By Ron Roberts
Once a week I visit a young Christian man in jail. Al-most four years ago he got his girlfriend pregnant. He decided not to many her because she was not a Christian. This young man neglected his daughter financially and otherwise. He is now serving a three-year prison term or not paying child support. Although he has repented of his sins, he will never be able to reverse his choices, change his record, or remove the consequences of those poor choices. He will probably never be a significant influence in his daughter’s life. She has already lived three years without a father in the home.
Some believe a father’s absence is devastating to a son, but not nearly as difficult to a daughter. Why not? Do fathers not have a role in rearing daughters? Is there no contribution I can make to my two daughters by being home? Titus 2:4-5 tells us that aged women are supposed to teach younger women a number of important truths. Does this command remove the father’s responsibility to teach his daughters? Ephesians 6:4 applies to all our children. There are some things that the older women cannot teach our little girls nearly as well as their fathers can.
Fathers can teach their daughters about men from a man’s perspective. I understand the male ego, the male sex drive, and his need for accomplishment as well as any-one. I can warn my daughters about immodest clothing even better than my wife can. I know what tempts men and what they think when they see a woman who is dressed improperly. I wonder if David failed to warn his daughter, Tamar, about the male sex drive (I Sam. 13:1-21). Perhaps Jacob did not share this knowledge with Dinah either (Gen. 34:1-31). Both of these women were sexually violated without provocation. Tamar and Dinah were perfectly virtuous in their behavior. If the male urge is so strong without being teased, imagine how strong it becomes when enticed.
Although the Bible does not contain many examples of fathers and daughters, we do have a couple in the Old Testament. Judges 11 tells us about Jephthah. To solicit God’s help in a battle against Ammon he vowed a foolish vow. He would offer a burnt sacrifice of the first thing that exited his house upon his return (30-31). He was devastated when his daughter came out after the victory. Jephthah and his daughter both agreed that a vow to the Lord should not be disregarded (34-36). She was given two months to mourn over her virginity (37-38). I believe that her grief was because she would never marry and have children. Her father’s vow mined her future.
A second example is that of Lot. He chose to move his family to Sodom when he and Abraham parted company. Lot put his children in the midst of the worst influence that could be found. When angels came into Lot’s home, the men of the city demanded they be brought out for sex. Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men instead (Gen. 19:4-8). Although the angels rescued Lot from this episode, they could not save his daughters from the influence of evil. These heavenly visitors had come to get Lot’s family out of town before the cities of the plain were destroyed.
Some believe Lot had just two daughters. They conclude that the sons-in-law that Lot tried to convince to leave were betrothed to these two virgins (Gen. 19:14). Others believe he had four or more daughters. A plurality of his girls had already married men of Sodom. If this was true, then Lot could not rescue his married daughters unless he convinced their husbands to depart. One of the most powerful lessons we need to learn as fathers is that we will someday lose our girls to their husband’s authority. We must teach them what to look for in a man, and we must place them in an environment where such a proper man can be found.
Lot’s wife died as she was leaving the city. The two virgin daughters feared their father would have no heirs as they were living alone in the mountains. Consequently they got their father drunk and committed incest with him. Lot had gotten his daughters out of Sodom, but he could not get Sodom out of his daughters.
If a daughter grows up without a dad, she will view men as unreliable. If a father abuses her, she will fear men. If her father is a weakling, she will marry in order to dominate her husband. If a father makes decisions without considering the family, a daughter will believe all men are selfish. But if a father rears his daughter according to God’s word, then she will learn that she has value. She will marry a man who appreciates God and loves her for her virtues. Fathers, we are important to the present and future happiness of our daughters. Let’s guide them toward the joy to be found in this life but more importantly toward the blessedness that is beyond this life.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 12 p. 17-18
June 19, 1997