LIFE WITHOUT FATHER
“One thing that prevents a man from being a good father is he hasn’t completed being a boy.”
“Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!”
Deuteronomy 27:9 NRSV
Fatherlessness is an “elephant” in the room. This topic is rarely addressed in the church. For the few discussing this issue, it is mostly discussed in reactionary terms in transitioning children to a single-mother household. Yet, according to many sociologists, what does the Bible say regarding the most pressing societal ill in America—fatherlessness?
What are the implications of fatherless families? Is it single-mother households, same-sex marriages, or matriarchal cultures? While some see the role of “male” fatherhood as superfluous, this essay will argue that fatherlessness is a pervasive problem, an epidemic—chiefly arising from two root causes: divorce-on-demand and unwed pregnancies—that has severe implications regarding God’s word, church, and world.
The Role of Dads
Fathers are one of the two most important role models in children’s lives. As a result, the decline of fatherhood and marriage cuts at the heart of an ideal child-rearing environment. What the decline of fatherhood and marriage in America really means, then, is that slowly, insidiously, and relentlessly our society has been moving in an ominous direction—toward the devaluation of children.
The increasing percentage of children living apart from their natural fathers is unpredictable and not widely discussed. Fatherlessness is a major force behind many disturbing U.S. social problems. The institution of marriage acts as culture’s chief vehicle to bind men to their children. In fact, the absence of fathers from children’s lives is one of the most important causes of problems related to children’s well-being. We see increasing rates of juvenile violent crime, depression and eating disorders, teen suicide, and substance abuse. The economic difficulties experienced by mother-headed families ultimately account for many of the disadvantages found among fatherless children. Moreover, fathers make unique contributions to child-rearing. This includes a parenting style different from mothers and an emphasis on play, facilitating normal emotional development.
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