I know it is Father's Day in America, so I sit contemplating my father and The Father of my father's faith. My husband spends the day emulating his father while I spend the day missing mine. I'd like to have had the chance to discuss faith and fathers with him.
We were taught that God is our Father and that we were to fear Our Father and our fathers. Who can blame our dads for their forms of discipline when they were led to believe that they were to strike fear in the hearts of their wives and children in order to more closely come to their God and lead their children to salvation. Those who quaked at the thought of Dad's wrath were considered saved, and were at least spared the rod. Those who refused to bow down to the behaviors of the master were severely punished, and often banished from our own "Garden of Eden."
Leading with love and self-discipline is not what the generations after Adam and Eve understood. They firmly believed that fear was sufficient to keep people in their folds. No matter how much example there has been to the contrary, we still seem to believe that varying degrees of punishment or permissiveness are the same as parenting.
How is it that, with all our advanced ability to think and make informed decisions, we seem to be less observant of our ways of procreation and parenting than the lowest animals. Like other animals, before we learn words, we observe and mimic behaviors. So many babies are exposed to their parents' wrath before they can even walk. Is it any wonder that we humans continue to act on fear, as animals that have only two modes of survival: fight and flight?
Maybe it's time that we revisit maternal love that conceives, gestates, and bonds in order to mold an image of what is experienced. In order to be faithful as a father, one must truly meld with the mother before producing progeny. And then they must lead with love and right living. Fear doesn't foster friendship; nor does it nourish family faith. Faithfulness fosters faith.