It's almost like we've become unnecessary. For the first time in history, the majority of US babies born to women under 30 are born outside of marriage--meaning there's no dad in the home. The NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE that reported this trend quotes a sociologist saying, "Marriage has become a luxury good." One of the women interviewed in the article said about getting married, “I’d like to do it, but I just don’t see it happening right now. Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway.”
I find this heartbreaking.
Marriage is way more than "a piece of paper"--but that's a subject for another post. What I want to lift up today is the importance of fathers. According to THIS ARTICLE, a recent study shows that whether or not a father goes to church has a greater impact on his children's future church attendance than what the mother does. Apparently dads do matter when it comes to faith development.
And I believe dads matter in all kinds of other ways as well. My father, thank God, gave me a role model to follow in every area of life. When my son left for college four years ago, he wrote me a letter telling me the same thing. And this week while we were hiking together he told me that I was one of his favorite people to hang out with. That's a great compliment, but consider this: What if his favorite people to hang out with were, as we say, "the wrong crowd?" Could it be that David's enjoyment of our relationship played an important role in the good choices he's made throughout his life? I'm not trying to brag here--I'm trying to illustrate something important from my own experience.
Dads matter. Fathers who are reading this: You matter. Get active in your kids' lives. Be a role model. Spend time with your kids. Get down on the floor and play with them. Take them along with you on your favorite activities--and join them in theirs.
Last week somebody asked me if I was going to preach to fathers on Father's Day. This person laughed as he told me that in his experience, Mother's Day sermons usually praise our saintly mothers while Father's Day sermons usually bash fathers for not doing their jobs! I'm not trying to bash fathers in this post. But as I think about my friend's comment, I have to say, "I wonder why that is?" Why do pastors so often find themselves praising mothers and fussing at fathers? And how much better off would society be if dads stepped up to the plate?
The recent movie Courageous provides a dramatic example of some fathers who decide to step up to the plate. Yeah, it's melodramatic and it's cheesy at points, but it has a great message, and it puts it out there boldly and without apology. (It's also hilarious at points!) I recommend it. Why not rent it and watch it with your family?