The Failure of Christian Fathers

Posted on May 10, 2022


By David Ettinger

Sad Report
A recent Barna study reveals that “Christians are far more likely to say their mothers had a bigger influence on their faith than did their fathers.”[1]

According to the sad report, 68 percent of U.S. Christians say it was their mother’s influence which most impacted them, followed by the father 46 percent, and then a grandparent.

Barna spokeswoman Roxanne Stone noted that the Church in the U.S. does an excellent job at encouraging and training mothers to be active in their children’s spiritual growth, but “It seems that we’re falling behind on how we are supporting and empowering fathers to really become a part of the spiritual guidance …”

I appreciate Ms. Stone’s tact, but am not nearly as understanding as she is. The failure of Christian fathers to have a spiritual impact on their children is not the Church’s fault, it is theirs, and theirs alone.

Seen it Before
Regarding the failure of Christian fathers, I have seen it before as a Bible teacher dating back to the early 1990s. When I was teaching the “end-times” books of Daniel and Revelation, I was drawing 50 to 70 people per class, and this in a church of about 250. After the main portion of the teaching, I allowed for a discussion time, and was amazed by how much the women dominated – in a good way!

It was the women who asked the most intelligent questions, who made the most insightful remarks, and who were the most diligent in preparing for class. Of course there were men who did the same, but they were far outnumbered.

For the most part, it was the men who sat there as lumps of clay, not interested in what was being taught, likely pondering which restaurant they wanted to eat at following church. I had no doubt about three-quarters of the men in my classes wouldn’t even be there if not for their wives dragging them in, the hubbies kicking and screaming, at least inwardly if not demonstratively.

Years later, while working at a megachurch, I would volunteer at the check-in desk when we hosted Christian-parenting or marriage seminars. I was amazed by the number of mothers – some toting 2 to 4 children – who would try to juggle the sign-in process with their antsy kids while the husband just watched, fuming over having been forced to attend the cursed event.

Don’t Blame the Church
None of this is the fault of the Church. Christian fathers should require no prompting in doing what the Bible commands them to do.

As a single father (my wife and I divorced, just before my salvation, when my son was 2), I strove to raise my son in the knowledge of the Lord. Two Bible passages influenced me immensely. The first is Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”      

The second is Deuteronomy 6:5-7:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

These are the marching orders God has given fathers. Where is the midunderstanding? The Church is not to blame for the legion of “Christian” fathers who do nothing to foster their children’s spiritual growth. Shame on them all!

And praise God for the myriad of Christian mothers who have, and are, picking up the slack.