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The Father Wound | Theology of the Family Theology of the Family

The Father Wound

God is neither fickle nor arbitrary. In his design of man, he created a polarity between the man and woman (male and female He created them-Gen 1:27). Both the man and the woman are unique and are not reducible to the other. Each needs the other, and without the other something fundamental is missing. This is particularly evident in the design of the family where there is an essential need for both the father and the mother. It is the mother who gives the sense of being to her child. The child can accept life because the mother has accepted the child into her own body, protected the child and loves the child into being for years after birth. This requires the mother to be unconditionally present to her little one. But it is the father who gives the child identity. At the critical moment, his voice and masculine presence separates the child from his mother’s sphere and helps the child discover who he is and orients him to the world. The mother cannot do the father’s job, nor can the father do the mother’s. Both are essential for the well-being of the child. But our modern culture would have us believe the myth that all you need is one parent. Why? Because gender cannot be allowed to be important in the modern context. Mothers and fathers have to be interchangeable. There can be no specific masculine or feminine role as then our politically correct house of cards would come tumbling down. The irony is that modern society knows more about the psychological makeup of the person than ever before and yet we turn a blind eye to the hard objective evidence before us in order to perpetuate politically correct myths. And we are killing ourselves in the process.

One of the greatest problems in the West is the fatherless family. When the advent of no-fault divorce the number of families without fathers has reached epidemic proportions. Initially it was thought that divorce resolved a conflicted situation and that after the first year of adjustment, everything would be much better for everyone. (See Judith Wallerstein’s book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.) However, as sociologists began to examine the effects of divorce on children, a very different reality emerged. The facts are chilling: in families without fathers, children are likely to be five times more likely to be poor, three times more likely to fail at school, three times more like to commit suicide, and up to 40 times more likely to experience abuse. (See The Faith Factor in Fathering, ed. D. Eberling, p. 136.)

This leaves us with two generations of children who have not been affirmed by their fathers. It produces a society where fathers as children were not affirmed themselves and they cannot affirm their own children.
This leaves an enormous wound within the child’s heart and a hunger for the proper touch and the powerful affirmation of the father. Only there can one find identity. This is the father-wound experienced by so many to-day. But God’s grace is always greater than any wound. One of the ancient Hebrew prophets, Malachi, knew of such a problem. It was revealed to him that before the coming of the Messiah, the Lord would send Elijah ‘to bring back the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers (Malachi 3:24). May the Lord raise up those in our midst those who can minister to this wound with the grace of Christ who shows the reality of the Father from whom all fatherhood comes.

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