I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
The Need for Godly Fathers
I like these words from an unknown author about the role of fathers in a family. He writes:
"He teaches kindness by being thoughtful and gracious even at home.
He teaches patience by being gentle and understanding over and over.
He teaches honesty by keeping his promises to his family even when it costs.
He teaches courage by living unafraid with faith, in all circumstances.
He teaches justice by being fair and dealing equally with everyone.
He teaches obedience to God's Word by precept and example as he reads and prays daily with his family.
He teaches love for God and His Church as he takes his family regularly to all the services.
His steps are important because others follow."
These observations are all true. However, they are coming under fire in our society today as the role of the father is being diminished by those who care little for God's Word.
In this country today the family unit is falling apart. It is the nuclear family that is the basis of any good and prosperous society and when it breaks up, the doom of that society isn't far behind.
And yet we are living in a time when God's design is being ignored to the point that very few even know what the proper definition of family really is anymore. In many cases the father is seen as simply a sperm donor, who is a necessary evil and can be replaced or left out completely without any consequence to the children or the family unit.
Also, on television and in movies where they do show a traditional nuclear family, the father is often depicted as stupid, out of touch and old fashioned at best. And a tyrant at worst.
Adding to all of this is the growing decision by a vast number of people in our country not to get married at all but to live together instead. This reflects a lack of commitment by many in this generation to anything, even their responsibility to the family. But, unfortunately, for those who do get married, a vast majority don't see the marriage covenant as a permanent, till death do us part commitment. Rather than: "As long as we both shall live", it is instead: "As long as we both shall love."
Because of the anti-biblical culture today where the concept of marriage and family is being pushed aside, many marriages are in danger of divorce. And, due to this and other factors in American culture, 24 million children live absent their father. This is tragic for these young, impressionable lives, and the consequences in our society are truly devastating. We need to ask ourselves: 'Where are the fathers in America who will stand up for God's ideal of family? Where are those who will stand in the gap and save us from destroying our children, our families and our country?'
I. A Society Without Fathers
Many studies have been done, and we can see how having no dads in homes is truly taking a toll on our children. In practically every aspect of life, fatherless children are hurting. For instance, in school they do more poorly by far and drop out of school on a larger scale.
The majority of youth runaways and suicides today are from fatherless homes. And if you go into the jails, most of the youths there had no dad. Another example of this problem is the vast number of youths who are in institutions as chemical abusers. Three-fourths of them had no fatherly influence in their lives.
From a recent study, here are some more statistics on absentee fathers. It tells us that:
- Girls without fathers in their houses are seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teen than girls living with dads.
- Children with absent fathers are four times more likely to be in poverty than those with fathers near.
- These children are twice as likely to be obese as children with fathers on hand to provide sensible eating advice.
- They are more likely to commit a crime, have behavioral problems, abuse drugs and alcohol, and face abuse or neglect than children with dads in the house.
We could go on and on and the statistics overwhelmingly support the fact that good dads are as important as the Bible tells us that they are in the family. We do indeed need to get back to a biblical concept of families, and especially its idea of the role of the husband and father in a home. But just what is the Biblical take on this subject? Let's look at what God's Word says.
II. God, the Perfect Father
In looking at a biblical understanding of fatherhood, we have to first point out that God has chosen to reveal Himself, to those who are in a relationship with Him by faith, as their Heavenly Father. Interestingly though, even before there were human beings that called Him Father, there was still the Father. God the Father is the first Person of the holy Trinity, which also includes God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These are 3 persons, eternally existing as one God. And they lived in a state of perfect unity and intimacy before the creation of the universe. Jesus, in praying to His Father, gave some idea of this when He spoke in John 17:4,5. He says this:
"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
And when Jesus taught His disciples about God, though there are many names for Him in the Bible, our Lord Jesus Christ urged them to think of Him as their loving Father. Both He, and later Paul the apostle, went even further than that when they used the term 'Abba.' This is an Aramaic word which roughly means 'Daddy.' (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15,16; Galatians 4:6). This word demonstrates an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father.
The actual word 'Abba' is used 3 times in the New Testament. The first is when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. Mark 14:36 records this:
"And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Paul in Roman 8:15,16 applies this term to the believer when he says:
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
Also, in Galatians 4:6,7 the same apostle tells us:
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
God the Father is the perfect example to all the fathers on this earth. He is holy, just and fair. But most of all He is loving. The Greek word often used for the love of God is agape. Agape is the highest form of love that there is. It embraces a deep and profound sacrificial love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstances and regardless of whether or not that love is returned. It is the love that the Lord gave to sinful man when the Father sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. It is that which is expressed so well in John 3:16 which tells us:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
And, because of that agape love we can say, with the apostle John:
"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God." (I John 3:1).
Someone has said that:
The earthly father’s role was meant to show Father God’s nature to his children. Fathers are to provide something to their children that no one else can offer. They are to lead the way in giving love, safety, covering, approval and protection to the home.
III. The Bible on Husbands and Fathers
It was God Himself who established the family in the first book of the Bible. When the Lord created man as male and female. They, together, were to be God's image- bearers on this earth. In Genesis 1:26-27 the Scriptures tell us:
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 'So, God created man in His own image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them."
Eve was taken from the rib of Adam and was designed as the perfect helper for him and the two became one flesh. Genesis 2:20-25 tells us this:
"So, Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones. And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
In chapters 5 and 6 of Ephesians, we see that the husband and father is given the responsibility of being the head of the household, which should include leading his family to honor and worship the Lord and to serve the God who created the family for His glory. That means that it is his primary responsibility to make sure that the family studies Scripture, attends worship services, prays and learns to live a life of faith in the Lord. It isn't that the wife doesn't help in this. She helps in the spiritual training as well. However, the father is held responsible by God, as the head, for the family that has been given to him by the Lord.
The wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24). This, sadly, is difficult if the husband is not following God in the first place. And, by the way, this does not include submitting to something that is sinful. If a husband asks his wife to do anything outside of the will of God, then it is sin and is not to be something to which she submits. We are always to follow God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
The husband's/father's job begins with first being totally submitted to Jesus Christ. Jesus is his Savior and Master. Because of this, the man should want to be obedient to Christ in every area of his life. He needs to make it his goal to be able to say, as did the apostle Paul:
"Follow me as I follow Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1)
And his main desire for his family should be for them to follow Christ as well.
Further, as the head of his household, the husband is a picture of Christ, who is the head of the Church. Because of this, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25-33). Jesus gave Himself by being willing to die for us, so the husband has a heavy responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
Most husbands will never be called upon to die for their families. However, every husband will be asked to make sacrifices in some way to see that his wife and the rest of his family is taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The children are to submit by obedience to both parents and honor them (Ephesians 6:1). Obedience should be for as long as the child is growing up. When a child becomes fully mature, he leaves his family and starts a family of his own. Then a new family dynamic is formed. But honoring your parents is something that lasts a lifetime and beyond this earthly life, as you honor their memory.
Paul points out specifically to fathers that they must not exasperate their children but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Dad is to be both a spiritual leader and main disciplinarian (Hebrews 12:6,7; Proverbs 3:12).
Unfortunately, in many Christian households', fathers are abdicating their roles as the spiritual leader and are leaving that job to their wives. In many churches, there are more moms than dads who bring their children on Sunday. That is, if any parent at all comes. Some parents just use the church as a free babysitting service for two hours every week. When this happens, the children won't place a very high value on church attendance, or on the worship of God as they grow to have families of their own.
By the way, there was a study done in Switzerland a few years ago and here are the results:
In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.
A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door again. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!
As you can clearly see, the father plays an enormous role in the children's spiritual lives! Fathers, it's time to make some changes in how we view ourselves and how we lead those whom we love the most.
I ask you: "Where are the husbands and fathers in America who will step up to their God-given responsibility and lead their households well? Where are the dads who will teach their little girls what type of man to look for in a future mate by being that type of man themselves? Where are the guys who will demonstrate to their sons what being a man should look like? Where are the real men who will love their wives as Christ loved the Church and would rather die than see any harm come to their families? These are the fathers who do their best to show, by their love, the love of God- our Heavenly Father, for us.
There are a few around. However, they are a rare breed and on the verge of extinction in this society in which we live.
For all of you fathers and grandfathers out there who are doing your best to be that godly example, thank you and keep up the good work. You will never be perfect in that task. Only God is the perfect Father. And we all fail over and over again. However, you won't know, this side of eternity, the good that you're doing in our world, for your family, and for the glory of God.
However, if you are not being a godly Father, it is time to step up and be the man God intended you to be. It was evangelist Billy Graham who once wrote:
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
If that is true, and I believe that it is, then our society needs more godly fathers. And it needs them now! For their leadership and their examples can change the world!
© 2015 Jeff Shirley
Jeff Shirley (author) from Hesperia, Michigan on August 21, 2015:
Thanks MsDora. Your comments are always a bright spot in my day. May the Lord bless you.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 21, 2015:
Thanks for dealing with important issues. Hope the fathers who read this will heed the message. I support your call to fathers to act responsibly and influence their children positively.