In a spiritual sense, the relationship that we establish with our earthly father is a necessary requisite for understanding our relationship with our Father in Heaven.
Jesus Christ, Our Great Exemplar
When Christ went into the River Jordan to be baptized by John, he was symbolically reborn. Christ, being a perfect being, had no reason to be baptized, or to be reborn spiritually, or to receive a remission of his sins. But rather, He chose to be baptized because it was the will of the Father, and He set an example to the children of men that all must be baptized in His name. Immediately following His baptism, we are told the heavens opened and a voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Christ set the precedent of living by example and the Father acknowledged His Son and His pleasure with His obedience. How many of us today give the same approbation to our Sons?
The Significance of Earthly Father Relationships
Sigmund Freud was no friend of Christianity, yet he did have some valuable insights on the human condition. One such insight is that many men have an inherent anger toward organized religion which he attributes to anger towards their own fathers and the father-like people in their lives.
This lack of fatherly relationship affects our relationships with our earthly fathers, as well as our Father in Heaven, and it affects our participation in organized religion which ironically seems to hinge on that relationship.
This lack of connection as described by Freud posits an inherent hostility which can lead to a rejection of authority figures, a need to be over achievers, and sometimes and obsession with sex. Moreover, Freud identifies these wounded men as prone to combinations of a state of listlessness, of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of paralysis rendering its victims unable to perform or accept one’s duties or place in life.
Many of these wounded men eventually become fathers and husbands. Those who over time recognize and analyze how their personal rejection by their fathers (not really ever being able to “measure-up”) affected their lives often resolve that they will not be a source of such wounds to their children and wives.
The Important Role of Fathers in Society and in the Church
In society and the Church, fathers play an important role that is often distorted by misunderstanding. Frequently, it is the result of a lack of communication and appreciation between fathers and sons. Many men are wounded both emotionally and spiritually. They feel they were never able to “measure up” to their father’s expectations. They never felt, heard, or experienced the acceptance of their fathers. Such a simple and sincere approbation would have literally changed their lives, but it did not happen.
In the scriptures whenever God appears to men, He seems to identify Himself and then introduces the beholder to “His beloved Son” in whom He is well pleased. My own father was a good man, a faithful church member, yet he never gave me such recognition or approbation even when I did his will and followed his example. In many ways I am a close approximation of my own father. It is pleasing and frightening at the same time.
It is surprising that just telling our children how much we love them and being proud of their accomplishments can make all the difference in their lives. Not just at the moment our words are spoken, but our actions and examples always speak loudly to our sons. These simple words and acts last a lifetime, and even an eternity in the scheme of heaven, and have the potential of changing lives in earthy and heavenly realms.
In Proverbs 22:6, the Lord tells us that parents are responsible to teach their children about Him and to follow His commandments in both word and deed. We need to acknowledge our sons (and daughters) and give them our approval, blessing and most importantly our testimony of the gospel. Additionally, we need to demonstrate in both word and deed our commitment, pleasure and acceptance of our sons (children). Let us follow the example of the Father in Heaven and acknowledge our sons.