A Time to Honor Fathers

A Time to Honor Fathers

Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and India. In the U.S., Father’s Day began in West Virginia on July 5, 1908, as a one-time commemoration of the death of 360 men which left about 1,000 children fatherless in the worst coal mining accident in U.S. history. Many local communities had their own Father’s Day celebrations, but it did not become a national holiday until 1966. That’s when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as a time to honor fathers. President Richard Nixon followed that in 1972.

The role of being a father is of great importance to Christians. The Old Testament concept of “Father” was simply an “ancestor.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for father is “pater” and was a title of honor. Ephesians 6:2 tells children, “You must honor your father and mother, which is an important commandment with a promise.” Verse 4 tells fathers, “Do not rouse your children to resentment but bring them up with Christian discipline and instruction.” The teachings of Jesus changed society from matriarchal, where women raised the children, to a system in which fathers take an essential role in child training.

In Philippians 2:22, Paul writes, “But you know that Timothy has proven himself to be like a son in fellowship with his father and has shared my servitude to proclaim the gospel.” In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not fret and harass your children lest their spirit should be broken.” As a public school science teacher, I saw the struggle that kids without fathers had to overcome. Their mothers did their best, but a fatherless child has no father image to relate to. Boys had no example set before them, and girls did not have a valid male image to relate to as they grew up.

Too many men do not have the courage or strength to be a father. Often, a man who has fathered children runs away and leaves the job of raising the child to the mother. As the father of three children, I know how difficult it is to be a father. Father’s Day is a time to honor fathers and reflect on our relationship with God, who wants to be a father to each of us. God desires us to reflect His love back to Him. Remember that “God so loved the world (us), that He sent His one and only Son into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world” (John 3:16-17).

— John N. Clayton © 2024