Each year, as the middle of June approaches we are reminded that there is a day of the year set apart as “Father’s Day.” It is good that we have a day designated to reflect on our father and reflect upon him as an individual, the memories we have of our interaction with him, and the lessons he taught us. But the purpose of this epistle is not to discuss my father in these aspects but rather to discuss fathers in general; what makes a father a father, what is the role, the stewardship, of a father.
It has been said that it is easy to be a father but it is hard to be a dad. It is unfortunate that some males believe that when they help create a child that they have little or no responsibility to the child when, in fact, that is when their responsibility really begins. Providing for the temporal needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, is of course important; however, the more important role comes in providing the nourishment that helps define his/her character. Each of us is an individual with individual talents, skills, interests etc. But that which defines a person, sets them apart in society, is the moral fiber that identifies them. Things like honesty, integrity, dependability, sense of commitment, loyalty, kind, courteous, and humility are among the attributes which a father has the responsibility to help a child develop.
It is common place today to witness that some men act as if a man’s highest goal should be his own pleasure. This attitude is most prevalently displayed in the permissive social mores that “let men off the hook” as it were, so that many think it is acceptable to father children out of wedlock and to cohabit rather than marry. Commitment is not found in their vocabulary. It is even ridiculed and made light of. For many of these and others, a life of work and achievement is optional. It is as if it does not matter that their “transmission” is stuck in neutral – progression is of no matter.
The attitudes of “men” are attained largely from role models, peer groups and parental guidance for a child in his impressionable years, emphasizing the importance of both a father and mother.
Senator S. I. Hayakawa, a noted educator, stated:
“Never has it been so difficult for boys to grow up into men. Becoming a man is not a matter of chronology, it is a matter of proof. Throughout the history of mankind, boys have had to prove themselves men. …
“Boys need challenges. If the affluent society does not provide boys with challenges, they are compelled by inner necessity to improvise their own.
“That’s what the generation gap is about. Fathers away from home, for whatever reason, and therefore, unavailable to their sons as models of male adulthood. The boys are forced to improvise their own subculture, unguided by adult knowledge or experience. That’s the problem for fathers. … How can we bring our sons into our lives?
“It takes men to develop men. Mothers cannot do it by themselves. Neither can high schools; nor colleges.” (Saturdy Evening Post, Spring 1972.)
“It is a wonderful aspiration for a boy to become a man – strong and capable; someone who can build and create things, run things; someone who makes a difference in the world. It is a wonderful aspiration for those of us who are older to make the vision of true manhood a reality in our lives and be models for those who look to us for an example” It is a father’s duty – God given mandate – to help the rising generation to “arise from the dust of self-indulgence and be men” (Christofferson, Nov. 2006 Ensign.)
Children are entitled to belong to a family where matrimony is between a man and a woman. In that family, “fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for the families.” In keeping with that mandate, the mother and father should be committed to honor their marital vows with complete fidelity.
Today one of the most destructive influences to marriage vows is the indulgence of pornography. Pornography and perversion have become so commonplace in society that the sources of this smut material is everywhere. Although both sexes use and become addicted to it, men fall prey to it more often. Aside from the debilitating moral aspects of pornography, more often than not, those involved do not associate it with their vows of fidelity. Fidelity has to do with total honesty in every aspect of your life with your spouse – it is not just sexual faithfulness. It is integrity; it contains our respect, our thought and actions. It is devoid of all forms of abuse, including physical, sexual and verbal.
True manhood is defined in our relationship with women and integrity is fundamental to being men. Integrity means being truthful, but it also means accepting responsibility and honoring commitments and covenants.
In defining what manner of men ought men be, the Lord defined it best when He said, “v
Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” He was obedient, rejected temptation and went about doing good.
On this Father’s day, let us commit to be men, even as He is.