Father’s Day was created to compliment Mother’s Day. After hearing a sermon about Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd told her pastor she thought there should be a day honoring fathers. Dodd was from Arkansas, and her father, William Jackson Smart, had been a Civil War veteran. After being widowed, he raised his six children as a single parent. Dodd was married and living in Spokane, Washington at the time. Her father had been born in June, so the first Father’s Day was celebrated on the third Sunday of June 1910.
The holiday did not enjoy the widespread recognition of Mother’s Day at first. Father’s Day was observed sporadically for many years in different parts of the country. This may explain why Father’s Day was much slower to gain official recognition. President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first President to issue a proclamation observing it and his successor Richard M. Nixon would be the one to make it an official holiday.
The fifth commandment of the Decalogue exhorts us to, “Honor your father and your mother,” Exodus 20:12. Before God ordained the Church, instituted governments, founded nations, or established schools, He created the institution of marriage and the home. The marriage of one man to one woman was instituted by God making it sacred, and history has proven it to be the fundamental unit of every culture and society, and responsible for the flourishing of every human civilization without exception.
Fathers play a significant role within the family. They should provide our needs, defend and support us when we are right, and should discipline us when we are wrong, and they must do so wisely and lovingly. They should live a saintly life before their family in such a way, that in the words of one writer, they create an atmosphere that makes “it natural to know and love God.”
This is a time to honor the fathers still with us, and to remember those who have passed on before us. Many can do this thankfully, but some may think they cannot. Maybe their father died before they knew him, or maybe he deserted the family. Maybe their father failed to live a godly example and was instead abusive and mean.
God does not enjoin us to honor our fathers, because they consistently set a godly example or were always good to us. If for no other reason, we should honor them because we desire to be godly. The circumstances of your conception may have been less than noble, but the opportunities life affords you would have been impossible without your father.
So this Father’s Day let us honor and remember and pray for our fathers. And remember to worship “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing,” Ephesians 1:3. After all, it is the Father who gave us fathers.
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