June 19, 2022

In Defense of Traditional Fatherhood

Passage: Proverbs 3:1-12

Note: We had some technical difficulties, and the audio of this message was not recorded. But you can read the notes below.


We live in an age where almost every value and tradition is either turned upside down or is in the process of being turned upside down. We are about 60 years into a cultural and moral revolution which has resulted in the mainstreaming of promiscuity, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and trans-genderism. All of these used to be counter-cultural. These were odd and unusual ways of living. The majority of people in the culture were not in favor of such things. These behaviors were rightfully in the closet, out of public view, and not generally tolerated. The majority upheld and followed a tradition that largely reflected Judeo-Christian values.

Alas, all of that has changed; traditional moral values are far less common today than they were 60 years ago. And that, of course, affects things like fatherhood.

Today is Father’s Day, so I thought it would be appropriate to say a few words in defense of the traditional understanding of fatherhood. That biblical tradition is under attack from almost every sector of society. It’s important that we uphold and defend the biblical, traditional view of fatherhood.

A couple of years ago, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of England’s High Court of Justice, said that society should “welcome and applaud” the collapse of the traditional family. Munby said, “In contemporary Britain the family takes an almost infinite variety of forms. Many marry according to the rites of non-Christian faiths. People live together as couples, married or not, and with partners who may not always be of the other sex. Children live in households where their parents may be married or unmarried. They may be brought up by a single parent, by two parents or even by three parents. Their parents may or may not be their natural parents. They may be children of parents with very different religious, ethnic or national backgrounds, [and they] may be the children of polygamous marriages. ... This, I stress, is not merely the reality; it is, I believe, a reality which we should welcome and applaud” (“England’s Top Family Judge,” Breitbart.com, Jun. 3, 2018).[1]

I think Sir James is off his rocker; he’s batty, loony, a nutter. He is precisely wrong about his understanding of the family. The very things that he welcomes and applauds are responsible for the breakup of the traditional family and the implosion of western culture. The farther we have strayed from traditional family structures, the worse things have become for families and for the culture in general.

I’ve mentioned “tradition” a few times now, and the tradition that I’m speaking about is the common way western culture has understood fatherhood for many centuries. That understanding is based on a biblical worldview. In western societies, biblical values largely set the tradition for families and for fatherhood. But after 60 years of moral revolution, that tradition is greatly weakened and diminished. I would guess that only a minority of the US population would now endorse a traditional, biblical viewpoint of fatherhood.

Sadly, many in our world today have no understanding of biblical fatherhood, no models of biblical fatherhood to follow, and no desire to adopt a biblical model of fatherhood. Our cultural institutions—government, education, athletics, entertainment, even many churches—have all undercut and weakened the traditional view of fatherhood. Today, there is little agreement in our society about what fatherhood is all about. I think that is a great shame and a leading contributor to many of the problems we see in society today.

Christians are obligated to endorse and apply a biblical viewpoint of fatherhood. We do not have to follow the direction our culture wants us to go. We must not adopt a viewpoint that contradicts what the Bible says on this topic. God designed fatherhood, and Christians must follow God’s good design.

What is the traditional, biblical viewpoint on fatherhood?

[1] Quoted by David Cloud, Friday Church News Notes, June 8, 2018 - Volume 19, Issue 23.

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