Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE Ps OF PATERFAMILIAS”

 Today is the most important day of the year. It is Fathers Day. Therefore, my message from God’s Word will be about fathers and is titled “The Ps Of Paterfamilias.” Paterfamilias is a Latin word that literally means “father of a family.” The word can also be taken to mean “head of a household.”[1]

In the weeks leading up to Fathers Day, I gave considerable attention to preparing this morning’s message from God’s Word. I gave thought to preaching a sermon titled “Marriage To A Manageable Man.” I also gave attention to preaching a sermon titled “Jezebel, The Wife Who Stands Against The Man Of God.” The third message I considered and rejected was titled “The Catastrophe Of A Woman Finding A Husband To Marry.” The reasons I rejected those approaches to my Fathers Day sermon were threefold: First, they are somewhat off topic, in that they are sermons that focus too much on wives, which is less than optimum on Fathers Day. Second, they are off topic in another way, in that they address the marital aspect of a man’s life rather than his role as father. Third, those sermons were a bit too negative. Not that negative sermons are always undesirable, but I really wanted to bring an upbeat and very positive message on Fathers Day this year.

I am what you would call a very content father. I thoroughly enjoy paterfamilias, and feel so wonderfully blessed as a Christian, as a gospel minister, as a married man, and as a father. On this particular day, Fathers Day, I would like to survey what God’s Word indicates is the high honor, awesome privilege, and wonderful opportunity of being entrusted by God with a child.

What is a grown man to do in order to discharge the duties of being a father? Some subscribe to the notion that physical intimacy resulting in the conception and then the birth of a child is the sum and substance of fatherhood, that all you need do is make the baby. Thinking people would dispute that notion of fatherhood as being too biological and failing to recognize that we are human beings, created in the image and likeness of God. That view of fatherhood is insufficient. Others subscribe to the notion that children are morally neutral and are best left to raise themselves, so that supplying food, shelter, clothing, and occasional words of encouragement regardless of the terrible life choices made by the child are the duties that make for fatherhood. These are the guys posing as fathers who are proud of their children regardless of the values and choices in life their offspring end up embracing. Frequently they are eager to take credit for their children’s accomplishments while being blind to their children’s shortcomings. Still other men are reactionary, supposing their dads were deficient in some way while they were growing up and naively dreaming that the remedy is for a dad to be extra warm and fuzzy, to be gentle and understanding, to “be there” for his child in a way he imagines his own dad was not there for him, and finally to make sure he is never harsh with his child as he has concluded his dad was harsh with him. This was a familiar pattern among silent generation dads who raised so many baby boomer generation kids to be the self-indulgent and resentful men so many of my generation have shown themselves to be.

I could go on and on, describing different categories of men who imagine themselves to be fathers as a result of judging by their own standards that they have measured up to the requirements of fatherhood. Sadly, however, the great majority of men who have sired children, and even the great majority of men who have sired and then paid some attention to their children while growing up, do not function as fathers in the scriptural sense of fatherhood. For example: What does signing up your kid for Little League baseball and encouraging him to be athletic have to do with being a father? I am not saying doing that is wrong in any sense. However, baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, riding dirt bikes, and even going fishing, has nothing directly to do with the concept of fatherhood that is found in God’s Word. Fathers are not the designated play leaders. Is it wrong to encourage your child to be a tennis or skating star, or to play baseball or football? Is it wrong to take your kid fishing or hiking? Of course not. I only seek to point out that a man can be a superb father to his child while engaging in none of those activities, while another man can be immersed in those kinds of activities and be a terrible father to his child. So, where does that leave us concerning fatherhood? We live in a day when every man does that which is right in his own eyes, does that which he thinks in his heart is the thing to do, but how does that approach usually turn out?[2]

Can we agree on this Fathers Day that the concept of fatherhood originated with God, and that God the Father is the perfect father after whom all earthbound dads are properly modeled? Of course, some will not agree with me on this. Buddhists, for example, can hardly be expected to have a healthy concept of fatherhood when their hero, Siddhartha Gautama, abandoned his wife and child to discover himself and the meaning of life.[3] As well, what kind of picture of fatherhood will a Muslim have after Mohammed marries a nine-year old girl, even after telling his stepson to divorce his beautiful wife so he can marry her?[4] The point that I seek to make is that fatherhood is not instinctive, so that a man has any certainty of being a good dad just because he is well intentioned. Add to that the perverse influences that distort the concept of fatherhood a man ought to have, such as with Buddhism, Islam, and Mormonism. Just imagine the issues Hindus have, with their million gods and their practice of burning living wives on husband’s funeral pyres before the British colonized the subcontinent and made such practices illegal. Then there are the communists, with such notable father figures as Karl Marx (who never worked, but lived off his wife’s labors), V. I. Lenin, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung (the latter two responsible for one hundred million deaths). You do not think Hitler era young men in Germany did not have serious fatherhood issues?

What if your model of a dad was a guy who never held a steady job, a guy who stayed drunk most of the time, a guy who never saw a drug he would not take, or a guy who was wildly promiscuous? When are people going to realize that boys with fathers like that are boys who will have seriously distorted pictures of fatherhood, even if they choose to be nothing like their dads in those ways? You cannot become a good father by imitating someone like that. You cannot become a good father by deciding to be the opposite of a guy like that. You cannot become a good father by thinking you can just wing it by working out the details of fatherhood as you go. That some of the kids of these types of men seem to turn out okay is not a testament to their approach to parenting, but a testament to God’s providential grace and mercy in their lives. Good dads are godly dads, and a dad who is not a godly dad can hardly be expected to be a decent father to his children.

Do you doubt what I say? Then consider the most basic duties and responsibilities of fatherhood:

CAN WE NOT AGREE THAT AMONG THE MOST BASIC DUTIES OF A FATHER IS THE DUTY TO PROTECT HIS CHILDREN?

Though we see God the Father displaying this characteristic throughout the record contained in God’s Word, perhaps the clearest illustration of this fatherly duty is provided for us in Genesis 15.1. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was kidnapped when the city of Sodom, where he lived with his family, was attacked and looted.[5] Lot was kidnapped, presumably one of several hostages taken for ransom. However, there is no doubt that his life was in danger. Displaying a bit of paterfamilias himself, Abraham attacked the kidnappers and rescued his nephew Lot. However, his forces were outnumbered, he was as yet childless and without the heir promised to him by God, and he became frightened. He feared reprisal. Genesis 15.1: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” God the Father, displaying this first characteristic of fatherhood, promises that He will protect Abraham.

Who would rightly deny that first among a father’s duties, obligations, and responsibilities is the protection of his children? What does the father protect his children from? Does he not protect from physical harm? Does he not protect from the elements? Does he not also protect from fear? How many of you heard the news of a twenty-three year old Texas farmer who caught a man molesting his four year-old daughter several days ago? The man had come to the farm to shoe some horses when he assaulted the little girl who was feeding chickens, was caught in the act by the little girl’s father, and was beaten to death by the father with his bare hands.[6] I am in no position to judge if her daddy went too far in taking her attacker’s life. However, I wholeheartedly endorse her father’s swift action to protect his daughter. Men, one of the fundamental duties and holy privileges of fatherhood is the protection of your children. While many fathers recognize their calling to protect their children from physical harm, dads are sometimes sorely lacking in discharging their holy obligation to protect their children from evil influences that do not directly cause physical harm. Allow me to illustrate: What should a dad do when he learns that his daughter’s elementary school principal provided graphic descriptions of oral and anal sex to her and the rest of her classmates as part of a fifth grade sex education class?[7] That, too, happened recently. As a father, I am convinced I would have to intervene to protect my child from that kind of thing. I think a man who does not see the need to prevent such a thing happening to his son or daughter has missed the boat regarding the first responsibility of fatherhood, to protect.

Sadly, we live in a day when many married men with children are, themselves, the ones their kids need to be protected from. A man is no real father whose children live with the fear he may beat them or their mothers. Real fathers want their children to feel safe, and take steps to make it so.

AS WELL, CAN WE NOT AGREE THAT AMONG THE MOST BASIC DUTIES OF A FATHER IS THE DUTY TO PROVIDE FOR HIS CHILDREN?

Once again, we turn to God’s Word to see illustration of God the Father providing for Abram. He is ninety-nine years old. His heavenly Father has promised him that he will be the ancestor of nations and kings someday. However, at present he has no heir and is long past the time when a man can sire a child. To comfort and reassure him, “the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God.”[8] If you reflect on what God said to Abram you will notice that comfort was provided based on who God is rather than what He had done or would do, though He had delivered Abraham in the past and promised to do so in the future. That is, the character of God was stated to provide immediate comfort for Abram. We get a better idea of the character of God when we more clearly understand this phrase, “I am the Almighty God.” Jehovah here identified Himself to Abram as El Shaddai. “The name which Jehovah gave to Himself was to be a pledge, that is spite of ‘his own body now dead,’ and ‘the deadness of Sarah’s womb’ (Rom. 4:19), God could and would give him the promised innumerable posterity. On the other hand, God required this of Abram, ‘Walk before Me (cf. ch. 5:22) and be blameless’ (6:9).”[9]

In like manner, the person who represents God in the home and in the life of a child is the father. Resembling our heavenly Father, one’s earthly father is charged with providing for his children in addition to protecting them. Why does a young man exercise diligence in school, during occupational training, and as he is preparing for life as an adult? Though he may not verbalize it in his mind during the years he prepares before he marries and becomes a father, he is preparing to be a provider. That is really why he does not drop out of school. That is really why gets an education or learns a trade. Obviously, a father’s role as protector and provider overlap in many ways. To protect his children from threats to their health, the father must provide a safe and healthy home for his kids, he must look after their food and clothing, and he must tend to their various health needs. Sadly, during the 20th century, many people were duped into looking to government programs to provide for children and other members of the family. We now have generations in the same household who have no concept of fathers providing for their families, but instead looking to government handouts. However, God’s primary plan has always been for the provider to be the child’s father, with that father being the means God uses to bless youngsters and meet their many needs. Thus, fathers are to provide food and shelter. Fathers are to provide for vision care, dental care, and health care. Fathers are to provide the resources to keep their children clothed and in good shoes. Sad is the day when a man feels okay about a government program taking his place as the provider for his children. I once encouraged a man to apply for a job for which he was hired. Months later, I saw him when he should have been at work, and he told me that he had been fired that very day for habitual tardiness at the beginning of numerous workdays. A week later, I saw him again and suggested another job for him, to which he replied, “I cannot look for work now, my kids are in the system.” He had surrendered his role as provider for his children to a government program. Imagine being a little boy whose daddy does not provide for him, when he attends school with friends whose dads do provide for them. That little boy knows there is something terribly wrong, and someday he may figure out what is wrong. Even worse is when there are so many little boys in a classroom whose fathers are that way that it is the unusual dad who provides for his little boy. In some school classrooms rare is the little boy whose dad fulfills his role as provider for his own children, making it all the more difficult for little boys to conceive in their minds and hearts that the invisible God promises to provide for those who are His. Such boys grow up thinking their pleasure is to make the babies, while it is left to others to provide for them.

Finally, CAN WE NOT AGREE THAT AMONG THE MOST BASIC DUTIES OF A FATHER IS THE DUTY TO PREPARE HIS CHILDREN?

It would take me all day to list the ways in which God the Father prepares His children for their future with Him (while those who are not reconciled to God through faith in Christ are not His children and so must face eternal Hellfire), so let me confine myself to just a very few that you will recognize. When God gave to the Jewish people the Passover observance to celebrate once a year to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, He was preparing them for the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.[10] When God gave the Law to Moses, including the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, He was preparing the nation for the coming of the One who kept the Law.[11] When God sent His prophets to cry out to the people, was He not preparing them for the future, both in the short term as well as for eternity? Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, Jonah and Micah, and so many more, were sent not only to call the people to immediate repentance, but also to predict and to prepare the people for the coming Savior and for eternity.

In like manner, a father fulfills his role when, in addition to protecting his child, and in addition to providing for his child, he also recognizes the great calling to pour his life into preparing his child. It is a bit simpler for fathers with either sons or daughters, since what sons and daughters are prepared for is so different in so many ways. Whatever the challenges posed by raising sons or daughters or sons and daughters, a father’s task is daunting. Just think about what it means to be a father, with most fathers also being husbands. That means fathers are not only challenged to prepare their children for the future, but their wives as well. I wonder how many men these days take their challenge to prepare both their wives and their children for the future seriously. My fear is that most fathers have never even thought of these challenges. Fathers must prepare their wives for the time when they will no longer be alive. After all, most women outlive most men, and most men are married to women who are younger. That gives rise to an even greater likelihood that a father will be outlived by his wife. He has a God-given responsibility to prepare his wife for that day, if he can persuade her to let him prepare her for that day. Additionally, there are two kinds of preparation fathers must engage in when raising their children. First, a father must raise his sons to be men, which is something I am persuaded women are not adept at doing, and also to play his distinctive role in raising his daughters to be women. Even more important, however, is the father’s leading role in preparing his children for eternity. How proud will a dad be who has raised his son to be a great athlete for a couple of years, but whose son will then live fifty more years as a reprobate before he dies and goes to Hell? How proud will a dad be who has raised his daughter to be a sweet princess for a few years, after which she will live the life of an untamed shrew whose only satisfaction in life is to boss her husband around before she grows old and dies? Of what benefit is it to dote on your child, but not prepare your child for life or eternity? How is a child protected from the consequences of her sins that is not prepared for eternity? What good does it do any man to provide a well furnished home and a bountiful table for a child who is not otherwise prepared to deal with the spiritual issues of life? Then there are your grandchildren. Proverbs 13.22 declares, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” What is this inheritance spoke of? Is it money? No. Is it a name? No. What fathers give to their grandchildren are their grandchildren’s parents. Dad, you best prepare your sons and daughters to themselves be fathers and mothers by preparing your children for eternity.

 

My goal has been to set before you in very simple terms the components found in the life of a successful father, keeping in mind that successful fatherhood is a reflection of the fatherhood of God in the lives of His children. However, God is not the father of all men, but only those men who have come to faith in Jesus Christ. The believer in Jesus Christ is a child of God, and God becomes his heavenly Father. If you try to define fatherhood in your own terms, you end up with a confused mess. Of all the beliefs systems found in the world, from atheistic humanism and communism, to false religions such as Mormonism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the rest, the picture given of what makes for a good father is confused at best. So, every man does that which is right in his own eyes? Just look at the results of that approach.

Only in the Word of God do we see the pattern that corresponds to the nature and challenges that men face when addressing the task of raising children. I have not, this morning, spent any time suggesting anything like a recipe for you to follow. Being a father is too complex for any simple recipe to do any good. I would set before you the proper goal for a father, found in First Thessalonians 2.12, that your children would grow up to walk worthy of God. Of course, if you are a father or anticipate someday being a father, the three Ps that comprise my main points will be helpful in keeping you on track in a confusing and unpredictable world. Remember.

You must protect your child.

You must provide for your child.

You must prepare your child.

You will not properly protect your child, properly provide for your child, or properly prepare your child if you are not here, in the house of God, hearing the Word of God, being equipped by the man of God, and availing yourself of the grace of God that is key to your success as a dad. However, that is another sermon.

I close with this: We have a number of men in our church who are fathers. They do protect their children. They do provide for their children. They do prepare their children, both for adulthood and for eternity. You men who do these things, fathers, I salute you. Paterfamilias, father of a family. A man who is serious about being the father his children need would do well to intermingle his life with these men’s lives, since good fatherhood is as much caught as it is taught.



[1] Eugene Ehrlich, Amo, Amas, Amat And More, (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1985), page 218.

[2] Judges 17.6; 21.25; Psalm 36.2; Proverbs 12.15; 14.12; 16.2, 25; 21.2;

[4] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and John S. Waldrip, Demons in the Smoke of the World Trade Center, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 2002), page 99.

[5] Genesis 14.12

[8] Genesis 17.1

[9] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol I, (Peabody, MA: reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 142.

[10] John 1.29

[11] Romans 5.19



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org