Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where's Your Daddy Gone?

I was feeling fatherless, for the first time (thank God) in my life, but I didn’t like it.   

In spite of all cultural arguments to the contrary, I don’t believe families without fathers can manage just fine, or that single women should have a child because they want a child.  That’s not enough for me; never was.  Because that child would grow up without a father, and that is a great loss.  We have experimented with this scenario in the past few decades and found it wanting, to say the least.  I have watched many of my single women friends go into single motherhood; anyone not notice the hardships of that situation?!  Anyone want to argue the point that the present fatherless generation is a good thing?

Disclaimers: this is not to deny or gloss over the fact that some fathers are horrendous examples of fathers; this is not to deny that some women who have not married live with tremendous pain and stigma at being childless.  I'm also not speaking of single women who adopt orphans for the right reasons, not to fill emotional pain. 

But for those who attempt to adopt to avoid men--quite possibly because their father was one of those horrendous examples--or for those who try to fill the pain of singleness with a child, I have two concerns: they may remain in their relational pain, which a child cannot cure, and the child grows up without a father. 

If you want to see a beautiful visual example of what I’m grappling with, check out visual artist Paul Hobbs, of the UK, and his piece, “Where’s Your Daddy Gone?”  As Paul writes, “In each picture the father is absent in different ways - a shadow, under censorship, or cut out completely. Collaged into the panels are articles discussing fatherhood today, the second panel referring to women who want children without even sleeping with a man. The images reflect the present damaged state of fatherhood. An implicit reference to the Madonna and Child decries the unholy nature of this broken relationship between father and child.”
Paul was responding to a newspaper article on in vitro fertilization. I grieve with him in the present cultural absence of father, in the mocking and minimizing of this key role in a family.  The spiritual implications of father transcend human experience.  There is more here than meets the eye. 

Yes, I miss my dad, but what is so important about fathers that I feel vulnerable without him, and the world is increasingly trying to do without fathers?  

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