that Jesus will have a problem with someone admitting a biological or adopted relation, but Jesus nevertheless said:
Matthew 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven… 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
If Jesus was against his followers calling someone “father”, he was against people wielding a certain form of authority (figurative fatherhood) over Christians – not against admitting who you are related to.
But the message of Jesus is almost the opposite: Jesus says that Christians should not call people fathers. Fatherhood was associated with authority for the Bible readers, but Christians have one Father, one teacher, one authority figure: God.
So, one part of the significance of God’s Fatherhood is that, if you are a child of God, no human being is your figurative father. In Christianity, there is no room for characters who lord it over others the way Roman patriarchs were legally allowed to do. The authority that, to Ancient Near East people, were synonymous with fatherhood, belongs only to God.
Or, as one member of the Facebook group Biblical Christian Egalitarians testifies:
One of my all-time favorite verses is Matthew 23:9, “Call no man Father, for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven.” For me, it was the beginning of freedom. The man who lived in our home and loomed so big in our lives was NOT my father. Only God was my father. Truly subversive!