One of the things I think Mormonism does best is cultivate the idea that God is literally our Father in Heaven; he’s our dad. We have several unique doctrines that seem to make such a belief easier for us. First, God has a body of flesh and bone. This immediately makes it easier to picture God. We’re created in His own image, therefore, it isn’t a stretch to get an idea of what He looks like. We might even picture ourselves giving him a hug or standing face to face with him.
Second, we don’t just believe in God the Father, but in Heavenly Parents. Knowing we have a Mother contributes to the literalness of our belief in God as Father. Third, we have an elder brother, Jesus Christ, and we refer to each other as brothers and sisters. Again, this helps our image of God and each other as a family unit.
My favorite part of the doctrine that God is our parent is that it’s something I can relate to. Unlike other things about God (He’s perfect, He’s all-knowing, He’s all-powerful, He’s handsome) I can relate to the part about being a parent. The parallels are there and they aren’t few.
I know what it’s like to get frustrated at my kids and still love them. I know what it’s like to just want what’s best for them and be worried about them. I know I love them no matter what (take that stupid Ensign article that says God loves us conditionally!), and that I’ll always be there for them. The doctrine that God is our parent gives me insight into what God wants for us.
A few weeks ago, we were shopping at Satan’s Outlet (Wal-mart) and my two-year old, Ethan, insists on walking everywhere. Just you try putting him in a stroller or a cart. "E-E walk, E-E walk, E-E walk!" will reverberate for miles (he’s getting better at pronouncing his name, but he still calls himself "E-E", and refers to himself in the third-person, a la Seinfeld). As Ethan and I walked down the aisles, he refused to let me hold his hand, another sign of his independent streak. But as a stranger would walk by, if they got too close, he’d reach up and squeeze my hand for a few seconds, then let go when the person had passed. It was a delightful little moment.
It made me think that this is what God wants for us. He wants us to be independent and do things on our own, but He’ll be there if we need to squeeze His hand. But for some reason, it made me think about another aspect of parenthood and God. I don’t want my kids worshipping me. Far from it. I want them to learn to rely on themselves and their own strength. I don’t want them to give the glory and the credit to me. They deserve a lot of it, as do many other mentors and teachers.
So I wondered, why does God want us to worship Him? Or does He even want us to worship him – perhaps it’s mankind’s invention to worship God? Sure, He wants us to look up to Him and be like Him because He’s perfect, but why worship? Seems a bit insecure of God, if you ask me. If you’re a member of a Protestant religion, why we worship God isn’t an issue. He’s the mysterious fellow in the sky and we need to please Him, so we worship Him. But in Mormonism, it’s a bit trickier. After all, in Mormonism, God isn’t the embodiment of righteousness or love, He’s just a part of it. God, we learn, can cease to exist. He’s not God just for the fun of it; He’s God because He was once like us and has grown to become perfect. Someday we may be His equal.
So why does God want us to worship Him? Or are we misguided in this venture – should we only be worshipping His perfection and attributes, hoping we can become like that? That we should worship God is a major departure from His parent-like attributes I can’t quite figure out.