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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Manuscript sermon for father's day

Aim:  to emphasize the importance of a good and godly father.

Thesis:  because of the changes in our culture, we have to intentionally make the Biblical case for fatherhood and marriage.

Introduction:elate story of Nadya Suleman and her eight newborn children – plus six more.  At first the birth of the octuplets was celebrated, until the facts about their circumstances became more evident.  One of the most troubling:  this was an individual who intentionally brought eight more children into the world without a father.

 Eight – no, make that fourteen – fatherless children.  What was she thinking?

 Suleman's case is so unsettling in part because it is an exaggerated picture of something that has become pandemic in the United States:  the systematic abandonment of the norm of a two-parent home. 

 The media have gone wild over the spread of "swine flu" – even though it has had relatively limited impact.  Almost no one is commenting on the alarming spread of "fatherlessness" – even though it is creating incredible and well-documented devastation for children.

 According to the census report, 24 million American children will go to bed tonight in a home where their biological father is not present.  That means one out of every three children is living without dad in the house.

 It won't get better any time soon. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that about 40% of American children were born out of wedlock in 2007, more than triple the 11% rate back in 1970.   And according to prominent African-American economist Walter Williams, the rate of fatherless black children is now an astounding 70%.  By contrast, Dr. Williams notes that in 1950, only 18% of black households were female-headed. 

 The number of out-of-wedlock births had actually been going down for more than a decade, until the past couple of years.  Now it is rising again, but not in the way most people envision.  When people think of out-of-wedlock births they imagine teenage girls like Bristol Palin, who made a youthful mistake and now publicly regrets it.  But it are not teens who are causing the increase:  it is the Nadya Suleman's of America, young women in their 20's and 30's, who don't see anything wrong with bringing a child into the world without a father, who are having children in increasing numbers.  In fact, a Gallup Survey found that 64% of young adults 18 to 29 think that having a child out of wedlock is "morally acceptable."    

 Just before the "Octomom" burst onto the scene the New York Times Magazine published an article entitled "2 Kids + 0 Husbands = Family" that described a group of college-educated single mothers who admitted how they "wanted to make decisions about their kids, from when they are excused from the table to where they go to school, and how hard it would be to share that authority."  – Source:  http://tinyurl.com/mg3xo9

 So when it comes to the importance of fathers, we are now suffering from the "perfect storm" of three converging trends in our society:

 a.       Immorality – our carnal culture has forgotten the crucial link between personal morality and relational stability.

 

b.      Irresponsibility – as self-centered individuals place their own wants and wishes above the best interests of their children.

 

c.       Ignorance – many people, both males and females, no longer understand WHY it is important for children to have both a mom and a dad.

 On this Father's Day I want us to be reminded that there is a reason why God made it necessary to have both a male and a female to create a new life. Fathers offer a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the development of their children.

 We have heard a lot about the "octomom" – on this Father's Day, let's talk about "Octodad."   Specifically, let me briefly highlight eight things a good dad provides:

 Body:

 

1.  A good father provides financial stability.  (1 Timothy 5:8)

 God has specifically FATHERS the mandate to provide for their family.  Far too many children are leading deprived lives because their fathers are not living up to that responsibility.  In fact, children growing up in father-absent homes are 5 times more likely to be poor.

 2.  A good father provides emotional security.

 I have often heard it said that there is no such thing as "illegitimate" children – just illegitimate parents.  And in one very real sense that is true:  no child is morally responsible for the circumstances of his or her birth.  No child is to blame for the decisions of a parent.

 But there are some children who very keenly feel that they have never been emotionally "legitimized":  that is, no father has stepped for to claim them as his own, to say "This is my son, my daughter, and I care about them."  And the absence of that connection can create lasting psychic wounds.

 3.  A good father can provide a model of a healthy marriage.

 Did you notice that in our text today Paul first describes the role of a HUSBAND before he addresses the responsibility of a FATHER?  That is an accurate picture of a Christian man's priorities:  guys, we should always put our wives first.  Why? Because that is the most healthy thing we can do for our children!

 When we get our priorities straight, when our children understand that they are deeply loved but they do not come before our wife, they are given three invaluable gifts:

 SECURITY:  they know that their home is safe because mom and dad love each other.

 CONSISTENCY:  when children know that mom and dad are on the same page, they realize their parents will not allow them to drive a wedge between us and get away with irresponsible behavior.

 A HEALTHY MODEL OF MARRIAGE that will go far to enable them to be successful when the time comes to create their own home.

 It is not uncommon to see two, three, or even more generations that have never seen a good marriage – have no first-hand knowledge of how to make marriage work.

 4.  An active father provides parental partnership.

 Here's the dirty little secret of parenting:  if you do it right and responsibly, it is hard, time-consuming, exhausting work!  And any parent – dad or mom – who is trying to do it by themselves is operating under a terrible burden.

 I have nothing but admiration for those individuals who are single parents through no fault of their own who are doing their best to raise good children without a partner;  they are heroes who deserve our support.  But my question this morning is, "Why would anyone want to intentionally create that situation for themselves and their children?" 

 5.  A model of masculinity.

 Young men need to know what a mature, responsible man looks like – how he think – how he acts.  Fathers offer their sons a uniquely masculine model that young men desperately need. 

 But young ladies also need dads:  specifically, they need to experience the healthy love of a good father.  If a young woman doesn't receive love from dad, she'll attempt to find it in the arms of a male who doesn't have her best interests at heart.  A young lady who grows up in a female-headed home is seven times more likely to have a child out of wedlock.  [Source:  www.fatherhood.gov]

 Mothers and fathers tend to have distinctly different styles of relating to their small children.  For example, who do you picture tossing a giggling toddler into the air?  When a little child falls and scrapes his/her knee, which parent do think he/she will run to, to "make it well?

 The point is: children need both!  They need moms to teach them safety and security;  they need dads to challenge them to push the boundaries and learn self-confidence.  Harmon Killebrew, the Twins slugger:

 "My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass"; "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys";"

 6.  A launching pad for the teen years.

 Teens are "in between" – they are temporarily stuck in that ambiguous, confusing state of being no longer a kid, but not quite an adult.  They are developing their autonomy, preparing to accept responsibility for their own life, building their maturity muscles.  And what makes this particular stage of life so maddening for parents is that in order to build those maturity muscles, teens need something to "push" against.  Guess what it is?  Their parents!

 And I am convinced that by the time young people become teens they especially need the stability of a father's correction.  This is not a reflection on moms in any way, but simply a recognition that the manner in which a father disciplines a child is qualitatively different from the correction provided by a mother – and a child needs both styles of discipline to develop properly.

 Boys who are raised in a fatherless home are twice as likely to end up in prison by the age of 32. 

 7.  Christian faith.  Did you hear where our text this morning placed the primary responsibility for spiritual training?  Squarely on the broad shoulders of ol' dad!  It is our privilege and responsibility to bring our children up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  That is not something we can delegate to the youth minister, Bible school teacher, or even their mom. Far too many fathers are singing, "Take my wife and let HER be, consecrated, Lord to me."

 8.   The capacity to trust God.   (Matthew 6)

 Jesus was especially fond of the image of God as a "Father":  that term in used only 3 times in all of the Old Testament to refer to God, but it is used over 300 times in the New Testament!  In Luke 15 Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son and his loving Father.  In Matthew 6 (Sermon on the Mount) he refers to God as our "Father" some ten times in the first 18 verses.  Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Our Father in heaven." The Holy Spirit enables us to address God as "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15). Clearly we are encouraged to think of God in personal, paternal terms.

 Paul writes in Ephesians 3:14-15  "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom ALL FATHERHOOD in heaven and on earth derives its name."  The Greek word here is patria, from which we get the word "paternity."  There is, so often, an interconnection in children's minds between their concepts of God and their experience of an earthly father.  (When one of my sons was young, I heard him begin his bedtime prayer, "Dear Dad…..I mean, dear God.")  The longer I live, the more I am convinced that the most important component of faith is not INTELLECTUAL, but EMOTIONAL.  We need to be willing to "TRUST in the Lord with all your heart" (Proverbs 3:5):  and where do we gain the capacity to trust?  From the consistent care of our parents.  Dads, we have a high calling:  we need to provide our children with a healthy conception of a loving father!

 Conclusion:

 So this morning we honor the incredible impact of good and godly fathers.  Dads, don't ever think you are not important in the lives of your children.  Make every effort to be involved in their lives. 

 As we close this lesson, I am reminded of a man who was at work one Friday when a colleague asked him, "So, you have any big plans for the weekend?"  "Yes," the man replied, "I'm spending it with my children."  "Oh," the first man said, "so you're babysitting?"  "No," the second man replied, "I'm being their father."  That is what our children need!

 

June 21, 2009                                                                                                                         Dan Williams

Sermon:  "The Octodad Omission"                                                        College Avenue church of Christ

Text:  Ephesians 5:22-6:4                                                                                            El Dorado, Arkansas

 

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