Our Father, a prominent, if not the prominent, Christian prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is…problematic. No less a light than Anglican Church Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell says so.
I know the word “father” is problematic for those whose experience of earthly fathers has been destructive and abusive, and for all of us who have laboured rather too much from an oppressively patriarchal grip on life.
I’ll leave the theological argument to others, other than to note that there was demurral from Cottrell’s claim, for instance Dr Chris Sugden:
Is the archbishop of York saying Jesus was wrong, or that Jesus was not pastorally aware? It seems to be emblematic of the approach of some church leaders to take their cues from culture rather than scripture.
My beef is more secular. Cottrell seems to be saying that, for those victims of abuse at the hands of their fathers there is no hope, no chance for recovery, there is no possibility of meeting a better man, a suitable father substitute. Their eyes and ears must be shielded.
I disagree. Far from helping such victims, this sham protection only further weakens them.
Contrary to Cottrell’s claim, aside from the ecclesiastic content of the prayer, it’s also a statement of earthly hope, and fact, that there is a better father—and Father—available to these victims, if only the members of the Professional Victimhood Guild would get out of their way and let them proceed through their recovery.
Instead, Cottrell and his guild have given up on these unfortunates and are telling them not to bother—to give up on themselves.