June 16, 2012
Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Since the original purpose of my very sporadic blog was to provide a resource for those who have God’s heart for their cities and want to see their cities thrive and prosper – I thought I would say a few words about the role of fathers in this effort. I’m one of those increasingly rare people in the U.S.A. who grew up with an intact engaged loving father, who 56 years later is still a positive force in my life, and who is still married to and in love with my mother after 66 years of marriage.
There is a growing (more in terms of influence, than numbers) movement led by radical homosexuals that is desperately trying to convince Americans that women can do just as good a job as men can in fathering or parenting children. They claim that children do not need a male father to grow up healthy and whole. Well as one who has been fathered for 56 years; and who has fathered two children for 26 years & 21 years; and who has sought to encourage and help fathers over the last 30 or so years in my ministry in various places around the world; and who has for all those years stayed up on relevant writings and research about this issue… I want to share some reasons why this has to be one of the most foolish and foundation less claims in the history of our nation.
First, fathers teach their sons what it means to be a man. No woman – especially one pretending to be a “father” can do that. My father taught me the value of hard work and loyalty to a business/company; he taught me how to use a gun; he taught me how to treat women; he taught me how to be on a team and how to submit to and respect authority; he allowed me to reap consequences of bad decisions, but still loved me in spite of them; he taught me the importance of faith in God and of being a faithful involved member of a local congregation; he modeled for me a love for and pride in our nation; he modeled before me the value of self control and fitness; he modeled before me the importance of helping out with household chores; he showed me the value of regular family get aways whether on the weekend to the lake or mtns., or the annual trip to the beach in Florida or South Carolina. And the list goes on.
Second, fathers provide safety and protection and a sense of security for their families and neighbors. I knew growing up that because my father was honest, hard working, responsible, physically fit, law abiding, courageous and knew how to handle his fists and his gun – that he could be trusted to protect our family. I knew that because he and most of the other fathers in our neighborhood knew each other and talked to each other when they were out and about , and shared basic traditional values – that our neighborhood was a safe place. A drug pusher or child molester would have found it very difficult to do his thing in our neighborhood. It just would not have been tolerated. And a burglar (if we were home) would have most likely left wounded or worse.
Third, fathers provide a safety net for the fatherless in neighborhood and communities. Both with my brothers and with myself – our friends often congregated at our house. Some of our friends did not have intact engaged loving fathers. But when they came to my house they knew Dad would engage them, address them by their name, kid around with them, and very possibly join us in some sport outside. While the ideal is that every boy and girl will have an intact engaged biological father who will both introduce them to God’s love and concern for them and consistently love and care for them himself, we all know that ideal is sometimes not achieved. My dad could never replace that void with some of my older brother’s friends and some of my friends. But looking back – he sure made a dent in it. They clearly looked forward to interacting with my dad, and a few of them to this day speak fondly of his impact on them. We call this in our circles – “spiritual fathering”. My dad probably never knew he was doing this. But because he had God’s heart for the fatherless, he always found a little extra energy and compassion for those that wandered in to his sphere of influence. Every neighborhood and community must have this to lessen the negative impact of fatherlessness – whether it be absent fathers or abusive or neglectful fathers. Only those who are meaningfully and consistently engaged with their own children have any authority to have this influence on others.
Finally fathers provide a sense of inner security and worth and confidence that just flat does not come from any other source. I never doubted that my dad would be there for me. We had our bumps for sure. There were times in my more rebellious years where I felt and said some pretty raw things about him (not to his face). But even then, I knew he loved me and would be there for me. I always knew my dad would go to work in the morning and would come home in the late afternoon and would most likely be at home in the evening unless he had a church function to attend. I always knew he was interested in my education, my sports activities, my friends, my girlfriends, my spiritual development, etc.
Our communication was not always perfect. I found intimate heart to heart communication with my mother a little easier frankly. But looking back at my life, I had an emotional stability and sense that all was well with the world, that clearly was impacted by the role my father played in my life.
So to all of you fathers out there – especially my own – Happy Father’s Day & thanks for rising to the call of hands on – engaged fathering in the fear of the Lord.