Fathers – A Grave Responsibility

A toddler sitting on his father's shoulders

It is terribly disturbing how flippant many men are towards fathering a child.  There are numerous children who have no idea who their father is.  Some may know their fathers’ names, yet never see them.  Then, there are the various mothers who are left to rear the children alone.  This type of behavior is harmful in so many ways, but what makes it even worse is that some men act as if this is what being a man is.  Let us look to the Bible to see what God expects a father to be.

            God blessed the first man, Adam, with a suitable helper named Eve (Gen. 2:18-24).  This shows the wisdom that God has.  God knew that being alone was not the best way of life.  So, by supplying Adam with a wife, God demonstrated that a proper family unit is comprised of both a man and a woman.  In this family unit, Adam and Eve were given the responsibility of becoming parents.  God told them, “…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:  and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28).  Thus, the result was the first children born on this earth.  Please notice that the children came into the family after the man and woman were made “one” (Gen. 2:24).  The Bible even refers to Eve as Adam’s wife (Gen. 2:25).  This is the natural way that God wants children to come into this world.  Somehow, we need to instill in young boys and young men, the knowledge that becoming a father should only happen in a marriage union.

            Once married, and once a child is born into the family, the man then has tremendous duties to his offspring.  God does not expect for man to leave the upbringing only to the mothers.  This is extremely important to understand.  In the New Testament, Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord:  for this is right.  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)” (Eph. 6:1-2).  Those verses imply that parenting is a joint effort between fathers and mothers.  However, God also commanded specific obligations to the fathers.  Paul continued, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:  but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Fathers must understand that the spiritual growth of their children is directly placed upon their shoulders.  While this does not mean that a mother cannot teach her children, it does mean that the father needs to set structure and guidance as to what is taught in his home.  It is truly saddening to realize how many fathers fail in this area.  There is a reason that our young ones are reaching adulthood without any basic knowledge of God, the church, worship, etc.  They are not being taught it at home.  If, and I emphasize if, the children are taught these things, it occurs in congregational Bible classes and Vacation Bible Schools.  These works are not bad, but the church is not responsible for the spiritual upbringing of children.  That role is given to the fathers!  Unfortunately, many fathers do not know spiritual things well enough to teach them to their children.  Literally, the fathers are failing God and their families.

            Under the Old Law of Moses, it was commanded and expected for the Israelite children to be taught.  Moses wrote, “Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God is one LORD:  and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).  Learning about God and His Word was supposed to be a regular part of daily life.  It was not just what they did on Sabbath Days or feast days.  The lives of those children were molded and shaped from a very young age.  Then, once they were grown and had children as well, they were to continue the practice for the next generation.  This would ensure that Israel did not “forget the LORD” (Deut. 6:12-13).

            It does not take very much for a man to father a child physically.  It does take a great amount of effort to be the father with which God is pleased.
~ Corey Barnette