Father’s Day is a difficult day for modern Christians. While modern Christians have contempt for fathers 365 days a year, this is the day that makes the contempt for fatherhood most difficult to contain. For while the feeling of contempt for fathers (especially married fathers) is all but universal, it is also something which modern Christians still feel the need to deny. During the other 364 days of the year modern Christians can focus on singing the praises of single motherhood and chasing down (modern Christian) heretics who won’t tell women God wants them to divorce their husbands. But Father’s Day is a day set aside to honor fathers, something Christians are explicitly commanded to do.
Last June I wrote a series of posts about a group that tried to wrestle with this very problem. The group set out to do something radical for modern Christians, and honor fathers on Father’s day. As Stephen Kendrick explained (emphasis mine):
It’s easy for us to honor our moms, but too oftentimes people don’t honor their fathers. And so this Father’s Day, and leading up to it, we want to encourage you to honor your father.
The Executive Director of the group put it similarly:
As a pastor for over twenty years I used to get very nervous after Mother’s Day because, I always wonder now what, we’ve only got a few weeks, what are we going to do with Father’s Day?
While the idea was a noble one, the concept of honoring fathers was just too disgusting for modern Christians to accept. So instead of honoring fathers, they taught that we should not call God the Father, refocused the day to only apply to fathers honoring their own fathers, offered a list of cringe-worthy social media ideas, and generally focused on telling men to man up.
For those who are outside of modern Christian culture, this is no doubt difficult to process. Why would “the patriarchy” hate fathers so much? The standard assumption is that secular culture is hostile to fathers, but that Christians are fighting the culture in this regard. But modern Christians hate married fathers so much the depth of the usually concealed contempt is shocking when it comes out.
One way the concealed contempt comes out is in wildly popular Christians movies. The secular reviewer Matt Fagerholm at rogerebert.com noted that the villain in the movie War Room (the married father) lacked any positive qualities whatsoever:
The film’s centerpiece sequence occurs early on, as Elizabeth sits weeping in her closet while pleading, “God, help him love me again.” This moment is heartbreaking for all the wrong reasons. Since the Kendricks have mistaken one-dimensional caricatures for people who exist in the real world, they forgot to provide Tony with any redeeming qualities that would make us want to root for his marriage. As for the film’s advice to women who are beaten by their husbands, one of Elizabeth’s co-workers advises, “Learn to duck so God can hit him.”
Likewise the feminists at Dame were astonished by the anti-father message of Mom’s Night Out, as they explained in Manchildren Are Not Sexy. Neither Are Helpless Dads. This is a movie that Christians adored, yet feminists were made deeply uncomfortable by the anti father and anti family message it carried:
And that’s the biggest problem with Moms’ Night Out: The moral of the story isn’t that the women are supposed to stay home and not have fun, but that the men are totally hapless morons without them around—and that this lesson is still being drilled into our heads in 2014. We’re supposed to feel better about this “men are total idiots, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” philosophy (and that latter piece of wisdom was actually uttered in the movie in case you missed the point). But this story of the helpless manchild is a disservice to men—and families—everywhere.
But of all of the days of the year, Father’s Day is the day where the modern Christian contempt for fathers is most visible. To get a sense of this, do a web search on “Father’s Day Sermon” and read/listen through the results. I’ll go through this in more detail next week, but for today I’ll share the sermon that came first when I did a Google search on the term the other day. The sermon is titled A Few Good Men, and it starts off in a relatively positive way. While it follows the traditional Father’s Day pattern of telling the fathers in the congregation to man up, it suggests that at least a few of them actually are good men*:
Prerequisites to being a Good Father:
Being a man, functioning as a man, taking responsibility as a man, thinking like a man, acting like a man, working like a man, all of these are prerequisites to being a good Father!
You will not be a good Father until you are a good Man. It’s a dying art today…there are not many in our nation anymore. Thank God we DO have a few good men here…we can always use a few more!
With that out of the way, we get to the meat of the sermon, a long series of men are stupid jokes:
THE MEN’S THESAURUS
(men don’t always say what they mean) – ladies, please allow me to translate for your future benefit:
When a man says “IT WOULD TAKE TOO LONG TO EXPLAIN”
He means: “I have no idea how it works”
When a man says “TAKE A BREAK, HONEY. YOU ARE WORKING TOO HARD’’
He means: “I can’t hear the game over the vacuum cleaner”
When a man says ’THAT’S INTERESTING DEAR.’
He means: “Are you still talking?”
When a man says: “IT’S A GUY THING”
He means: “There is no rational thought pattern connected with this, and you have no chance at all of making it logical”
When a man says “CAN I HELP WITH DINNER”
He means: “Why isn’t it ready yet?”
When a man says “UH HUH, SURE HONEY,” or “YES, DEAR”
He means: Absolutely nothing – It’s a conditioned response.
When a man says “YOU KNOW HOW BAD MY MEMORY IS.”
He means: ” I can remember the theme song to ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, the phone # of the first girl I ever kissed & the vehicle identification numbers of every car I ever owned – but yes, I forgot your birthday”
When a man says ’OH, DON’T FUSS, I JUST CUT MYSELF. IT’S NO BIG DEAL”
He means: “I have probably severed a limb, but I will bleed to death before I admit I’m hurt, so get over here and help me!”
When a man says ’I CAN’T FIND IT.’’
He means: “It didn’t fall into my outstretched hand, so I’m completely clueless”
When a man says “I HEARD YOU.”
He means: “I haven’t the foggiest clue what you just said and I am hoping desperately that I can fake it well enough so that you’ll not spend the next 3 days yelling at me.”
When a man says “YOU KNOW I COULD NEVER LOVE ANYONE ELSE”
He means: “I am used to the way you yell at me and realize it could be worse.”
When a man says “YOU LOOK TERRIFIC!”
He means: “Oh please don’t try on one more outfit, we’re late and I’m starving.”
When a man says “I’M NOT LOST. I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE.’’
He means: “No one will ever see us alive again.”
When a man says “I don’t think I can go today.”
He means: Shopping is NOT a sport, and no, I am never going to think of it that way.
When a man says, “I don’t remember saying that.”
It’s because he means: “Anything I may have said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all past comments become null and void after 7 days.”
When a man says, “that’s not what I meant.”
He means: “If something I said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, I meant the other one.
If your husband says, “honey, what color is this?”
He means: ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. I have no idea what “taupe” is.
We thank God today for the good men He’s sent us here.
*At the end of the sermon it clarifies that the men listening aren’t in the category of good men, and invites the men listening to become good men. The sermon reinforces that there are not actually any good men by quoting Ezekiel 22:30 twice, once in the beginning and again at the end of the sermon:
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.