“In recent times, society has been plagued with a cancer from which few families have escaped. I speak of the disintegration of our homes. I affirm my profound belief that God’s greatest creation is womanhood. I also believe that there is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation. Single parents, most of whom are mothers, perform an especially heroic service…Yet modern sociological studies powerfully reaffirm the essential influence of a caring father in the life of a child–boy or girl.” (James E. Faust, Father, Come Home in the Ensign May 1993)
Social studies on the importance of fathers in the family
David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: “Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.” (David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1995), 62.)
We believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.” (Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, 5.) We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
(“The Family: a Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.)
Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.” (Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, 25, 26.)
Our heavenly father is our perfect example
While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.
The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children. “For behold this is my work and glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Man” (Moses 1: 39 p.4 in the Pearl of Great Price)
Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best they are striving to emulate Him and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13 in the Bible) Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.
Teach our children about God and his commandments
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (Doctrine and Covenants 68: 25, 28 p. 127) “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: … That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalm 78: 5-7 in Bible)
I am older now and have grown children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My real lasting joy and happiness comes from my family relationships and my closeness to Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dallas Jones is the Local Leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the article was taken from remarks by D. Todd Christofferson, Ensign, May 2016. For a more detailed discussion on the Fathers call (231) 383-8359 or send an email to [email protected]