Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, has written a much needed book on the biblical view of fatherhood, the impact of fathers on their families, and the impact of fathers on society. Father Hunger (Thomas Nelson, 2012) is the title, and the subtitle sums it up well: “Why God calls men to love and lead their families.” In an age where male headship and fatherhood is under attack from all angles, this is a timely book.
Wilson takes the reader through a number of stages. Firstly, and most importantly, the theological. Wilson explains how fatherhood is viewed in the Bible, and what fathers are for. Then he begins to unpack what the Bible has to say about the woes of contemporary fatherhood and it’s impact on society. The culture of absenteeism is analysed, and feminism and false masculinity are taken to task. Wilson discusses the importance of fathers educating their children in the faith and in life (which both go together), and endorses a more traditional Christian education. We are to enculturate our children, not just fill their heads with facts.
Paternalistic welfare states come under scrutiny, also, as Wilson identifies them as filling the void left by fathers not taking their role seriously and properly. However, before the hardworking fathers give themselves a pat on the back, Wilson then convincingly communicates a different vision for productive and ambitious vocational activity, as an alternative to the one operating in corporate America. Crony Capitalism (or his rendering, “Crapitalism”) keeps fathers away from their families. Fathers need to work jobs where they can both provide and be present.
Moving on to more practical matters, Wilson shows that the biblical mandate is for fathers to be fruitful. In other words, have a bunch of kids! And, like much of the message of this book, this is counter-cultural; ‘What looks like “responsible” geopolitics – concerns about overpopulation or global warming – are actually indirect attacks on men becoming fathers.’ (p. 156) After a chapter of general parenting advice, he rounds up where he started. God the Father is the basis, and end of all fatherhood.
The book weighs in at 217 pages, including the appendix. Wilson is an outstanding composer of words. Anyone who reads his blog will know that he can write very impressively. This book is no exception. Some paragraphs from Wilson should be noted down merely for their wordsmithy. On top of that, the book’s content is excellent. He covers the waterfront of the issue in a short space, and paints a compelling picture of the biblical father. To top it off, the whole book points the reader back to the heavenly Father, and to our need for Jesus.
I don’t think one needs to be a father to appreciate this book. I’m not, and I found Father Hunger compelling, challenging, and edifying. It is drenched in scripture, written with verve, filled with wisdom, and honours our Father and Lord.