Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers and God In America

Today is father's day. Well, it's almost done, and by the time you read this it will be over. If you're a father, I hope that you had a good one.

It was a good idea to reflect on the role that fathers play in this country, I suppose. Or at least, that's what I did... among helping the kids make their dad a t-shirt, picking up some steaks for him to BBQ, and trying to find a helium balloon for him.

A lot of fathers in the media today look like bumbling idiots. Homer Simpson, anyone? Tim Taylor on Tool Time was always hurting himself in one way or another. They did a really good job on Jericho portraying Johnston the mayor as a good father though. Dads in Jingle All The Way and Liar Liar are unreliable buffoons or liars. It's the mother in Home Alone that risks life and limb to return to her son early, not the dad. Don't even get started with television commercials, where dads and other slobs of men all sit in front of the football game stuffing themselves on pizza and beer, ogling over cheerleaders.

Bernard Goldberg made a good point in his book Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right. After hurricane Katrina, poor moms standed at the Superdome were crying about how their infants were suffering because they had no access to diapers and milk... where were the fathers?

And where was the father of baby "John Vincent", the toddler who was left abandoned in a hospital with a note on his diaper saying "Please help my baby John Vincent I can no longer take care of him. Lost job, lost medical. God have mercy on me."

Fathers are increasingly seen as unnecessary. Once a baby is conceived, some people think that is all that is needed. Single mothers raise their babies all the time. Often it's not a choice. Things happen. People get divorced, widowed, etc. It's not really seen as a big deal any more.

My pastor said something today that made me think. The family is a picture of God's love. The husband is supposed to love his wife like Christ loved the church. Parents learn how much God loves us (and how helpless we are in comparison to him) when they bring home a new baby. Fathers are (or at least should be because they live up to it) seen in the eyes of their children as all-powerful, loving people in authority. A child learns to love their father, respect him, and obey him... and eventually, they hopefully will learn to love, respect, and obey God. The father is an earthly role that pictures God's relationship to us.

So if fathers are absent, irresponsible, unimportant, unreliable buffoons, what does that say about our society and our view on God?


~ God is absent from many of our lives... or at least many would like it to be so.
~ God is unimportant to many people.
~ Many people today believe that God doesn't exist, or is cruel, intolerant, and/or bigoted
~ Many people casually view him as "the big guy upstairs"... umm... is he laying around in front of football in his underwear drinking beer and eating pizza, by any chance?
~ He is seen by many as a God that has let them down in the past, because someone died when they prayed that they wouldn't, financial ruin happened, or some other tradgedy
~ And of course, people that believe that God's Bible is true are illiterate, unintelligent buffoons... especially if you believe all that "nonsense" about a literal 6 day creation 6000 or so years ago

We like to make a lot of decisions without the father nowadays. We can abort babies without even letting the father know they had a child to begin with. We pack up and take the kids down a messy road of divorce because we're "not happy". And while there are tons of nice balloons in the stores for mother's day, only a handful are available with "Happy Father's Day" written on them.

Maybe there's a correlation between how we as a society views fathers (and fatherhood) and how we view God.

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