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Father Privilege

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“Fathers are irreplaceable. And good fathers do for their children what no one else, not mothers, brothers, uncles, or grandfathers, can do — give their children ‘father privilege.’”

WILLIAM WOLFE

The older I get, the more convinced I am that the greatest “privilege” out there isn’t “white privilege” or “class privilege” or “gender privilege.”

It’s “father privilege.”

Growing up with a good and godly father is by far the biggest “leg-up” I’ve been given in life that I had nothing to do with and can’t take any credit for (and on that note, a belated Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Michael Wolfe).

Of course, God already knows this. He made fathers to reflect His own strong, protective, loving character. He asks us to pray to Him as “our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). He makes it clear that He loves us even more than our earthly fathers ever could: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). And He is the source of all good things, for “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

God as Father is our good ruler and provider. And our Father God knit fatherhood into the creation blueprint for humanity — so the world could better know what He is like. Consider this: Just as the world would never have existed unless God gave it life, so too you would not exist unless your earthly father had not played a role in giving you life.

Fathers are irreplaceable. And good fathers do for their children what no one else, not mothers (who are irreplaceable in their own unique way), brothers, uncles, or grandfathers, can do — give their children “father privilege.”

But don’t take my word for it. This Fathers.com article pulled together some sobering statistics on “The Consequences of Fatherlessness,” summarizing the impact of those finding as follows:

“Some fathering advocates would say that almost every social ill faced by America’s children is related to fatherlessness. As supported by the data below, children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.”

Put positively, if you grow up with “father privilege” you are far more likely to be able to provide for yourself and others, live a healthier life, finish high school and even college, and wait until you are married to start a family. You will also be more emotionally and spiritually stable. You’ll even be more likely to take risks, one of the key aspects of success in life.

As Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, explains, “Fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, embrace challenges, and be independent.”

If that is the case — and both a Christian account of the world and decades of data show that it is — then growing up with a present, good, and godly father is indeed one of the best advantages, or “privileges,” that anyone can have.

Pastor and abortion abolitionist leader Dusty Deevers offered this heartwarming reflection on the goodness of having a caring, responsible, and godly father:

“Every day I realize more and more how indebted I am to my father for the upbringing he gave my family. Dementia has him bedridden and non-lucid. I so wish we could talk, but his wisdom still leads, watches over, and talks with me daily and will for his posterity (Prov 6:20-23).”

Given this reality, one would think that if progressive liberals really cared about generating better life outcomes, instead of peddling grievance politics, this is what they would focus on — the epidemic of fatherlessness currently gripping our nation (conservative estimates show that over 20 million American children live in homes without their fathers). But that doesn’t sell nearly as many books and seminars as the latest intersectionality-driven effort to blame straight, white, Christian men for all of America’s problems. 

Theologian Owen Strachan summarized the importance of fathers in his own Father’s Day reflection, arguing,

“In human terms, we need fathers more than anything else—redeemed men who hold fast to their wife, men who love their children, men who protect and provide and lead, men who by God’s grace stand between the devil and their loved ones and say, ‘Not today and not ever, Satan.’”

Amen! Not today, Satan. Not today.

If you never had this “father privilege,” pray that God allows you to be a good father to your own kids one day. You can break the chain. You can end the cycle. How do I know that? Because Christ conquered the grave — and now sits at the right hand of the Father willing and able to help us all in our time of need.

So, as with all my privileges in life, I refuse to be embarrassed by them or apologize for having them. Growing up with “father privilege” was an incredible gift from God and I’m deeply thankful for it. As I argued last year on Father’s Day, working to ensure that more and more children receive “father privilege” growing up is incredibly important, because nothing less than our entire society is on the line:

“Fathers are the cornerstone of society — for good or for ill. Strong, engaged, present fathers will yield a strong, secure, and good society. Weak, distracted, absent fathers will yield a weak, crumbling, and confused society. Let us honor and build up fathers today — and every day. Much more than we can imagine is counting on it.”


Follow William on Twitter! @William_E_Wolfe

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.