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Editor: Ed Barnes      ph 865-458-5043     

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Vol 5 No 7 February 13, 2000

God, Fatherhood and Children

Ed Barnes
I WAS DISTURBED RECENTLY when I heard a news story about parents in a Connecticut town who were allowing their teen-age children to drink alcoholic beverages in their homes. Some of the teens involved were athletes in a local high school who had taken a non-drinking pledge! The school rules apparently forbade participation in sports for students who were known to drink. The teen-agers gave their word that they would not drink and in turn were allowed to engage in sports activities.

The question that immediately comes to mind is, "Did the parents involved totally lack moral principles?" "Had they somehow not picked up on the basic role of parents?" As if it were not bad enough to allow a teen-age son or daughter to drink, these parents were also encouraging their children to lie, and were actively involved with their children in hiding the lie.

The list of sins being passed on from parent to child in this situation is practically endless. These teenagers were not only being taught to lie and cover up the lie, but also to live the life of a hypocrite, be deceptive to others, show disdain and disrespect for school rules and to their teachers and toward authority in general, to break the law of the land, and to top it all off, when your evil deeds are found out, rather than admit failure and resolve to do better, offer a litany of weak excuses in an effort to justify your evil deeds!

You may have guessed already the bottom line excuse offered by the parents to justify their actions, "Hey, the kids are going to drink anyway, why not allow them to drink in the home, under the supervision of their parents and thus eliminate the dangers of drinking and driving?" No doubt, these parents thought themselves wise, caring and clever in offering such rationalization for their behavior. After all, what could be more politically correct than to teach your children the virtue of "safe-drinking" in a culture that practices so-called "safe-immorality" rather than abstinence from immorality.

While listening to the circus described above I thought about how far parents, fathers in particular, had strayed from their proper role in raising children. Missing from the story is the example of nobility, integrity and character that fathers are supposed to instill within their sons and daughters. Fathers in our culture have long forgotten the role that they play in introducing their children to God, the Heavenly Father. Ephesians 6:4 says to fathers, ". . .bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

The first impression that children have of their heavenly Father is based on what they have observed in their own father. It reminds me of a story I heard once of a family sitting down to dinner. Father was out of town and mother asked the young son to offer thanks to God for the food. The child began the prayer with "Dear Daddy." In his young mind his conception of God was associated with his conception of dad. In thinking about God he thought in terms of his own father.

What an important task we have as Fathers in preparing our children to enter the presence of our spiritual Father who requires obedience. Micah 6:8 says, "He has showed you ,O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." As earthly fathers we stand in the gap between our children and God. Their impression of us will to some extent determine their attitude toward God. We will either make it easier or more difficult for our children to "humbly walk with God".

Children, of course, must be taught that their earthly fathers are not perfect. We set down high moral standards for our children and do not always live up to those standards ourselves. Nevertheless, we must continue to try, not only to improve our own walk with God but also to encourage our children to grow closer to God as they grow older. Our children must learn that there is a God and that He requires a certain standard of behavior. His rules are not to be compromised or set aside for our own convenience.

Who more than an earthly father is in a position to guide a child into a loving relationship with the heavenly Father? Surely we can see where as fathers of children in our culture we have not done right by our children. We have let them down. The fathers of our generation need to repent and return to our posts of duty. Our children will accept God and meet his moral requirements, but they have to be led to Him. Who better to lead than dad?

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