Somebody told me there is this thing called Father’s Day, and I couldn’t believe I actually get my own day! If greeting card companies were going to make up a day in which to sell a lot of greeting cards, having a day for fathers is a mighty fine way to do it. They probably made up such a day a long time ago when the value of fathers in American culture was unquestioned. Up until the 1960s, when all the ideas that had been bubbling among Western intellectual elites for several hundred years in the West exploded into the culture, fathers were seen not only as valuable, but as indispensable. In other words, a society, let alone a family, could not exist without fathers doing what fathers do, and doing it relatively well. What is it that fathers do? Raise boys to become men, and girls to become women. Before the sexual revolution pretty much destroyed everything, most people knew the difference. Nowadays, it’s the over educated who don’t, and average people with average common sense who do.
You youngsters are going to have a hard time believing this, but there was actually a time in America not too long ago when one of the most popular shows on TV was called, “Father Knows Best.” No, really. And what’s shocking to many people today is that most Americans in the 1950s, all but the most elitist intellectual snobs, actually believed this. Father did normally know best. The Father, the man of the house, was the leader of the house. There was nothing the least bit problematic about that. Christians know that there never has been nor ever will be anything problematic with the Father being the leader of his home. That is the way God made the family to work; patriarchy is built into the cake of human existence, and things always work better when the man is the head of his house. Of course, the man has to earn his stripes. Just because a male can procreate doesn’t mean he’s a man, and deserves the respect of being a man.
Unfortunately, though, the sexual revolution happened, and along with it the fulfillment of a life-long dream of Karl Marx, the destruction of the family. That made being a man much harder. As long as the family was solid and strong, communism could never take hold, and the revolution would peter out. Thus the family must be destroyed. If he could see what the woke progressive left has done to the family in the 21st century he would be thrilled. I won’t bore you with stats, but a lot of American children grow up with absent fathers, and the emotional and psychological effects are devastating.
Back in the 1960 and 70s when no fault divorce was making its way into law, and making it easier for a spouse to unilaterally end a marriage, its champions, liberals and “conservatives” both, would slyly mock opponents with the pithy phrase, “If you don’t want a divorce, don’t.” Or, “One marriage ending is not threat to your marriage.” They made such facile statements is if they had the morally superior position. Making divorce easy was not only a morally inferior position, it has been a disaster for the family. There are many other reasons for this demise, both politically and culturally, but the result is the same: too many fathers who do not spend every day raising their children.
It is no coincidence that we learn in the full revelation of God in Christ that God is Father. The concept is only adumbrated in the Old Testament, but explodes into ubiquity in the New. Paul even tells us one of the many reasons this is so important in Ephesians 3:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
And the Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater). The creational dynamic of the Triune God, from the Father through the Son by the Spirit, is enfleshed in the triune nature of the patria, father, mother, and child. The father, in one of my favorite phrases, makes it happen. I’m always saying to my kids, especially my boys, Makin’ it happen! Because fathers make it happen, they are responsible for making sure it continues to happen, i.e., raising kids, leading the family, earning a living, etc. The most civilizing force in a man’s life is a woman, tied to him by children. The best book I’ve ever read about this process, and highly recommend, is Men and Marriage by George Gilder. Masculine traits are critical to a healthy civilization, and without masculinity healthy families are not possible. I’ve raised my boys specifically and intentionally to be men because one day I pray they have the opportunity to discover that father does indeed know best.