Fathers matter. Fathers committed to lifelong and monogamous marriages, who care and provide for their families. The man-boy who flees when grasses look greener is not a father, and neither is the baby-daddy.
A father is that far more dull individual who works each day and who each night helps with homework and reads bedtime stories.
A father in the household predicts the flourishing of a mother and children. A present father correlates to the prevention of poverty, child abuse, teen alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime.
A present father also correlates to the promotion of maternal and infant health and children's academic achievement and emotional well-being.
Study after study indicates that fathers contribute to their families what society has traditionally expected from them: protection, material support and moral guidance. Everyone benefits from fathers filling this traditional role: mothers and children, but also neighbors and taxpayers.
A teen from a household with a present father is less likely to break into his neighbor's car and more likely to treat others politely. A child who lives with both parents is less likely to require intervention from social services and more likely to excel in school.
Sadly, some think that the traditional model of fatherhood is outdated and even oppressive and work to undermine it. Feminists have fought for important goals like suffrage and workplace equality.
However, radical feminists wage a multiple-front war against traditional fatherhood. Hollywood often portrays fathers as oblivious and unnecessary. Sometimes they wage the war through government, by advancing legislation and policies that mitigate against fathers' moral authority within their households and advance Uncle Sam's role as provider and protector.
Feminists are not the only ones who attempt to undercut traditional fatherhood. Same-sex marriage activists also attack fatherhood by denying that a child should ideally live with both parents.
For example, the Rev. Kelly Flood, a state representative from Lexington, is an outspoken feminist and advocate for same-sex marriage. On March 6, 2011 she delivered a sermon to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio in which she disparaged traditional notions of fathers as providers, protectors and moral authorities.
"Conservatives believe in the strict father model of family, where the father is the decider, the ultimate moral authority in the family," she said. "We [liberals] raise our children not to be obedient, but to think for themselves. We place a higher value on a child who, when we tell her to go and clean up her room, sasses back and says, 'I'm going to go read a book instead.'"
Who does she think should replace the traditional father model? She characterizes the national government as a "nurturing parent."
Flood's sermon reveals the anti-father agenda carried out by scores of powerful and influential people.
You matter, fathers, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Resist the forces that marginalize your role in your family and in society.
Respect Uncle Sam and support him in his role, but do not let him take yours. Most especially, raise your sons to be true fathers: providers, protectors and moral guides.
Christopher Jackson is associate pastor at Saint John's Lutheran Church in Lexington. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.