The role fathers play

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Father’s Day is often described as the least appreciated and recognized holiday in the year. It is lodged between two of the most celebrated holidays – Mother’s Day and July 4th.

I’m probably contributing to this attitude by writing this article several days after its recognition.

Mother’s Day is the recipient of more money and expensive gifts than about any day but Christmas. Father’s Day regales ties and handkerchiefs, plus backyard Bar-B-Q’s.

Traditionally fathers have two responsibilities in the family. Bringing home his money and disciplining the children. Particularly the male children.

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The method was always variable: a paddle, a belt, a switch or a variety of recriminations. Holding back an allowance, putting the child on detention among them.

One cursory observation about how the wives/children treat Dads. More and more the fathers are treated to dining out. Restaurants are packed on Father’s Day.

When and where did celebrating Father’s Day originate? Most historians credit Father’s Day a spin off of Mother’s Day. It was Sonora Smart Dodd who had the inspiration for Father’s Day while attending a church service honoring Mothers on June 20, 1909.

When Sonora was 16, her Mother died giving birth and Mr. Smart raised six children by himself. His love and care affected Sonora and she felt fathers should be appreciated as mothers were.

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd asked the Spokane, Washington YMCA and the local Ministerial Association to set June 5 – her father’s birthday – be set to honor fathers. The clergy set June 19, 1910 as the first Father’s Day.

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day and in 1956 Congress – both the House and Senate – made it a law. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson set the recognition of Father’s Day as the third Sunday of June. Then, in 1972 President Richard Nixon permanently set the observance for our country.

The role of fathers is suspect, primarily because many fathers have abdicated their roles as examples for their children. They – too often – absent themselves from the home. Mothers are left to raise the children.

Abuse in too many homes by the father is passed on to the male children. A few years ago, when Patton was primarily a prison for convicted felons, I was asked by the Chaplain to conduct a service in their chapel.

On one condition. That I not speak on the parable of the Prodigal Son that portrays God as a loving Father. He explained the reason. The vast majority of inmates hated their fathers that had abused them. I complied with his request.

I am indebted to Jenny Sorenson for the following informative information.

“How many of you listen to the wise things that your father says to you? I have made a list of the top ten sayings of a wise father. I am sure that you have heard many of these wise sayings from the lips of your very own father.

10.Why? Because I said so, that’s why.

9.Just wait ‘til you have kids of your own.

8.What did I just get finished telling you?

7.This is going to hurt me more than it does you.

6.Do I look like I’m made out of money?

5.Not now, I’m watching the game.

4.When you break your leg, don’t come running to me.

3.No! We are NOT lost.

2.Be quiet. Can’t you see I’m trying to think?

And number one on the list of the top ten sayings of a wise father.

1.How should I know? Ask your Mother.”

A personal word. How about giving a “thank you”, to your Dad for providing a home for you, the food you eat, the clothes you wear and for the wisdom he shares with you.

The role of fathers is always subject to change. Socialists often refer to our society as matriarchal or patriarchal. Depending on whether our society is dominated by one or the other.

A cursory study of history indicates that society has usually been controlled by fathers rather than mothers. Probably because men have been the ones writing history.

Using this theory as a yardstick, it is understandable why my Bible Concordance indicates there are about 300 references to fathers and 115 references to mothers. While these references are found throughout the Bible, they are more prominent in the New Testament.

Of special interest is the use of the word Abba. The ancient Hebrew meaning and usage was as the diminutive word for father. Similar to our use of Dad, daddy or papa.

Jesus uses it in Mark 14:36. Paul uses it in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. Many translations add it often in conjunction with Father, as is Abba, Father. The double title has both intimacy and dignity.

It seems that the Biblical usage of adding Father to Deity is identifying an importance to our usage for us. Respect, honor and dependence. The challenge is for all of us as fathers, to deserve it. Thank you Dads.
Amen. Selah. So be it.

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