God, Fatherhood and Children
The question that immediately comes to mind is, “Did the parents involved totally lack moral principles?” Had they somehow not picked up on the basic role of parents in a child’s life? As if it were not bad enough to allow a teenage son or daughter to drink alcoholic beverages, these parents were also encouraging their children to lie, and were actively involved with them in the lie!
The list of sins being passed on from parent to child in this situation is practically endless. These teenagers were not only being allowed to engage in an unlawful activity, they were also being taught to lie; to go back on a specific promise that they had made; to then cover up a lie; to conduct themselves as hypocrites as they sought to deceive others; to show disdain for the rules of their school and the teachers who trusted them to obey the rules; to be an evil influence on other students; and to top it all off, when their evil deeds were discovered, rather than admit their wrong and resolve to do better, to offer a litany of weak excuses to justify what they had done!
In reference to excuses, you may have guessed already what the parents of these children offered via justification for their actions. “Hey, the kids are going to drink anyway, why not allow them to drink in the home under the supervision of their parents and eliminate the dangers of drinking and driving?” No doubt, these parents thought themselves wise, caring and clever in offering such rationalization for their behavior. After all, what could be more politically correct than to teach your children the virtue of “safe-drinking” in a culture that uses its public school system to teach and encourage so-called “safe-sex’ rather than abstinence from immorality.
While reading about the circus described above I thought about how far parents, fathers in particular, had strayed from their proper role in bringing up their children. Missing from the scenario described above is the example of nobility, integrity and moral character that fathers are supposed to instill within their sons and daughters. Fathers in our culture, if indeed they are even around, have long forgotten the role that they should play in introducing their children to God, our heavenly Father. Ephesians 6:4 says to fathers concerning their children, “. . . bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
The first impression that children have of their heavenly Father is based on what they have observed in their physical father. Remember, they are both called father, and children will naturally make the connection. It reminds me of a story I heard once of a family sitting down to dinner. Father was out of town and mother asked the young son to offer thanks for the food before them. The child began the prayer with “Dear Daddy.” In his young mind the conception of God was indistinguishable from that of dad. In thinking about God he thought in terms of his own father.
What an important task we have as Fathers in preparing our children to enter the presence of our spiritual Father who requires obedience. Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you , O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” As earthly fathers we stand in the gap between our children and an eternal God who requires submission and obedience. Their impression of us will, to a great extent, determine their impression of and attitude toward God.
Children, of course, must be taught that their earthly fathers are not perfect. The father himself must impress this lesson on his own children. He must not put himself up as being perfect, i.e. incapable of doing wrong or making mistakes. Even though we set high moral standards for our children, we are not ourselves able to perfectly live up to those standards. Nevertheless, we must continue to try, not only to improve our own walk with God but also to encourage our children to grow closer to God as they grow older. Our children must learn that there is a God and that He requires a certain standard of behavior. His rules are not to be compromised or set aside for our own convenience. His divine wisdom is not be usurped and foolishly replaced by our own. The sad situation described at the beginning of this article simply would not have happened in a home where dad was fulfilling his God given role.
Who more than an earthly father is in a position to guide a child into a loving relationship with the heavenly Father? Surely we can see where as fathers of children in our modern culture we have not done right my our children. We have let them down. The fathers of our generation need to repent and return to our posts of duty. Our children will accept God and meet his moral requirements, but they will have to be led to do so. Who better to lead a son or daughter to God than dad?