Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:5-6; ESV
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:26-27; ESV
In today’s world, compared to the world I grew up in (60’s and 70’s) the number of families that raised the children in two-parent homes has decreased a great deal. In those days, there were more families that raised their children as two-parent married couples than today. To quote journalist Craig Johnson in his article Study: Number of U.S. married couples at record low:
“In the 1950s, if you weren’t married, people thought you were mentally ill,” Andrew J. Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist told the Washington Post. “Marriage was mandatory. Now it’s culturally optional.”
In that same report, Johnson shares:
“Along the racial lines, the statistics varied greatly; in 1960, 74% of whites were wed. Today, 55% are married. Among blacks 31% are married; in1960, 61% reported being hitched. For Hispanics, 48% are married today, compared with 72% in 1960.”
In these types of statistics, the number of “fatherless” children (fatherless meaning that the father is non-active in the child’s life; this goes beyond the financial support. This includes the father being present to help guide and teach the child…) are even more increasing in America. Women may be “stepping up to the plate”, but it is neither easy for them nor is it as effective for child development as it is when both the father and mother are together. The increase of divorce and the rise in single-parent homes have left their marks on this generation.
In working in the different vocations/callings in my life (as pastor and Youth Care Worker), I see first-hand the effects that the absentee father has on the child. These youth are lost, angry, alone and unguided in life. They have no one to motive them in achieving their fullest potential (granted, single mothers do a great job at trying to meet this need, however, many are working many hours to make ends meet and support their children. I would also include the single father in this area.). Many times I hear, “My father isn’t there for me.” Or “I don’t care about my dad because he never cared for me…” This is where God steps in…
God, our Heavenly Father, tells us to come unto Him. The Psalm passage states this well. But this isn’t just an Old Testament phrase. In the James passage, He uses James to share the importance of being there for these children (and for the widows). In other words, we, as believers and followers of Christ, are called to be there for these individuals. There are no exceptions or misunderstandings about the message. We are to be Jesus in the flesh. This writer states it best:
We must be careful to understand what James is saying here. The Revised Standard Version translates the phrases at the beginning of verse 27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled is … “ The word translated religion is thrēskeia, and its meaning is not so much religion as worship in the sense of the outward expression of religion in ritual and liturgy and ceremony. What James is saying is, “The finest ritual and the finest liturgy you can offer to God is service of the poor and personal purity.” To him real worship did not lie in elaborate vestments or in magnificent music or in a carefully wrought service; it lay in the practical service of mankind and in the purity of one’s own personal life. It is perfectly possible for a Church to be so taken up with the beauty of its buildings and the splendor of its liturgy that it has neither the time nor the money for practical Christian service; and that is what James is condemning.
Are churches today missing the mark? I personally believe we are beginning to see a revival in this area. But we are far from doing great in this area. There are still children (and single-parent families) who are longing for acceptance and respect. Children are still feeling helpless and have no sense of value in life or even spiritually. We need to follow God’s leading and be more involved in our youth’s lives. Are you willing to step up?
We may not be able to “save them all”, but maybe we can! If we don’t try to reach out and give our children hope, value and guidance, we will never know the effects we can have on them. It might be scary for some; we might not think we have what it takes. We are more than what we think if God is on our side and we can accomplish MANY miracles for Him if we allow Him to work in us and through us!
If you know someone who is fatherless, introduce them to God, our Heavenly Father. And if you are a man and father, please consider being the father figure our youth are looking for. It will change their life in very positive ways! Ask your local church to start a program for this if they don’t have one already. Men, please step up and love the way your Heavenly Father loves you! God bless you and Happy Father’s Day!
Happy Father’s Day to You! Thank You for teaching me how to be a father for not only my personal children, but also for those children I am blessed to know. Please help others to do their part to restore the children of this world to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters of James and Peter (p. 61). Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press.