I love being a father. It’s one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. So Father’s Day, which just passed on 16 June, is one of my favourite secular holidays, although Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day, for that matter) never really caught on here in Israel, which is really too bad. But since most of the readers of this blog are in countries where Father’s Day is widely observed, I thought it would be useful to explore some of the issues surrounding Fatherhood in 2019.
Fatherhood, and by extension family, is one of the most important institutions that God gave the Human Race. The word “father” is mentioned 1,564 times in the Bible and extensive passages are devoted to the subject of how to be a good, responsible father to the children of One’s own household as well as ministering to “widows and orphans” (James 1:27). If you want more proof of how important Fatherhood is, just take a look at how much the Enemy is attacking it.
For that matter, the late Derek Prince was speaking at a church in California almost 25 years ago and declared that most of the problems in American, and indeed Western, society could be traced back to a phenomenon he called “renegade males”. He went on to explain that these “renegade males” were, among other bad behaviour, impregnating women without taking responsibility for the children that resulted. This was having all kinds of negative second, third, fourth, etc. order effects, especially on the sons that these “renegade males” were abandoning, who often grew up and did the same thing, reaping a catastrophic harvest of compounding and expanding dysfunctionality across all sectors of society.
In the years since Prince spoke those words, things have gotten much worse. The Body of Messiah has not been spared, as a casual glance at almost any congregation in any denomination (very much including the Messianic Jewish movement) will show a large number of single mothers and/or children whose fathers are either not in the picture at all or else largely indifferent and uninterested in them.
That’s the bad news, now here’s some good news.
The good news is, you and I don’t have to be one of those “renegade males” who aren’t doing our job as a husband and father. We also don’t need to be biologically related to a child in order to be a Father-figure to them. Adoption is an option for some, and if you’re one of them, I urge you to go ahead and do it.
As a side note, the abortion industry and its supporters have adopted a new argument, that those who call themselves “pro-Life” are really just “pro-birth” because they don’t want to adopt or otherwise care for children who aren’t wanted by their biological parents. As difficult as it is to admit it, this argument isn’t entirely groundless. If every Christian family in America (and it’s probably a similar story in most other countries) adopted just one child who is currently in the foster care system, the foster care system wouldn’t be needed any more.
But beyond that, there are plenty of children who are living in a home with their single mother, or in a home where their father might be present but isn’t very engaged, and these children also need a positive male role model. You and I can be that positive male role model and it’s surprisingly easy to do. Just go to your pastor and tell him that you’re available.
If you’re a pastor reading this and you’re not sure how you’d use the availability of such an individual, one thing you can try is to approach the single mothers in your congregation and start inviting them and their children to start participating family activities along with your new volunteer. Have him take everyone to a ballgame or a picnic or whatever so you can all interact with each other in a positive, life-giving way. Children who have been abused and/or abandoned by their father won’t trust another father-figure right away and they might not be so pleasant to be around at first, but with time, the love and consistency shown to them will bear good fruit in their lives and the life of the entire community they’re part of.
If you’re ready to take it to the next level, sign up to coach little league baseball or some other sport. Find a way to teach a musical instrument if you know how to use one. If there’s a chapter of Trail Life USA or similar organization in your area, find a way to serve there. But before you start on this sort of thing, cover it in prayer and set up a team of other married couples with whom you will be mutually accountable. Be consistent, and be prepared to make sacrifices of your own time, money, etc. It definitely won’t be easy, but this is something very close to the Heart of God, if the extensive coverage the Bible gives it is any indication and there’s few things you’ll find more rewarding and worthwhile.
May God bless and guide all of us as we seek to be good Fathers to our own children and to minister to the Fatherless.
Here’s some links to organizations that can offer guidance in this regard