Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Father Hunger" by Douglas Wilson: A Review

In case you haven't notice, men are becoming increasingly absent from the home. Blame it on feminism, effeminate churches and ministers, or the Fall itself. Regardless we are suffering from father hunger. In his excellent book, Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families, Doug Wilson calls us back not just to fatherhood, but a fatherhood that mimics God the Father.

Wilson offers the reader a view of masculinity and fatherhood deeply masculine (a main emphasis of the book) and purposefully reflective of the Father. Wilson argues that if we want to recover biblical manhood we need to look nowhere else but God the Father Himself. He makes an excellent point here. The reason Scripture refer to the head of the Trinity as Father isn't to give the impression that God is male (nor can we just say that this just reflects a patriarchal society), but that God is masculine and this shows what we need - an example of what true masculinity is.

Wilson is a great writer and it is clear that this is a subject he is passionate about, has studied immensely, and is qualified to write on it. Wilson is deeply concerned with trends culturally that have encouraged the absence of husbands and fathers from the home, the intrusion and failure of the state at the level of the home, what has become of men, and what the Bible has to say about it all. Wilson does not mince words, nor is he concerned with what our effeminate culture might think about it. He calls us back to biblical masculinity of responsibility and sacrificial love. After all, the cultural understanding of masculinity (if we can still use the word) hasn't given us Utopia, but quit the opposite.

My two favorite chapters, and there were many I loved, regard his discussion on abortion (which more broadly looks at the intrusion of the state) and his chapter on sex and feminism.  Regarding abortion, Wilson rightly shows that Roe vs. Wade has only encouraged fathers to leave the home. After all, if the woman is lord over the image bearer in her womb, what's the difference between the loving husband at home and the womanizing trucker? There is none. He writes:

A decision whether to have an abortion now famously rests between the "woman and her doctor." Who is missing from that? Entirely left out of this life-and-death question is whether or not the woman is married. If she is married, should her husband, the legitimate father of the child in question, have nay say in the matter? Left out is the question of whether the covenant of marriage should be taken into account at all when it comes to whether the children of lawful sexual union live or die. In Roe, the supreme Court in effect determined that every American child is, in the eyes of the court, a covenantal bastard.
The destructive leveling effects of this have been implemented from another direction. At the same time that we have seen legitimate fathers excluded from the decision whether or not their sons or daughters will lie or die, we have seen illegitimate fathers included in the lawsuits surrounding adoption, visitation rights, and so on.

The assault is therefore on the very concept of legal paternity. No child is entitled to the protections of a father. A father who has bound himself in matrimony for life has no more legal say over whether his child lives or dies than some free-range motorcyclist who was in town for just a night or two. In the eyes of the Supreme Court, that vanishing man has the same amount of legal say when it comes to the abortion of his child as a man who has committed himself to remain for life - which is to say, none. (78)
Excellent point, though a tragic one. This one court decision has put absenteeism on steroids and most men, even beyond the home, are on heavy doses. Men are now either absent or emasculated wimps that aren't worth their salt.

The other section worth noting regards sexuality and feminism. I will not post all that I want to say here, but suffice it to say, some of Wilson's most direct (and even shocking) language is used here. He shows why feminism doesn't work. Simply put, feminism is a denial of natural femininity. It is a fulfillment of Genesis 3:16 and it only plays into the hands of men. Women who buy the feminist lie seek to make men soft but then complain when men don't pursue them, don't lead, don't step up to the plate, aren't present, and, to put it more simply, aren't masculine. Feminism is always stuck between these two worlds. They don't want men, but secretly do.

Overall, this is an excellent book and one that every Christian man ought to read. The church is suffering from the same masculine absence that the home is and it is starting to show. Wilson rightly shows that even our churches reflect a wimpy version of the gospel especially among its ministers. We need men to lead and men need to step up to lead. The gospel is at stake. Christ's church is at stake. The family is at stake. Our society is at stake. Will we not step up to the plate?

Originally published July 9, 2012.

For more from Doug Wilson
A Shrewd Apologetic: Doug Wilson's Take on Beowulf
Was Lewis a Calvinist?: Doug Wilson Says Yes
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
A Conversation on Jonathan Edwards With Doug Wilson & Joe Rigney
Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?: The Doug Wilson & Andrew Sullivan Debate
Piper & Wilson: A Fascinating Conversation 
"The Witch of Endor": A Sermon Preached by Doug Wilson
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