As Father’s Day approaches, I hope that you are making plans to attend church with your father. I also hope you are spending some time thinking about fathers and your father. Few would dispute the fact that our families and thus our society are riddled with significant and deeply rooted problems. Few would dispute the idea that those problems are dangerous to the point of threatening the very existence of society as we know it. Few would dispute the importance of biological fathers being real fathers to our cultural survival. There is some difficulty in getting people to agree on what exactly being a “real” or “good” father is. Once some consensus is reached on that, the greater difficulty is in getting people to agree on how to teach, train, encourage, or force that.
As I see it, in my humble opinion, two things must happen. One, there must be a return to Biblical principles by fathers. Two, our government must stop encouraging, even rewarding, bad behavior. Those two ideas seem rather simple, and they are; however, upon further thought there are some complicating issues. There are difficult choices to be made in fulfilling each of those requirements.
Many of our biological fathers are so young they have few life experiences and thus little wisdom. Something else that must be noted is the fact that this is not a problem new to this generation. A large number of these young biological fathers were not trained by their fathers either, so in addition to having limited experience, they likely learned little from the experiences they have had. The great truths of the Bible have not been lived out in front of these young fathers. They have not seen the Biblical principles applied to the difficulties of life. They have not been privileged to see the end result of living by the owner’s manual supplied by our Creator.
When young fathers refuse to put their selfish desires aside, they neglect, even abandon their families. They leave young mothers, who cannot work because they are caring for babies. These biological fathers leave children who are hungry, ill-clothed, living in sub-standard housing. Just as important, these children are starving for the love and discipline that only a father can provide. None of this is news to you. The problems are well documented. It has also been pointed out that when the government feeds, clothes, and houses these women and children, it is enabling or maybe even promoting this destructive behavior. It is certainly destructive but it is also evil behavior. Part of our problem is our refusal to call things what they really are.
So far I have simply stated the problem, which you are already well aware. At this point, a solution would be really good. We, as a society, and as Christians, ought to do more. Certainly it must be pointed out that evil behavior is evil. Otherwise no change in behavior will ever take place. However, we must keep in mind that the purpose is not to blame or destroy the father. The purpose is to create a better father. Criticism alone is not enough. We must walk beside fathers giving needed truth in love. Few of us are willing to give the truth they need along with the love to make it palatable. Most of us fall too far to one side or the other. We either, criticize and blame without love, or we love without giving the truth they so desperately need. Yes, you are correct, that may very well cost you something and you will likely get dirty in the process. Let me point out that if this problem is not solved, it will still cost you something and you will still get dirty in the process. These fathers need training and it will not come through a government program; it will come one wise man teaching one foolish man at a time.
What about meeting physical needs? That is surely a huge part of the problem. The government might be able to meet the physical needs of these neglected and abandoned families, but it can never do it without encouraging the very behaviors it wants to eliminate. It is easy to proclaim that consequences must be allowed to occur, otherwise the bad behavior will continue. However, in this case, the consequences fall not on the one engaged in the bad behavior but on innocent children. Who among us can stand to see innocent children neglected? Only local, voluntary benevolence has the ability to meet the needs without encouraging bad behavior. Surely that is costly financially to the locals (especially when the government is already taxing you into oblivion, but that is another story) but it is the only way. Similar to the training issue, many of us in benevolence ministry fall too far to one side or the other. We either meet the need without ever mentioning their behavior (can we call it sin?) or we are so critical and share their story with our “prayer ministry” (can we call it gossip?) that those being ministered to reject the truth without ever truly considering it. Please consider making a pledge this Father’s Day. Why not commit to starting where you live, working to turn one biological father into a real father? If you need help, ask someone in your church.