Monday, June 20, 2011

Of Father’s Day at Church

Father’s Day at church

Yesterday was, of course, Father’s Day.  Over the decades of my church-going life, I have noticed some odd and interesting things about Father’s Day at church.  When I say “at church” I am talking about my experiences at (independent) Christian churches.

First off, it is amusing that both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are almost always celebrated at church.  These are congregations that would never think of celebrating long-standing days on the church calendar like Advent or Pentecost.  That would be too “ecclesiastical” I suppose.  But Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – those receive significant attention in many ways.

It is also odd to see what usually happens in regard to the symmetry of these two days.  (My wife pointed this out several years ago.)  On Mother’s Day, there is usually much ado about the glory of mothers.  Mother’s with the most children, the youngest child, the mother who came from the farthest, etc., are all recognized and given awards of some kind.  After that, a sermon is preached in which the virtues of motherhood are extoled.

Then there is Father’s Day.  Father’s get raked over the coals.  They are urged to improve.  They are urged to do their duty.  They are urged to repent of their insufficient fathering.  Have you ever heard that sort of approach to mothers at church?  I have not.  I would be surprised if most churches could survive this kind of treatment of mothers on Mother’s Day.

Just to illustrate this asymmetry, this year at our church on Mother’s Day, every mother present received flowers.  On Father’s Day every father received a book about avoiding sexual temptation.  Interesting, isn’t it?

Overall, the general message from churches on these matters seems to be this:  praise mothers, they are wonderful; you rotten fathers need to shape up and get your act together.  And to think that I read somewhere that men seem to like church less than women – I wonder why?

I think my wife is right about all this.

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