According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of every three — live in biological father-absent homes. The National Fatherhood Initiative reports that nine in ten American parents agree this is a “crisis.” Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the social issues facing America today. Yet there is hope in the fact that children with involved fathers do better across every measure of child well-being than their peers in father-absent homes.
From a biblical perspective, the relationship between fathers and children is hugely important not only for the well-being of family and society, but for God’s people. Fathers in ancient Israel were the primary instructors of God’s covenant to their children. This responsibility was critical to ensuring success in Israel obeying their God. The fact of the matter is that fathers as a whole blew it. The very last verse of the Old Testament ends on a note of coming judgment. But that is not the end of the story because the prophet Elijah will come to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and vice versa.
John the Baptist, Jesus said, was the Elijah to come. Jesus, then, is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people. Dads have a sacred responsibility today to point their kids to Jesus. We must take up the mantle of teaching our children the ways of God especially as expressed by Jesus. God is on a mission of restoration, and the place to begin is with restoring relationships between fathers and children. It behooves all us Dads to step away and slow down enough to consider what the nature of our family relationships are really like. Then, take action to instruct our kids with both words and with actions.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of children. Teach me your ways of grace so that I might pass them on to my children in Jesus’ name through the power of the Spirit. Amen.