Father’s Day

 

Father’s Day is tomorrow, so here are a few observations about Fathers. In our more recent history fathers have become somewhat the, “Unsung hero.” But in spite of the barrage of anti-father rhetoric in our media fathers remain a most important part of society and the cornerstone of a Godly family. It is true that far too often men fail in their roles of father and husband. They don’t have an exclusive on failure however; women all too often are failing mothers and wives. This isn’t what I want to talk about though. There should be no battle of the sexes and neither gender has a lock on doing right or doing wrong. What I do want to talk about is how things ought to be and what is stopping us as a society from having more of the kinds of fathers that meet and exceed righteous expectations. Let me give a few examples of a few symptoms that illustrate where we are going and how fathers are perceived.

 

In the early days of television we had father figures like Ozzie Nelson and Beaver’s dad, Ward. Father Knows Best was another example of that period. Were these men representative of all men? Probably not. But they did represent what was considered the proper role for men and fathers. They were wise, beneficent, providers that were good examples for their families. They exhibited a good balance of firmness and compassion. They were expected to lead their families and they did. Doesn’t sound much like the father figure of today does it? Today’s father figure is most likely to be flawed in serious ways and perhaps a buffoon as well. Unfortunately, men today too often live down to these representations. The constant harping about finding their “Feminine Side” or “Unisex” or changes in our language such as “Mail Person” or “Ms.” or other equally foolish ideas has taken its toll. Opening a door for a woman may be a good thing --- or a bad thing! And it is not easy to tell the difference anymore. Complimenting a woman could be a good thing --- or sexual harassment, and you can never be sure which way that is going to go. They use to say it takes “Two to tango” but more and more women are having families without men. Consider the elementary schoolbook Heather Has Two Mommies for instance. Consider that when it comes to abortion, women have choice and men do not. Where are the demonstrations for father’s rights? If a woman kills her own fetus it is not considered murder but if a father kills her fetus by a punch to the stomach or by slipping some abortion-inducing drug in her tea he may very well be tried for murder. And when did abortionists ask the child what its choice was. Apparently the child doesn’t have a right to its own body. There’s a word that is sometimes used against a man that actually has the nerve to stand up for himself against the onslaught of media and liberal types that want him neutered, the word is “Chauvinist” and the word “Pig” often follows it. Is it any wonder that men are failing to be the fathers they should be when society is constantly on the attack against strong decent men? Don’t you know the examples, subtle and not so subtle, could go on and on?

 

Let me go back to the “Unsung hero” thought for a moment. Good fathers should and do provide materially for their families. They “Bring home the bacon” it is said. Mom then makes the bacon into a nice nourishing dish of some sort. The funny thing (strange) is mom almost always gets complimented every day for preparing the bacon but dad seldom gets complimented for bringing it home. When was the last time you heard mom or the kids say something like, “Nice check dad!” How about the college football player that is interviewed during the game? What do you hear most often, “Hi mom” or “Hi dad.” Who is most often seen as the disciplinarian? That is to say as the bad guy? It isn’t until much later, when the kids are grown with kids of their own, that dads begin to be appreciated like mothers. Am I complaining? No, I am not, but I think it is true that dad’s are unsung heroes that too often get a bad rap and are under appreciated. Before I get off this soapbox let me share a little tidbit I received in an email the other day.

Okay, dad, let's be realistic. When it comes to comparing dads with moms, there is no comparison. For instance, consumers are expected to spend $98.34 this year on dad; they spent $139.14 on mom.

One might assume that mothers are worth about 40 percent more than dads. Yet, in a traditional family, fathers provide most of the necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care and schooling expenses. Am I diminishing mothers? Not at all. But fathers are truly “Unsung heroes.”

 

Now let’s look at some of the things the Bible says about fathers.

(Eph 5:21-33 NIV)  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. {22} Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. {23} For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. {24} Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. {25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her {26} to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, {27} and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. {28} In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. {29} After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- {30} for we are members of his body. {31} "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." {32} This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. {33} However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 6:1-4 NIV)  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. {2} "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- {3} "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." {4} Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

*   First we see there is a hierarchy; Christ, father, wife, child.

*   But, notice that submission is reciprocal, that is to say it is a two way street.

*   Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

*   Men are to have an independent family.

*   Wives must respect their husbands.

*   Children are to obey their parents and honor them.

*   Fathers should not exasperate children.

*   Fathers should bring children up in training and instruction of the Lord.

 

(Col 3:18-21 NIV)  Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. {19} Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. {20} Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. {21} Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

This is simply a summary of what we just saw in the 5th chapter of Ephesians, a second witness.

 

(Exo 20:12 NIV)  "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

We saw reference to this commandment, the 5th, earlier. This is a generational commandment. That is to say we are to honor our parents and then be honored by our children and so forth.

 

(1 Tim 5:1-2 NIV)  Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, {2} older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Here we can discern more of the hierarchy that ought to be found when you are among God’s people. Everyone is entitled to due respect.

 

(1 Tim 5:8 RSV)  If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

And although the father is typically the “Bread winner” the entire family has a responsibility to the family. This includes the family of God. Especially the family of God.

 

Now let me shed some light on one passage that is sometimes misunderstood and distorted.

(Mat 23:8-10 NIV)  "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. {9} And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. {10} Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' (or Master) for you have one Teacher (or Master), the Christ.

These refer to titles (not descriptive words) that convey a sense of superiority not deserved rather than words that designate a relationship or status. See instances of “Father” in bold above. It could just as easily been said, do not call anyone on earth “Husband” for you have one Husband, and He is in heaven. Was Paul wrong when he said, “(2 Tim 1:11 NIV)  And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.”

 

Here is the point I want to make in this sermon. God, our Father, provides the basis for all we have. And like earthly fathers He too often doesn’t get the recognition or thanks that he should. Like our earthly fathers, our heavenly Father too often is an “Unsung hero.” When in the public eye we too often are quick to say “Hi mom” and forget to recognize our “Abba Father.” And like in the illustrations I offered about earthly fathers the world wants to emasculate God, our Father. They would just as soon keep Him out of sight or if they can’t do that at least make him appear foolish.

 

So fathers and all of you that know and love God, let’s change this trend starting with our families and ourselves. Then, let’s leave home and change the world.