06/20/04 — Father’s Day: What about those who don’t have dads?

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Father’s Day: What about those who don’t have dads?

Imagine this:

You’re sitting in the congregation and the pastor is preaching on fatherhood. It’s Father’s Day, and he talks about how important fathers are in our lives.

He tells about successful people who credited their fathers with guiding them along the way. He talks about a father’s love and protection, and even likens our earthly fathers to the Father in heaven.

If you had a good father, or even an average one, you might enjoy the sermon.

But if you didn’t — if your father was an abusive drunk, for instance — you might find it depressing. There are such people in every congregation.

But worse altogether, if you didn’t have a father at all, you would have no true concept of what the preacher was talking about or, really, what fatherhood is.

There are not people like that in every congregation, but there are far too many. And there are too many girls who will allow themselves to become pregnant because they are so desperate for someone to love, simply to keep up with their peers, or to get a welfare check. They believe they can raise their babies alone, or with the help of their own mothers, and that having a father for it is unimportant.

That is a mistake. Simply having a father in a home increases a child’s chances of a successful life many times over.

Not having one is dangerous.

According to the Census Bureau, nearly two-thirds of youths who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.

The Centers for Disease Control says 85 percent of children with behavioral disorders live in fatherless homes.

Eighty percent of rapists motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes, according to the publication Criminal Justice & Behavior.

Three-fourths of adolescent patients in drug treatment centers are from fatherless homes, as are 70 percent of the inmates in state institutions. Eighty-five percent of youths in prisons grew up in fatherless homes, according to studies in Georgia and Texas.

Raise a child without a father and he is 20 times more likely to end up in prison than one who is raised with a father, 32 times more likely to run away, and nine times more likely to drop out of school.

The increase in fatherlessness, and the growing acceptance of it, was perhaps the greatest social evil of the last century. It is undermining our society, diminishing our culture.

So, while unfortunately some feelings will be hurt by pastors glorifying fatherhood, it still is an appropriate topic for a sermon on this Father’s Day. Preach on, preachers.

Published in Editorials on June 20, 2004 12:24 AM