By Jeff Arnette
In our modern society, the value of a dad in the home has, to a large degree, been lost. The reason our society and our families are in such disarray, is because dads are absent in the home. Some dads, being unwilling to be responsible or afraid of settling down, have completely walked out on their children. Some dads, being so consumed with the pursuit of wealth, have allowed work to keep them out of the home and their children’s life. And some dads, are so absent and disconnected from their children that he does not and could not really teach them about faith, Jesus, or the Father. Not only is the blessing of having a child something to be honored, something to be treasured, the value of dad in the home to lead his family cannot be compared (Psalm 127:3; Ex. 20:12).
Throughout the scriptures, God has emphasized the importance and value of dad. Not only are we told to honor dad (Ex. 20:12) but rebellion or mistreatment of dad was worthy of the death penalty (Ex. 21:15; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 22:18-21). I used to read these passages as a young man and wonder why God could call for such strict punishment for those who disobeyed dad. My conclusion was that God wanted us to value him that much. Dad was so valuable to the home and society that God protected him with the death penalty. He was responsibility for teaching his children about God and helping them to fulfill the law to enter into a covenant relationship (Lev. 12:3; Deut. 11:19). So valuable and precious is dad that God used that relationship to describe his own value to us (Psalm 103:13).
In the New Testament, the imagery is just as strong. God is the father of who believe and love (Matt. 6:5-8; 10:29-31). One of the greatest parables of Jesus, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), was mostly about the love and forgiveness of God as seen in our dads. This parable helps us understand ourselves, and just as importantly, it helps us understand our great God.
It seems that God understands something that has been all but lost in our modern, enlightened, society. In our wisdom and advancement, we have replaced dad with gifts, with possessions that could never be as important as dad. We have lost sight of just how important his role really is to our children, our homes, and our churches. As one writer said, “the father was truly the linchpin of the family and society.”*
Isn’t it time we get back to God’s standard and value for dad? Isn’t it time that we encourage dads to step up and be the man God knows he can be? Until we do, we will never truly be successful. Disobedience to God always equals failure and the role and value of dad is no exception.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
* Nash, Kathleen S. “Father.” Ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck. Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible 2000 : 456. Print.