Why I Dread Father’s Day

Let me clear: I enjoy — relish, even — being a father. Fatherhood is wonderful. I do not dread fatherhood or anything about it. No, what I dread is Father’s Day.

You see, year after year after year, Mother’s Day begins with a great church service where mothers are lauded and affirmed. The preacher waxes eloquent about the wonders and beauties of mothers — and we all head out to Sunday lunch with a powerfully affirmed mom in our lunch party. Good stuff.

But Father’s Day is usually different. The preacher decides that Father’s Day is the best possible time to explain to the men in the congregation how they’ve not fulfilled their paternal obligations and so need to shape up. The men leave for lunch feeling beat up and bashed. And for some of the men, this was their first visit to church in months. (I have to add that our current preacher has the good sense not to do this — but old wounds and painful memories persist for years, you know.)

Think about it. We don’t speak ill of laborers on Labor Day. We don’t speak ill of soldiers on Memorial Day. We don’t speak ill of the American Revolution on Independence Day. And we don’t speak ill of romance on Valentine’s Day. But somehow Father’s Day has become open season on dads. It is, at the least, in incredibly poor taste. And it is, in fact, a reflection of an increasingly anti-father secular culture.

Watch TV or read a children’s book, and the butt of the jokes is always the father. In the Berenstain Bears, for years Papa Bear messed up everything and Mama Bear had to come to the rescue — until eventually parents demanded that the authors stop painting fathers as bumbling oafs. But this is our culture.

Women can abort their unborn babies without the consent of the father. Women almost always win child custody battles.

And I’m sure many ministers have seen fathers do terrible things in counseling situations, and so their perspective on fathers tends to be painted by the dysfunctional families they’ve had to deal with … although, in my experience, mothers are capable of being pretty awful, too.

So I think we process what we experience through a cultural lens. When a mother behaves horribly toward her children, well, that’s the rare exception! When a dad messes up, well, that confirm what I always thought!

Now, we have a serious problem in church: there are more women in church than men — and this has been true for a very long time. I don’t know the cure, but I do know part of the cure: stop bashing men on Father’s Day. Rather, affirm men as fathers. Make sure they leave the building proud to be fathers, feeling honored. This year, don’t say a single negative word about fathers — not one. No buts or howevers. Just say good things about what it means to be a father.

You see, the Creator of universe has chosen to present himself to his creatures as Father — so much so that his children are driven by the Spirit to call him Abba. We are told to pray to him as “our Father.”

So ponder this one: why “Father”? Why Abba? And what does that tell us about men who are fathers?

Now, if the fathers (or mothers) in your congregation need to be straightened out, by all means preach whatever sermons need to be preached — just not on Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day). Give the men a safe zone — the assurance that there’s at least one day of the year when they’ll be affirmed as fathers. And maybe the boys in your church will grow up intending to become excellent fathers — just like the men in your congregation. Indeed, just like God.

Further reading:

Daddy bashing

Did you get man-bashed in church on Father’s Day?

BBC Fatherhood Season: Why it’s time to stop bashing dads

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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9 Responses to Why I Dread Father’s Day

  1. Ray Harris says:

    Excellent Comments!

    In fact, I think I will read from this as I preach tomorrow.

    Happy Father's Day!

  2. Steve says:

    Jay, Having a few issues still with the conversion to Theobloggers. All email notifications are going into spam file. I have checked the email settings, including those addresses flagged to be sent directly into the spam file. Yet can not find theobloggers named anywhere to direct it into spam. Can your tech guru's help out? Are any other subscribers having this problem? One other thought. I did re-subscribe last night, hoping it might correct the problem. Nope, received todays email notification again in the spam file. I appreciate any help you can share.

  3. Steve says:

    PS, excellent article!

  4. Jay Guin says:

    Steve,

    If the posts are going into your spam folder, that's a problem with the settings on your computer.

    Assuming you use Outlook, right click on a post, select Junk E-Mail, and then select Add Sender to Safe Senders List.

    Many programs use a "white list" to filter email. Any sender not pre-approved is treated as spam until you tell the program this sender is safe.

  5. Cathy says:

    I recently read about this program: http://www.dadsmakeadifference.org/ which is working to teach young men about their role as fathers, and to teach young women to appreciate them.

  6. Larry Short says:

    Actually, let's extend your thought to no bashing anyone! For a worship service, let's build up everyone. At a men's meeting you can bash guys for not doing enough or excepting responsibility, then talk about it.
    Got to get to teaching, encouraging, bulilding up each other to good works. Sound scriptual? For sure.
    Ofcourse, there are some preachers out there, who would lose the use of most their sermons.

  7. Hank says:

    Very true Jay,

    Just read this actual quote online and had to share it. Your post therefore was prophetic….

    "Just finished the powerpoint slides for tomorrow mornings sermon: The Greatness of the Father. How much better would our homes be if the fathers emulated God the Father! Too many fathers today seek to be as the world would have them to be, rather than as God would have them to be. As a result, their children are negatively influenced."

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Ray,

    Thanks. I hope it went well. (And you didn't get fired reading from the writings of a notorious change agent!)

  9. larry baden says:

    Excellent thoughts, well stated. It's no wonder why there are so few men in the church.

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