In A radical Father’s Day proposal I introduced Honor Your Father Today, a group that is proposing that Christians honor their fathers on Father’s Day. Yet even though they propose honoring fathers, they are clearly conflicted about the idea. They explain that a sudden and mysterious change in fathers (and not feminist rebellion) is the reason we have an epidemic of broken homes:
In a society where fatherlessness (or at least dads who aren’t stepping up to the plate) runs rampant, one thought must race through the minds of so many men and women out there: “How do you honor someone who isn’t honorable?”
Given this attitude it isn’t surprising that Honor Your Father Today struggles greatly to think of ways that Christians could actually honor their fathers. The foreignness of honoring fathers comes out most clearly on their resources page:
Use these resources as a tool to help honor fathers and help with our campaign.
I’ll go through other items on the resource page in the next few days, but today I will focus on the example sermons they offer, and primarily on the 2016 Honor Your Father Sermon. The sermon offers three different impressions Christians might have of fathers:
We each have personal images intricately tied to the tender yet powerful word, “father.” For some, the visualization of “father” is an always-smiling, ready-to-embrace-you, tender man who instantly promotes feelings of joy and acceptance. Others remember the massive, outstretched hand that seemed to pull a never-ending supply of candy from his trouser pockets. There are also those who hear the word, “father,” and conjure up images of a scowling, rumpled brow, and disappointed frown that seemed to cut the heart of a child, desperately longing for expressions of his approval. Finally, there are others who may simply draw a blank when they try to visualize a father. As empty as a fresh pack of computer paper, no matter how many pages they turn, the landscape is full of empty memories. No calls, no visits, no talks with dad.
Note that this boils down to:
- Good fathers, who are a never ending supply of positive affirmation, hugs and candy.
- Bad fathers, who hurt their children by being mean.
- Absent fathers.
It gets worse later in the sermon, where it explains that because we have an epidemic of bad fathers, we should (at times) avoid calling God the Father, and instead think of him as a best friend:
It’s so sad the number of people who have an unhealthy fear of their father. It has a negative impact on their lives and especially on their attitude toward God. They have a skewed image of God as only a wrathful, angry, hostile God. Their God is a person they want to avoid, and that’s not accurate. He loves us.
A young woman taught Sunday school in an inner-city mission project. “In the projects,” she says, “when you talk to the kids, you never refer to God as father. With these inner-city kids, ‘father’ is likely to bring up thoughts of the man who left me, the man who beats me, who beats my mother. The kids have so many negative images of fathers. So we always refer to God as a best friend. The kids know what that is. It’s a positive concept. We start there and work into God’s other attributes.”
What About You?
Maybe you had a horrible father. That may well affect your relationship with God. It may be wise for you to think first of God as a best friend. Approach Him as a best friend…
This is a sermon offered as a way to honor fathers on Father’s Day, and it explains that since fathers are so dishonorable we should avoid calling God the Father!
They offer a second sermon on the resources page, simply titled the Honor Your Father Sermon. This sermon isn’t quite as bad as the first sermon, but it still focuses a great deal on how terrible fathers are, and blames the feminist rebellion in the church on abusive and neglectful fathers:
…consider the women’s ministry leader who is vengeful toward any male authority figure who questions her leadership. The connection between such resentment could relate to the tragedy of childhood neglect or abuse of some kind.