Fathers are Important
Text: Malachi 2:10-16
I. Just how important are dads in a family?
A. When our country’s welfare system was being developed, a rule was issued that if the father resided with the mother, benefits would be reduced or cut off.
1. The impact was predictable, the number of children living in fatherless homes rose from 5.1 million in 1960 to 16.5 million in 1995.
B. Articles were published in the 1990's attacking the notion of fatherhood. Myths developed
1. Men batter their wives (truth is that half of abusers are men and half are women - the only difference is that women are more likely to be injured.)
2. Men break up marriages (actually two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women - most common reason cited: they were growing apart or she didn’t feel loved anymore.)
3. Fathers abuse their children (the majority of maltreated children were abused by their mother 58% verses 42% for fathers in a 2003 government study)
C. Older television shows had titles like “Father Knows Best,” but current televison portray fathers as bumbling idiots.
D. What is interesting is that people didn’t always have this view
1. In 1965 Patrick Moynihan made this conclusion: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future – that community asks for and gets chaos.”
2. Real studies, not empty claims, show that fathers play an important role in cognitive abilities in their children
a. “When fathers are involved in their children’s education, the kids were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.”
b. Children with involved fathers tend to attain higher levels of education.
c. A study of 17,000 children, published in Adolescence, found that children living apart from their biological father were more likely to repeat a grade in school and 70% more likely to be expelled.
3. Fathers play an important role in moral behavior
a. Without involved fathers, teenagers are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs. They are more likely to commit suicide.
(1) A 1988 study, published in the Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency found that the best predictor of violent crime and burglary in a community was the proportion of households without fathers.
(2) US Department of Health and Human Services found that 70% of all juveniles in long-term correctional facilities did not live with their father while growing up.
b. Fathers strongly influence their children’s sex-role identities.
(1) Good male role models help adolescent boys develop their gender characteristics.
(2) David Bankenhorn, Fatherless America, “A biological father has no equal when it comes to socializing a male child, especially in teaching respectful attitudes toward females.”
(3) They help adolescent girls form their opinions of men and help them relate with men.
c. Adolescent girls are three times more likely to engage in sex before 15. They are five times more likely to become a teenage mother.
d. Boys tend to respond more readily to systems of rewards and punishments that fathers use than those used by mothers.
4. It follows that the influence of dads also affects the general health and well-being of their children, since they hinder poor moral choices, but also
a. Without fathers, children tend to have higher rates of asthma, headaches, anxieties, depression and behavioral problems
b. Children with engaged fathers show greater initiative and demonstrate self-control. They also tend to be economically self-sufficient.
c. Boys with engaged fathers tend to be good fathers as well. After all, they had someone to model their behavior after.
II. God wants marriages to remain intact because He seeks godly children - Malachi 2:14-16
A. Surprise! Those studies reached a conclusion taught in the Scriptures. Intact families produce more moral (godly) children and reduces crime (violence) in society.
B. Fathers bring up your children
1. Ephesians 6:4 - “bring up” means to raise to maturity through nurturing. In other words, a father has responsibility to see that his family is feed on the most basic level.
2. I Timothy 5:8 - Must provide for his own household. The word “provide” means to plan in advance of their needs.
3. Luke 11:11-13 - Fathers give what a child needs.
4. II Corinthians 12:14 - Parents lay up for their children
5. In other words, fathers provide a stable environment in which his family can thrive. This is why families with fathers are healthier physically and mentally.
6. If all fathers care for was that their children’s tummies are full, they would not be nurturing their children to maturity. Children need food for their minds and their souls.
C. Fathers are teachers
1. Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers provide the training in the Lord
2. How? By always living and recalling God’s teachings - Deuteronomy 6:5-12
3. It is passed down generation by generation - Psalm 78:1-8
a. Abraham sets the example - Genesis 18:19
b. Even memory of bad events - Joel 1:2-3
4. Exposure to God’s word is transforming - II Corinthians 3:18
5. Ideas followed become habits not soon forgotten - Proverbs 22:6
6. But little of this can happen if dad is gone, whether through divorce or so busy that he has no time for his offspring.
D. Fathers are disciplinarians
1. Ephesians 6:4 - Admonition of the Lord refers to the discipline of rebukes.
2. Hebrews 12:7-10 - Fathers chasten their children
a. In the Greek, paideia was the training, teaching, chastening, and punishment needed to produce obedient children and useful citizens of proper character, self-control, and courage.
3. Deuteronomy 21:18 - Children were expected to obey their parents and discipline is used to encourage that obedience.
4. Proverbs 13:24 - It requires prompt punishment – not because of anger, but because of love for the child.
5. Children tend to be foolish - Proverbs 22:15
6. Discipline saves a child from foolish mistakes - Proverbs 23:12-14
7. It impacts their economic welfare - Proverbs 13:18
8. Without instruction and discipline, a man will die - Proverbs 5:22-23
9. Hence reproofs, scoldings – correction by reasoned words, lead to life - Proverbs 6:23
III. A good description of fatherhood (written by Paul Harvey)
At a time when being a buddy to one’s son is popular, I am going to stay a father. I believe it may yet prove to have a bit of sad psychology when dads are called “Jim, Pete, Art, or Jack” by their children. When Spock, Freud, Dewey, and William James have conspired to make dad a minor stock holder on the home’s board of directors, when women’s rights, civil rights, people’s rights, children’s rights, and property rights have made it wrong for fathers to speak with authority, I am going to stay a father.
If a gap exists between my sons and daughters, and myself, I am going to work hard to understand. But I’m also going to work hart to be understood. I shall try to understand why long hair when kept clean and trimmed does not identify one as a hippie, yippie, radical or reactionary, any more than short hair identifies one as a clean, moral, upright citizen. But I shall not ape my sons. I will abide by an older distinction, when long hair was a fitting symbol of womanliness. The young may refer me to Samson, to medieval pictures of Jesus, or to the powdered wigs, or braided locks of the fathers of our country – but I shall refer them to Paul, who said: “Does not nature teach that it is a shame for a man to have long hair?”
When they tell it like it is, I’ll listen, even if I like it better like it was. If old-fashioned things as prayer, Bible study, faith in God, worship ever seem to my children to be out of it, square, or whatever – I trust God’s help to have faith enough to yet pray for them, and I pledge with Job, to offer up additional sacrifices for them.
With love in our home I will answer their questions about the facts of life, but at nudeness or lewdness I refuse to wink. Drinking and smoking are as out of place and unwanted in my home as profanity or the plague. And if experimentation with drugs or marijuana is ever a problem, it will be violation of my every prayer and request. No laissez faire attitude will be accepted here – even if the weed is legalized and social “tripling” becomes as acceptable as social drinking.
I want my children to know I make mistakes, that I am foolish, proud, and often inconsistent. But I will not tolerate that as an excuse for my hypocrisy. I ask them to help me change as children should, and to expect me to help them change [using] the methods expected of a parent. Others may look to the under-30 crowd for the wisdom to throw away the past and to say what will remain for future generations; others may let the offspring in the house determine the foods, the music, and the spending of the household, but I am going to stay the father.
IV. Fathers rule the home
A. You see it in the qualifications of elders - I Timothy 3:4-5
1. “Rule” comes from proistemi. It refers to a person over you or a person who manages.
2. Christians are give respect to those over them (elders) - I Thessalonians 5:12-13
B. Children should do the same for their fathers - Hebrews 12:9
1. Oh, sure they have been harsh at times, but more times than not it was because we were doing something wrong.
2. It is their job to admonish, to rebuke, and to discipline.
3. It comes naturally to fathers because they are men.
C. It is not a crime, old-fashion, or barbaric. It is what children need to develop into responsible, mature adults – and that is never unimportant.
V. We need to return to respecting the roles God laid out for the family
A. We need to see men as men and not as failed women
B. We need to respect husbands and fathers for the role that they play in our lives, especially when they do it well.