Fatherhood outside St. Mary's and inside Walmart...

(Prince) William says he practiced making sure the car seat fit securely before driving off. "Driving your son and your wife away from hospital was really important to me," he said.

Standing in line at Walmart, I watched a normal Joe ahead of me buying his daughter her school supplies. The man helped his eight-year-old daughter transfer pencils, notebooks, and other stuff I didn't recognize from the cart onto the small 20-items-or-less checkout counter. Halfway through the piling up, the girl looked up at her Dad and demonstrated her budding gift for commanding the male sex: "Dad, let me do it!"

He acted like he hadn't heard and, thankfully, Her Royal Highness didn't protest again. Last on the pile was the annual backpack with this year's graphics and colors. Then, having accomplished her part of the mission, the girl walked a few feet and sat down on a bench from whence she surveyed her domain and awaited her father's duty of paying for her life and happiness. You know, money.

Dad wasn't tall and wore shorts hanging down to his calves. Nothing notable in his looks or clothing, nor in the way he fulfilled the privileges of fatherhood. As he ran his credit card and punched buttons, the cashier smiled and asked if school was starting this week?

He said "yup, Tuesday" and they exchanged conspiratorial looks of knowingness. I thought for a second about getting down on my knees and pleading with this innocent father not to send his precious daughter... to the soul-shredding temples of secularism and God-hatred that are most public schools today, but I didn't have the heart for it.

Instead, my mind wandered afield to thoughts of God's inestimable kindness in giving us daughters. Sons too—but especially daughters. How they soften us up! Whether they're newborn or ten, twenty, or thirty years old, what joy they bring us! Blushes and pimples are equally beautiful and, when we hug them, we nuzzle their sweet-smelling hair and all is well in God's world. So precious to us.

These were my thoughts there in Walmart. In our age of sexual depredations, may I still speak this way without offending the righteous? 

Then I thought that this moment in this man's life was just a single act of kindness from God that is reproduced every time a man loves a woman fruitfully and is presented a daughter by His wife through the providence of God Almighty. In a few years that man luxuriates in the glorious privilege of driving her to Walmart to get her school supplies. There is no greater joy in life. Honestly.

Unless it's figuring out how to plug in the car seat, strap in your newborn ever so gently, then turn to hold your child's mother's hand as she climbs onto the passenger seat ever so gingerly for the ride home from St. Mary's Hospital. Again, no greater joy.

With fatherhood, it matters not a bit whether it's the joy of a prince or a fading shrimp of a wannabe jock at Walmart. They're both agreed and the cashier takes joy watching. What grandmother doesn't love every dutiful father? He's joyful. The mother of his newborn child is joyful as she watches his tenderness. The world looks on and even the jaded rejoice. The kingdom is reunited as it watches the prince's joy. And, over here in every last Walmart, the meek and lowly are delighted as they watch the eight-year-old order her father, "Dad, let me do it."

It was inevitable, though, that as the father pushed the cart toward the door and his daughter descended from her throne to join him, my mind turned to Reformed sub-Christians who train their daughters to disdain fruitfulness. Presbyterian churches today have taught their daughters to hate the vulnerability of true wifehood and motherhood. We despise the thought of our daughters wasting their beauty, brilliance, and great importance on marriage, home, and motherhood.

The first rule of Reformed childrearing is "My daughter will never ever be just a housewife and mother. She's made for excellence and I mean to force her to pursue it."

I say "force" because, again and again, young Reformed college freshman, both Christian schooled and home schooled, respond with great joy when we teach them from Scripture that God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, and that He desires Christian marriage to propagate a godly seed. "You mean I can aspire to be a housewife and mother?!?! I've never heard that before! You're telling me that's enough? I'm not wasting my life by doing what, in the deepest part of my heart, I've always wanted more than anything else? O happy day!"

There's no doubt in my mind that the young father running his credit card at Walmart as his daughter waits and the cashier smiles at him tenderly is closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than all the Reformed lawyers, professorettes, and engineers who know how to pronounce "sovereign" and eagerly await Crossway's Gospel Transformation Bible while training their daughters to pursue that bitch goddess of success we call "excellence."

I love vulnerable mothers who are dependent on their husbands. I love daughters whose mothers have taught them to boss their fathers around. I love school supplies. I love pregnancy and birth and babies. And in each of these, I'm in lockstep with every prior generation of God's Covenant People.

Who gives a you-know-what about excellence and brilliance when a newborn baby—yea, a newborn baby daughter—is the alternative.

Here's to you, Michal and Heidi and Heather and Hannah and Emily and Amanda and Dawn and Nicole and Anna and Becky and Joyce and Laura and...

My precious Mary Lee.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

"Vulnerable mothers dependent on their husbands" have to take whatever their husbands dish out, good or bad. 

This was wonderful!  I, too, feel a type of utter sadness when I see kids being packed up for school and wonder how anyone can muster up excitement at sending a child to the system....particularly Christians...and moreso those who actually defend the system with complete arrogance at my compassionate warnings.

Sadly, Little Queenie will grow up in a system designed to teach her that her Creator is a myth, that men are unnecessary, and her innocent beauty will not last much longer as the media messages teach her that sexuality is what is important in life.

Yet, I am a bit stoked that you shared that college students are delighted to learn about trusting God to actually do what He says He will not only do...but actually desires to do.  A bit glorious, indeed:)

Have you seen the most recent issue of TIME magazine?  The comments and editorial on this should be interesting, and like your article about public school...also painful realizations that are a reflection of a culture that doesn't appreciate gender as it should....and we ponder about it all....wondering just how much longer we can protect children from their parent's bad decisions, and a government that endorses intolerance of those who adhere to God's moral convictions.

http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/19/school-has-become-too-hostile-to-boys/?...

Thank you, Tim. The fatherly and motherly love and care that you and Mary Lee live out matter so much. I'm strengthened and challenged once again.

Thanks, Pr. Tim. As the father of four daughters, I know the special powers daughters possess to capture their fathers' hearts.

My youngest, 22 years old, finishing her last six undergraduate hours this autumn, posted this to her family and friends last week:

So Tony, Ellie and I went to the UT Club tonight as we often do on Wednesdays. However, this time I spent the whole time in the bathroom with a crying and sometimes screaming Ellie. (I think it was a bad bout of gas) Though I felt bad for baby cakes, it was strangely kind of a fun time. All the women who came in the bathroom (almost all middle aged to elderly) gave me and Ellie a look/grin of empathy and understanding. They asked me about the baby, gave me their advice and personal crying baby stories, brought me water and one even held Ellie for a bit. 

Ah - the community of motherhood. It was all so sweet. Maybe one day I'll be the older woman giving a pat on the back to a young mother - I hope so.

She and her husband are very much at the beginning of what I pray will be a long and God-honoring trek toward New Jerusalem, married now for 17 months, parents for only six. I told Tony that fatherhood would change him for the better, and I see this to my great encouragement. And what Veronica posted to us encourages me very much as well. 

I loved this post. If you want to hear crying children, about the only place to go is Walmart. Maybe church as well. On the other hand, I can't figure out why parents bring their children to Walmart to go shopping at midnight (yes, I've witnessed this).

Dear Bob,

>>"Vulnerable mothers dependent on their husbands" have to take whatever their husbands dish out, good or bad.

Just like Abraham and Sarah.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, that vulnerable mother has a God who is able to protect those who "do what is right without being frightened by any fear" (1 Peter 3).  It is always a matter of faith--will I protect myself or allow God to protect me?

Or maybe more applicable to us as men--if those women are faithful enough to be vulnerable and trust in God, will we as men be faithful enough to be their protectors against wicked men?

Bob; maybe you ought to come up with chapter and verse demonstrating how the Scriptures make your point, no?

Unless, of course, the Scriptures don't make that point at all, and that they rather provide for conditions under which the elders of the church and the agents of human government are to intervene. 

Ah - the community of motherhood. It was all so sweet. Maybe one day I'll be the older woman giving a pat on the back to a young mother - I hope so.

Alright here's my story:

In a Wal-Mart restroom--last February, I think--I had an older-man younger-man experience. A fellow father came in with his very young sons and began admonishing them to go easy on their mother (evidently there was a lot of loud asking for and grabbing of items). As he finished up with them, he sheepishly looked at me and, after we exchanged the expected "Hi how are you" and the "I've been there, too," he said, "Well, sir, you're older than I am how did you handle it?" No sarcasm; no tongue-in-cheek. He was serious, respectful and curious.

So I truthfully told him he was doing quite well and don't ever give up and so on and so forth.  And I walked out a new man. An old man!

So.

This summer I kept my beard. Usually I spend most of the hot humid season (early March through late September) with a bald face. Now I know better. 

Now I got my badge.

The name's Halsey. Andrew Halsey. Older man. Father figure for young fathers. [sniffs. strokes beard. saunters off stage like Barney Fife.]

COL. (chuckling)

Love,

Alice,

Thanks for the link to the article in Time. In my (very) humble opinion, Christina Hoff Sommers does great work and is usually spot on. She has nailed it on this one and the few comments I read seem to bear it out. Another issue with young boys in school (public or Christian) is that most classrooms just aren't set up to accommodate them. There's way too much time sitting quietly at a desk, which is much more difficult for boys than girls.

Bert: Scripture for what? It's a true statement. If you are vulnerable, you *do* have to put up with what your husband dishes out, good or bad. 

Bob,

What you said is true. But children have to take what their mothers and fathers dish out, fathers have to take what the boss dishes out...it goes on and on. We all are vulnerable. We all take something from someone. The point is are we going to trust God with our lives or not? Are we going to submit to the order He has created or not? Because ultimately God will dish out judgment to those who don't. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

"The first rule of Reformed childrearing is "My daughter will never ever be just a housewife and mother. She's made for excellence and I mean to force her to pursue it.""

  I might add a second rule:"My son will never ever be just a father and provider. He's made for excellence and he'd better not let a family get in the way." Boys are more easily sucked into ambition on their own, though, without need of a mother's help. 

Scripture's Proverbs 31 woman did not seem the least bit vulnerable. I don't know why one would say vulnerability is an ideal.

Parents do not want their children to be vulnerable, nor do bosses want that from their employees. Only someone who enjoyed "ruling" over another would create a requirement for vulnerability where Scripture does not require it.

>>I don't know why one would say vulnerability is an ideal.

Bob, one of the marks of callow youth is the propensity to declare one's foolishness rather than making simple and humble requests for instruction. This is you. Ignorant of Scripture and devoid of wisdom, you turn your callowness into a principle, building your life and reputation on it.

We may take some small comfort in the fact that you are discrete about your identity, commenting under your (I assume) first name, only. But even that, I fear, is more likely the fruit of a lack of the manly principle than the presence of tact and humility.

Specifically, your naive declaration above shows you are sorely lacking in your knowledge of sexuality as well as the teaching of God's Word. The first thing any man with eyes open just a tiny slit knows about woman is that she is burdened with the utter vulnerability of pregnancy, the pain of childbirth, the ceaseless toil of nursing of her young which by its very nature relegates her to a privacy man escapes, and woman universally testifies to the fact that, from the moment of her child's birth, she is owned by that child to a depth and intensity fathers find unfathomable.

Turning from general revelation, we find Scripture testifying to that same feminine vulnerability in its declarations that it was not Adam, but Eve who was deceived; that false shepherds are known by their preying on weak-willed women; that woman is the weaker sex; that woman is the glory of man whereas man is the image and glory of God; that woman is forbidden to teach or exercise authority over man; that woman as wife is to submit to and obey man as husband; and that looking at all this vulnerability God has ordained, woman is not to give in to fear, but rather to trust God.

Feminine vulnerability is no ideal, but simply a fact of God's Creation Order. Women is made by God to be weaker and therefore to elicit and depend upon man's love and protection.

As Scripture commands us, "in understanding, be men."

Lovingly yours,

Thank you, Mr. Bayly. I will point out that I know many young, fit and strong women who are not weaker than the men around them. Not at all. In particular, they are much stronger than most middle-aged and older men.  

"I will point out that I know many young, fit and strong women who are not weaker than the men around them."

Bob, you're missing the point. It is Scripture, not Tim Bayly (except in quoting Scripture) that refers to woman as "the weaker vessel." When it comes to Scripture, either you're a Christian and you believe Scripture (in which case you need to believe it, and trust God that He didn't make a mistake when He inspired the phrase "weaker vessel"), or you're not.

To be "weaker" is not the same as to be "weak." Let a mother tell you about carrying around another human being inside your body for nine months; it ain't for the weak! And obviously "weaker" does not apply absolutely to every characteristic of a woman. For example, my wife's patience with our children is much stronger than my own; but she is nevertheless the "weaker vessel." That is the Bible's phrase, not mine, not Tim Bayly's; and it is true.

Finally, to be weaker or weak is not a failure; see in the epistles where Paul writes about glorying in his weakness. It takes a strength-worshiping (male-worshiping) culture to come up with the idea that weakness is a failure. And clearly if we're worshiping strength, then we're not worshiping God. So something's gotta change (and worshiping weakness is not the solution).

Anyone wondering about the results of submitting to God's created order of male headship and female submission would be edified by reading "The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot.  I just finished reading the book for the second time.  Her parents didn't "kick against the goads", but embraced God's order for the family, leaving a legacy of an orderly, God-fearing home in reliance upon the Lord, prayer, submitting to His Word.  The Bible said it and her parents believed it and lived it. Her father was the head, provider, and protector of the home, and her mother was his helper, submitting to his leadership with joy and gratitude.  Look at the families who don't embrace such a thing and you see self-seeking, disorder, and every evil thing (cf. James 3:13-18). 

A woman who desired such a man would be very careful  not to marry a man with whom she couldn't feel safe and secure under his headship.  Fathers would be careful not to let their daughters marry just any man who proposed, but would be looking for a man who embraced and lived biblical manhood.

Blessings,

Nancy

Thank you for this helpful meditation.

I'm sure you've seen this before, but it was new to me and seems appropriate:

“Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other?

God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.” ― Martin Luther

Nancy,

I loved this book.

Hi Carol,

Glad someone else has read it.  I can't recommend it highly enough! I found it both convicting and encouraging.  I read it with some regret since neither my husband nor I were Christians until mid-life, so too late to raise our son "in the Lord", but we have to trust Romans 8:28!

Blessings,

Nancy

Related to the original post.

A father protecting his daughter.

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