Have you noticed the disparity in how churches handle Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Perhaps you hadn’t until someone pointed it out:

“On Mother’s Day, every pastor in every church encourages everyone to honor every mother, and give them gifts and praise them and tell them how valuable they are. But on Father’s Day, every pastor in every church lectures every dad in how he can be better, pointing out potential ways that he is failing and encourages each dad to take a good hard look at ways that there is room for improvement in their fathering and husbanding. It’s so unfair!”

Now, obviously, this is an overstatement. Not every pastor preaches this way. But make no mistake, to the degree that this is true, this difference of approach to these two parental days is unfair. But is it unwise? Is it wrong? Is it harmful?

First things first. It would be good to consider the probable causes behind this phenomenon. I think there is a clear primary reason. Walk with me through a series of connected thoughts –

1. In present day America, most pastors and church leaders are men. Someday that might not be true, but that’s how it is now.

2. To suggest a list of ways that mothers might be failing their children and husbands is (for right or for wrong) negative towards women.

3. Pastors are generally decent people. And those who aren’t want to appear to be decent.

4. Decent men, speaking in public, are hesitant to say negative things about women.

4b. Decent men, speaking in public, are also hesitant to say overly positive things about men in general, for fear of sounding (or actually being) self-serving.

5. Therefore, pastors (and church leaders) encourage and honor women and they challenge and point out the flaws of men.

Now I think you’ll agree that a pastoral hesitancy to be negative about women is a good thing. A man who enjoys saying negative things about women probably shouldn’t be a pastor.

But I’m aware that there are many who feel that the end result of this hesitancy is bad. They might say that it’s not good for pastoral words about men to be more challenging than honoring.

So let’s look to the Bible. Now obviously the biblical authors (most notably Paul and the prophets) have things to say about the roles of husbands and wives and men and women. But what does it have to say to and about mothers and fathers, specifically?

What the Bibles says about Fathers

There are quite a few statements about Dads in the Bible. Here are the passages I found:

And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground. (Joshua 4:21-22 ESV)

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children. (Psalm 78:5)

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
(Malachi 4:5-6 ESV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
(Colossians 3:21 ESV)

This is a fairly complete sampling of verses that talk about fathers in general. I hope you’ve noted that they are all (directly or indirectly) imperatives – they are telling fathers what they should do.

What the Bibles says about Mothers

I actually had more trouble finding verses about Moms in general, but here are three:

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. (1 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV)

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
(Isaiah 66:13 ESV)

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
(Psalm 131:2 ESV)

Notice these aren’t imperative, but declarative statements – A mother is gentle. A mother comforts, calms and quiets a child. These are positive, encouraging words

There is one other passage I’d like to point out – the end of Proverbs 31. It’s clear this text is referring to a mother. Her children rise up and call her blessed.

… her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:28-31 ESV)

Again, these are encouraging words. Very, very, encouraging words. So throughout the Bible, fathers are given guiding imperatives and mothers are given encouraging declaratives. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Yes … maybe modern day churches are doing it right.

I will end with one final passage – Paul’s guidance to Timothy, the young church leader he’s mentoring.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
(1 Timothy 5:1-2 ESV)

Everyone should get some encouragement.

In any case – I hope all of you dads have a happy Father’s Day!

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