Australians celebrated Father’s Day earlier this month and so the subject of Fathers and Fatherless-ness came to my attention. Here are some of the thoughts I shared in recent weeks on the subject.
The absence of true ‘fathering’ has been so endemic in western culture that most people take for granted a condition which is really a state of ‘father-less-ness’. Even in homes where the dad is present the condition of fatherless-ness can still exist. Not to mention the increasing number of homes where dad is not there, or the dad who is there is not the biological dad to the children.
There are many ramifications of fatherless-ness, impacting deep into the soul and psyche of a child, be that child male or female. Dads provide a level of input and nurture in a child’s life that is hard to quantify, but which is definitely real in human experience.
Two Contributors to the Problem
Fatherless-ness is promoted by the actions of both fathers and children. It is wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the fathers, just as it is also wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the children. Both fathers and their children co-operate to frustrate the father’s role in our culture.
Mostly people do themselves and their families harm in ignorance. Most people are lulled into a value system that is dictated by cultural and social norms. Therefore it is easy for them to simply do what others around them are doing. This ignorance and lack of clear guidance is itself an evidence of the ‘fatherless-ness’.
What is ‘fatherless-ness’?
Fatherless-ness, by my own definition (sorry for those who have an alternative take on the subject), is the state of being effectively lacking the key contributions which a godly father, under divine authority, is meant to bring into the life of his children.
There may be a dad in the picture, and that dad may appear to be everything a dad should be. He might play sport with his children and help them with their homework. He may be his children’s best friend and may spend much time with them. But if that dad does not function in the life of the child as God wants him to then that man’s children are ‘fatherless’.
So, What is a Father?
Fatherless-ness needs to be clarified by an understanding of what a true father is. Once again I am going to rely on my own definitions here. A true father, as I understand it from the Bible, is the source of divine authority in the child’s life. The father is the ‘source’ and the ‘guide’, protector and provider for his children.
A father who does not connect his children with divine authority, expressed through the father in the father’s fear of God, is a man who is failing in his calling and who is leaving a deficit in the life of his children.
Fatherhood is a high and holy calling. It is a divine privilege and holy mission. It is a divinely sanctioned appointment, where a man becomes God’s ambassador in the life of his children. That man must also be God’s ambassador in the life of his wife, such that the wife supports him in his ministry into the whole family.
Anything less than that is a compromise of true fathering. When a father fails to be a true father, he leaves his children with some level of ‘fatherless-ness’. If a child is given ‘less’ fathering than God intends for that child, then the child experiences fatherless-ness.
Not Enough Fathers
The Apostle Paul noted that there are plenty of instructors but not many fathers (1Corinthians 4:15). You will find many people willing to give you their opinion and to enlist you into their cause, but you will not find many people who are willing to function as a father in your life.
Fathering, as we saw earlier, is a high and holy calling. It involves levels of sacrifice and dedication to the good of the child. Not many people in our culture are willing to be self-less. They are much more keen to look out for what makes them happy and for the easiest path they can take.
Consequently we have a fatherless world. Whole communities are at the mercy of those who wish to exploit them. Cultural standards and community wealth have been abducted by people who wish to exploit and manipulate. There have been no ‘fathers’ willing to fight for the rights and heritage of their children.
Consider what happens in the endless cycle of elections which western democracies are subjected to. Prospective leaders make promises, luring the voters to hand over their lives to political processes. To win the votes the contenders mount a suite of promises, lures and special offers, which they will give to the voters if they sell themselves to that party or candidate.
This is in effect a sell-out of the personal rights and the community assets. Progressively, through succeeding generations, we have sold out our community standards, community assets, community harmony, community security and so on. And what did we get in return? All we received were temporary benefits, or, worse still, broken promises.
Real Fathers Don’t Sell-Out
True fathers are not bought with cheap political promises. Real fathers don’t sell out their children’s inheritance. So how did we get sold out so cheaply?
There is an absence of true fathers! Our cultural and community state is the clearest indication that we live in a ‘fatherless’ world. There are no fathers protecting, reclaiming and providing the community wealth that previously existed. We are all living in the scraps of a former culture where fathers existed and where fathers built a heritage for their children’s children.
But, through successive generations of men who are not true fathers, and children who wish to rebel against their fathers, we have been delivered the remnant of a former kingdom. Some people still believe we possess what now only exists in memory. But we have been stripped of our inheritance.
The Clarion Call
The time has long come where a clarion call is going out to the men of our culture to become real men and true fathers. It is the destiny of today’s generation of men to deliver us from a Fatherless World.