Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fathers

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do.
Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.
-John Mayer, "Daughters"

If you haven't heard, the wife of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa filed for divorce recently over an affair the mayor has had ongoing with a Telemundo newscaster. This may not sound like news, a politician caught in adultery, after all several of the Republican candidates for president can relate. But one of the local LA papers on Sunday had a very powerful editorial on the consequence this has on his family and how this is a microcosm of a common plight among minority communities. In summary, there are too many youth growing up without fathers. And it's not just minorities either. Even very-white pop-star John Mayer understands the importance of a strong male role model in the family.

Broken homes, absent parents, workaholic parents, and so on create a generation of latch-key kids that are likely to follow the same cycle. Many teenage parents that I know are children of teenage parents. Getting a divorce? Odds are, your parents did too. And that's just in the family. I've added a link in "resources" for Focus on the Family. I didn't want to when I first started this blog because I don't agree with their politics. However, I agree with their message and I understand why they take the political stands they do. Dr. Dobson understands clearly that our current culture is a threat to Christian families. I've read two books of his and they are full of statistics that should scare any parent.

But it's not just a risk to the traditional family structure. It's also a risk to our communities at-large because fatherless boys are more likely to be involved in violent crimes, drop out of school, abuse alcohol or drugs, and just about every other malady you can think of. Why join a gang? To be accepted by older males who act as role models and to have your masculinity affirmed. To do the job of a father. So what are Christian churches to do? Why, loudly proclaim how gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage, of course. Wha, huh?

But some churches are beginning to figure it out. The biggest threat to our families and the "sanctity of marriage" is ourselves. Divorce is just as common if not moreso in Christian churches than in the world at-large. Of course adultery, pornography, alcoholism, and drug addiction can be found throughout our congregations if for no better reason than that we are all sinners. But it's too easy to focus on the speck in others' eyes and ignore the plank in our own. Too many churches are afraid to call sin, sin and expect repentance in their congregations. Why you can't have expectations or accountability of your church members, that would make you a cult. But I digress. Like I said, some churches are turning inward to rid themselves of their splinter-filled plank.

In Chicago recently, the National Baptist Convention met and were challenged to "reduce by 25 percent the rate of black divorce, teen pregnancy, illiteracy, murder and HIV infection by 2012." Black churches are leading the charge, and it's about time they do. I'm personally not a fan of segregated congregations. After all, there is neither Greek nor Jew in Christ. But traditional black churches are in a unique position to tackle issues that if someone else, anyone else, were to address they'd be labeled as racist. Other church leaders could learn from this example. In Los Angeles, the ministers and pastors embraced by the local black community are often found in the limelight throwing stones at the police or local politicians but seldom seem to care about the issues within their own walls (First AME Church, I'm looking at you).

I hope and pray this creates ripples in our culture so that we, as Christians, can hold up the value of family and not look like a bunch of hypocrites. That church leaders can expect morality in their congregations without being labelled as legalistic. That a new generation of children can be raised in homes with loving and available parents (note the s) present throughout their lives. Only then can we affect the world around us, with the example of Christ in our homes and with his bride, the Church.

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