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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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The Importance of Fatherhood

downloadQuestion

A person may have trouble seeing God as a loving spiritual Father when one’s biological father has caused sexual abuse and physical trauma. Is one still culpable when past abuse makes faith in God difficult?  Does God understand why some of his children hesitate to call him by the title Father?  I know counseling helps but it does not make the problem go away.

Response

God understands everything, but the appreciation of God as our heavenly Father is a constitutive element of Christian revelation. We would short-change ourselves by eliminating this title that identifies the deity as a “personal” God who has created us out of love. Today there are many families where the father is missing and the mother is the sole parent. This is a terrible loss although these mothers are often very courageous and sacrificing for their children. The question is asked: How can these children possibly come to an appreciation of God as Father when they have no role model of fatherhood in their lives? It is a problem. But instead of eliminating any paternal theme, it is properly argued that we should accentuate it. Why? The fatherhood of God might be the only Father that many people will ever know. It should be a corrective to deadbeat dads or men who corrupt themselves through abuse or the abandonment of their families. If there be genuine healing, then an understanding of true fatherhood has to emerge. Otherwise, the spiritual life becomes stunted. Indeed, the familial relationships of the next generation are also damaged. How could one who flees the notion of fatherhood ever fully embrace healthy spousal love where the couple becomes mother and father?

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