Care for the Fatherless

The Bible has much to say about God?s concern for the downtrodden. In particular, the fatherless are one of the groups singled out for special consideration. ?You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child,? God commands His people (Exodus 22:22). In contrast, as servants of God we are to ?give justice to the weak and the fatherless? (Psalm 82:3).
A Growing Crisis
Sometimes a child is left fatherless through the tragedy of death. Increasingly, however, children are fatherless because of a breakdown in parental responsibility. Since 1970 in the United States, for example, the rate of divorce has doubled and out-of-wedlock births have tripled. These figures reflect sinful and selfish choices on the part of one or both parents. As a result, fatherless children are the victims.
Much of the teaching of Scripture concerning the fatherless deals with social justice. Indeed, even in an affluent nation this is still the case. According to a 1996 study by the National Center for Children in Poverty, young children in the United States living with unmarried mothers are five times as likely to be poor and ten times as likely to be extremely poor than children with both fathers and mothers. The benevolence outreach of the church of Christ must be sensitive to these needs.
Giving Yourself
A greater need, however, is the spiritual need of children for a father?s influence in their lives. This need is especially acute for boys seeking a pattern to follow as they grow to become men. While no other man can truly be a father to a fatherless child, the men of the church must do what they can to fill this spiritual void.
The mature men of the church need to be more involved in the teaching of children and of teenagers. Far too often the involvement with children, especially with the very young, has been totally left to women. The church?s work with teenagers is frequently conducted exclusively by men and women scarcely out of high school themselves. While I applaud the great work done by these women and young men, something more is needed. The mature men of the church need to make a contribution as well.
Beyond the Bible classroom, the men of the church should seek ways to help single mothers provide for the spiritual development of their children. Volunteering at summer youth camp, hosting a youth activity in your home, or inviting a fatherless child to help you with a service project are just a few of the ways men of the church can reach out and help.
God has revealed Himself as a defender of the fatherless. If we want to be godly, we must follow His example and reach out with His love to these children in need.

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Greg Tidwell

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