Why We Must Honor Fathers

June 13, 2014

Why are mom’s heralded as role models on Mother’s Day while dads are admonished to get their act together? During that inevitable Father’s Day sermon a few wives clutch their husband’s arm and whisper “He’s not talking about you, sweetheart…”, while other wives simmer or elbow him in the ribs, hoping the message has gotten through.

But God commands that we honor both parents, so let’s use Paul Harvey’s 1964 speech “If I Were the Devil” as a model to lay out what fathers mean to God, what they face, and what we need to do to honor men in our churches.

Fatherhood defines you —Did you know “father” occurs over 1,100 times in the Bible? That’s twice as often as “love.” In Scripture fatherhood is an essential construct. Take Abram, for example. For most of his life his name, which meant “Exalted Father”, was a source of embarrassment for him. Yet despite being childless, God promised to make him “Father of Many.” Three thousand years later, millions still identify themselves with father Abraham.

Jesus also used fatherhood to declare spiritual reality. He said you are set free when God adopts you (John 8:31-50). What are we set free from? Scripture says we come into this world by the intentions of our earthly fathers — ultimately Adam — but are then adopted by our Heavenly Father when we’re saved through Christ.  Many struggle with God because of bad fathers, but that doesn’t negate the meaning of fatherhood.

To paraphrase Harvey, if I were the devil, I would try to make fatherhood meaningless.

Honoring fathers honors God — As Paul says, “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2). Dads are a picture of God’s loving authority, and that lesson starts at home. But the sinful lesson of dishonoring fathers too often also starts in the home. If I were the devil, I would remove the honor of children for their fathers. By the way, moms: Paul also commanded, “…Wives, honor your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Emerson Eggerichs wrote that unconditional respect is as powerful to men as unconditional love is to women. Can you imagine hearing “I would love you if only…” Yet how many men have heard “You gotta earn my respect!” If I were the devil, I would whisper to women that respect for a husband is old-fashioned, just loud enough for kids to hear.

Honoring fathers revolutionizes society — Fatherhood is crucial to society. According to Dr. Warren Farrell, dads influence compassion, impulse control, memory, and adaptability to change in kids. Farrell found that infants with dads at home were considerably ahead in personal and social development. On the other hand, he also found that poverty, infant mortality, delinquency, truancy, and teen promiscuity are rampant in father-absent homes.  Nearly every shooting over the last year involved a young man whose parents divorced or were unmarried.

So where have all the good dads gone? Men look at fatherhood today and see the rules stacked against them. Fatherhood is a huge risk when moms initiate 70 percent of all divorces and win 85 to 90 percent of custody awards. Dr. Helen Smith writes that 80 percent of suicides every year are men, and that many kill themselves over child custody. Meanwhile, media portrays fathers as chronic idiots or serial abusers. God built men to seek help for others but their help is not wanted and the risk is too great.

The devil has already done a remarkable job convincing all of us that fathers are the problem, not the solution.

Honor fathers to build up the church —Robbie Low, citing years of family research, concludes that dad’s religious practice often determines whether his kids will attend church. When both parents attend regularly, 75 percent of their kids will attend church routinely whether mom goes or not. But if dad is absent and mother is a regular attender, only 2 percent will become regular attenders themselves. Fatherless churches can expect two-thirds of their Sunday school kids to be lost completely to the Kingdom. Still, the Church has accepted the devil’s lie that fatherlessness is normal. Men are abandoning churches in droves and taking kids with them.

The devil appears to be winning, but we know God has given us victory. What can we do to change the view of fatherhood?

Embraces God’s priorities for fatherhood. John Piper was astonished at what Old Testament prophet Malachi prophesied about Elijah announcing the arrival of Jesus Christ. “I would expect a look back at the faithful work of God in the past and a look forward to the final victory,” he wrote. “Instead, Malachi says that God’s priority is to ‘Turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.'” Luke confirms this same message in the New Testament.

Honor fathers unconditionally. God help us if we teach little ones to dishonor their fathers.  Pray for grace and cooperation for divorced couples raising kids under separate roofs so that Christian dads can remain influential in their children’s’ lives. And pray for Godly male influence in the lives of kids raised by single moms.

Stop tolerating father-dishonoring messages. Treating moms well does not require dissing dads. We are ultimately accountable to God our Father to encourage both moms and dads with godly love, honor, and respect.

Inspire and support fathers. Men respond to heartfelt and specific recognition. Take a look at all ministry areas in your church — music, Christian education, and small groups — and create value for both men and women.

Ask what men are getting from your church. Do we just want their wallets or do we engage their potential? Do single parent programs include single dads?  What’s your father outreach strategy? It’s not a coincidence that states with the highest number of fatherless families also have the nation’s greatest financial and spiritual poverty. It’s also not a coincidence that the Brownsville Revival began Father’s Day, 1995.

Start today to start honoring fathers — both Heavenly and human — and put the devil on the run.

Don Bosch

 Don Bosch has received Martindale-Hubbell's highest rating (AV). He previously served for six years on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the preeminent organization for attorneys practicing in his field. He has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, teaching … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24