That earthly fathers are critical in the lives of children is reinforced by the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, was provided with Joseph to care for Him and His mother. God, the Creator, was fully capable of providing Jesus with anything He needed. Yet during the early life of Jesus, it was not God who directly influenced His life, but God through Joseph. It was Joseph who took the family to Egypt to save them following a dream. It was Joseph who taught Jesus the cultural interrelationships necessary to survive in their world. It was Joseph who taught Jesus the craft of carpentry so he could earn a living. It was Joseph who provided the opportunities for Jesus to know God by teaching him the traditions and laws of his Jewish faith and by taking him to the temple in Jerusalem. And it was Joseph who loved Jesus in a way that no one else on earth could. These functions – protection, socialization, role modeling, imparting values and traditions, and providing an emotionally stable base – are still enacted by earthly fathers today.
Why did God, in His wisdom, provide this relationship in our lives? According to Unity thought and the science of human development, two primary reasons exist.
The first reason involves cognitive and emotional development. The human brain is not fully developed until one’s early 20’s and cannot fully comprehend ideas involving abstract spiritual issues until that time. An earthly father performs the required nurturing for that development in a concrete manner that a child can see and understand.
The second reason involves the concept of free will. God emphatically promised that He would never violate our free will. Even when one asks for something that would not be healthy, God says “yes” unless (according to Unity thought) one gives God permission to say “no” by adding “only if what I am requesting falls within Your divine plan for my life” to one’s request. An earthly father, in contrast, must lovingly violate the free will of a child on a regular basis to fulfill his purpose. In this manner, a child learns appropriate emotional, social, physical, spiritual, and sexual boundaries. An earthly father readies a child for the time when he must exercise his own wisdom in asking things in prayer for his life from his heavenly Father.
These are awesome responsibilities! Yet men are generally given little guidance on how to perform them successfully in our culture. Unity, however, provides ongoing support for men while companioning them in this critical challenge. For those residents of Columbus, Georgia, who cannot attend one of the six Unity churches within driving distance, the following resources are available.
Several helpful books are available through Unity’s website. They include: (1) The Quest by Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla ($19.95 in softcover), and (2) Adventures on the Quest by Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla ($17.95 in softcover), which is a thought-provoking, experiential workbook companion to The Quest. The Quest and Adventures on the Quest can also be purchased as a set for $29.95 in paperback.
A program entitled “Unity Family Matters” airs every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. (CT) on Unity.FM. It is hosted by Unity minister Jennifer Holder and her husband, Ogun Holder, and focuses on issues leading to good spiritual parenting and is based upon Unity principle. The Holders also have a website by the same name.
An MP3 download is available of a program which aired on Unity.FM. Coach Michael Taylor, the host of “A New Conversation with Men”, interviewed Dana Glazer about his documentary entitled “The Evolution of Dad” which highlights how the roles of men are evolving and how more men are embracing them. In his documentary, Glazer identifies the principles and philosophies designed to empower men to become better fathers and husbands.
Finally, a video “thank you” follows to all those men who are fathers and those brothers, uncles, or grandfathers who served in that role when a child’s father could not be present in their lives.