For Some, Father's Day Requires Some Delicate Preaching

For some, Father's Day brings painful childhood memories.
For some, Father's Day brings painful childhood memories. (iStock photo )

Father's Day is THE most difficult day of the year for millions of people who will be coming to church. Let's remember that as we prepare our sermons for this delicate day.

Not everyone wants to hear the command and admonition to honor and obey their father. Their dad wasn't the best dad in the world. We will have a wide range of listeners: there are some who don't even know their dad, and then there are some who know their dad far too well—in the biblical sense of the word.

June is the worst month of the year for many of your folks. They'll never tell you why it is. They've never told anyone ...

There are some family secrets and sexual shortcomings that have been carefully tucked away for no one to ever discover. Remember the steamy story of David and Bathsheba, which was soon followed by the incomprehensible incest of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 11-13? This is must-reading and reviewing for Father's Day.

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Brother Absalom did his best to keep it all a secret while Tamar remained a devastated woman for the rest of her days. Take note that there are Absaloms and there are Tamars who will be hearing you preach today—some who try to hide sin and some who try to hide sadness. As students of God's Word, we should be the least surprised at family dysfunction and sexual deception of all types!

I don't want to burst your balloon or rain on your parade. Yes, this is the one day to honor our fathers and also our single mothers who juggle both roles. However, this fatherhood concept is also one of the biggest obstacles that some face as they endeavor to live the Christian life.

Some fathers have provoked their children to anger which has lasted a lifetime. It's a time of humiliation, not celebration. Be mindful of the huge multitude of memories and emotions that are suddenly stirred up today! Some have been physically abandoned, psychologically wounded or sexually violated.  Many would prefer to fast-forward this day since it re-opens wounds they tried to heal and restores memories they tried to erase.

Honoring your father who has done some dishonorable things is just not the easiest thing for us to do. Some end up leaving church with a ton of false guilt and misplaced shame as they're beat up by their pastor for not honoring their father.

Father's Day is the one day of the year that some people dread more than all others. They want it to be over. And it's not because they are less spiritual—maybe it's all because their father was too physical ... 

Cathy was molested by her father for 10 years. Dad would quote that Bible verse for her to obey and honor her father. He would whisper in her ear that this is what daddies and daughters do when they love each other.  When she finally did ask him why he treated her like a wife instead of a daughter, he told her that she wanted it. He blamed her.

Cathy's father went to his grave without ever apologizing to her and she now lives a life of anger and confusion. Anyone that does anything that reminds her of her father instantly brings back such rage that has been repressed her entire life.   

Todd had just the opposite dilemma with his Dad who would hardly ever show him any kind of affection. "Religious and rigid" were the words he used to describe his dad. He never remembers a father who physically hugged him or verbally praised him. He does remember a family picnic when his uncle hugged him. It felt SO amazing to this little boy who had never ever experienced the embrace of any man. Todd began looking for that same feeling that came from the first hug of his uncle. Yes, Todd is gay today.

Fred doesn't like Father's Day because it reminds him of the child he never had, because of the abortion. When she told him she was pregnant, he completely freaked out and went into panic mode. He will never forget driving her to the abortion clinic. He will always wonder what his little one looked like. He grieves. Fred knows he is a father but no one else at church knows. This one day totally unravels Fred. 

Jim's father would show him the porn that he used to watch. They did this for his entire teenage years. He wanted his boy to become a real man, he said. Mom left home and got tired of the addiction and the affairs. She wanted nothing to do with her husband any longer. Unfortunately for Jim, what he truly remembers most about his dad are the adult magazines and videos. Happy Father's Day?

Sally was so young when she watched her Dad beat up her Mom when he would come home drunk. She vowed she would never endure what her mom did. Ask her why she has chosen women over men now.  Father's Day is not easy for Sally. She remembers Mom crying a lot every night when she went to bed. That's what she remembers the most and she doesn't like to tell anyone lest she starts crying, herself.

Ministry, not controversy, is our goal on this and every Sunday. He is the God who gives all kinds of grace and He sympathizes with our feelings of being wounded, even from our family. God heals the brokenhearted and also the broken families. Speak softly and tenderly today. There's a lot of painful pasts and silent suffering going on today.

Today is a day of tears. I hope you allow them the chance to publicly grieve and privately confess. People are filled with such bittersweet emotions amid absolute outrage at God as people try to reconcile why their heavenly Father allowed these terrible things to happen with their earthly father. Let people know you do understand the fallen-ness of earthly fathers and today is the day where you point them to a perfect heavenly Father who only gives good gifts and who does no wrong.

Finally, they can have a Dad who is really a good One! Set the captives free, just like Jesus did. Father's Day is a golden opportunity for you to share this glorious gospel of truth and grace.

Dr. Sam Serio is a Christian counselor, author, speaker and teacher. His specialty and ministry is in healing the sexual hurts and habits of women, men and couples. He touches upon the taboo sexual topics that the church usually ignores. This article is taken from his contemporary website of healingsexualhurt.com where he is president and founder. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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