My first football season was in 8th grade at Skelly Middle School. I wasn’t very good. I was smaller than most of the players, but if we were winning in the fourth quarter, the coach would say, “Walker, you’re up!” and put me in the game for the final three plays. I played safety primarily, because it didn’t require learning defensive schemes. All I was required to do was run and tackle the guy with the football. Unfortunately, our team wasn’t very good either, so I saw limited playing time. This, however, never stopped my dad from coming to every game possible to watch me play.
My dad mainly walked to my games. He couldn’t read, so he couldn’t take the driver’s test. Therefore, he didn’t have his driver’s license. Since my mom was usually at work, he would get dressed for work and come to watch me play football. After the game, we spent time talking about the plays I participated in, and he coached me on how I could get better.
It was a special treat when both mom and dad could be there. However, I’ll never forget those walks home after the game, just me and my dad. We would let everyone leave the park and then make our way home. Looking back on it now, I realize how much I took those experiences for granted.
My father was far from perfect. However, he did his best to be there for me. He still is available to me today. Every child should be so fortunate to have the joy of this experience in their own life. Sadly, for a growing number of children, they never will.
A growing number of children will experience life apart from their father. Most will never know what it’s like to have their father walk them home after a football game.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported the following in 2012,
“With the increasing number of premarital births and a continuing high divorce rate, the proportion of children living with just one parent rose from 9.1% in 1960 to 20.7% in 2012. Currently, 55.1% of all black children, 31.1% of all Hispanic children, and 20.7% of all white children are living in single-parent homes.”
As the number of out-of-wedlock births reaches 40% in the United States (73% in black community) the idea that women don’t need men to father a child has become an epidemic. The statistics in this category are shocking as poverty rates, educational delinquency, and sexual abuse soars for the children of these homes. Every area of a child’s life is impacted as a result of fatherlessness.
The spiritual and emotional void created by absent fathers is often replaced by the poor choices of the children they leave behind. “Children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems.” Boys often find themselves involved in increased criminal activity; for girls the choices include increased promiscuity and pregnancy.
The idea of abandoning binary roles with titles such as “mom and dad” have become the new celebrated norm. Common sense would tell us that these ideas lead to confusion. What follows these decisions are decades of damaged children growing into adulthood struggling to understand the choices made during this time. And for what, to prove a point?
Scripture is clear that there is nothing is new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). If there is anything predictable about the human heart, it’s the desire for our own sinful autonomy. As we struggle to recreate the meaning of family and particularly fatherhood, the result is increasing fatherlessness as men abandon their God-given roles as provider, protector, prophet, priest of the home.
Women also have the responsibility of protecting their children from the poor outcomes that come from children without fathers. Women need to reject the feminism that has sold sexual promiscuity as female empowerment and has told women that they don’t need men. The result? Women are working longer and harder and waiting later to get married; preferring instead to focus on their career as a means of providing for themselves.
Scripture is clear that the order of the home begins with the stability that comes from a man finding a wife and becoming a father. Men must take responsibility for choosing a wife. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22 ESV).” Next, a father must lead in the discipleship of his children. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).”
Men must understand the value of fatherhood and take seriously the commitment of becoming a father. Men must understand that children are a treasure from the Lord, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3–5 ESV).”
As a child born out of wedlock, I’m grateful that in God’s providence my dad stayed with my mother rather than abandoning us. I’m grateful for a mother who took responsibility for my birth and didn’t sacrifice me on the altar of convenience through abortion. The older I get the more grateful I am for the simple memories of an 8th grade football game, walks home with my dad, and the man who made more sacrifices for me than I can count.