Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
The Sunday before last was Father’s Day and while that observation is both late and obvious, I decided it was a significant enough celebration to merit some additional attention.
First of all, before you think my interest is self-serving, I am happy to report I had a wonderful Father’s Day, so I have no ax to grind. Father’s Day is not simply a “me to” day, inspired by retailers and greeting card companies. No disrespect to Children’s Day, Siblings Day, Parents Day or Grandparents Day, but what about uncles, aunts, cousins and close neighbors?
Father’s Day is a genuine celebration inspired at least in part by divine command. Before God said, don’t kill, steal, run around on your spouse or tell lies, He said: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 12:12 NIV
This goes beyond the well-repeated phrase, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” I think that quote is from Mother’s Day. God created the family before any other human organizations or enterprises. As a result, those two foundational roles must be given significant weight and respect.
There is significant evidence that when the influence of the family is in decline, the decline of the culture is soon to follow. I understand it is fashionable to make fun of previous generations and ideas like “Father knows best,” but the pendulum may have swung too far to “Father knows nothing” or is now unnecessary.
I heard Dr. Tony Evans commenting on what he described as the “sissification” of our culture where the new threat is “wait until your mother gets home.”
I guess I didn’t quite fathom the depth of the crisis that exists in fatherhood until I saw the government was sponsoring a website on how to be a better dad. I do not want to sound ungrateful, but it is not my experience that government involvement has improved many situations. I also noted there does not seem to be a corresponding website for the improvement of mothers.
While I don’t claim to have the solution to the problem of fatherhood in America, I am encouraged by something Jesus said that was recorded in Luke’s letter. The context is teaching following the giving of the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus asked the question: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11: 11-13 NIV
Jesus points out that dads are not perfect; in fact, He describes them in less flattering terms: Fathers are hard wired to give appropriate or good gifts and those gifts include provision and protection.
Fatherhood is a great privilege and responsibility, but we can find encouragement in the words of James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.