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Father's Day - Is it meaningless?

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:51 PM

In Australia there are 780,000 families without a father so, for them, Fathers Day is meaningless.

The number of fatherless families has increased substantially over the last two decades. In 1986-1988 one parent families with children under 15 years accounted for 14% of all families. Today it is 22%!

What is it that children miss not having a father? Psychologists suggest this leaves a solo-mother short-handed in parenting and often struggling economically, but there are specific problems associated with the lack of a masculine presence. These include lack of discipline, exaggerated peer orientation, learning disabilities, and increased violence in boys.

It is no statistical freak that the increase in vandalism, street violence, gang warfare and lack of respect for the law parallels the breakdown of the family and the increase of sole-parent families.

There are also significant spiritual issues. The Bible gives the important and vital role of discipline (Prov 23:13-14) and teaching to the father: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4.

What is not always recognized is the fact that the godly father is meant to image God the Heavenly Father.

Some years ago I was leading a Bible Study in a Youth Camp and we were discussing the concept of God as our loving Heavenly Father. One teenage girl blurted out, “That is meaningless to me because my father is such a rotter!”

How can a child or young person visualize the Fatherhood of God without an earthly role model? How can they understand the love of the Heavenly Father without ever having experienced the love of an earthly father?

This makes understanding of the Gospel more difficult and the task of a godly mother less easy. If children have been brought up to believe a father is not necessary, how will they be humanly persuaded of their need for a Heavenly father? How can they understand what Jesus said in Matthew 7:11: 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 good gifts to those who ask him!

When Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matt 6:26), He was showing how valuable each individual is in the sight of God. But the idea of a father providing every need is foreign to fatherless families, so it is no wonder so many young people have such low self esteem. They do not see themselves as valuable in God’s sight.

The Lord’s Prayer is addressed to Our Father in Heaven, in the understanding that a loving Heavenly Father is able to meet our every need. If this concept is one that is foreign to a child in a fatherless family, it makes it less likely they will pray that prayer or any other prayer in faith.

So, is Fathers Day meaningless?

Not to those who are true Christians who, even though they may never have experienced the love of an earthly father, have experienced something far better; the love of God our Heavenly Father.

Rev. Donald Geddes

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child.