Every year, I see a plethora of advertisements for what we can buy the “dad” in our lives.
A grill. A Man Crate. An engraved beer tumbler. A funny shirt about being
Batman Dadman. A set of golf clubs. A Bacon Box. A tie, a belt, a suit…a lawn mower that cuts the grass in 10 minutes while your dad naps in a hammock and sips beer in front of a TV the size of his garage while the competent mother runs the house.
You get the gist of the gift list.
And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these gifts (who doesn’t want or need a Bacon Box?!), I wonder if the gifts that are advertised in June are also a subconscious commentary on how we have begun to view the dads in our culture.
You’ve seen the TV sitcoms and watched the endless commercials; you’ve seen the memes and heard the comedy sketches. More often than not, fathers are often depicted as worthless and incompetent sperm donors who desperately fall short when it comes to parenting (if they’re even present at all) and that mothers are the very best choice when it comes to rearing and raising children.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there are some men who would much rather sip a beer, tend to their grass, and eat bacon from a wooden crate than love their children and lead their homes and sadly, some of these TV depictions and memes are a fair commentary on some fathers…but is that really the case for the majority of men in our culture? And if it is the case (I confess that I didn’t do any pre-poll work prior to this post), is it possible that we have reduced dad-hood into a role where leisure is the aim and food the game? Have we lessened the importance of their role and made a joke of their parental value?
Is it possible that we (yes, women) have contributed to this demeaned and minimized role?
Is it possible that we, as women, have unfairly usurped their roles and sequestered them into these unfair and incompetent boxes? Is it possible that in our frustration over their imperfections and in our discouragement over their weaknesses, that we have minimized their roles in our homes and our culture at large? Is it possible that in our pride and in our need for control, we have sent our men to couches, stadiums, bars, and out the front door of our homes? Is it possible that our expectations of how a man should lead and our perceptions of how a dad should love have sent our dads to the sidelines of defeat and to the bench of discouragement? Is it possible that we have reduced them to incompetent men who do best when they are grilling burgers, mowing grass, drinking beer, and leaving us to the responsibility of shepherding our children?
And I ask those super-ouchy questions of all of us because I know that I (hand definitely raised) have been guilty of this very thing, and I’m wondering if others have too.
I’ve been guilty of having unfair and unrealistic expectations of their daddy.
I’ve been guilty of pushing him aside because I want the parenting tasks done “my way.”
I’ve been guilty of taking the reigns and usurping his role when I’ve become impatient and frustrated with x, y, and z in his parenting.
I’ve been guilty of criticizing, controlling, and containing him to the things I’ve decided he “can handle” while I care for the rest.
In all honestly, I’ve been guilty of minimizing his importance in our home and maximizing mine. And it’s yucky, friends. It’s really, really yucky.
But the Lord called our men to be leaders in our home, and I believe we need to let them do it.
Now here me out, I’m not suggesting that I believe we must take on the 1950’s culturally-assigned “barefoot, pregnant, and quiet in the kitchen” role where we never question decisions or voice our concerns to the men in our lives, AND I am not writing a post that describes or delineates the various views on our genders and how we should live those out and apply them in our homes. I AM NOT DOING THOSE THINGS.
However, I AM suggesting that maybe we have hijacked the leadership of the fathers in our homes and come to believe that we (mothers) are the best equipped for the duties at hand.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:21-25
In love, they lead and in love, we submit. It’s a mutual respect for one another where we (both) lay down our pride and humbly subject ourselves to the good of one another. It’s a loving relationship, not a dictatorial arrangement where women are silenced slaves and children are obedient chattel. It’s an arrangement where God has asked the man to take the lead on protecting, loving, caring, and providing for the people in their homes. This arrangement is meant to be a picture of Christ and His loving leadership of His Church.
Submission is not suggesting that women are voiceless souls who cannot provide feedback, encouragement, and advice on how to lead and love in their homes, nor is it saying that women can only ever be nursery workers who quietly wear head coverings in the back of the church. No, I am simply noting that God has asked women to submit and yield their leadership abilities to the leadership of another.
But if we (as women and as a culture) have pushed our fathers aside and relegated them to a role where their leadership has been gagged by ours, then I believe we are squashing, not submitting. And when we raise our children in homes where fathers are squashed by mothers, the picture of Christ and His Church have been marred. And when we lose sight of that picture, everyone suffers.
So this Father’s Day, I am reminding myself of some of the other gifts I can give the father of my children.
Instead of criticizing and controlling, I can encourage.
Instead of pushing aside and taking over, I can advise.
Instead of usurping and squashing, I can yield.
We need you, fathers, and we need your leadership.
In a world where truth is relative, money is supreme, fame is idolized, sex is extracurricular, terror is real, and Christianity is perceived as “irrelevant” and “intolerant,” we need you to be a different voice for our families.
We need you to remind us that our choices DO matter and that our values ARE eternal. We need you to remind us that there is nothing this world can offer us that will provide forever happiness or secure forever safety. We need you to remind us that sex is to be treasured, families are important, and money is just money. We need you to remind us that HE is our prize, not our political views and certainly not our possessions nor our positions. We need you to remind us of the Good News when our hearts are faint and our fears are big. We need you to rehearse His ways, remind us of His covenant faithfulness, and reiterate the truths that have been craftily distorted. We need you to speak up and speak out– reminding us of His truths, and His grace, and His sanctifying work this side of heaven. And in order to do this, we need you to immerse yourself in His word…feasting on His love and fancying His glory.
We need you to nurture hearts, discipline souls, and shape minds. We need you to provide stability, enforce structure, and promote integrity, perseverance, and courage in a world that promotes deceit, ease, and tolerance. We need you to model godly manliness in front of our children, reminding them that “being a real man” looks like following Jesus and making much of Him.
In a world where “me” is idolized and “my best” is at the center, we need you to demonstrate what it means to engage in humble, sacrificial love. We need you to show the world that forgiveness is the key to growing relationships and humility is the answer to a lot of our frustrations. We need you to model “taking up your cross and following Him” even when it’s hard, hurts, and doesn’t make a lick of sense. We need you to lead us in showing love to those who are “different” and even “undeserving,” being willing to lay aside your biases and opinions for the sake of modeling and speaking the Language of Jesus and His radical love for ALL PEOPLE and ALL NATIONS.
We don’t need you to be foolproof dads, faultless husbands, or even flawless followers of Christ, we just need you to help lead us to make much of Him, and to forgive us when we use our leadership to squash yours.