A father reflects on what it means to hold the title

BY BILL REAGAN

Well, we did it. All three of our children have now graduated from college. One is a journalist. An-other a teacher. The last one is a nurse. And they have all moved out of the house!

Forgive a father’s pride.

To be a father is the highest of honors.

So many of our social ills are directly related to the demise of fatherhood in large parts of our society. According to the Pew Center for Research 54 percent of children live in a single parent home, almost all headed by a woman.

Many fathers are absent from the lives of their children, and a substantial number do not even sup-port their children financially. More than one hundred billion dollars is owed in child support by non-custodial parents in the United States — almost all of them fathers. The tax payer ends up paying the bill.

Children pay the highest price.

Children need fathers. Boys need someone to look up to, to model themselves after. Girls need to be loved, respected and cherished.

Most of all children need fathers to show them what God is like.

There have been many attempts to make the Bible gender neutral. Many passages can be correctly translated with gender neutral language, and should be. There’s no room for sexism in Bible interpretation. There are also many passages in the Bible which describe God using feminine language. But to be honest, the God of the Bible is a “He.” The feminine pas-sages are really metaphorical.

That God is revealed as “He” and as “Father” tells us a lot about what fathers are supposed to be like. Absent fathers teach their children that God is an uncaring God. Harsh fathers teach their children that God is an unforgiving God. Tender and merciful fathers bring their children to know that God is, indeed, a loving, merciful and forgiving God.

I know. Mothers have a lot to do with children’s spiritual development too, but today is Father’s Day.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.