Summary: A biblical survey of and admonition for Christian fatherhood.
"The Revival of Fatherhood?"
THe Rev’d Quintin Morrow
Father’s Day 2002
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Ft. Worth, Texas
In a speech a decade ago, then Vice President Dan Quayle criticized Murphy Brown, the lead character of a CBS sitcom of the same name, for choosing to bear and raise a child without a father in the home. The sum of his critique was simple: It may be cool, chic, and a symbol of feminism’s triumph for women to raise children without a father in the home, but it isn’t good for kids and it isn’t good for our society. The response from the liberal cultural elite in this country was swift and savage. Quayle was heckled as a right-wing Neanderthal who wanted nothing more than to keep women bound in the stifling and servile drudgeries of wife and mother. Less than a year later, interestingly enough, a sociologist named Barbara Defoe Whitehead authored and published a 37-page article revealing the numbers, trends, and consequences on children of fatherless families for The Atlantic Monthly magazine. The title of the article was Dan Quayle Was Right.
Listen to these numbers. Today, almost 1 out of 2 American children go to bed each night without a biological father in the home. And fifty-percent of our children today will spend at least some time before age 18 with only 1 parent. The poverty rate for children born to mothers who finished high school, got married, and waited until they were 20 to have their first child is 8%. The poverty rate for those who don’t do those things is 79%. The average poverty rate for children of single mothers is currently 47%; it is 65% for black children. 60% of America’s rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long term prison inmates grew up without fathers. Do the math. What conclusion do you draw?
It is incontrovertible. Despite the messages of Hollywood and Madison Avenue, having a biological father in the home to help protect, provide for, and raise the children is an essential element of societal health and happy, well-adjusted kids.
In 1996 another sociologist named David Blankenhorn published another important piece on domiciles without dads entitled: Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. In that book Blankenhorn makes the case that not only are we raising a generation of children without a father in the home, but we are no longer providing our little boys with a cultural script describing what fatherhood is. The days of Leave It to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, and Father Knows Best are over. And without a dad in the home, and without healthy, happy fathers in the house being presented in the public square, our boys have no idea of what being a father means. The chickens of the sexual revolution and feminism have come home to roost, and we are paying the price.
God’s unchanging Word reveals that the family is not a culturally-initiated social construct that can be changed, melded and molded to suit man’s whims; rather, it was given, mandated, and blessed by God in creation. The foundation of the family is one man and one woman in a lifelong, exclusive, committed bond called marriage. And God blesses that union with children to be nurtured, loved and taught the fear of the Lord, as He chooses.
On this Father’s Day, Dads, let me tell you that you are absolutely essential to healthy children and a safe, prosperous nation. And today I want to honor you with the “Three Ps of Fatherhood.” These three Ps will show you your purpose as a father, your positions as a father, and your potential as a father.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. So says St. Paul in Ephesians 6:4.
What is your purpose fathers? What function do you perform in the home? You have two.
The first job you have is to love, protect, and provide for your children. This may seem to some of you like merely a reiteration of the obvious, but the number of so-called “Deadbeat Dads” and the number of children on Welfare in this country would seem to indicate otherwise. Dads, it is your job to love, protect, and provide for your children. They have been given to you by God as a sacred trust, and you—you—bear the responsibility for them. Sometimes fatherhood is demanding; sometimes marriage is boring; often the daily 9-5 is tedious. I know that, but you stay put and do your duty by your kids. Flight is possible, but there are consequences—for you and for those you leave behind.
The second job you have is to raise morally responsible, biblically-literate, and Gospel-sensitive children. In Deuteronomy 6 God speaks to the fathers of the homes of the people of Israel. And He says,