It takes a village to raise a child couldn’t be more true, or more biblical, except that we often leave out one vital group from the child-rearing village.
This group isn’t left out on purpose. They are usually included when you answer who is responsible for rearing and raising a child. They are seen as foundational in taking a baby through life into adulthood.
But too often this group is relieved of power and responsibility. They are left on the sidelines or pushed out completely. This isn’t the sole fault of any one particular. The leftover group is also to blame.
They leave as soon as they can. They delegate the raising and rear of kids to someone else. They are not “cut out” for that kind of thing, or “it isn’t natural” so someone else must take care of the children.
But there is not a basis for this in scripture. Rather the opposite is true.
It takes a village to raise a child, but more important, children need to be raised by their fathers.
This isn’t new. This isn’t news to anyone. The reality that children with fathers actively being a part of their lives performing better in school is well documented. That doesn’t need to be rehashed.
But what does need to talk about, what does need to be understood that fathers being a major part of their childrens’ lives isn’t just about good school marks? This isn’t just about less criminal offenses because dad is at home. This isn’t just about happier, healthier kids because their father is at the dinner table.
All these things are important. But we should be present and be rearing and raising our kids for more pressing reasons than these.
Scripture calls us to be present as fathers. The Written Word of God tells us, with no “ifs, and, or buts”, that men need to be taking the role of parent as serious as they do anything else. If not more seriously.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”- Ephesians 6:4
The Apostle Paul doesn’t mincemeat when it comes to the role of fathers in his letter to the Ephesians. It is a father’s role (also a mother’s, but we are focusing on fathers) to be training and raising up a child in the ways of God. The spiritual well being of a little boy or girl is completely related, though not dependent, on the training and instruction that a father gives to his kids.
Paul emphasizes this idea that dads need to be serious about raising and rearing their kids when he made this comment in another letter.
“I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” – Galatians 1:14
He was zealous for the Lord, passionate about God and doing His work because Paul was raised by his father. Taught by his father, who was taught by his father, who was taught by his father. Paul was the product of generations of fathers taking seriously the role of dad and taught what it meant to serve God.
Without that rearing and raising, we may not have the Bible as we know it today. Because one father stepped up, did as the Bible called him to do, we have powerful portions of the New Testament that would be otherwise lost.
It isn’t just the Apostle Paul that believes this. The mystery author of Hebrews likewise encourages fathers to be involved. Especially because it affects our children’s faith.
“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!” – Hebrews 12:9
Fathers are called to disciple, to correct, to admonish, to instruct their children. Just as human fathers do this, so our Father in Heaven does. And if our Father in Heaven does something, shouldn’t we, with great effort and heart, do as He does?
Yes, we should.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:11-13
Not only are we as fathers supposed to train and instruct, raise and rear our children, we are a prime example of what God is like.
Think about that. We as human fathers are a dim reflection of what God is like.
Or we are supposed to be. Like Jesus and the author of Hebrews say, we are to be an example of the love and grace and blessing of God, and the instruction, discipline, and training from God.
These are important roles. These things cannot go undone. The lack of a father in a child’s life, missing these things, could and will have a deep spiritual impact. And not in a good way.
It does take a village to raise a child. But that doesn’t excuse fathers from the rearing and raising of their own kids.
Fathers, we have a very serious role to play in our kids’ lives. Not just because study upon study shows how important we are to their growth. But because God has called us to fulfill a vital role in the lives of our children.
It is the time that we took up our place in the village and in our children’s lives.
This article originally appeared in Christian Thought Sandbox.