The God of the Bible wants humankind to have healthy families. Heterosexual, intact, biblically based families are the best. Husbands and wives who are scripturally married should raise children rooted and grounded in the word who are well-informed and well-adjusted to deal with the situations that life throws at them. It is the job of parents to raise their children to fear the Lord and to serve only Him. It is not the job of the preacher, the elders, or of any institution to train up a child.

The book of Deuteronomy makes it plain to the reader that it is the job of the parents to instill an understanding of God’s word into the hearts of their children. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” The souls of our children are too valuable to entrust to any other person. The Bible places the responsibility of spiritual and moral instruction squarely upon the shoulders of the parents.

Being a father is one of the most important jobs a man will ever do. The Bible reveals that men are expected to have a role in the rearing and training of Children. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It is interesting that Paul would list the father in this passage and not the mother. It leaves this writer with the following idea—fathers are expected to be the spiritual leaders of their families. This is not to say that a woman does not have an important part to play in instructing children. The evangelist Timothy had an indelible mark left upon his life by a godly mother and grandmother (II Timothy 1.5).

Children are a blessing to a father’s life. Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Instead of embracing the blessing that comes with having children, our society sees fathers who do little more than contribute to the genetic code of their offspring and then walk away from all responsibilities. Around forty percent of children in the western world will go to sleep without their fathers tonight.1 How sad for the child and the parent! Being a father means more than just being able to father children—fatherhood is not merely intended to be a biology experiment!

Wives and children need a husband and a father who is physically and emotionally present. Men need to step up and be the spiritual leaders of their homes. Fathers need to study the word with their children and encourage regular attendance at worship and in Bible study. They need to be the leaders in this effort. Too many married women are “widowed” on Sundays and Wednesdays, because their husbands want to be doing something other than church. This is a pattern that must stop. Church should be a place for entire families to connect with one another and with God’s will for their lives. Wives want their husbands to do this! Children want to spend time with their fathers!

Children who are raised without a father in the home are at a real disadvantage from a spiritual, emotional, and material standpoint. Several recent studies found at least nine adverse consequences connected to children who were not raised with a father or with one who was emotionally unavailable. They are as follows:

• Five times the average suicide rate.

• Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety

• Thirty-two times the average rate of incarceration

• Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates

• Consistently lower average income levels

• Lower job security.

• Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues

• Substantially increased rates of substance abuse

• Increases in social and mental behavioral issues2

It is past time for fathers to take their God-given responsibilities seriously. Children depend upon both parents for their spiritual, emotional, and physical support. Fathers need to be a part of the solution for the welfare of the church and our society.

By Johnny O. Trail

This article first appeared in Think magazine. For more info, or to subscribe, click here