Loving fathers are one of God’s greatest blessings. Study after study suggests that involved fathers are key to a healthy society. Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts, 71% of all pregnant teenagers, 85% of all children with behavioral issues, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 63% of youth suicides, and 85% of imprisoned youth come from fatherless homes.
Fathers are to be men who love their children. This love can be expressed in a direct and indirect way. Directly, fathers are to sacrifice for, care for, nurture, and discipline their children. They are attentive to their needs and patient with them in their failings. For a man to be a good father, he must love his kids.
Indirectly, fathers show their love for their children by loving their children’s mother. Good fathers love their own wives. This love is foundational to a husband’s love for his children.
From a biblical perspective, for a man to be a father, that man must first be a husband. A man must first love his wife before he can love his children. The reason for this relates to how Scripture interprets coitus. Scripture forbids coitus outside of the marital context (1 Cor 7:2–4; 1 Thess 4:3–4). Coitus is the climax of marital love. The intended result of coitus is the reproduction. It is a husband’s love for his wife, through coitus, that creates the possibility for him to be a good father.
Further, Scripture teaches that a man’s love for his wife goes beyond his love for other people. In Eph 5:25–6:4, Paul discusses a husband’s love for his wife (5:25–33) and for his children (6:4). Paul elaborates extensively on a husband’s love for his wife. He is brief with his instructions for fathers. I take this, combined with the idea articulated above, as an indication that a father’s main priority is to “love his wife as Christ loves the church” (5:25). From this love flows his love for children.
Fatherhood begins with a father’s love for his children’s mother. From a biblical perspective, fatherhood flows from marriage and is built upon marriage. If you truly want to be a good father, start by being a good husband.