Title: A Godly Father – Part 2 (Eph. 6:1-4)
By: Bert Amsing (1992)
I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I said that there is incredible gender-role confusion in our society.
What does it mean to be a man or a woman? To be a father or mother? Everywhere you look there is evidence of great confusion. Especially on TV, which is the mirror of modern society, you can see this confusion.
Transvestites, are they male or female? If you don’t like what you’re born with you can have a sex change. If your orientation isn’t heterosexual, it’s a cause for celebration rather than concern. Gay rights week begins today, on Father’s Day. How ironic and sad!
What are we supposed to say to men today?
Even though it’s Father’s Day, and even though we want at least to let our fathers and husbands know we appreciate them, is there really any clear message that the scripture can give them to serve as an anchor in a world that is getting more confused every day?
There certainly is.
There are basic biblical principles gleaned from 100 different places in Scripture that give us God’s solution to the gender role confusion problem. The basic biblical principle here is headship.
Now headship is usually talked about in the relationship between husband and wife. That alone is a big subject but what I would like to do this morning is get at the question of headship from the point of view of Father’s Day, the relationship between men and their children.
There is at least one trend in society that is welcome news. Where in the 80s the emphasis for men was on work and career and material wealth, the trend of the 90s seems to be back towards the home and the responsibilities of fatherhood. That’s good! Even in the church, some families suffer from this misconception regarding the role of a father in the home.
Regardless of what we say, regardless of whether or not we agree with a sermon that tells us what we should be doing as fathers, what actually happens in homes reflects what we really believe about fatherhood.
And there are a lot of homes where, by and large, fathers are often absent.
We often feel guilty about it. One of the biggest struggles for men is to balance work and home. And it’s a lot easier for some men just to let their wives take care of the home front and we will take care of the bread-and-butter. We know that isn’t right but some of us live that way because it’s easier.
Parenting is no easy job and, although it’s a job for both parents, Paul says “fathers bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” There is a primary responsibility here that speaks of headship.
So, one abuse of headship is to refuse the role of effective, holy Fatherhood and let the women do all the tough parenting work while we work or study or worry about our careers.
Another abuse of headship is in the area of authority. “You just wait until your father gets home, young man,” says a frustrated mother. “John, would you do something about these kids,” says a mother at the end of her wits.
Even in the church, many families assume that the essence of fatherhood lies in the area of discipline. Oh, we may know better than that but judging from the way many families function, authority and discipline, making the children mind, is at the heart of fatherhood. That too is an abuse of headship over the family.
Sure, headship has to do with authority and sure discipline is necessary in the home, but Paul says that children are to obey both of their parents and they are to honor both father and mother.
Let me ask this question. Why do you think that Paul singles out fathers when he says, “fathers do not exasperate your children?” Not parents, not fathers and mothers, just fathers.
Did Paul think that mothers never exasperated their children? Or is he permitting mothers to exasperate their children? Of course not.
Paul singles out father’s because he knew that men generally have a problem exercising authority properly. Ever since the fall, men have abused the privileges and responsibilities of headship over women and children. Sin is at heart a power trip. It’s a control thing, and in most societies throughout most of the history of the world, power has belonged to men, and they have not always used it properly.
Children, obey your parents oh, both of them.
Fathers do not exasperate your children by misusing your headship authority.
To neglect your role as a father or misuse your authority as a father are two ways in which you can abuse your role as the head of the family.
But what are some positive things or some positive ways to be the head of the family? Well, there are a lot of things that can be said, and perhaps a good place to start is getting a good book or two on parenting from a father’s perspective and start taking an active interest in every area of your children’s lives.
But right now, I want to target just one thing that I think will be a benefit to all of us, especially the fathers.
Has it ever occurred to you that it is a tremendous thing to have the obedience of another person?
As adults, we discuss and persuade and argue in order to get someone to do something we think is important. We come to one another on more or less equal footing usually. Unless you have authority over someone, unless you can command someone else’s obedience, at work with a subordinate, at home with children.
With authority comes responsibility, responsibility to get the job done, responsibility to bring up your children in the instruction and training of the Lord.
But God commands our children to obey us not to make life easier for us but to make life harder because now we are not only responsible for our own spiritual growth but for the spiritual growth of our children.
They will obey us. Think about that for a moment. They hardly even realize it yet but the molding and shaping that we do will affect them for a lifetime. These children are our first disciples, our primary disciples. They will obey us. We have been given authority over them in order to teach them and show them how to love the Lord.
If, as parents and especially as fathers, this isn’t our primary concern with our children, then we have not yet learned what headship is all about. Listen to yourselves as fathers. What messages do you give your children over and over again?
Family Life Specialists Delmer W Holbrook and his wife have been lecturing and conducting surveys across America. In a survey of hundreds of children, the Holbrooks came up with the three things fathers say most in responding to their kids.
“I’m too tired,” took first place. “We don’t have enough money,” was second. “Keep quiet,” was third.
Children are to obey you for a reason. And that reason is that you represent God to them. They belong to God first of all. Your job is to teach them to love God. You demonstrate the love of God to them.
A little boy, frightened by a thunderous lightning storm, called out one dark night, “Daddy come. I’m scared.”
“Son,” the father said, “God loves you and he’ll take care of you.”
“I know God loves me,” the boy replied. “But right now, I want someone who has skin on.”
It is the role of the father to be and demonstrate God “with skin on.”
That’s what headship is all about and that’s what Fathers Day is all about.