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  • Writer's pictureJonny Nelson

A Culture Without Fathers

For many today is a reminder of brokenness. My father left my mom before I was born. I met my dad when I was 18 and was lucky to spend five years getting to know him before he died. My wife, Brittany just met her father last year. Just yesterday she and I watched a friend get married and her father walked her down the isle. My wife cried tears of joy because she remembers having to walk down the isle alone. The US Department of Census found 43% of US children live without their father. Growing up without a father leaves a gaping hole in a persons development psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and often even physically. Many problems in society involve people who lived in fatherless homes:

-90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]-71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services]-63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]-85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]-71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]-Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S.]

Many of the skaters and snowboarders that I know come from fatherless homes. Action sports culture is largely a fatherless one. Because of that we are a community that rejects authority. We cling to independence and being anti-whatever because we are broken people, hurt, forced to be ‘the man of the house’ at a young age without a proper example of what that even means.

Yes there are many children who turn out alright. Most say I have, yet now that I have grown up without my father I have to fight against a fragmented view of what it means to be a father for my kids someday. Part of me is okay with growing up without a father because I know it has made me who I am. Yet part of me hurts inside because I know I am missing something. I forgave my father and my wife has forgiven her father as well. We are thankful for our bio-dads and we are also thankful for the men who stepped up in our lives to help raise us: grandfathers, step-dads, uncles, pastors and mentors.

Most of all I am thankful for God. Growing up my mother always told me, “God is your Father.” Psalm 68:5 says it clearly, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 also clearly states, “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” I believe that somewhere in my development that concept became very real and shaped my relationship with God in a special way. I learned that God loves me, that he will always provide for me, protect me, discipline me and forgive me. So to all the fatherless; hold on to that. Know that God is a father to the fatherless. Take pride in it and cling to your relationship with God. Consider it precious that God is your dad. He will never leave you or forsake you and God will always love you.

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