In this text, Jesus is condemning making idols out of people, not the idea of a spiritual family/spiritual parents. He was speaking about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and how they wanted to be exalted because they were teachers of the law. If we took this scripture literally, then this would apply to our biological father as well. Jesus said don’t call ANYONE father, not spiritual father. Also, in this same passage, he says don’t call anyone “teacher” or “instructor”. We know this can’t be taken literally since Jesus himself gave “teachers” as a gift to edify the church. Oh, and he only mentioned fathers...so having a “spiritual mother” is ok but not a spiritual father? Context is key!
God loves family! In Galatians 6:10, Paul refers to believers as the “household” or “family” of faith. Families have mothers, fathers, and siblings, etc. Paul often referred to Timothy as his son which further supports the idea of spiritual family.
Here is an excerpt from an article from Burning Point Ministries on Spiritual Fathers:
"A pure and good spiritual father will give advice, and counsel the son to obey the Lord in whatever the son feels the Lord is saying. A controlling shepherding style father will cast confusion into the process. He may muddy the waters with his own opinions, will, or what he feels the Lord is saying to the son. In more severe scenarios, the controlling father can even become a mediator between the spiritual son and God. Pure spiritual fathers will always leave the decision to the son without trying to manipulate their decision. This takes maturity and discipline, but is one of the hallmarks of a true father. Real spiritual fathers are characterized by their openness and freedom."
My point is this scripture is not about the title of “spiritual father” but about not exalting man. We shouldn’t put ANYONE in the place of God in our lives—regardless of their title—spiritual father, pastor, prayer partner, sister, bestie, husband, mother, etc. Having a spiritual parent is a blessing as long as they point you to God and not themselves!
Read more of the Burning Point Ministries article here!