Tuesday, July 1, 2015
In a world where same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, how should men continue to stand firm on marriage? We stand firm, as men, by pursuing our God-given wife, endlessly loving our children in a biblical way, and by rebuilding a marriage culture–Nehemiah style–that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and is in turn used for our great good.
By buying into the homosexual movement, the culture has implicitly said that the uniqueness of fatherhood and motherhood does not really matter. The Bible, however, places maximum value on both a father and a mother in a child’s life.
Let’s zero in on the Christian view of fatherhood as we seek to rebuild a marriage culture in the ruins.
The Foundation of Fatherhood
God cares immensely about fatherhood in the family. When I lost my own father when I was two years old, my mom comforted me with the fact that God promises to be a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). God places a premium on fatherhood to the extent that he promises to be a father to fatherless covenant children. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us to address God as Father in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9). Because of this revolutionary prayer, Jesus’s teaching on the fatherhood of God has been the model for how the Christian church is to relate to God through the centuries.
It is from this truth—the fatherhood of God—that the Christian church has constructed its view of fatherhood in the Christian family. It is from the character of our own heavenly Father that Christian fathers have understood how to relate to their children. So as the church embarks into a post-SCOTUS marriage world, it is due time that we double down on fatherhood, taking our cues from our own heavenly Father so that we might point a lost world to Him through our lives.
Fathers Demonstrate Unconditional Love
The Christian view of love is unconditional. We know this because of Paul’s words in Romans 5:8. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” the apostle writes. This means that the love of a Christian father, mirroring the Father’s love for His children, must be undaunted and unflinching. Even if the child has vast ideological differences and spurns his own father’s love, the Christian father continues to reach out in extraordinary love.
When the great writer Robert Louis Stevenson went off to college at the University of Edinburgh, he renounced the Christian faith. His father, a devout Presbyterian, mourned his son’s choice, but never stopped loving his son. Throughout Stevenson’s global travels, his father continued to send money to him and prayed regularly for Robert’s soul. This continued until he died, though Robert never repented and reconciled his relationship with his father. Sometimes, the prodigal does not come home.
Whether our children respond or not, this type of unconditional, radical love that pursues even when love is not returned will set Christian fathers apart going forward. Fathers, love your own children with the radical, unconditional love that your heavenly Father has shown you. The world does not know that love, but when they see it, they will be beholding the very love of God. What a calling this is.
Fathers Discipline Their Children
The Christian worldview recognizes that discipline is good for children. They need it. It teaches them right from wrong and instructs them on how to walk in the path of godliness. That is why our Heavenly Father “disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
The writer of Hebrews relates God’s discipline of his spiritual children directly to fatherhood when he says, “For what son is there whom his father does not discipline” (Heb 12:7). The Lord disciplines his children because he loves us and wants us to flourish. As a Christian father lovingly takes responsibility for the discipline of his children, he will set them on a trajectory of wisdom in the knowledge of God (Prov 3:12). His children will be trained as beacons of light in a world of confusion because they know the God of order and will “live long in the land.”
Fathers: much as the culture pushes against the concept, we must not give up on the faithful, diligent discipline of our children. It is in the loving discipline of our children that we will shape the next generation of Christians before a watching world.
Fathers Do Not Provoke Their Children to Anger
God promises to “work all things together for good” for His children (Rom 8:28). Likewise, the Christian father also should strive to serve his children in every way for their good. Perhaps nothing is more hypocritical than a Christian father who claims to have experienced the love and goodness of God and then turns around and is provoking, wrathful, or disinterested in his children. That is why Paul directly instructs Christian fathers to “not provoke your children to anger, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21).
There are a myriad of ways a father could provoke his children, whether it be through neglect, inconsistent discipline, favoritism, living vicariously through his children, making unfair comparisons, or numerous other harmful actions. A father, as the head of the household, must avoid the pitfalls of sin toward his children that will push his children away from the gospel and the Lord Jesus. We cannot be overbearing, on the one hand; we cannot be disengaged, on the other.
Fathers Provide Security
The world is a cold, dark place where sin reigns. Yet in the midst of difficulty there is solace to be found in the comforting protection of our Father. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 91 that God will cover his children “with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and a buckler” (Ps 91:4). The picture is of a mother bird, who covers her young—protecting them from predators by sacrificing her own body for the lives of her young.
God has already shown us how much he will provide security for us through the death of Christ. And Christ himself promises that no one will be able to take the Christian out of His hand (John 10:28). Likewise, as Christian fathers, we must strive to be the embodiment of security and protection in the life of our children. We can do this not only by working hard to provide physical protection or our children, but by also pointing them to the spiritual security provided to us by our Heavenly father.
In the midst of the trials that await us, we must be strong in the Lord for our children and continually point them to where ultimate security is found: in the shadow of the wings of the Lord.
Grant Castleberry is the Executive Director of CBMW. He and his wife GraceAnna, and their three children, live in Louisville, KY. You can follow him on Twitter @grcastleberry.
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