This is the fourth post in a series on the program Honor Your Father Today. If you want to read the first three posts, you can do so here:
- A radical Father’s Day Proposal.
- Don’t refer to God as the Father, call him a “Best Friend”.
- Ideas on how to honor your father on social media for Father’s Day.
Honoring fathers means honoring men, and the idea of honoring men, even fathers on Father’s Day, is as uncomfortable to conservative Christians as the idea of french kissing your sister.
What conservative Christians would far rather do than honor men is do what they always do; blame men for the sins of women and issue men an endless series of challenges to man up. This is cowardly and easy, but feels heroic. Yet this is a campaign to encourage people to honor their fathers on Father’s Day, and the campaign is in response to Scripture. Given the choice of doing what is cowardly, easy, and feels good or doing what God has commanded, what did the men of Honor Your Father Today choose? Did they man up? For the most part they did not. For the most part, they chose the easy, feel good, cowardly way out. If you look at the page they use to turn their proposal into concrete action, you will see that aside from talking about how terrible fathers are and promoting the program in general, nearly all of the focus is on challenging men to man up. Along with many similar resources, they suggest honoring fathers by sending them to Dennis Rainey/FamilyLife’s Stepping Up®, and a program called Father School:
Father School was originally established by Duranno in October, 1995, in Seoul, South Korea, in response to the growing national epidemic of abusive, ineffective and absentee fathers.
They also suggest honoring the fathers in the congregation by having them pledge to be better fathers via the Resolution Ceremony from the movie Courageous:
Set a date for this event at your church. Promote it, prepare for it by leading a study of The Resolution for Men and then make it happen!
Most people give their father a Hallmark™ card on Father’s Day; conservative Christians celebrate Father’s Day by telling their dad to promise to be a better dad.
Maybe next year Dad!
But the most creative solution to this dilemma comes in the Three Point Challenge for Churches. In the three point challenge they take the general command to all believers to honor their fathers and change the focus to telling fathers to step up, and… honor their fathers! The pastor’s guide opens with:
This is a request for you to prayerfully consider participating in the Honor Your Father 3-Point Church Challenge. Below is an overview of the initiative. Attached is a specific challenge to be issued to each man as well as an outline to reference for a Father’s Day sermon.
Honor Your Father is a nationwide campaign coordinated by the Fatherhood CoMission, a coalition of fathering initiatives across the country working to raise the bar for dads to be engaged in family. Visit http://www.honoryourfathertoday.com to learn more about the campaign and view video testimonies from Tony Dungy, Kirk Cameron, Darryl Strawberry and others.
Below is the 3-Point Church Challenge aligned with the Honor Your Father campaign. Please prayerfully consider issuing a call (specifics attached) for each man in the church to:
Points one and two of the three point challenge to the fathers are:
- Meet with their father.
- Write their father a letter.
Point three of the three point Father’s Day challenge to fathers doesn’t even involve the fathers honoring their fathers. It is yet another pledge by the fathers to become better fathers:
Commit to grow as a father – be a study of the Father and of fathering. Seek out resources and training opportunities that will encourage & equip you as a father. Commit to completing one study for dads across the summer. One easy and accessible option is the Dads Becoming Heroes study that can be completed on your own or in a small group.
This study can be downloaded as a .pdf file from http://www.faithfulfathering.org/educate.
Take the initiative to Honor Your Father through intentional study to become the father God calls you to be, the father the next generation needs.
- Take a picture of you doing the study on your own, with a buddy or in a group;
- Record a short video testimony of how the study impacted you; and
- Record a short video with testimony from your family on how the study influenced your fathering from their perspective.
Accept this challenge to Honor Your Father and begin a journey that will be challenging and affirming, convicting and encouraging. In the process, you will be equipped and strengthened to become the father you are called to be, the father the next generation needs.
Prayers are with you on the journey,
While the letter to the Pastor says the program is for all men in the church, the accompanying sermon outline says the program is for the fathers in the congregation:
As you know, a number of weeks ago we initiated an Honor Your Father challenge to dads. The emotions around the topic of our dads run the spectra from elation, “I really appreciate being issued this challenge while my dad is alive”, to frustration, “Are you kidding me? My dad was abusive. I have not spoken to him in years and I don’t see any reason to honor him!” Actually there is a very important reason to honor our father and mother, it is the fifth commandment. Exodus 20:12 does not say, “If” your father and mother are honorable then honor them…
Either way this is brilliant, albeit incredibly cynical. It carefully minimizes the number of men in the congregation who are at risk of being honored on Father’s Day (yuk!), tells the men of the congregation to man up, and doesn’t ask anything of the women in the congregation. At the same time, it reinforces the same message given by the Father’s Day sermons and the Father’s Day social media post suggestions; fathers don’t deserve to be honored.