Where have all the fathers who are the core gone? 43% of all children in the United States live in a home where there is no father. The social ramifications of this grim reality are staggering. 63% of all youth suicides, 90% of all runaway children, and a staggering 80% of convicted rapists lived in a home where there is no father.
In the church, the data is even more breathtaking. Multiple studies have confirmed that fathers are integral to the faith lives of their children. In fact, if the father is the spiritual head of his household, some 70% of his kids are likely to persist in the faith.
Look around your typical congregation, and ask yourself how this is playing out for the church in our day? Do we understand how badly we need dads? I think we need them more than we tend to want to realize. I believe we need them to be mouthpieces of God’s grace and obscure voices of empathy to their children.
Father as an Analogy of God’s Grace
Fathers, I think, are an analogy to a good and gracious God. When I say that “God is good” and “my dad is good,” I do not mean the same thing. God is good in a unique way; one that is, overall, beyond our understanding of the word “good.” When I say, “My dad is good,” neither do I mean something that is exactly the opposite of what it is meant when I say, “God is good.” These two statements are rather said analogically.
God shows us a glimpse of Himself through good earthly fathers. A child can point to a father that is good and say God is in some way like that. It seems obvious that it may be easier for our children to trust in a good God the Father (a man) who loved them so much that he sent His Son (a man) to save them, if they have at least once in their life pointed to a good man and said, “God is like that… like my Dad.”
What is the Vocation of Father?
This idea is an argument for considering the vocation of father seriously and as an apologetic endeavor. Perhaps as dads, we need to be reminded that we are free before God because of Christ and that God has freely called us to serve our neighbors. We freely serve our closest neighbors, our children, and families, through the seemingly mundane motions of everyday life. Being the obscure voice of empathy means that our “go-to” position is one of Gospel and not Law. Our go to “voice” in the home ought to be the voice of grace, and not permissiveness either, rather than the voice of punishment!
God’s Word of life coming to our families on the lips of another: by God’s grace, on our lips! Amen.
Listen to Scott Keith's interview on SBE here!