Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When Our Fathers Fail Us

"You're bad. I hate you. I don't have to obey you!" The nine-year-old screamed at her father when he told her she couldn't wear lipstick. Her reaction wasn't really about the lipstick. A few days earlier she accidentally overheard her parents speak of his infidelity. She was crushed; her life, her illusions of a happy family were gone. Her father was supposed to be perfect. 

All heaven wept for the little girl. While mother forgave him, the nine-year-old didn't and rejected her father. She decided God had been mistaken at giving her a father that was so wicked and unfaithful to what she had wanted and needed. It wasn't fair. Daddies were supposed to be good and love mommies. So she looked for a new one. A better father.

As the girl grew older she began looking around for other "father" figures to work out her pain. And she went from boy to boy and later, man to man. Her choices for a father figure never quite turned out the way she had wanted. Her choice for a good man was just as flawed as God's. 


The twenty-four-year-old dad kicked his three-year-old son sitting on the floor playing legos. He had never done such a ghastly thing before. 

He had been without work for weeks and bills were closing in on him. He felt like a failure and he was angry with himself. When he walked in and stepped on a lego, he painfully kicked the lego out of the way with frustrated fury and then kicked his son out of the way. He didn't mean to do it so hard. He just meant to push his boy out of his path. But his anger got the best of him. 

His wife saw it. Her heart failed her. This was no longer the husband she married. Her husband's reaction was unforgivable and no kind God would expect her to live with a monster like that. She took the boy and left. 

All heaven wept for this wife and son. The boy grew up without his father. He looked for other father figures but none turned out to fill the need he had for his own father. 


All heaven weeps for the sins of the fathers. Their sins impact a family like no other. Poverty is rampant where fathers fail. Sexual morality crashes among young people where fathers fail. Where dads fail, a broken home often follows with ripples into the next generations.  And divorce is disastrous on families and on all the little, precious souls that grow up inside what was supposed to be the safe haven of home.

All heaven weeps when fathers fail. 

And yet God doesn't take away the father's roll of priest and head of the home because fathers fail. God's chosen authorities are never perfect. But God doesn't take away their position because wives and children hate them, were betrayed by them, were wounded by them. 

A God who would force a family to stay with a father who fails them seems like an unreasonable, sadistic God, doesn't He? No child should have to remain under such a tyrant father who makes mistakes, right?

I am not sure. I will not write for all circumstances, but I would like women and children to consider this: 

What has our culture come to because our families have not stayed in and fought for marriage and family? What does our culture look like because it has not remained faithful to a failing dad who may want to be better but not sure what a good father looks like or needs our support in becoming a good man? 

In most situations, the father needs redemption, not abandonment. We too quickly give up. (Please don't tell me about your neighbor who was beaten to death or your friend who has a crack-addicted husband, I am not talking about that. I am talking about the Christian man who falls. I am not advocating staying in a dangerous situation.)

Because of sin, we all fall. But when the authority falls, it usually has a catastrophic ripple that takes out the wife and kids like an earthquake. And when the authority falls, there is generally a huge undertaking of clean up and repair. It takes years for wounds to heal and trust to be restored. 

But carefully weigh the results of a fatherless home. In most circumstances, God is calling us to a supernatural gift of forgiveness. It may rip your heart out, but genuine forgiveness contains most of the wound to yourself and minimizes it upon your children. Divorce can cause the wounds to multiply exponentially to all involved and even the next couple generations.

Watching the effects of his failure upon his family is a purgatory for men of God. Leaving a husband and father because of a sin--even a big one--often blinds the man to the extreme hurt he caused and can even create victimhood. The process of forgiveness and reconciliation can bring enormous fruits of maturity to families. It can even break the slavery of addictions in some cases. 

Sticking together through even the most thick of disasters caused by the father, sends families through the fires of holiness and saints can emerge. But only God can do it. Hold fast to Him and all things are possible. 

So now to the point of this:

This same challenge is given for God's spiritual authorities. Jesus told His followers, 

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat, so you must obey them and everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." Matt. 23: 1-3

Christians often pass by the first part of this statement ready to condemn Israel's leaders, with Christ, as the hypocrites they are. As tempting as it is to get all worked up in the righteous anger of Christ as He rightly calls them blind fools, we forget that we must obey them. Yes! Jesus knows how rotten they are shutting the kingdom up to those trying to get in and making converts twice the sons of hell the Pharisees are. That is very condemning language.

And yet, we are to obey them. They seriously wounded the family and devastated the hearts of the innocent ones. It makes my blood boil to think of it. Aren't we supposed to overthrow tyrants?! Isn't the greatest cry of earth "freedom!" from these thoroughly corrupted leaders? 

God's Part

Jesus says we are to obey His appointed leaders. He is going to take care of them, that is not up to us. Vengeance is His. He is going to take care of these hypocritical, corrupted priests. He may or may not take them out of their position. He may redeem them.

Our Part

The Bible never tells anyone to break from God's authorities, even if they are not perfect. We don't abandon our dads because they fail us. Sheep do not abandon the flock in search of another shepherd when their God-appointed shepherds fail them. 

A shepherd who fails isn't necessarily a false shepherd. Peter failed. Our earthly fathers fail. 

God's church failed. And we Christians were crushed. Our illusions of a happy spiritually family were gone. We thought the Church was supposed to be perfect. We decided God had been mistaken for giving us priests that were wicked and unfaithful to what we wanted and desired. It wasn't fair. 

The Perfect Church

Some Christians claimed the real church couldn't fail, so they looked for a new one with a better father. And see the results of this search for our own spiritual authorities? 

We no longer care who is a false shepherd or a true one a long as we like the person and as long as the person doesn't disappoint us. And when they do, as they always will, we either learn to forgive or start the whole process over again of finding the perfect church.

This isn't the family got placed us in. As Christians, we are not at liberty to pick out our own spiritual authorities anymore than our biological fathers. 

Sin has challenged our spiritual family, absolutely. When our priests and bishops fail us, forgiveness and reconciliation puts us through the holy fires of purgatory till we come out as saints. And through our personal sacrifice of forgiveness we minimize the damage to our spiritual children. 

Sounds hard? No, actually sounds impossible. But God calls us to pray for the grace that gives us the courage to faithfully walk through the fires of the miraculous. 

God calls us to the miraculous duty of forgiveness and healing. And often, miraculously our fathers are given supernatural courage to become the men of God the position is calling them to. 

Miracles happen. I've seen them.

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