I don’t know about you, but I was astonished to realize that it’s 2020 and we still have Father’s Day on our calendars. Father’s Day, the one day a year in our culture to honor the patriarchy it otherwise has smashed, hasn’t been cancelled.
There have been attempts for sure, such as articles talking about giving your dad the gift of feminism or how awfully heteronormative the day is—all probably written by married womyn who have insisted on keep their own last name… (Let’s all agree to not tell them who they got that name from).
Now all joking aside, don’t get me wrong. Father’s Day is not on our liturgical calendar and its only been an official holiday in the US since 1972. Hallmark holidays are not central to our faith or practice. But honoring our fathers is.
We read in the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and mother,” which St Paul notes as the first commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2). This is a great duty of children, and not only children, but everyone who was once a child—which just so happens to be everyone. We all are to honor our fathers and mothers.
This command comes with a great promise, but it does not come with any exclusions or clauses. All fathers are to be honored, including those that may have dishonored you. This can be very difficult to do, especially depending on how grievous their sin was or is. And so the specifics of how we each honor our fathers may look different. But the fact that we do so, should be said of every Christian.
When John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of our Lord, part of that preparing included turning “the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6, Lk. 1:7). In the same way, a necessary precondition in pointing your father to Christ and His gospel, is having a heart turned toward him, manifested in word and deed.
And all of this can only be done by the grace of our Heavenly Father.