Fatherhood, Patriarchy, and Chaos

What we need now are men with chests, men whose fatherhood is a picture of providence and whose fighting does not aim at destruction, but is a defense of those who are vulnerable.

The streets have become dangerous as businesses are burned down and looted. Police back away and have themselves become targets. Anarchy and disorder are the order of the day. What lies, we wonder, are at the heart of all the madness? What has changed? Many of us remember 9/11, when police officers and firefighters were the heroes. And now we start fires instead of putting them out and villainize those who put their lives on the line to serve and protect us.

The devil, we know, is the father of all lies, and he certainly is working his wiles in our society today. Racism, we know, is a great evil, and yet there is something else that is going on. Look at the website of Black Lives Matter Inc., and you will see that their issues touch upon race, but in new and strange ways. Those who read White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo may know what’s happening. It’s a Marxist ideology that has nothing really to do with racism, but a new and radical “anti-racism.” According to this way of thinking, every white person, simply by virtue of being a white person, is a racist. If you deny your racism, that only shows how truly racist you are. How can you avoid the sin of racism? Well, you can’t. All you can do is own it, as it is systemic. What particular sins might we confess? If you ask that question, you are missing the point. Read White Fragility, and you will find no real evidence or analysis of the facts, but only an accusation that is assumed, and that transfers power to the accuser, to the one who claims to be aggrieved.

But make no mistake. This movement has little to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Civil Rights movement of the past. It has nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves on the proposition that we have all been created equal. These past leaders drew upon natural law and worked to restore human dignity. If you want to know what is really going on, you have to go just a bit deeper. Look at the BLM Inc. manifesto, and you will see that they have more to say about transgenderism than race. They decry the nuclear family and patriarchy.

In a sense, this movement, though new, is hardly new at all. Patriarchy has been taking it in the chin for many years. Who now can imagine a TV show the likes of “Father Knows Best”? Fatherhood has long been laughed at, its value denied. In TV show after TV show, the father was either a bumbling fool or absent altogether. Or perhaps, the father was portrayed as a bigot. This view of fatherhood has been reinforced at the colleges we have spent so much money to send our children to. Whether it’s Women’s Studies, sociology, history, psychology, or just about any other discipline, patriarchy has become the enemy. Patriarchy is supposedly a great darkness, as can be seen in “A Handmaid’s Tale.”

Yet, look at our society and ask what is really going on. Are some grievances due to racial prejudice? Surely some, though white supremacy is a culturally fringe and relatively powerless group. Other factors are at play, and we are judged in so many ways, whether it is our looks, our height or weight, our age or accent. But there is one factor that dwarfs all others. The leading indicator of a child’s success, psychological and physical health, financial stability, and yes, spiritual well being, is the presence of a father in the home. It may be strange to think, but the average African American child with a mom and dad at home fares better than a white child who lives with both present.

All of this is to say, there are other issues at play, and they are issues more fundamental to our humanity. Marriage is a good way of unpacking this. More than ever, the children of our nation are engaging in interracial marriage, and that is surely a good thing, a sign of progress. Interracial marriage is based on natural law, which is to say, we are all sons and daughters of Adam. We all belong to one human race, created by God and redeemed by Christ. 

Male and female, though, are different categories altogether. We do well to say men and women are equal, but that is hardly sufficient. God created us in His image; male and female He created us. That is to say, we were made for each other. We complement each other. Together we can do what we could never do alone. Every child comes from the blessed union of one man and one woman. And every child needs a mom and dad. As nature so obviously demonstrates, mom will be present at the birth of a child. Marriage is given so that dad will be there too, not just at the birth, but through his life. While the mother embraces the child, the father joyfully tosses the giggling child into the air. While mom offers comfort, dad gives strength and courage.

Look into the streets. Black, brown, or white: it doesn’t matter. We share one societal problem, and that is the lack of fathers in the home. Without a dad at home, a girl has a much more difficult time recognizing her worth, learning to wait to marry a man who is truly going to care for her. Without dads at home, boys are much less likely to harness their strength for the common good, in service of others. 

BlackLivesMatter Inc. is really a tragic situation. They fight against the very things that would make life better for all of us. What we really need is reassertion of the family, and not just the nuclear family. A healthy institution of marriage creates a network of mom and dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. When marriage is healthy, children are raised in an environment of both belonging and expectations. No government service or community center can make up for a missing dad, or grandfathers who are out of the picture or unknown. Look at the restlessness in the streets, and you will see a people untethered by natural bonds.

But we must also note here the spiritual component. Satan is at work. He hates the Christchild and so promotes abortion. He doesn’t like to think about Christ’s love for the Church and doesn’t want us to think about it either, so he breaks up and distorts marriage among us. And, of course, he hates our Heavenly Father, so he does everything he can to make fun of fathers, to make us think that they are dispensable, even somehow sinister. 

Feel sorry for those who riot, for they know not what they do. They are living out a dystopian world created for them by an elite culture that cares nothing for them. As Christians, we know a better way. It starts with the good God of our creation and ends with Christ who is our Alpha and Omega, the Bridegroom who comes to reclaim the rainbow as His own. For now, we pray and work. So many will be saved by a faithful witness. So, as we fight, we also rebuild. As we stand up to the oppressors, we offer shelter to those who have been deceived, confused, and left behind. 

Bringing down the patriarchy will only end in a much harsher rule by those who do not care for us. What we need now are men with chests, men whose fatherhood is a picture of providence and whose fighting does not aim at destruction, but is a defense of those who are vulnerable. The Secular Left has gone after patriarchy as if for the jugular. It’s high time we recognize it and get into the game.

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Peter Scaer

Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is Chairman and Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN.

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