where have all the fathers gone

Long time passing…Do you hear the strains of Peter, Paul and Mary in the background? Wow, I am dating myself, now! 

My Dream

I am staying at a group home as a visitor/observer. The home is run by staff, not foster parents, these are professional social workers.  The older children tell the younger how to behave for the most part. They keep them in line. There is no bathroom.

It is a loud if somewhat organized mayhem if that can give you an idea of what I saw and heard. For the most part the children were playing.  The social workers take case notes, observing and making recommendations as the children ran their own house.

END

ON waking, I followed my own advice and prayed. I felt a sense of grief. One of the principles about interpretation of dreams is that when you are an observer of the action the dream is usually not about you. I do not know how to explain that I knew that the house represented the church at large, I just did.

Think about it. We have professionals. Not near enough for the amount of children but that is a side point. The church has staff, they do not live there. They are hired. What comes to mind is Paul’s injunction, in 1 Corinthians 4

vs 14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless teachers  in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.

Many of us want the authority to tell people how they should act, or even have a good desire to take care of the troublemakers. Few of us are willing to live the sacrificial and committed ways of parents. and foster parents. The day in and out drudgery wherein it is often necessary to put yourself last on the list of priorities.

Social workers are good and they do good work, and are necessary even. But they do not replace parents. They do not replace family.  If the church were to really believe in parenting and act like family, I am sure that the house would look very different from the one in my dream.

This morning in my inbox was the following clip. Would thinking and acting like a family change anything?

Since writing this post a friend commented on the fact that there was no bathroom in this house of unruly sisters and brothers. I had left it out in the interest of brevity but now that I think about it; I should have commented on it. The bathroom, of course, represents getting rid of the toxic i.e. confession and repentance. What does it mean that there was no place given for confession or repentance in the house where there are no fathers and mothers? Siblings have little interest in responsibilities of child raising in comparison. Children would care little about the often difficult task of correction; leading to repentance and most importantly change in behaviour.

 

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