The Authority and Responsibility of the Fathers
By vaughn ohlman
In Scripture we see considerable emphasis on the authority and responsibility of fathers. Fatherhood is one of the primary metaphors that God uses to represent His relationship with us. It is a relationship that represents our dependency on, and submission to, God. As with any metaphor, there are points of contact with reality, and other points that are extraneous to the metaphor. When given the metaphor of sheep, we do not think that God expects us to go around eating grass, or have our hair shaved for making clothes. Similarly then there are parts of Gods 'fatherhood' that are not metaphoric of human fathers, and vice versa. We are not Gods sons in the sense that he literally impregnated our mothers. And our human fathers did not create the world we live in.
However when it comes to authority and responsibility the Scripture, far from separating these issues out of the metaphor, seems to treat them as primary links. It is primarily his authority over us that God references when speaking of his 'fatherhood'. God, for example, disciplines us like our earthly fathers do. And this authority covers the issues of husband and wife. The issue is clearest in the area of brides, as even the language used, 'given in marriage', indicates that there is a 'giver'; someone gives and someone is the gift.
However scripture also speaks to the issue of sons. We see this particularly in the best of scriptural examples, namely that of Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebecka, Christ and the Church. One of the metaphors that Christ uses for his relationship with us is that of a groom and a bride, and one of the things repeatedly emphasized is that we have been given to him by the father. Similarly with Adam, God saw Adams need, and acted to meet it. A human father is forced to seek and to chose, in God's case he literally created a bride for Adam. And the example of Isaac, we see a godly father acting to provide a bride for his son. He uses the resources of his servant to do the seeking and choosing, and he used his physical resources to pay the bride price.
However, in our generation, fathers have abdicated this responsibility. This abdication has been growing for years, we can find it's roots in Calvin, in Shakespeare, and many other ancient writers, however we can also see throughout history, and even in a promotional sense today, the shadow of this responsibility. Shakspeare who wrote Romeo and Juliet, also wrote The Taming of the Shrew, and many a father and mother sit around the kitchen table lamenting the foolish choices of their son, knowing in their heart of hearts, their responsibility in spite of the teachings of their culture.
One weapon in the world's arsenal against the formation of Godly marriages is the shift that they have successfully made in the quality of the reasons for marriage, a shift that has been accepted even by many within the church. It is quite common to read a book on marriage and to read page after page of reasons for marriage, none of which mention the specific biblical language 'When need so require'. Our culture prefers to believe that marriage is 'a nice thing'. It prefers to believe that it answers many of the desires of the heart. It does not wish to believe, it does not teach, it would argue vociferously against any suggestion that it meets a need.
And yet this is precisely what scripture says 'nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husband' 'to avoid fornication' not 'to meet the desires of ones heart'.
'It is not good for man to be alone.' Not 'it is nicer to have a wife'. Not 'it fulfills the desire of your heart'.
'It is not good for man to be alone.' 'It is not good': it is a bad thing.
'To avoid fornication'. To avoid a sin.
Man has a need. God has provided an answer for that need. To reject, delay, or diminish God's provision is something 'that is not good' it is something that leads to sin.
The world still believes that parents should meet the needs of their children; by separating the provision of a spouse from the concept of meeting a need they have succeeded in encouraging parents to abdicate this responsibility. We need to re-assume this responsibility, we need to actively move toward meeting this clear need.
A former missionary to Africa, I am now an LVN and EMT with a wife, six kids, and small farm. I like to write about Theonomy, Betrothal, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, just for starters.