A Loving Father Is Perhaps The Greatest Contributor To Overcoming Anger And Unbelief Towards God

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   9/10/2012

Could the growing number of children raised without a positive father lead them to abandon God as adults?

Take the testimony of Josh McDowell, for example: He was raised with an abusive father and later denied the workings of God. He took on the label of Agnostic, but during college became convinced that he was wrong.

How many young people will be wrongly convinced that God is not real because of the negative image they've experienced in their earthly father?

Approximately one-third of children in the U.S.A. are being raised without their biological father, according to columnist Michael Brown on townhall.com. Brown also points out that in the past 50 years, the number of babies born to unwed mothers rose from 5 percent to 40 percent. (I might also add that when our son was born in what is known as a "Christian" or "churchy" town, we were told that a baby born to a married mom and dad was now a minority in that hospital.)

So, if there is a connection between fatherlessness and denying God, then the statistics looks grim for the next generation of young people who are formulating their perception of their creator.

Brown quoted Paul Vitz, a professor from New York University who was also a former atheist and wrote the book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.

"'An atheist's disappointment in and resentment of his own father unconsciously justifies his rejection of God,'" said Viz. He referred to atheists like Nietzsche, Hume, Russell, Sartre, Camus, Hobbes, Voltaire, Freud and Wells who either had a deceased or abusive father.

Of course, there are exceptions. Brown noted that in today's generation, the highest rate of fatherlessness is among African Americans- yet this is a group which tends to be more religious, also.

Brown also noted, "It cannot be denied that a large portion of contemporary American Christianity is often superficial, hypocritical, and powerless (in terms of radical life transformation), and these serious defects certainly account for some of the faith struggles experienced by American young people."

Yet despite these well-noted points, it appears that Vitz's connection about fatherlessness and denying God cannot be ignored. A child who had an absent or poor father may understandably struggle to see God truthfully-- as a real and caring Creator, forgiver and Father.

That may have been the case for Josh McDowell. (I have not read in McDowell's writings that he connects his disbelief in God with a hurtful father, yet his testimony seems to allude to the possibility.)

McDowell's father was an alcoholic. McDowell's peers pitted lots of jokes toward his alcoholic father in school, which McDowell wrote about in the best-selling book, More Than a Carpenter.

"I was like other people, laughing on the outside, but let me tell you, I was crying on the inside," McDowell wrote. "I'd go out in the barn and see my mother beaten so badly she couldn't get up, lying in manure behind the cows. When we had friends over, I would take my father out, tie him up in the barn, and park the car up around the silo. We would tell our friends he'd had to go somewhere."

McDowell described his severe struggle with anger and hate before he became a Christian. "I don't think anyone could have hated anyone more than I hated my father," he wrote.

The negative relationship that McDowell had with his father certainly impacted him for the worse. Yet God's redemptive power was displayed in McDowell and his father. McDowell described how his heart changed about five months after he became a Christian. "...a love from God through Jesus Christ entered my life and was so strong it took that hatred and turned it upside down. I was able to look my father squarely in the eyes and say, 'Dad, I love you.'"

Later on, McDowell's father questioned the transformation he saw in his son. McDowell blamed Jesus Christ.

"'I can't explain it completely,'" McDowell had told his father, "'but as a result of that relationship [with Jesus Christ] I've found the capacity to love and accept not only you but other people just the way they are.'"

Then McDowell witnessed one of the greatest miracles one can experience: his father became a follower of Jesus.

"The life of my father was changed right before my eyes," McDowell wrote. "It was as if somebody reached down and turned on a light bulb. I've never seen such a rapid change before or since. My father touched whiskey only once after that. He got it as far as his lips and that was it. I've come to one conclusion. A relationship with Jesus Christ changes lives."

McDowell's testimony bears witness of the negative impact a defective father can have on his children, but it also bears witness of the miraculous power Jesus Christ can have on a forgiven soul.

Despite the grim statistics of large numbers of children being raised without a good fatherly example, God is still sovereign. Redemption is available to all, and its power is much greater than that of an absent or poor father. 


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