Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day. Do you recall the old saying attributed to Otto Von Bismarck: “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made”? As fathers were lauded on Sunday, I suspect that most patriarchs were acutely aware of their shortcomings and would rather not have an honorific day set aside for them.
“Honor me?” their consciences ask. “I don’t deserve it.”
This year marked my third fatherless Father’s Day. He died on Flag Day 2007. Shortly before pancreatic cancer delivered dad into his Savior’s loving embrace, he told me that I’m a better father than he was. I know he meant those words as a compliment, but they tugged at my heavy heart. I empathized with the self-examining sadness of my wonderful father’s statement. I think that all fathers believe they fall short of their high calling.
Most fathers have not been called to government office, but they do lead the most important government on earth: the family. Ponder the potential for sausage-making in their job description: Dads are called to be loving husbands and fathers, family lawmakers, judges, peace officers, cultivators of souls and minds, educators, mentors and role models, providers, and trainers of the next generation of fathers. Dads who love their wives and kids attempt to do all of these things.
Sometimes . . . often . . . frequently . . . dads fail. “Honor me?” the father’s conscience whispers. “I don’t deserve it.”
Father failures notwithstanding, our society does well to honor fathers (and mothers) because the family is society’s foundation. As authors of The Natural Family: A Manifesto, Allan Carlson and Paul Mero write, “Just political life . . . flows out of natural family homes. . . . These homes are the source of ordered liberty, the fountain of real democracy, the seedbed of virtue. . . . The ideal government, in this sense, is local. Even a nation ‘is nothing but the aggregate of the families within its borders’ [quoting Theodore Roosevelt]. States exist to protect families and to encourage family growth and integrity.”
Where do children learn to live as free and responsible citizens? Within the family, of course.
I don’t know why my father’s Father called him home on Flag Day, but I find it fitting. I lost a fantastic father that day and so did our country. Even though we feel that we fail frequently, millions of fathers persist by God’s grace in trying to live out a high calling. It’s good to honor our fathers.