By Dick Blackford
It is growing more apparent that women and children outnumber fathers and/or husbands at any given worship service. In many congregations men are a small minority, though there is a sizable number. of “Sunday morning widows” and “Sunday morning orphans” who continue to come-for awhile. Most of the articles we see relating to the home deal with the woman’s role and responsibility. Many congregations have a special class known as “Ladies Bible Class” where the women come together and discuss their roles as wives and mothers. How many congregations have a “Men’s Bible Class” where they can study their responsibilities as husbands and fathers? It just may be that we have been aiming at the wrong target! What is the cause of this situation? There are several possibilities.
The “Male Ego”
Face it men, sometimes our egos are prone to exaggerate. (Surely, by blaming the male ego, we will not have to accept personal responsibility!) But what is egotism? The worst thing that can be said about the “ego” is simply to give Webster’s definition of it. It is “the tendency to be self-centered, or to consider only oneself and one’s own interests; selfishness; conceit” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, p. 463). Couple that with the aspect of being a male, and you really have a combination. Some men are terrified that the slightest admission that “we are not totally self-sufficient for all human needs” may be interpreted as a sign of weakness. These men do not need the church because they have their own religion-they have made “gods” of themselves! Everything centers around them and is done to further their personal satisfaction. To them, church is for sissies and weaklings. They have an aversion to those things in which women often excel. While opposing the women’s lib movement, we must not take a position that is equally repulsive. Probably the worst case of male egotism was that of Abimelech. When a woman hit him on the head with a stone, he ordered his armor bearer to kill him lest it be said to his shame that `a woman slew him” (Judg. 9:50-54).
I have known men both in and out of the church and I have never had a problem determining which was the weakling. It does not require a genius to observe which one is following the course of least resistance. Having been on “both sides,” I can speak from experience. Our conceit becomes deceit. Our egos play tricks on us. While feigning superiority (“church is for weaklings”), we become quite inferior. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 26:12). Down with male egotism!
Where have all the husbands gone? Many a husband has gone fishing, hunting, or golfing when he should have been with his family in service unto God. Others have gone to mow the grass or work on the car. Still others have gone back to bed to read the newspaper, watch TV, or sleep. Some husbands are just too “easy going” (lazy?) on Sunday morning. It may be that he stayed out too late on Saturday night because he did not have the guts to refuse the temptations placed before him by his cronies. He could not stand being called “chicken” or “sissy.” It could be that he was deceived by his tough talking buddies, not knowing that it was mostly “talk” to keep up a good front to cover their complex. These things have a strong hold on some men and deceive them into thinking they are masters when they are really slaves (Rom. 6:16; 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:15f). A man cannot long hold the respect of his family when he thinks mostly of himself.
Men as Failures
Some men simply shirk their male responsibilities. They love neither their wives or children enough to be what they ought to be. They fail to see that providing physical necessities does not fulfill their responsibilities (1 Tim. 5:8). Being head of the family means that “he who would control another must first learn to control himself.” He is to be more than a biological father. The responsibilities for moral and spiritual training are placed squarely on his shoulders (Eph. 6:4). And the father who will not measure up is still two-thirds worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). Consider this brief article titled “Dad Makes The Family Go.”
A study of nearly 1,000 individuals done by two University of Southern California professors has revealed the somewhat startling fact that children’s practice of religion is more shaped by their fathers.
Are you ready for that, Dad? Put down your beer can. Shut off the TV. Try to stay awake next Sunday in church. Watch your language. Quit using God’s name only in vain.
Alan C. Acock and Vern L. Bengston, sociologists, said that one could best predict the religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) of young people by determining those of the mother, but their actual religious practice was more likely to be a reflection of the father. Statistically speaking, only 4.4 % . of parents who never attend church have children who attend regularly, and of those parents who attend regularly themselves, only 23.8 % have children who attend less often.
No wonder God addresses religious admonitions in His Word to fathers! “And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
HERE’S GOOD NEWS! The Bible Is also full of good instruction on fathering. Most males can father children, but the man who knows God and His Book is a real father. He takes his cues from the Father of us all. Get to know your Father who in heaven-personally (Good News, Vol. 20, No. 3).
What Men Need To Know
About their souls. Males have souls that can be eternally lost. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). Is it a sign of bravery to have no fear of hell? No, there are other words that would better describe such an attitude. Both fathers and mothers should fear hell (Mt. 10:28).
About the church. The church is the realm to which Jesus adds the saved (Eph. 5:25; 1:22, 23; Acts 2:47). He is the head of the church. If you are not in the church, then Christ is not your head and you have not been saved from your sins (Acts 2:38). Being a faithful member of the body of Christ involves assembling regularly to worship your Creator (Heb. 10:25).
About their responsibilities. Men may have to answer for others besides themselves. If we go to hell, we probably will not go alone. Our loved ones may go with us. Your child will follow your example much better than he will follow your advice. “But whoso shall cause one of these little ones to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling!. . .but woe unto that man through whom the occasion cometh!” (Mt. 18:6, 7). For the corruption, moral and spiritual pollution, and the juvenile delinquency of our day, men must accept most of the blame because they have not had the back bone to stand up in their homes, their communities, and in the church. When men fulfill their responsibilities, things will be peaceful, stable, and orderly.
About what to do. Men who are plagued with the “male ego” problem can change. Men who live worldly lives can change. Men who have been failures can change. The Lord !-is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). We need MEN, not men, in these perilous times. Sadly, many of them will continue on their present course. Woe to the men of this generation.
Truth Magazine XXII: 9, pp. 155-156
March 2, 1978