A single mother was complaining about the school her boys attended; there were too many First Nations children (“Indians” she called them). I observed the conduct of her boys and thought to myself that they suffered from the same affliction as many First Nations children in our area: they did not have a father.
We don’t talk about it much, it’s not politically correct to say it, but most of the children and youth who get into trouble never really had a father to love and guide them. Boys need a father; one who will give them unconditional love at all times, yet correct them when they need it. They need to learn the rules of this game we call life; to learn that the only way to win is to play by the rules and give others the respect that we wish for ourselves. Girls need the love and approval of a father. A good relationship with an affectionate and respectful father is perhaps the best street proofing a girl can get. If she is left to seek this affection elsewhere, it probably won’t be combined with respect.
The Indian residential schools are one of the most shameful chapters of Canadian history. The government took children away from their parents and made a concerted effort to teach them to be ashamed of their own language and culture and everything that their parents stood for. This was an almost century-long attempt to destroy the First Nations family structure. Those responsible were seemingly ignorant that this is what they were doing, but the results are obvious today. First Nations people are trying to recover from the devastation caused by the residential schools, but now there are so many “educated” and “progressive” voices in our society who downplay the importance of the traditional Dad & Mom home structure. One Canadian writer has labelled it “The War Against the Family.”*
Jesus taught us to call God our Father. This may present some difficulties for those who have no experience of a warm and loving father. Yet it speaks to a desire in every heart, often misunderstood, to have a Father they can approach will all their sorrows and hurts, with all their longings and desires for a happy and fulfilling life. When we dare to believe that God is such a Father and tell Him all our sorrows, confessing that most of them were our own doing, He will forgive us and give us a peace and assurance that are beyond what we hoped or expected.
There are more than a billion people in this world who claim to worship a God who sounds in many ways like the God of the Christians, but who is not a Father. Is this not the root cause of the anger and antisocial conduct that is being expressed by so many of the people from this religion?
Bilquis Sheikh** was a woman raised in Islam. She believed it was the only true way, yet she was deeply unsatisfied, lonely, unfulfilled. She obtained a Bible and began to read it. She would read from the Qur’an and then from the Bible. Both made claims to be the truth, the only truth. It was all so confusing. One day she prayed that God would show her which book was really His book. The answer came as a voice speaking clearly in her mind: “In which book do you meet me as your Father?” She knew instantly what the answer was, and that answer forever transformed her life.
That same God wants to be a Father to all the fatherless people of this world. Those of us who are Christian fathers, or grandfathers, have a responsibility to mirror the Fatherhood of God in our relationships to those who follow us.
* The War Against the Family, copyright 1992 by William D Gairdner. Published by Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto.
** I Dared to Call Him Father, copyright 1978 by Bilquis Sheikh. Published by Fleming H Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey