let’s talk a little father’s day theology.
today is a great day. as stated, it’s father’s day. for me, as the father of two beautiful little girls, this day is less about being honored and recognized and more about me stopping to think about how beautiful and incredible my daughters are and the impact they have on my life. i’ve certainly done that today.
one thing i notice, though, is that days like these bring out something i’ve been more and more aware of and sensitive to over the last several years. a valuable thing to remember both in life and in speaking/teaching in the context of church is that everything we say and do is indicative of our theologies, both explicitly and implicitly. here are a couple generic examples.
explicit statement: after looking at all the graphic design programs at arkansas universities, we decided to broaden the search to out-of-state schools.
possible implicit statements: we didn’t like any of the in-state design programs. or the in-state design programs are bad.
explicit statement: [after living in little rock] our kids are free to play in the yard now that we’ve moved to cabot.
possible implicit statements: little rock is dangerous. or certain, ahem, “people groups” make neighborhoods unsafe.
father’s day and similar days of special recognition—again, often in the context of the church—have a certain wave of explicit statements that have unexpected implicit implications. specifically, here’s what i mean:
explicit statement: god has blessed me with my children.
possible implicit statements: you are not faithful to god enough if you haven’t been equally blessed with children. or god has cursed you if you’re infertile. or just as god gives, he must have taken your child away if you’ve lost a child.
now, hear me loud and clear: i’m not suggesting that everyone who makes that explicit statement is trying to implicitly state those suggested implications, BUT, that is certainly what can be and is implied.
often, the things we don’t say speak much louder than what we do say.
when i don’t teach my children about social injustice and about helping those who are in need, what i’m actually teaching them is that those things/people don’t matter.
when i don’t explicitly try to be in community with other races and ethnicities, it implicitly says that either i don’t want those relationships or that i don’t think there’s a problem.
we always say something by what we don’t say or do.
martin luther king spoke, broadly, to what i’m getting at saying, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. dr. king knew that what we don’t say speaks volumes.
not only does brother martin have words of wisdom for this conversation, but a guy named jesus spoke dropped some knowledge. jesus, as found in matthew 5, in teaching about loving our enemies, states,
[God] gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
both good and bad things happen to both “good” and “bad” people. not only are good, god-fearing people “blessed” with children, but so are some of the most evil and vile people in the world. certainly, it rains on the just and the unjust alike.
so, when we, as jesus followers, constantly speak about how much we’re blessed—be it with children, money or whatever—what is perceived by others who don’t have what we have is that god has cursed them or that they need to work harder to please god or that their faith is meaningless.
one of my issues (among many) with the so-called “prosperity gospel” is the assertion that god’s blessing is monetarily related and linked to your level of faithfulness. so, of course, the implicit lesson is that god hates poor people or that poor people don’t love god enough. it’s bad theology and quite frankly, anti-biblical.
i’m not necessarily completely challenging the idea of the connectedness of blessings and god, but i am suggesting that the “theology” of blessing that runs deep within the threads of our christian culture is not very reflective of the fullness of scripture.
i love my children. i’m thankful for my children. they are beautiful and amazing. but i’m just not prepared to say they’re a “special blessing” to me and christen, therefore suggesting that those who have tried and tried to have children with no success are any less faithful to god than us. we don’t suggest that. and neither does god.