The New York Times best-selling novel The Shack by William Paul Young is an interesting story of a man's encounter with God, manifested as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the novel God, the Father, is a Black woman; God, the Son, is a Jewish man and God, the Holy Spirit, is an Asian woman.
For the person who is unfamiliar with literary techniques this all sounds like blasphemy. The writer seemingly anticipates this indictment and takes some of the sting out of this charge when he has God, as Father, make a critical statement to the main human character - who was completely baffled at this unconventional manifestation of God as two women and a man.
The under-appreciated fact in thinking about God is that all descriptions of God are in non-literal language. The Bible gives us some useful and informative models or images of God but the models or images must not be confused with the reality behind them. It is easy to convince the average Christian that 'God as Shepherd' or 'God as rock' is figurative or non-literal language which seeks to make a point about some aspect of God's being or behaviour. It is harder to convince the average Christian that 'God as Father' is also non-literal and figurative.
Source of our existence
The gendered term 'Father' is incidental to the real point of the language, namely, that God is the source of our existence and that He cares for us. The same is true for the implied 'God as Mother' language of Deuteronomy 32.18, "You neglected the Rock who had fathered you; you forgot the God who had given you birth."
The greater frequency of the biblical imagery of 'God as Father' than 'God as Mother' is no doubt due to the patriarchal nature of Old Testament society but in reality God transcends gender and so is, literally, neither male nor female.
(reprinted with permission from Prayer Warriors Magazine, June, 2010, 11-12).
I am, etc.,