Par­ent­ing Pur­pose Pro­vides Safe Haven For Chil­dren

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPIN­ION - Ron Wood Colum­nist

Way back when the Good Lord first said, “Be fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply,” the First Cou­ple found them­selves on a mis­sion in Eden. It was an as­sign­ment that brought a mix­ture of hap­pi­ness and grief. A man and woman be­ing in love is heav­enly but the real­ity in­cludes earthly dif­fi­cul­ties.

Fruit­ful­ness and mul­ti­ply­ing in­volves hav­ing chil­dren: par­ent­hood. Two be­come one, then from their union, off­spring. The bib­li­cal phrase “be­come one flesh” is a covenant term. Mar­riage is a covenant, a safe place for kids. There is no higher kind of union. Mar­riage first, then ba­bies. That mul­ti­ply­ing process in­cor­po­rates de­light­ful plea­sure for two peo­ple (i.e.- mak­ing a baby) and nine months later, painful la­bor for one per­son, the mother. If men had to go through what women suf­fer in child­birth, I prom­ise you, it would end hu­man re­pro­duc­tion!

The pain for the man is not phys­i­cal but it can be psy­cho­log­i­cal. His pain comes years later as he strug­gles with feel­ing in­ad­e­quate while watch­ing his kids grap­ple with so­cial is­sues that he never had to cope with in his youth. Be­ing mar­ried and be­com­ing a par­ent are two things that you don’t get to prac­tice for. There are no half-mea­sures. You’re mar­ried or you’re not; you’re pregnant or you’re not. It is time to grow up, be com­mit­ted, and be re­spon­si­ble.

I like what Jethro Gibbs said on NCIS: “It takes a man to make a man.” While moth­er­ing seems to be passed eas­ily from mother to daugh­ter, many men miss out on the bless­ing of hav­ing a fa­ther to men­tor them. They are left with a deficit — fa­ther-hunger. Be­ing a good fa­ther is so much more than be­ing a baby-daddy. Any stud can get a girl pregnant but only a real man can cher­ish a woman for life. Like­wise, it takes years of in­vest­ment for a fa­ther to train his son to be a man. Too many boys never achieve man­hood be­cause they never had a man for a fa­ther.

Sim­i­lar to mak­ing a covenant and cre­at­ing mar­riage, and par­al­lel to the com­mit­ted love that cre­ates a safe place for chil­dren to be trained, is the love of God ex­pe­ri­enced in a com­mu­nity of be­liev­ers. The new birth is meant to be in a re­la­tional con­text. God’s kind of love is covenan­tal. God’s kind of love is com­mit­ted to the wel­fare of the ob­ject of his love, that is, us.

A “Par­ent­ing Pur­pose” is built into us by our Cre­ator. To the ex­tent that hu­man be­ings fall from grace, turn away from God, and pur­sue sin­ful life­styles, to that de­gree they aban­don their chil­dren and fail as fa­thers and mothers. The mark of shame on men who re­nege on their duty as fa­thers is es­pe­cially dis­grace­ful. They im­pov­er­ish the mother and leave their kids with a deficit. Such men are rene­gades, rebels against God. They need to re­pent and be dis­ci­pled.

You can track the ris­ing poverty level and in­creas­ing in­come-in­equal­ity in Amer­ica by statis­tics. What the statis­tics don’t re­veal, how­ever, is how the de­cline of two-par­ent fam­i­lies con­trib­utes to gen­er­a­tional poverty in the cul­ture. The rich get richer and the poor strug­gle, and the ab­sence of fa­thers is di­rectly connected to this dilemma. Only the church, ex­press­ing the king­dom of God in flesh and blood hu­man sit­u­a­tions, can rem­edy this pro­gres­sive na­tional de­cay.

RON WOOD IS A WRITER AND MIN­IS­TER. CONTACT HIM AT WOOD.STONE.RON@GMAIL.COM OR VISIT WWW. TOUCHED­BY­GRACE.ORG. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

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