The Eternal Importance of Fatherhood

The Eternal Importance of Fatherhood
Photo by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash

Sonora Smart was 16 years old when her mother Ellen died giving birth. Her father, at 56, had to raise his children alone, and Sonora began helping him raise her siblings.

In 1909, while attending a Mother’s Day service in Spokane, she had an epiphany: If mothers deserve recognition for what they do, why not fathers too? In an interview with the Spokane Chronicle, she said: “He was both father and mother to me and my brothers and sisters. He exemplified fatherly love and protection.”

In 1910, she petitioned Spokane’s Christian leaders to recognize dads like hers. They agreed, but they couldn’t put a “Father’s Day” service together in time for his birthday on June 5, so they settled on June 19. On that day, pastors across Spokane were honoring dads. The mayor and governor issued proclamations to celebrate the first Father’s Day on that date as well.

Sonora’s push for a national holiday lasted six decades. President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a permanent holiday in 1972.

Sonora Smart understood the importance of fatherhood and wanted others to understand as well.

Fatherlessness has taken a toll

Fast forward to the year 2021. I contacted the Spokane Fatherhood Initiative out of a desire to be a better father. Since then, I’ve become more involved.

I was recently invited to an event sponsored by the Washington State Fatherhood Council, which I didn’t know existed. Their aim was to solicit input for lawmakers and state agencies from pastors, civic leaders, and dads about how to support them and encourage fatherhood in general.

They presented us with some pretty shocking statistics:

  • 90% of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes.
  • 85% of children with behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.
  • 75% of adolescents in substance abuse centers are from fatherless homes.
  • 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.
  • 70% of youths in state institutions are from fatherless homes.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
  • 50% of kids in poverty are from fatherless homes.

Before considering what role Christians have and how we can make a difference, I think it’s important to look at a few scriptural truths.

First, all cultures suffer under the weight of disobedience to God’s Word. The Gospel of Jesus is the answer, but we must remember that the world isn’t necessarily looking for answers, nor is it capable of recognizing them. Scripture says that man in his natural state perceives divine truth as foolishness:

“[A] natural man does not accept the depths of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually examined” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Second, Christians are responsible for faithful obedience, not perfect social outcomes. These problems exist because the world is fallen. The fact that the Apostle Paul didn’t “fix” temple prostitution in his culture doesn’t mean he must have been doing something wrong.

Third, consider that we are called to a living hope and have access to unlimited spiritual resources! Christians have the only true Scriptures given by God. That means there is no other place that our society or any other can find “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 2:3b).

Responding to the need

So what can we as believers do? How can we be like Christ and serve those in need?

Pray Privately

Our leaders lament over these kinds of statistics while making decisions at every turn that cause more decay. We must pray that God would open the eyes of those in positions of authority so that they would govern with greater wisdom and that He would have compassion on us all.

“First of all, then, I exhort that petitions and prayers, requests and thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).
Pastor Patiently

Every father is a pastor in his family. Ask God to help you shepherd those He has entrusted to your care.

Nothing in our culture fosters biblical masculinity or godly parenting. We are swimming upstream and need a renewed understanding of the importance and dignity of fatherhood. Leading our own families requires integrity, courage, humility, and patience.

Disciple Diligently

God has explicitly called us to go and make disciples! Look for opportunities in your sphere of influence to mentor, train, and disciple men of all ages. Get involved with local organizations. There is a tremendous shortage of godly men, and an even greater number in need of guidance. Many social organizations and parachurch ministries need your gifts. I got involved because of a desire to learn, not because I’ve “arrived.”

“Hear, O sons, the discipline of a father, and pay attention that you may know understanding, for I give you sound learning; do not forsake my instruction. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son before my mother, then he instructed me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live; acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget and do not turn away from the sayings of my mouth’” (Proverbs 4:1-5).

Further resources

Brave Dad: Raising Your Kids to Love and Follow God by John MacArthur

Spokane Fatherhood Initiative:

All Pro Dad:

Washington Fatherhood Council:

Not everything on these websites necessarily reflects biblical views, so practice discernment when accessing these resources. Reach out if you have questions:

Scripture quotations in this article are from the Legacy Standard Bible.

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