June 16, 2009 | Commentary on Religion and Civil Society
The facts are brutally painful -- More than 25 million children in America live in homes where fathers are absent. Millions more have experienced emotional wounds so deep at the hands of their dads it seems as if they can never break free from the bondage of suffering and bitterness.
It is impossible to understand, then, why fathers who lovingly live out their sacred calling to truly care for their children are maligned in our modern culture. Attacking and belittling an institution that children so desperately need is both foolish and evil.
It's time for a radical, transformational attitude change toward fathering in America. We must restore both the institution of fatherhood and help heal the hearts of the wounded. We need to break the chains of neglect and prevent the harms from being repeated for generations to come. The Family is the basic building block of every civil society and dads are a foundational component.
If we continue down the current path of devaluing dads, father absenteeism, and discouraging men from making a full commitment to their families, American civil society is doomed.
Our culture has come like a thief in the night and robbed families of the joy that comes with Godly fathering. How do we recover and restore what has been taken? Absorb the truths in the world's best book on fathering: the Bible.
The Good Book has something for everyone when it comes to the subject of fatherhood. For the abandoned and orphaned, God is described in Psalm 65 as a "father for the fatherless." Scores of other verses depict the God of the universe as a staunch defender of those who have no earthly dads. For those who have been deeply hurt by their fathers, God's unconditional love is a healing balm.
The entire Bible is the story of God's relentless pursuit of and devotion to the human race. He is the dependable father who will never leave, who pours out His mercy and compassion on broken hearts, whose strong arms bind up wounds, and whose abundant grace eases pain.
For fathers themselves, God is the gentle counselor, the perfect role model. He encourages dads in their sacred calling, and offers divine wisdom to common men who dare to fall to their knees and seek His guidance.
The Psalmist paints a beautiful picture in Chapter 103 of the characteristics of God that every father should emulate. Verse 8, for instance, reminds us that, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." My own father frequently read the passage to me as a child. I always thought that it was partly to teach me about the characteristics of our heavenly Father, and partly to remind him of the type of dad and man he should be.
In Ephesians 6:4 we read, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." In other words, God's word is the definitive fathering manual. The answers and prescriptions are all there. It has guided both dads and children of all ages through the centuries and its advice and counsel are as true in these modern days as they have ever been.
May you experience the power, peace and truth of the ancient words. May you, dear dads everywhere, use the Bible as your guidebook and thus unlock the key to becoming the father your children deserve. And may those whose hearts have been broken learn the intimacy, joy and fulfillment of truly knowing your heavenly Father. Make yourself vulnerable to Him - He will delight your heart and flood the dry places in your soul with His fatherly love.
First appeared in the Washington Times