Fathers have always been deemed as important for children but what is the importance of good Christian fathers for their children? What critical differences can they make?
Is a Generation Cursed Without a Father?
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah although he was not Elijah. Jesus spoke about John saying that “this is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.“ (Matt 3:3) “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt 11:14). Jesus even seemed to tie in the hearts of the children to that of their fathers saying that “he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared“ (Luke 1:17). Malachi predicted this in writing, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with utter destruction.”(Mal 4:5-6). Now why does it say that the land will be struck with “utter destruction” if the “hearts of the fathers” are not turned to their children? Is there a connection between curses and the negligence of fathers?
When Fathers are Absent
Is there evidence that when a father is missing from a family that the children have greater difficulty at home? Absolutely! Here is why I can say that. From a study done by the Department of Health and Human Services in 1996, the results of which are astounding, we read what happens when the father is absent from the home. If you’re wanting to be a good father, consider how critical it is for you to be present in the home or if the father lives in the home, to be available. These facts are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services from 1996 and so these statistics may be even worse today. These were the last statistics available.
- Only 1 in 4 children live now with their paternal fathers.
- In 1996, 42% of female-headed households with children were poor, compared with 8% of families with children headed by married parents.
- Girls without fathers in their lives are 2 & 1/2 times more likely to get pregnant and 53% more likely to commit suicide.
- Boys without fathers in their lives are 63% more likely to run away from home and 37% more likely to use drugs.
- Boys and girls without father involvement are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail and nearly four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
- The average American father spends only 7 ½ uninterrupted minutes per week with his children but 32 hours a week watching TV.
When a father is missing in the home or missing from a home, the home is at risk for life-changing, life-altering, life-shattering experiences that impact a child throughout their entire lifetime. Even more tragic is that these cycles repeat themselves when these children grow into adulthood and have children of their own. Maybe the reason the say history repeats itself is because we are not learning from it.
Christian Fathers Beget Christian Children
There is overwhelming evidence that when a Christian father attends worship service on a regular basis, the rest of the family follows. A 2000 study found that when both fathers and mothers attended church regularly, about 41% of the children would go to church when they reach an adult stage. Amazingly, when the father attends church on an irregular basis, 60% of the children reaching adulthood will be irregular attendees or drop out all together. When the father doesn’t ever attend church, only 2% of children that grow into adulthood will attend church with nearly none of them ever becoming Christian. When this same equation is with the mother, the numbers are not nearly as drastic. The conclusion is that fathers have the greatest influence on their children’s lives and have the most impact on their becoming a Christian and attending church regularly as adults. What this shows is that when the father takes the church and Christianity seriously, almost all of his children will too. When he doesn’t care about Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the church, then the overwhelming majority of his children won’t either. This shows you the critical importance of a godly father. This doesn’t only show you the importance of role modeling but of the father being the spiritual head of the family. His position is likened to that of the high priest in the Old Testament. As the priest lives and performs his duties and takes them seriously – without hypocrisy or duplicity – so too does the family. You simply can not fool children. A superb example of that is when Aaron’s son’s brought a “strange fire” before the Lord in the temple and took the performance of their priestly duties too casually (Lev 10). Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were struck dead and the worship of the entire nation was negatively impacted.
The importance of children coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ can be broken down like this:
- 7% of saved children will help lead both of their parents to faith in Jesus Christ.
- 23% of saved wives and mothers will help lead their husbands and children to faith in Jesus Christ.
- 94% of saved husbands and fathers will help lead their entire family to faith in Jesus Christ.
Father’s can break the cycle of negligence in their families and keep family history from repeating itself. So many fathers are “missing in action” that we are causing our children to be placed under a curse. Maybe that’s why Malachi wrote, “he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Mal 4:6). Let me add some emphasis and paraphrase this verse in case we miss God’s point; unless the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children the hearts of the children can not be turned to their fathers. And, unless the hearts of the fathers do turn to their children, God says that he will “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” How can this be? Is this possible? Does He mean…strike all of the land? Yes! God is giving us fathers a serious warning here just like he tried to warn Aaron about his sons offering strange fire. I am not belittling the mothers impact of course but God has placed fathers in the position of having the greatest influence in their children’s spiritual lives and into adulthood. He will hold us responsible. We can actually bring a curse down on our family (so to speak) by our negligence and our absence. And as any sociologist will tell you, as the family goes, so goes society…and the nation. Now maybe God’s warning that He will “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” makes more sense, for as the family goes…so goes the nation.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible.
Resources: The Holy Bible (NIV Version),
1. The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States. Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000. Study No. 31