Today is Father’s Day in the US. I don’t know if it’s celebrated in other countries. It’s not a holiday I tend to make a fuss over, but then, I don’t usually make a big deal about my birthday or anniversary, other than I like to celebrate another year with my wife, perhaps over a nice dinner out. I understand the desire to recognize godly Men who are truly stepping up to their roles and responsibilities as Fathers. Sadly, the job is oftentimes not being done, so maybe when we see it, we should recognize it.
My wife and I used to be involved in jail ministries at Cook County Jail in Chicago many years ago. I remember reading (can’t recall where) another group went to a Women’s Jail around Mother’s Day, bringing cards for the inmates to decorate and fill out, to send to their mothers. The response was overwhelming. When the same group went to the Men’s Jail for Father’s Day, barely anyone came to take advantage of the offer. Again, sad state of the world we live in.
As I’d shared previously, my daughter is engaged to be married. We had an interesting conversation with her and some of the girls this afternoon. Upon announcing their engagement, my daughter said so many friends and family had made the comment to the young couple that her fiancé was very lucky to be marrying my daughter. But she wondered why not many were making the same remarks about her fiancé to her.
I explained to my daughter that when it comes to a wedding, all eyes are on the Bride — her dress, her purity, her outward beauty. It’s natural for the husband to be almost overlooked in it all. In American folklore, there’s the caricature of the reluctant Husband-to-Be, fighting every step of the way to the altar and being dragged in by the woman. (This is obviously not a Biblical view, but our culture still seems to embrace it.) Of course, godly women are inwardly beautiful as well as outwardly, and my daughter is certainly no exception. I hope, in fact, this is behind many of the comments she’s received.
But what’s true about godly men, those that take up the mantle of their God-ordained calling to be Husbands and Fathers, is that their quality becomes apparent after the wedding and well into their Marriage. When he begins his walk, no longer as a single man responsible for his own life but as the Head of the Woman and eventually his children as directed by Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:2-16) , that is when his accolades will be received. It’s almost as though the world is waiting and withholding judgement until the Husband and Father proves his character and mettle.
Ultimately, as the Husband and Father matures and submits to Christ as his Head, the Glory of Christ will then shine through him.
The world has it backwards. How often do you young ladies hear terrible advice from, dare I say single or divorced women, that you need to get a strong, handsome, successful man? Someone who can provide financial security or has a hot car or big house or who spends extensive hours grooming himself or building a six pack? You also may hear that you should be independent and never fully trusting in a man. How many of you have been told to take control of the home and grab hold of the reigns of leadership because men are lazy and childish and unreliable?
How many men have a false idea of the Man’s Man, some grisly lumberjack looking guy with the body of 70’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, who can build cars from scratch, working 90 hours a week, pursing the career of his dreams while his wife waits on him hand and foot? Or maybe you think your Wife can just as easily lead the home and the family because it’s more convenient or she’s better at it or because of some equality nonsense you’ve picked up over the years?
God clearly has a distinct purpose and pattern established in Creation itself for the roles of Men and the roles of Women. This is not to say that there aren’t circumstances and exceptions, such as being unequally yoked or widowed, etc. But the best patterns are God’s intended patterns.
1. Fathers are to be the spiritual head of their household. They should be the ones expounding the Word of God for their families. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) Some women see these verses as oppressive or sexist. But God has designed the role of Men to get off their backsides and in fact, lead their families and the local churches. The lazy, Biblically-illiterate man who spends no time in the Word of God and abdicates his responsibility to teach is wife, his children and the local assembly to the women or to the scholars or the paid staff is a travesty and a shameful blight in the Body of Christ. Rather than make excuses for these milquetoast boys, we as the Church should be training them to Manhood.
2. Fathers are to be the disciplinarians in their homes. I am not talking about abusive tyrants who always lash out in anger. Paul warns against this twice in the New Testament. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4) and Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21) But instead, they are responsible for correcting wrong behavior with his children. Too often, lazy boys don’t want to address the hard needs to train children. They make excuses like “They’re just children.” or “I don’t want to argue” or “I’ve had a long day”. Men must stand firm and train.
3. Fathers need to be loving and gentle servants toward their wives and children. It’s not all about strength and machismo. But rather, the pattern to follow is that of Christ.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
These words are meant to be an exhortation, not just to my brethren around the world, but as a reminder to me as well. Let us put aside the one-day pat on the back for fathering children and instead take up the Calling we’ve been given to live as Fathers and Husbands 365 days a year, giving glory to our Head, Jesus Christ.