SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2012
PORTRAIT OF THE CHRISTIAN DAD
TODAY is Fathers’ Day; a time when attention of fathers is drawn to responsibilities at home. God made fathers heads of their families. Authenticating this, St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: ‘For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of the body, the church.’ (Eph. 5v23)
This position places a number of burdens on their shoulders: Firstly, it is the duty of a father to fend for his household. There are no alternatives to this. The Bible says: ‘If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’ (I Tim. 5v8) Some have not taken this assignment seriously. Their families, as a result, suffer untold hardship. This should not be so. We appeal, therefore, on this Day, to the conscience of our fathers, not to abdicate this role. If they do, they have not only denied the faith, they are worse than an unbeliever.
Secondly, fathers should be priests, prophets and spiritual guardians at home. They should meditate on the word of God each day. Joshua says: ‘Study this book of instruction and meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.’ (Joshua 1v8)
Thirdly, fathers should be vanguards of the moral tone of families. Pornography and its negative influences have done harm on some of our women and children. The society, no doubt, is suffering from moral pollution and everything should be done to sanitise it. It is the duty of the man to ensure that those under him are purified and kept on the path of moral rectitude. But are persons who are supposed to do this also pure?
Fourthly, fathers should love their wives. The Bible says: ‘Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave up his life for her.’ (Eph. 5v25) Some Christians have thought that Paul was negative about marriage because of his counsel in I Corinthians 7v32-38. These verses in Ephesians, however, show high regard for marriage. Here, the institution is not a practical necessity or cure for lust but a picture of the relationship between Christ and his Church. Paul’s counsel in I Corinthians was designed for a state of emergency: a time of persecution and crisis. Paul’s counsel to the Ephesians is the biblical ideal for marriage. Marriage, for Paul, is a holy union, a living symbol and a precious relationship that needs tender, self-sacrificing care. How should a man love his wife? He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her, make her wellbeing of primary importance and care for her as he cares for his own body.
Some women have not been so lucky. That is why the occasion of this Fathers’ Day calls upon such men to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. It is equally true that some men have not been lucky either, having a Jezebel for wife. No matter how much love is demonstrated, her wickedness overshadows all goodness. The Bible admonishes: ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’ (I Cor. 13v4-7)
As we rejoice with our fathers today, let it be our prayer that God will enable them live up to their responsibilities and thereby make better the lot of society as they live responsibly and responsively to the glory of God.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.