Fatherhood: The missing link

As a husband, father and dad, I am not irrelevant to my family’s well-being. In fact, I am vital, crucial, important, necessary and irreplaceable.

Of course, my wife is all those things to our family, too.

As husband and father, I influence the mood of my family.

… if I leave my family, there’s no backup husband and father waiting on the sidelines … I don’t envy single parents. I don’t know how they do it, although I know several who do it successfully.

Single-parent and stepparent families often work. I’m not judging anyone here. But those types of families should not be our first choice … Traditional families increasingly are under pressure from today’s anything-goes American society. My sons need me as a father, and my wife as a mother. Both of us are essential to our children’s well-being.

What’s the best life has to offer? That’s what my wife and I seek for our family. If that makes us traditional, so be it. “Progressive” is not always better. If the old ways are best, why change?

Two Mount Morris Township (Mich.) first-graders quarreled on the playground Monday, apparently causing one of them to fatally shoot the other a day later in their classroom.

Police wonder how the 6-year-old shooter got the gun, which was stolen, and how he could carry it into school … The boy didn’t have his own bed, the county prosecutor said, adding, “He is a victim of a drug culture and a house that’s really in chaos.”

He lived with an uncle for two weeks after his mother was evicted from her home. His father is doing time at the county jail …

The Mount Morris Township first-grader needs a family that loves him.

He has a mother and father. He needs a mommy and daddy.

There’s a huge difference.

 

Back in the day, I wrote an occasional column on family life or issues of the day for The Saginaw (Mich.) News. I still have newsprint copies of those columns. I quoted five of them here – dated Oct, 28, 2003; March 11, 1997; Oct. 14, 1997; Feb. 27, 2007; and March 1, 2000, respectively.

Alternative lifestyles have become mainstream today.

According to the Kids Count Data Center run by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore,  35 percent of all children in the United States lived in single-parent households every year from 2011 through 2015. The 35 percent figure was the same for all five years.

http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by#detailed/1/any/false/573,869,36,868,867/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431

The evidence for fatherhood

I wrote in one of those columns that I was not judging anyone, but I did – and still do – feel passionately about fatherhood. No alternative lifestyle has ever improved upon the mother-father-child family structure. The evidence is plentiful.

For example:

Power of Dad Inc., based in Saginaw, Mich.

http://www.powerofdad.org/facts

The Good

✓ Youth whose fathers are actively engaged in their lives do significantly better academically than those pre-teens with uninvolved fathers.

✓ Highly involved fathers increase their children’s economic and educational attainment.

✓Mothers in two-parent households report fewer behavior problems among children with involved fathers  compared to children with detached fathers.

✓Fathers who are involved help reduce emotional stress for teenagers making the transition to adulthood.

The Bad

✓ There are over 24 million fatherless youth in  America.

✓ 93% of prison inmates have grown up fatherless.

✓ 90% of youth that are homeless, runaways and arsonists have grown up fatherless.

✓ 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders such as ADD have grown up fatherless.

✓ 80% of rapists have grown up fatherless.

✓ 75% of youth in drug rehabs have grown up fatherless.

✓ 71% of pregnant teenagers and high school dropouts have grown up fatherless.

✓ 63% of youth who have committed or attempted suicide have grown up fatherless.

✓ 72% of the U.S. population says fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.

 

The National Center for Fathering based in Springdale, Ark.

http://www.fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/

Children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.

 

The Families Civil Liberties Union based in New York City

http://www.fclu.org/parentless-statistics/

EFFECTS OF FATHERLESSNESS (OR MOTHERLESSNESS) – US DATA

BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS/ RUNAWAYS/ HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS/CHEMICAL ABUSERS/ SUICIDES 

  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God’s Children.)
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY/ CRIME/ GANGS 

  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections)

THESE STATISTICS TRANSLATE TO MEAN THAT CHILDREN FROM A FATHERLESS HOME ARE: 

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

Juveniles have become the driving force behind the nation’s alarming increases in violent crime, with juvenile arrests for murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault growing sharply in the past decade as pistols and drugs became more available, and are expected to continue at the same alarming rate during the next decade. “Justice Dept. Issues Scary Report on Juvenile Crime,” San Francisco Chronicle (9/8/95).”

TEENAGE PREGNANCY 

Daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages.

71% of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

CHILD ABUSE 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that there were more than 1,000,000 documented child abuse cases in 1990. In 1983, it found that 60% of perpetrators were women with sole custody. Shared parenting can significantly reduce the stress associated with sole custody.

Evidence often does not change behavior

As I heard a speaker say recently in a different context, just because the evidence – facts – prove a point doesn’t mean we will live by it. It’s common knowledge, for example, that smoking is bad for us, yet 36.5 million Americans – about 15 percent of U.S. adults – still do it willingly and knowingly.

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/

It’s a matter of the heart. Do we want to change? Do we want to do the right thing?

Fathers matter

I know single women and same-sex couples who have adopted children, and to be honest, that bothers me. They are saying that fathers are irrelevant to their children’s upbringing (or mothers, if it’s a two-man “family”). That’s why I wrote a column saying that, as a father, I am relevant and vital to my family.

Many alternative-lifestyle families are chosen today. Legally, we can do that. But our children are – and will – pay a heavy price for that.

And transgenders? That just means parents have rejected the children God gave them, and are trying to turn them into something he or she is not. Pure and simple. You can’t tell me a 6-year-old boy wants to be a girl. That’s not the way children are wired. We are rejecting their humanity when we force them to change.

Each of us is special, just the way we are. We shouldn’t try to be someone we are not.

Children learn this unconditional love at home, or they don’t learn it at all. Mom and Dad need to make decisions for their children until they are old enough to make decisions on their own. A young child is not capable of discussing his or her sexuality. Children do grow up faster today than my generation did, but not that fast.

Society’s backbone, forever

As these studies I quoted show, most of the social ills this country is dealing with today are the direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.

The remedy? Mom and Dad, do your jobs. Both of you. Together, as a team.

Fathers, please don’t pro-create and then leave, taking no responsibility for your children. They need you. They need to see your love for them, your discipline, your encouragement, your guidance.

We see what’s happening today because we have not led our families. We are a self-centered, hate-filled society.

There’s only one remedy.

It’s been proven faithful for millennia. No one has ever improved upon it. And no one ever will.

 

Advertisements

Doing what Jesus would do …

If Jesus walked the Earth in the flesh in 2017, where would He go? What would He do? Who would He spend His time with?

I wonder about that every so often.

In response, I turn to the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which describe the life He lived among us. There isn’t much in the Bible about the first 30 years of His life, but His three-year ministry offers plenty of evidence about what and who were important to Him.

Inside the church

Jesus spent some time in the synagogue, the church of His day. He spoke there on occasion as a visiting preacher. He did a healing or two there. He overturned the money changers’ tables there when He discovered they were overcharging the parishioners who needed to buy sacrificial animals.

Most often when He visited the synagogue, He was not there to worship. He was there to confront the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who ran the synagogue and knew the Old Testament Scriptures inside and out, but still didn’t understand them. The leaders missed the prophesies about Jesus in the Scriptures. They also added a whole lot of rules to the Books of the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe in detail how a follower of the living God was supposed to live.

Jesus called them blind guides and hypocrites. When He claimed to be God and to have an intimate relationship with His Father, they went berserk. They killed him for that.

Christians, beware. Jesus attacked religious leaders hard. They didn’t take it well.

Should Jesus visit the United States in the flesh in 2017, I fear He would give a similar message to the church today. And we would give Him a similar fate. Not every local church would reject Him, but many would. This scares me.

Does it scare you?

Outside the church

However, my reading of the Gospels tells me that Jesus spent most of His time outside the synagogue, with tax collectors and sinners. He gave them the benefit of the doubt every time. He was all compassion:

  • The woman caught in adultery.
  • A Samaritan woman at a well. (The religious leaders of His day treated women like second-class citizens. Jesus treated them like the daughters of God they were – and are. Jesus could be considered a radical feminist, if you read the Bible that way.)
  • Matthew, a hated tax collector, one of the 12 in His inner circle.
  • Zacchaeus, a religious leader who asked the right questions.
  • All kinds of people who came to Him for healing, both physical and demonic.
  • Hungry people. (He fed 5,000 of them with five loaves of bread and two fish.)
  • A couple getting married who ran out of wine. (Jesus liked to party, by the way.)
  • And on, and on.

Doing time

As Christians, we so often spend most of our free time inside the walls of our churches. We worship there, we study the Bible there, we offer social programs there and invite the community in.

That’s not what Jesus did.

  • He prayed on mountainsides.
  • He healed people in their own homes.
  • He ate at their homes, too. Matthew is a great example. He wanted his friends to meet Jesus, so he invited them to dinner, then invited Jesus to join them.
  • He traveled the countryside, visiting cities and towns along the way. He counseled his 12 disciples as they walked and as they served those they met.

I think this should be our pattern, too. We need to worship; Jesus did not avoid the synagogue, even though He wasn’t very happy with most of the leaders He met there.

But Jesus spent most of His time mingling with unbelievers on their turf. He was comfortable in crowds; He was comfortable in one-on-one settings, and in groups of just a few people. He traveled. He had a hometown, but He didn’t claim it. He knew Jerusalem was important, and He did spend time there (and died there), but He visited other places as well.

WWJD

A few years ago there was a bracelet in Christian circles that was all the rage: WWJD. What Would Jesus Do? It was a fad question that most Christians didn’t take seriously, but that’s the question I’m asking. What would Jesus do? Really?

Are we prepared to do the same? He said we should.

Perhaps big fancy church buildings aren’t a good witness. I’m not sure Jesus would be impressed with them. He’d rather those resources – money and human time – be spent elsewhere.

Jesus said full-time Christian workers should be paid a fair wage. This is important.

Taking the job home

But our leaders should be equipping the rest of us to do the work of the church – outside the church, in our spheres of influence. That’s what Jesus did with His 12 disciples. He gave them His heart, then told them to go make disciples of all nations.

I meet people every day who would never set foot inside a church. If I call myself a Christian, I am Jesus to them. How do I wear that “job title?” Do I represent Christ well?

Do you?

Is your church equipping you to be the church to those outside the church? If not, what’s the point of church?

Yes, we worship God and praise Him for what He’s done for us.

So what? Do we leave our praise on the altar? Or do we take it home with us?

That’s what Jesus did.

And what He’d continue to do in 2017.

 

Faith and America: Judge others carefully

Is President Trump a Christian, or should he be? Is he attacking Muslims as a religion with his travel ban on people from certain countries? Can Christians and Muslims co-exist peacefully?

Many Americans say church and state should remain separate, and they offer some good reasons. As a Christian, my faith is a lifestyle, a major part of who I am. My faith affects the way I think and the way I live. In that vein, “church” and “state” cannot be separated, unless I don’t participate in our democracy in any way, including voting.

So, where to draw the line?

Co-exist: Yes and no

Can Christians and Muslims co-exist? Let’s start there.

The answer depends on what you mean by co-exist.

If we mean that we can respect each other’s views and beliefs even if we disagree, then yes, we can co-exist peacefully. Our co-workers, parents we meet at our children’s schools, people we meet at athletic contests, people we volunteer with, the waitress at the restaurant … we meet people outside of our religious boundaries all the time. Can we get along?

We certainly should.

But if co-exist means Christians and Muslims (and people of other faiths) worship the same God, then no – we do not and cannot co-exist. The sacred writings of both faiths prove this.

More on that in a minute.

Church and state

But first, let’s discuss whether “church” and “state” should co-exist.

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

Amendment I, The Constitution of the United States of America

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted …

Declaration of Independence

 

I had a lengthy Facebook discussion with a former co-worker awhile ago about this. We did not agree, because he and I do not have the same “supreme authority” in our lives. His primary focus is on the United States. Mine is on God. They are not the same.

Congress – and by extension, in my opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court also – are not allowed to restrict any religion in any way. So, if President Trump is trying to restrict Muslims as a faith-based people from entering this country, the First Amendment does not allow him to do that.

The Declaration of Independence does assume a Creator. But different faiths worship different Creators, so we need to keep this discussion general, politically speaking.

Faith and violence

Trump says he is targeting terrorists, not an entire religion. Terrorists around the world and in the United States have claimed allegiance to the Islamic God during their terrorist acts. Is Trump’s response a knee-jerk reaction that goes too far?

 

Therefore, when you meet the Unbelievers (in fight), strike at their necks; at length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them); thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom; until the war lays down its burdens.

Qur’an, 47:4a

 

I imagine not all Muslims read the Qur’an literally, just as not all Christians read the Bible literally. And yet, these words are in the Qur’an. Fighting words against any who oppose “God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.”

Are there such fighting words in the Christian Bible? Yes, there are. Here’s an example:

 

As soon as (Joshua) stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire. So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky … When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai … until no one was left who survived or escaped.

The Bible, Joshua 8:19-22

 

Why would the Christian God order Joshua and his troops to obliterate an entire city – men, women and children? Because they worshiped pagan gods, and the God of Israel did not want his people to get distracted by teachings of false gods.

This is what the book of Joshua is all about. Israel did not follow directions, and the book of Judges describes the consequences in detail.

Incompatible faiths

According to the Qur’an and the Bible, then, these religions cannot co-exist. Both worship a jealous God.

 

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary …

Qur’an, 5:17

 

They say: “(God) Most Gracious has begotten a son!”

Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! …

That they should invoke a son for (God) Most Gracious.

For it is not consonant with the majesty of (God) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.

Qur’an, 19:88-89, 91-92

 

 

Jesus said to (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

The Bible, John 14:6-7

 

Muslims and Christians cannot worship together, obviously.

Can they live together peacefully?

That depends on how passionate we are about our faiths – and also how passionate we are as Americans. Do we serve the U.S. Constitution, which allows for free expression of all faiths, or do we serve our God, who is a jealous God and who ultimately will judge everyone – everyone – outside the faith?

This is why the current debate is so hot, with no resolution in sight.

Cultures and faith clash. Do our faiths allow us to get along with each other?

Faith and America

This is why many Americans reject Christianity (and Islam as well, I imagine). God forces us to take sides.

Both faiths have a peaceful side as well. After all, no one can “convert” dead people. Both faiths have to give others a reason to follow their God.

The U.S. Constitution is a wonderful document. One of the reasons the Pilgrims reached our shores was to worship freely the way they wanted to.

Are we at a crossroads now? Are we truly willing to accept “Congress shall make no law …” or has that been eroding over time, and Trump has brought the debate front and center?

Should God provide justice, or should we do it for Him?

I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt the other day that said, “No one is my judge.” Again, it depends. I cannot judge your faith. That’s God’s job. But if you molest a child or run a red light, we have laws in this country about those things, and the U.S. court system very much can judge you for them.

I wish we could leave it at that.

 

A couple of other perspectives:

The Qur’an and U.S. Constitution cannot co-exist:

http://louderwithcrowder.com/5-reasons-the-quran-can-never-coexist-with-the-constitution-ever/

Christians and Muslims can get along:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/nov/18/christians-muslims-co-existed-general-synod-religions-allies