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A Fatherless Generation

It's no secret that millennials are living in a fatherless generation. In Canada there are over 1.6 million children living in single-parent families. Of these over 80 percent are without their fathers (Statistics Canada).

Father-deprivation is a greater indicator of criminal activity than race, poverty, or environment.

Fatherless boys are four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioural problems, and 85% of youth in prison came from fatherless homes (Texas Department of Corrections).

While this glaring problem grows worse, young people are also less inclined to seek wise counsel. These repercussions are especially alarming, but have been forever recurring.

In 930 B.C. the newly crowned King of Israel, Rehoboam, faced a challenging obstacle. One of his officials, Jeroboam, and an assembly of others in Israel pleaded that he reduce the penalty his father, Solomon, had afflicted on them.

Towards the end of Solomon's life, he learned that Jeroboam was plotting to steal part of the kingdom. King Solomon responded by severely taxing these tribes.

Jeroboam's request was simple: "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on, and we will serve you" (1 Kings 12:4).

At this point Rehoboam had to respond to an issue that he wasn't overly familiar with. The most sensible way to handle it would be to ask people directly involved in the conflict.

Rehoboam does just that, he consults the elders who served with his father Solomon; their advice is for him to become a servant to these people, to give them a favourable answer, and as a result they will always be his servants (1 Kings 12:7).

Rather than apply these instructions Rehoboam rejects them altogether and instead consults the young men he had grown up with. Their advice is the polar opposite: "tell these father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with whips" (1 Kings 12:11).

The inexperienced King chose to follow the advice of the young men. He promises to not just discipline these Israelis with taxation, but also with forced labour.

This action proves costly and marks the beginning of the split of the kingdom, ten of the twelve tribes abandon Judah, and have been in rebellion ever since (1 Kings 12:19).

Had Rehoboam listened to the elders, perhaps this division wouldn't exist so oppressively today.

Honouring those who have gone before you is essential, but it is becoming a lost art. The evolution of technology can be blamed in some ways for this. Never before has our world sought the younger generation to teach the older like it is with computers, cell phones, and videos.

But, ultimately we are at fault. Our negligence to appreciate the wisdom that our elders have is problematic. Even though the ancient world is criticized for the way young men were coerced to only follow their father's line of work, there was an implicit respect and appreciation of knowledge passed down the generations.

Even if we do have fatherly and motherly figures in our life, it's only to our own detriment not to at least hear them out.

"Honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Last week I posted a video about validation in gender identity; I shared an example from when I was a kid about how I had been affirmed by my dad. You can watch the video here.

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