So the children go
Our grandson became a father a few months ago and I sent him a text as soon as I heard the baby had been born, “Congratulations! Praying for you, Jamie, and the baby. An amazing feeling isn’t it?” He texted me back a picture (of course) of his newborn daughter and the reply, “Can’t even put it into words, Papa! I wanna scream in joy, cry, laugh, smile; never let her go!” I can’t help but think he will be a good, if not great, father, because he has a good father who also had a good father.
The idea of Father’s Day was conceived by Sonora Dodd of Spokane,Wash., while she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father’s Day celebration, because it was the month of William Smart’s birthday -- June 19, 1910 -- proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day and has been celebrated annually since 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.
[Proverbs 23:22-24; Hebrews 12:7-11] An article, “Fathers: Key to Their
Children’s Faith” by Michael Craven published in The Christian Post, June 19, 2011, reflects an even greater truth today as to the downfall of society in general, the family, masculinity, and male leadership as designed by God. The complete article is enlightening and in the stats of a study presented, the author concludes, “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”
The study reports: 1. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only one quarter will end up not practicing at all. 2. If father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regular themselves. While a further 59 percent will become irregulars, 38 percent will be lost. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of the children will become regular worshippers and 37 percent will attend irregularly. More than 60 percent of their children will be lost to the church.
What happens if the father is regular and the mother is irregular or non-practicing? Amazingly, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and up to 44 percent with the non-practicing. This suggests that the loyalty to the father’s commitment grows to the mother’s laxity or indifference to religion. In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular).
One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom, while their concepts of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously, then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously. Too many men, including professional Christian men, express their role as father exclusively in terms of financial provider.
The fact is children are not looking for financial provision; they are looking for love, guidance, and a role model for what it means to be a man. There is simply no substitute for the love, involvement, and commitment of a responsible father.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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