Today we have a cultural crisis that is more serious than many people realize—the absent father syndrome. Today’s media often portrays the “New Father”—present in the delivery room, involved in raising the children, sharing household chores. But statistics tell a different story.
Thanks to rising rates in divorce and illegitimate births, increased acceptance of premarital sex, and a growing confusion over male and female family roles, one can safely say that a growing number of “New Fathers” today are physically or emotionally removed from the lives of their children.
It’s as if America is determined to test the relevance of a philosophy satirically voiced by playwright Oscar Wilde: “Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life.”
Based on her studies of human civilizations, famed anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote that “every known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.” Men, she wrote, are prone toward irresponsibility, and a culture must create social structures that encourage, train, and even force them to take responsibility for their children.
Modern-day America, unfortunately, is providing a classic study of what happens when those words are not heeded. There are two fronts to the fatherless crisis:
The physically absent father.
The emotionally-absent father.
We should call for a broad-based effort in the body of Christ to train men how to assume the biblical role of servant-leader in the family. “God calls us men to deny ourselves, live sacrificially, and lead with a servant’s heart,” he states. “These are weighty responsibilities that lead to life and success in marriage. At the core of a Family Reformation are husbands and fathers who sacrifice time, energy, and their lives for their wives and families.