Part One: Father Hunger

As any young man, there was a need for my father.

But like so many others, mine was not there.

Robert McGee, author of “Father Hunger,” describes this book-entitled condition as an individual having a deep need for love and affection of their father. Because this need is unfulfilled, they feel empty, which oftentimes evolves into bitterness, fear, and pain. I know for a fact I suffered from this and to be honest, I’m still processing some of the effects.

My father hunger would spark great reflection upon my relationship with God. Did my father’s absence hinder my understanding of God’s word? Did my father’s absence limit my ability to comprehend God and His purpose for mankind–specifically, His purpose for men? To answer these questions, some studying was required, and I was moved to start with the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Genesis starts with the creation story of man, Adam and from Adam, God creates a woman, Eve. What’s so crucial about this is God creates man in His image, but the Bible does not say God is Adam’s father.

A couple questions arise for me: was Adam fatherless? Or was God his father? If God is Adam’s father, how did he raise him? In my opinion, God proves great fatherhood here—Adam inherits everything God creates. This proves God believes in legacy. Also, God instructs Adam to name what He has created—this is teaching Adam responsibility, the power of his words, and also what is mine is yours. Furthermore, Adam overall has direct access to God. In order for any father/son relationship to work, there must be honest, open, transparent communication.

With that being said, we only have a rather short narrative of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God gives Adam and Eve instructions and they disobey. As a result, they were punished by God. Thus, Adam is the first father on earth.

From Adam, many fathers are born. However, God is not pleased with mankind. As punishment, He floods the earth but spares Noah and his family. God starts over with Noah–establishes a new covenant and he then becomes the first father of the new world. Throughout the Old Testament, after Noah, we see an incredible lineage that is God-focused but also, we see a great covenant with God. The father establishes a relationship with God and teaches his son to have one. In his death, his son(s) will continue on and fulfill the work of God.

God’s covenant was first threatened by the systemic prosecution of sons in Egypt. In the book of Exodus, Pharaoh attempts to destroy God’s covenant by killing the Hebrew sons (God’s chosen people). Moses would then become the first example of being fatherless but chosen to fulfill God’s work.

Moses’s mother sent him away to protect him from persecution. Moses was adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh and was raised within the empire as an Egyptian. However, it was not until he connected to his father-in-law, Jethro, that he has a mind-blowing encounter with God and discovers the purpose of his life. From a biblical standpoint, it is evident fatherhood is essential to God’s mission.

This intentional obstruction of God’s covenant and destructive mentality is relevant today–the war on the Black family. Young Black men are not legally being killed, but you see the attack on them through police brutality, discrimination, and racial bias. But these are remnants of the oldest system of oppression: slavery–a tragic era where Blacks were handled as property and most importantly, their family structure didn’t matter. Therefore, in order to keep the property in compliance with the overarching goal, the family was separated. The father was removed and sold to another owner or worst, killed. Now, 72 percent of Black children are born without fathers according to the US Census Bureau. This then inspired reflection on my father’s absence from a systemic perspective and raises a couple more questions: if this is God’s covenant, where do I fit in God’s mission as a fatherless man? Am I qualified to be used by God without being raised by a father?

Although my father was absent, I understand now it wasn’t his fault–completely. As a black man in this country, I have discovered my father and I exist within a system designed not only to impede upon and sever our dynamic but also, ensure this cycle continues through generation to generation. In 1987, my father was 19 years old when I was conceived. He was a Black boy who made an adult decision. He didn’t have the resources or knowledge to raise me. I’m confident there wasn’t a father figure in his life to steer or lead him in the direction he should go. Nor was he my mother’s husband. He was a byproduct of a system that forces Black men to abandon their greatest commitments–their families, and/or also, self-destruct. Yes, I grew up fatherless, but all hope was not lost. In part two, I will explain how I satisfied my father hunger. In the meantime, let’s reflect on this post. In one word, drop how you feel in the comments.

Why “Black Man” Theology?

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Let’s dive into my thoughts…

By definition, theology is the critical study of God. For centuries, men and women have sought to understand God in their context of life. Some through attending church and listening to a pastor and others through the intense study of biblical scriptures, geographical research, science, history etc. There are several books written and published to document different journeys of scholars, theologians, atheists, agnostics, monks and others quest to discover who God is and His goal and mission for mankind.

Some say, “ Everything we need to know about God is in the Bible.” Some say, “God’s not real!” While others say, “God’s not dead- He’s still alive!” Wherever you are on the spectrum of understanding God, I believe this journey is long, hard, and we haven’t figured God out yet. With that being said, I believe there is more to discover, process, understand and discuss about God. And, I believe we have many tools to do it; such as, sermons, books, movies, science, prayer, nature, people, and much more. Which leads to why I chose to start this blog, “Black Man Theology.”

This blog is not a place to define who God fully is nor a place to bash others’ perspectives. It is simply a platform to process, discover, research and discuss who God is; more specifically, who God is through the lens of a Black man. I chose to call this blog “Black Man Theology,” because I’m a Black man. A Black American man who was born and raised by a single mother- in the Midwest of America. Grand Rapids and Kentwood, MI. The first half of my life was in the inner city of Grand Rapids (GR) and my teen years 13-17 was in Kentwood, MI the suburbs of GR. These details are important because, it’s my context and my context shapes my perspective and understanding of life.

Some of you are already calling me less “Black” because of where I was raised. Here is why… people judge us based upon where we come from, where we live, what school we went to, and all type of stuff. If all of these factors change a person’s perspective of me- imagine how people understand God.

How a Black man experiences life in the South of America is different than the Midwest; historically speaking. How a Black man experience life in another country is different than in America. The word Black isn’t even a real description of a person in other countries. The term Black was created to create separation between people. As a result, separate experiences were created and separate mindsets were nurtured. Therefore, we all see God differently. Which is why “Theology” is even a thing. To some Jesus is God and to others Jesus is just a man.

So with that being said, this will be a journey, a process, a quest to understand God and discover Him and His mission for mankind. Oh I forgot to say, I’m 32 years old as well. My age contributes to my context as well. I’ve only lived three decades and can probably analyze and understand one and a half of those decades. Some would say I haven’t been around long enough to know God well. So yeah, welcome to my thoughts, my processing and hopefully God shows us some things we could appreciate, value, change us, inspire us and most importantly help us understand Him more. In the comments, drop some topics you want to discuss.

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