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Where Have All the Fathers Gone? (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2024 4:00 am

Where Have All the Fathers Gone? (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 22, 2024 4:00 am

Fatherhood’s perceived significance has declined in many cultures, and fatherless homes are on the rise. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg considers the reasons behind this alarming trend and its impact on individuals, families, and societies.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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In so many cultures today the perceived significance of fatherhood has been steadily on the decline. Fatherless homes are on the rise. Today on Truth for Life, we'll consider the reasons behind this disturbing trend as well as the impact on individuals, families and societies alike.

Alistair Begg is teaching a message he's titled, Where Have All the Fathers Gone? That we may behold wonderful things in your Word. For Jesus' sake.

Amen. Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 21. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff. That is our verse for the morning. That is the framework of our study.

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff. The Bible says that we're supposed to honor our fathers and our mothers. It's therefore not inappropriate that we would address what is a very, very important area. And we do so from three particular perspectives this morning. First of all, viewing it culturally, then viewing it biblically, and then applying it personally.

So if you have those three words, you have the tags, the coat hangers, as it were, upon which everything else will hang. And we come directly to the matter of the cultural environment in which we address this issue of fatherhood. Mother's Day was given to the world by America. So too was Father's Day. A lady by the name of Mrs. Sonora Dodd—I remembered her all week by referring to her as Snoring Dodd— who in 1910 was listening to her pastor give the Mother's Day message.

As she listened, she was the sister of five brothers who were being brought up by their father in the absence of her mother who had died. And at the end of the message, feeling very much that it would be appropriate for the sacrifice and responsibilities of fathers to be recognized, she went to her pastor and she said to him, Why don't we have a Father's Day? And so, some seven weeks later, in Spokane, Washington, in 1910, this local pastor said, Let's have Father's Day and preached a Father's Day message. Well, it was picked up by the local newspapers, and then it went right across the country, and it became an institution.

It was not until 1972 that it was officially recognized here in the United States as a particular day of remembrance. Whether that was ushered in by one of the card companies, I don't know, and my research didn't span that far, but I have no doubt that the card companies looked at one another on the Monday morning and said, This looks good for business. And there are all kinds of considerations that have been given to that by different people with cards and little notes and various things. However, the idea that fathers are actually important, vital, necessary, crucial—whatever you may choose to use as the adjective—is fast losing any kind of credibility at all. And we have this strange dichotomy that on the one hand, the country, as it were, pauses for a moment and says, Well, how wonderful it is to have dads, and yet at the same time, at a significant element within the culture, there is the erosion of the whole place and calling of fatherhood. Now, if you doubt that, you need only to read contemporary literature with one eye open.

You don't have to need to go and ferret for this kind of stuff. It is right there on the magazines and publications of our day. US News and World Report had an article in it which is another glaring example of the schizophrenia in a moral sense that is part of our contemporary culture. Why, it asked in this one-page article, is there no public debate on the issue of artificial insemination being made available to single women in America? Why do we hear nothing about it? Why is nobody complaining?

Why is no one asking? And then it goes on to say the reason is that the cultural and social elite of our day don't want this to be challenged. Do you realize that there are some three thousand fatherless babies born every year by means of artificial insemination? That doesn't take into account the fatherless babies that are born every day this past week in every maternity hospital in the city of Cleveland and every city in the whole of the United States. Ushering in to the social milieu of our day this great crisis of fatherlessness. That would be one thing if everybody sat up and said, Yes, that is dreadful, we do have a problem.

But in point of fact, they don't. And the feminist agenda in particular has cast the debate in such a light that it is regarded as an insult to a woman to suggest or to imply that they actually need a man to raise a healthy child. Now, obviously, we know that single moms manage to do an admirable job, but every single mom who is honest would love to have the companionship, faithfulness, guidance, steadying hand of the biological father by her in that process. And we're not talking about that. The feminist agenda says, No. We don't want you. We don't need you.

We can pull our cars up at the sperm bank and choose a sample. You guys are simply a nuisance. You are troublesome, marginal, and essentially irrelevant inseminators. We don't need you.

We don't like you, and we don't want you. Whereas, in an earlier era, in the land of the brave and the home of the free—or the land of the free and the home of the brave—biological fatherhood was understood in this country to carry with it abiding moral obligations. There were abiding moral obligations that came along with the process of fathering. You were immediately obligated to the mother and to the child.

That is gone. Our culture is so confused, it is so impregnated with sinful thought forms, with worldviews that are so unbiblical and so ungodly, that it has accepted this strange craziness. That in the one hand, a man may engage in the biological and physical expression of fathering without then bearing any moral, ethical, or social responsibility. Hence the great crisis of abortion.

It is used as a form of birth control. It is used to allow an individual to do what he wants to do without ever having to live with the moral implications of that situation. So we have the fun of playing at dad without being a dad, and then on the other hand, we get the privilege of being a mom without having a dad and without ever wanting a dad.

So we remove the biological element from every aspect of it. And we give the privilege of parenting to lesbians who drive their cars up to the local sperm bank and choose what they fancy. And in The Plain Dealer, we have gay columnist establishes a voice. Deb Price, the first openly homosexual syndicated columnist, write with her partner Joyce Murdock, a Washington Post editor, and her book, Hi, Tell Joyce, Say Hi to Joyce, which is a feminist diatribe which is directly contrary to everything that Father's Day stands for. But you see, as long as we live in the world of rights and no responsibilities, as long as we live in the world of privilege with no obligations, as long as we live in a world where I am the champion of my own destiny, make my own rules, do my own thing, and live by my own standards without any divine obligation, then we will continue to have newspapers where we turn from this on one page to fatherhood on the other page, and nobody takes a moment to say, What in the wide world is going on?

Ah! It's the way it is. Artificial insemination of single women is not just about ticking biological clocks, says one author, and the urgent desire to have a child. It is, in effect, an expression of a whole new social policy that turns away from the ideal of an intact family toward what we used to call a broken family.

We got all these little phrases for it so that we cover it all up and make it all sound nice. We define deviancy down by taking a devastating social problem, namely fatherlessness, and we redefine it as acceptable and even as an inevitable model for the future. And if you think that I'm crazy, just grab some social textbooks from the sociology departments of places like Harvard and Stanford and Georgetown and read the material that is coming from there. And it is designed to call in question the rule and reign of God over his creation and to reestablish a whole new moral, religious, ethical, theological, biological order for the society that is yet to come.

And it has a weird kind of Orwellian smack to it. If you doubt that fatherlessness has social implications, then you're dishonest. Do you realize that although America is the richest industrialized nation in the face of God's earth, that we have a poverty rate which is twice that of any other industrialized nation? Do you know that we are the world leader in child poverty and youth homicide? There are more kids killed by other kids in America than in any place in the whole of God's creation. Sixty percent of America's rapists, seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers, seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in a home without a father.

Tonight, four children in ten go to bed in a household where their biological father is absent, and one in every two children will spend at least some time before the age of eighteen living with only one of their biological parents. Those are the facts. So what are we doing? Oh, well, we're legislating.

We're calling committees. We're throwing bad money after good money, and all the time missing the obvious. Isn't it strange what a glaring absence of common sense there now is, just in the marketplace of common ideas? You know, you say something that was once regarded as common sense, and people go, Man, there's a novel idea! I mean, get that! I can't believe that!

I mean, did you just see the report that came out on AIDS in the city of Cleveland, the twenty-one-point report that was done by well-meaning people, and stop short of any kind of sensible suggestion? Namely, if you live in purity, this won't happen. You say, My, that's very sensible! In fact, that's so sensible!

Don't mention it! And in the same way, the issue of fathers, there will be little change, little improvement in this culture until fathers are recognized as being unique and irreplaceable. Say hi to Joyce is the work of this lady whose father was a pastor. She likes this because she says it's given her enough information to explain that the Bible doesn't mean what it means. And she's become a champion of explaining how the Bible is up the left in relationship to matters of human sexuality, not least of all the question of fatherhood. And this individual explains some of her brilliant exegetical skills as follows. She says, Christians who believe that every word, every punctuation mark in their English-language Bible was dictated by God don't fret about getting their hair cut.

So you can imagine the audience just wrapped with attention, waiting for the punchline. And her punchline comes from Leviticus 19.27. You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. And what she's seeking to do is to cast the issue of homosexuality in the same light as this issue of the ceremonial law of the Old Testament. Any Christian knows that this is no longer applicable because Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law by his death on the cross. Therefore, it has nothing to do with anything about your temples and everything.

This is for a time long gone. But the unsuspecting world says, Oh my… You see, it's in the Bible. Just listen to Joyce.

Say hi to Joyce from me. She understands it. Sadly, she doesn't.

She chooses not to. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him.

Male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number. So Joyce must bow to Jesus. Without that, there is only further chaos.

It's a paradigm of our culture. Let us go to the matter viewed biblically. Viewed biblically. Back here at our verse, By faith Jacob when he was dying blessed each of Joseph's sons, and he worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. If the subject of fatherhood viewed from the perspective of our culture is chaos, then viewed from the perspective of the Bible, it is clarity. Clarity.

Because it provides us with a framework, and it is chock-full of examples. And there's perhaps no better example of fatherhood in the Old Testament than that which is provided for us in the person of Jacob. He wasn't a perfect father. Indeed, he erred in displaying an undue amount of affection for one of his sons over the others.

This made his boy a little bit uppity, a little bit proud, cashed in on the fact of his father's affection, and when he was given this fabulous new jacket, he wore it with pride and told his brothers about various dreams that he'd had whereby they would be bowing down to him. His brother said, We've had enough of you. Let's kill him.

Somebody intervened, said, No, killing's a little radical. Why don't we throw him in a hole? They threw him in a hole. Someone said, Why don't we sell him?

At least we can make a bob or two from this. And so they pull him out, and they sell him into Egypt. They take his coat, rub it in the blood of an animal, take it back to his father Jacob and say, Hey, Dad, is this Joseph's coat?

The father takes it, realizes that it is, assumes as they want him to that his son is dead, pulls dust and ashes on his head, and cries great cries of agony in the loss of his dearly beloved son. That's about Genesis 37. You then need to read all through that story, and it is a fantastic story.

And you should read it if you've never read it. And if you fast-forward to Genesis 46, you pick up the story when Jacob is reunited with a son whom he for all these years had assumed was dead. Imagine living all of your life, twenty and thirty years, assuming that one of your boys is dead, and then receiving word that within a matter of hours you're going to meet him. Genesis 46, and verse 29, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. And Israel said to Joseph, I'm now ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive. And so it was that Jacob arrives in Egypt. He's a hundred and thirty years old, he tells Pharaoh, and he's pretty well shot. He says, I'm not going to live as long as some of the others, but I'm glad to be here, and I'm glad to see my son.

The fact is, when you read the story, he lived for another seventeen years. Buoyant, I think, just by the discovery that Joseph was still alive and living under the protective care of his son, enjoying the fact, presumably when he awakened in the morning, and he looked out over Goshen, one of the most lovely spots in the whole Egyptian province, and he said to himself, You know, my boy Joseph's in charge of this. When he went down the street, the people would say, Hey, you know what? That's Joseph's dad. When he introduced himself in the story, he'd say, You know, my name is Jacob. You probably know my boy Joseph. Oh, Joseph! Whoo!

He's the president, for goodness' sake! Yeah, it's my boy. I thought he was dead. For seventeen years, he lives buoyant on this great, amazing fact, enjoying the great privileges of parenting that he thought had been taken from him. And then, one day, as will happen to all of us, Joseph gets a call at the office—I use the word office loosely—to say that his father has taken ill. And in Genesis 48, we read the account as it unfolds for us.

The phone call that will come to all of us has come to some of us. And sometime later, Joseph was told, Your father is ill. So he gets his boy's manasseh and ephraim, and he goes to see his dad. And we're told, Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

It's a great picture. It reminds me of the story of the minister who went to visit the fellow who was dying. His wife called to say he was dying.

He was in the final stages. So the pastor went to the house, and he took the man's hand, and he opened his Bible, and he laid it on the bed, and he began to read about heaven, and how the trumpet would sound, and the dead in Christ would rise, and there would be a great reunion, and how there'd be no tears, and no crying, and no dying, and no mourning, and no day, and no night. And he just described this fantastic scene.

Gradually, the guy's eyes opened, and then his mouth opened, and his ears opened, and he finally sat up in his bed. And he got so excited about all this stuff about heaven that he lived for another five years. It's a true story.

It's a true story. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We'll hear more about the importance of fathers tomorrow. I hope you're benefiting from these messages in our series titled Parental Priorities. Today, we are recommending to you a book that will complement this study on parenting. It's titled Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children for Life. The book is filled with practical counsel from two authors, a Christian mom and dad, who draw from their own personal experience in successfully raising four children to become God-honoring adults. Parenting Essentials explains the importance of being intentional in your communication. It walks you and your spouse through establishing an agreed-upon framework for how to instill values, how to set boundaries, how to foster a spirit of love and cooperation within the family.

You'll also learn how to prioritize faith in God as the foundation of your home. Ask for your copy of the book Parenting Essentials when you donate to Truth for Life. You can give through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate.

Or if it's easier, just call us at 888-588-7884. If you request Parenting Essentials when you make a donation and you'd like to purchase additional copies to give as gifts to young families in your church or your neighborhood, you can find them in our online store. They're available to purchase at our cost of only $4 while supplies last.

Visit truthforlife.org slash store. In addition to the Parenting Essentials book, you'll also want to order the book bundle that we are excited to make available for young children today. It's a set of three books called Anytime, Anyplace, Any Prayer. It includes a hardcover storybook for kids, a coloring book and an interactive devotional for the whole family to use together. All three of these books will teach children how to pray, what to pray for and when to pray. Your children will also learn the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.

We really like the approach this book bundle takes. It teaches children about prayer while unpacking the gospel, sharing the story of creation, how sin entered the world and the good news of our redemption. The book explains that many of the Old Testament prophets talked to God through prayer and it shares how Jesus made it possible for anyone to talk with God directly. This collection is rich in biblical teaching that is reinforced by the activities in the coloring book and the family devotional. The devotional has 15 lessons that begin and end with prayer and each session includes a brief scripture reading and questions to spark further discussion. These books are yours for our cost of just $8 so it's an incredible value. You can view the books and purchase your set at truthforlife.org slash anytime. Thanks for listening. If today's message about the cultural view of fathers was disconcerting, join us tomorrow for some biblical clarity as we learn from an imperfect but faith-filled example of fatherhood. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-22 05:17:57 / 2024-05-22 05:26:50 / 9

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