No Father, No Hope?
In his book To Own A Dragon, donald miller writes:
More than 70 percent of students who drop out of school come from fatherless homes. Reading the statistic from the National Principals Report a few weeks ago came as no surprise. With no father to ground the home, the mother works and is exhausted, and is in no way free to nurture and support. I don’t believe the sinful nature can be summed up easily, but I know part of it means a person left alone doesn’t grow or get strong, not emotionally anyway, and certainly not academically.
I don’t believe “sinful nature can be summed up easily” either. Fatherlessness is a tragedy. So is motherlessness. I believe that God in the gospel deals with these issues. However, all too often people tend to reduce adolescent misbehavior and adulthood failures to the absence of a father. True, fathers exert a significant influence on the family, positively and negatively. But at the end of the day, aren’t we responsible for how we act with or without a parent?
It is no compliment to tell someone that their issues can be reduced to “nature” or “nuture”. Reducing our behaviors to nature or nurture is an insult to human dignity. Nature tells us that we have no choice; we are biologically pre-determined to succeed or fail. Nurture tells us that we have very little choice also; we are sociologically pre-determined to fail or succeed. However, the gospel tells us that we are valuable, responsible, sinful people that are actually worse that we dare believe, but in Christ more accepted and loved that we can ever imagine.
Biologically and Psychologically driven interpretations of humanity are destiny-focused, denying humanity a role in their own lives, for good or for ill. Christian theology offers an alternative. We are valued, as people in the image of God. We are sinful, as people in the image of Adam. And by choosing Christ, we may become new people in the image of Jesus. Instead of determinism, the gospel offers us hope. Hope for a better, everlasting future. God offers us much more than fixed fathers or successful careers or stable families. He offers us himself. God gives us the gift of himself, and in receiving that gift, we gain the whole world, a world that we would freely give up for re-union with the creating, redeeming, perfecting, loving, all-glorious, all-satisfying Father, Son and Spirit.