It is no secret, Kanye West struggles with his dad. Whether he is mad, disappointed or frustrated, his relationship with his father provokes him. Not surprisingly, on his 9th album, Jesus is King, Kanye includes a song entitled “Follow God.” It might be just as much about his wrestling with his biological father as with his Heavenly one:
Wrestlin’ with God, I don’t really want to wrestle
Man, it’s really lifelike, everything in my life (Stretch my hands to you)
Arguing with my dad, and he said, “It ain’t Christ-like”
You know, it’s like
Somebody only close who can get you, like, off your
I be on my
I woke up this morning, I said my prayers
I’m all good, then I tried to talk to my dad (Stretch my hands to you)
Give him some advice, he starts spazzin’ on me
I start spazzin’ back, he said “That ain’t Christ-like”
I said, “Aaah”
I have spoken to so many people whose relationship with their father (and mother) drives their attitudes toward themselves, the world, and God.
As we celebrate the Reformation of the Church this week, do not be surprised to read critiques of Martin Luther claiming the whole thing might not have happened if it were not for his daddy issues. Even though modern man tends to over psychoanalyze every great man in history, I must agree this time.
Like Kanye’s production, Luther’s legacy might have been completely different if he was at peace with his father. Some might even say he projected his feelings regarding his father toward God. Were Luther’s writings just the result of daddy issues?
Yes, the whole Reformation is the result of grown men and women with daddy issues.
But this changes nothing. You see, we all have them. Some of us have been abandoned by our fathers, some beaten, some suffocated by words or unreal expectations. Others have had to say goodbye to their father way too soon. Even for those with pleasant experiences they secretly pine for their parent’s embrace. I still remember my grandfather lying in pain, facing death and crying out for his mother. As I listened to West’s recent track about dad, I felt sick to my stomach as I considered my own failures raising my sons. What songs will they sing about me?
Sure, Luther projected his anger with his father onto God. Maybe all western Christendom did as the ecclesiastical establishment beat down peasants looking for hope with regulations, stipulations, ifs and buts. The whole hierarchy of the Church was composed of men who suffered under other men and repeated the cycle with constructed theologies and practices. Perhaps all religions are the invention of people who just want to get along with an abusive father, but cannot, yet they still love him even though he seems to be angry all the time. Everyone wrestles with their Dad. Everyone wrestles with God.
So, Luther did too… so what? While straining to please his dad and his heavenly Father, God revealed a recurring theme in Scripture which had been hushed by angry men with daddy issues. God loves sinners. In Jesus’ parable about a prodigal father, He demonstrates God’s love for rebellious sons who run away. God loves angry boys who think they are slaves.
Oh, we are not good. We are not ok. We have got issues and it is not just with our dads, it is with ourselves and others. We deserve our Father’s wrath for sure. He is not abusive. He has not abandoned us. He does not even give us ridiculous expectations. Is it crazy He expects us to love Him and love our neighbor?
Yet even despite our actions, our Father does not leave us, but runs down the road after us! Like a hen gathering her flock and a shepherd seeking out a lost sheep, He gathers us to Himself.
God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him will live forever. Jesus, the good Son, laid down His life for bad sons and daughters. In baptism God speaks over us what He spoke over His only Son: This is my son with whom I am well pleased!
It is okay, frustrated sons and daughters! Your Father loves you! You do not believe it? Look to the cross. If your whole existence is trying to meet His expectations – stop. He has come down to you. He is for you! He loves you, there is no doubt.