Expendable Parts

“There are different kinds of daddies,” one children’s book explains. “Sometimes a daddy goes away like yours did. He may not see his children at all. Some kids know both their moms and their dads, and some kids don’t.”
There are different kinds of daddies, this book seems to say; those who live with their wives and bring up their children, and those who don’t. It’s a matter of style.
Of course, I understand what the book is trying to do. It is trying to explain the inexplicable. Exactly how do you explain the disappearance of a father to a heartbroken child?
Take a look at little Elian Gonzonlez a few years ago, and if you can, remove the political element. Had the situation been reversed, had it been Elian’s father who perished in the waters off the Florida coast, had it been Elian’s mother who flew to the United States asking for her son, would we have any hesitation in securing a mother and child reunion?
So when did dads become expendable? Was it somewhere in the middle of a derisive episode of “The Simpsons,” where Homer, our every-dad was lampooned as clueless and as indulgent as one of those strawberry-whipped cream doughnuts he eats? I must say that I resent television’s depiction of dads these days. My dad resembles Al Bundy about as closely as a Pentium resembles a duckbilled platypus!
In the Bible, fathers carry great responsibility for bringing up their children. They are a key to the spiritual and moral character of their children. I am not demeaning the courage of single moms doing the job of two; I am questioning the resolve of that child’s father.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Dads, our children need us. They need our strength. They need our character. They need our protection. They need us in church. Don’t leave the pages of Sesame Street books to explain your absence. Ensure that an explanation is unnecessary! Were I Elian’s dad, I would have crossed an ocean much greater than the Straits of Florida to reach him!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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