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Fatherlessness: A Major Root Cause of Societal Breakdown

Today we celebrate Fathers Day! The mention of the word father can stir up 2 different emotions in people.

  • some feel a sense of celebration and expressions of honor and love for good experiences and memories related to their father.

  • some experience pain and turmoil as they remember painful experiences related to their father.

As the nation argues and battles about how to address societal ills which plague America, many do not want to face the truth of what the real issues are. To speak frankly, fatherlessness is the leading cause of the breakdown in society. Secular humanistic thinking is an enemy of a Biblical concept of fatherhood and it goes so far as to villainize men and fathers, seeing them as part of the problem of a patriarchal society. If society is going to be fixed, fathers must embrace their God given call as fathers and leaders.

God has called fathers to be the head of a family and the strength of a family is largely in part due to the strength of the father. This does not negate the role of a mother, as she plays a much needed role in the family. The character of God (Father) is strength for people. When a fathers presence is removed or broken down, it will lead to woundedness and devastation in families. Families are the cornerstone of a society and when families are broken, society will be broken. I say this frequently, as goes the men in a people group, so goes that people group.

A father is a major influence in the lives of his children. He can either influence a child to success or failure in life. He can bring blessings to his children which empower them to succeed or bring curses upon them which is empowerment to fail. Ephesians 6:4 talks about how fathers are to care for their children “fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” How many children have been provoked to anger by not being loved by their own father? How many have not been raised in Godly discipline or instruction?


Here are some staggering statistics regarding fathers.

Right now in America almost 20 million children live in a home with no father. (1 in 4 children overall)

  • 60% of Black children have no father in the home

  • 40% of Native children have no fathers in the home

  • 30% of Hispanic children have no father in the home

  • 20% of White children have no father in the home

Statistically, the greater the father absence is, the more devastation there will be in that racial group.

Divorce and children born out of wedlock are two main reasons for father absence. Currently 40% of all children are born out of wedlock in America. Many men have fathered children, some with several women, and have abandoned their role as a father. Sadly, a large number of men are bound in addictions, emotional pain, and are in and out of jail due to their dysfunctional lifestyle. All too often, men themselves have not had an example of how to be a father which leads to ignorance, poor childrearing, and fear of being a father. If a man grew up without a father or knowing who their father was, it is easy to see the generational cycles of fatherlessness. Women who do not have a father often end up being sexually promiscuous, struggle with addiction, and frequently find themselves in unhealthy relationships. They too, are trying to numb the pain of not having a father in their life.

Fatherlessness produces a lack of identity in people. Fatherlessness brings greater risk of poverty, increased behavioral and emotional problems, dropping out of school, criminal activity, and addiction. A fatherless child is 20x more likely to be incarcerated. There is an interesting story regarding Fathers Day in a federal prison. A prison chaplain approached a major greeting card company and asked for a donation of 500 Mothers Days cards, one for each inmate. Spotting a good PR story when they see it, the company agreed. Each inmate filled out a card for his mom and the promotion was a hit with the inmates. For Father's Day, the chaplain decided to do the same promotion for the inmates but with much different results. Not one inmate wanted to send a card to their father. There is much to gain from this, many men who are incarcerated have had a fractured relationship or no relationship with their father. This is a major contributing factor to the path they have taken in life; crime, addiction, violence, and leads to being separated from their own children who will grow up without a father.

I have been a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counsellor (LADC) since 2006. The first time I saw the significance of how father issues affect people was in 2007 when in group. I did a short teaching on father wounds and asked each client, "tell me about your relationship with your father." Several clients fought back tears and some said, "I can't talk about this issue." It was like an emotional atomic bomb went off in the group. In that moment, I had a revelation; a main issue for people in addiction is a fractured relationship or no relationship with their father. Father wounds lead to immense emotional pain that they cover up with drugs and alcohol. As a counselor, father issues are one of the main areas of healing I have clients uncover and work through. This involves them facing their feelings towards him and forgiving him for his failures as a father and how he hurt them.

I have had my own experience with father issues that I want to share. My father passed away in 2011, but before he passed much of our relationship was filled with pain. My father was a good man and I loved him dearly. My father was a construction worker and traveled much of my childhood. He was away from home working frequently, so I did not spend a lot of time with him as a child. As I grew up, I became very afraid of him when he was angry and critical of me. I felt like a disappointment to him as a son.

In my late 20's, I had a life changing experience. A woman I was seeing for counseling had a dream about me from God. In the dream there was a tall, fair, thin, young man who had a chain around his neck that was attached to an older man who was laying on the ground and this young man dragged the old man by the chain. She then pointed at me and said, "this dream is for you Rafe, you are the young man and the chain represents the absolute bondage you are in to seeking your father's approval and you are dragging this issue throughout your life as you get older." I started weeping like a baby which was very unusual because my heart was hard and I didn't cry much, if at all back then. It took a supernatural act to get to the layers of pain in my heart regarding my father. Deep down, I had longed for my fathers love and approval my whole life. She then asked me "do you resent your father?" and I said "no, I don't". I sincerely didn't believe I needed to forgive him. She restated the question and asked, "Do you resent that he wasn't the father you needed?" I pondered her question and said, "yes, I needed more from him". I felt unknow to him, like I didn't know him and he didn't know me. I felt he didn't encourage, validate me, or feel proud of me as a son. I felt a lack of affection from him. I felt a lot of pain from being put down verbally by him, like I didn't measure up or was a failure. I eventually forgave my father for all his failures and had a revelation from the Holy Spirit that he never meant to hurt me. He was the best father he knew how to be but he had with his own unresolved father issues that he was still carrying. This was a turning point in my emotional healing which helped me overcome my addiction to alcohol.

Jesus came to reveal the Father. He said to his disciples in John 14:9 "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Jesus came to reveal God as a loving, gracious, generous father. What you believe about God's character determines how you experience God. We have a God who is a good Father. For those that have never had a father, God wants to be your Father. He is the redeemer of your earthly fathers failures. Let Him love you as a Father and heal you of any father wounds you may still be carrying.

To celebrate Fathers Day, we want to honor our fathers. For some of you this will mean you need to forgive them for their failures as a father. Some have had fathers who have caused them great pain and forgiveness is the beginning of healing. For those that have had good fathers, know that you are blessed and be thankful for all they have done for you. For those of you whose fathers have passed away, it is a time to reflect on the good times and memories you had with them while they were alive.

For some of you fathers, forgiving yourself for your own failures as a father and reaching out to reconcile with your children if possible is needed. Whether we have had a good, bad, or something in the middle experience regarding our fathers, today is a day to celebrate them as being a father. Fathering is a hard job and know that most of them did the best they knew how to do with what they had. Lets pray for our nation to be healed and to have a revival of fatherhood spoken of in Malachi 4:6 where "the hearts of the fathers are turned back to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers"

Pastor Rafe Ronning

We invite you to join us on Friday Nights at 6:30pm

Truth & Freedom Church

3300 University Ave SE

Mpls, MN 55414

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1 Comment

lisa ann
lisa ann
Jun 16

Thank you. So many emotions today. Praying for all who need forgiveness and restoration from relationship/abandonment wounds. In Jesus' Name Amen. God bless

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