Father’s Day is officially past tense now, and I’m aware again that it has a different significance to me than it used to have. My father was not available as I grew up, and I had virtually no information about him beyond his name. The unanswered questions, unsolved puzzles, and the scripted family stonewalling frustrated me most of my life. Every attempt at an exploration into that forbidden territory from any angle was instantly shut down. Nothing about him or his relationship to me was mentioned in conversation in our house, and had my older brother not been given his name, I probably would not have been offered that. I brought it up to my brother a few times as we grew up, and his patented answer was a crisp, “He got you here, didn’t he? What else do you need him for?” I really didn’t have an answer to that question back then. That’s no longer the case.
I wanted to know what happened to him. Who was he? Why did he leave? Where did he go? Why through all these years did he never once call, or write, or send a card, or show his face in my life somewhere? Who occupied the black hole that my father left me to live with, and why did my mother and the rest of my family keep it so tightly sealed? I wondered thousands of times why I couldn’t just leave it alone. On a few rare occasions, I violated protocol and brought it up to Mom. I got the usual series of non-answers, but always this. “Why do you need to know? What difference would it make?”
It took years of investigative work, prayer, and not a few ‘God moments’, but we were eventually able to uncover most of the mysteries. My wife’s skill and dogged determination were incredible. I would not want to be trying to hide in some witness protection program and have her after me. With virtually nothing to work with, no precise date of birth, military ID, or social security number, a gamut of privacy laws stood between us and directly obtaining almost anything. After more twists and turns than an episode of ‘24’, light began to fill the black hole. My father never called or wrote because he was killed in a work accident when I was still just a toddler. We also discovered that I have a half-brother and sister, whom I have come to love and cherish like the family that they are. But Mom’s haunting questions still lingered. What difference does it make [if you had a father or not]? Why would it matter [that you don’t know who he was, or what he was like]? So I grew up without a father, so what? And why bring it up now? I do it because fatherhood is a vital issue, and it’s under attack.
All of us know about the angry young man who inserted himself into a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina last week. We know that he accepted their hospitality, shared their fellowship, and then killed nine of them. That’s one horrible act wrought by one angry young man. Lurking in the shadows are multitudes more, atrocities not quite bloody enough, racial enough, or politically charged enough to make another weeks-long, 24-7 news loop. Reminders of the moral and ethical chaos that reigns in this country are voluminous and inescapable. We don’t have to hear about another one to know that something deeply basic is dreadfully wrong. I believe our desecration of fatherhood, and our concerted effort to reduce it to irrelevance is one of the ‘somethings’ that is dreadfully wrong. If I wasn’t so sick of the media’s favorite hyperbolic manipulation of the term, I would suggest that we have a fatherhood ‘crisis’ in our country.
This week the Supreme Court will rule on the issue of ‘gay marriage’—a gross misnomer in my opinion. ‘Arrogant mockery’ would be more accurate. Homosexual unions will exist regardless, and to our national shame, may achieve even more legal validation than they now have, but they will never be considered a marriage by the One who invented the idea. Be that as it may, the most dangerous fallout of a Supreme Court affirmation will not be that a miniscule percentage of the population will flaunt their unnatural attractions on the public stage and demand that we approve and applaud. The more devastating reality is that the very definition of parents, and particularly the role of fatherhood, will be dealt a disabling blow. Fatherhood will take a major punch in the face—brass knuckles provided by liberal media, godless ‘entertainers’, equally godless academia, and hypocritical religious leaders.
Here’s a glimpse of the disturbing reality according to the latest figures. Some 35% of America’s children are living in homes without a father. Broken down by race and ethnicity, it gets much more significant, and frightening. 42% of Hispanic kids have no father in the home, and as we lament the violence attributed to racial issues, someone ought to be screaming about the deplorable truth that at least 70% of African-American children have no father in the home. Add to that the number of fathers that are present, but only seen in their culturally reinforced zombie costumes—ignoring their kids’ moral and spiritual welfare as they wander about in search of another beer and the TV remote. The mind numbs at this twisted perversion of God’s design.
It’s widely known that an active and engaged father in the home is the single most powerful adjustment available to protect a child of any race or ethnicity against poverty, ignorance, poor nutrition, drug use, problems with juvenile justice, and an early violent death. In spite of that, we continue to support and encourage policies and practices that militate against it. God made the influence of fatherhood much more than biological. He made it spiritual, familial, social, academic, and civic. Beyond that, He made the idea eternal. When God said, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4 NKJV), He had more than a peaceful home in view. Maybe He was drawing a blueprint for a nation where a prayer meeting, or a night at the movies, or a footrace, or a day at the office wouldn’t constitute an invitation for angry young men to kill you. Father’s Day is past tense, and that’s OK, but please, God, help us restrict that statement to Father’s Day, not fatherhood.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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You rightly connect the “What does it matter?” questions about fatherhood with other moral questions. Some things, like the brand of toothpaste we choose, or the route we take to the dentist, really don’t matter. But relationships are of vital importance to God, who is defined by his relationships: Father, Son, Holy Spirit… It does matter. Sorry that your father died when you were so young, sorry that you never knew why he was not there for you. Very glad that you know THE FATHER, and take that relationship seriously.
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I’m glad you’re one of those who know the Father, too, Sherree, and that you recognize things that matter, and aren’t content to close your eyes and drift along with the current. Thanks much for the comment, and the blessing of knowing you’re out there–keep writing.
Ron, your blog is so full of truth! On Father’s Day I thought about my father who passed away 5 years ago and how important he was in my life. Then my thoughts turned to my husband, Dave, who is a fabulous father and the proof of that is in the lives of our children. Thank you for your obedience to God to write about His truths.
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You are so gracious, Darlene, and appreciate the tireless efforts you and Dave make to influence others for Christ, and to promote and defend His truth.
Wise and true words. Thank you for putting this season in perspective.
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Thank you for the encouragement, Carol, and for all you do to promote God’s truth in your own writing.