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Father’s Day and the Bible

Posted on June 16, 2013 at 6:52 PM Comments comments (0)

Text: Psalm 103:13 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the
Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”

As I was praying and researching a message for Father’s Day I was excited to find a Father’s Day letter that was sent from a young man to his Father.

Hi Papa,

I can never forget the hardships you have gone through to bring me to the level I am today. I remember the time when I was ill, you carried me on your back & took me to the hospital. How can I forget that hand of yours that supported me as I stood up and began to walk? You provided me comfort even if you had to toil hard. Now I have grown up, and still you become worried even with my slightest sneeze. This shows your immense love for me.


The protective arms of a father are essential for every child. In this Journal, I’ll do two major points, (1) a brief history of Father’s Day, and (2) what the Bible says about fathers. My objective is to challenge Christians to honor the earthly fathers in light of our heavenly Father.  I’ll first begin with the brief history of this unique occasion.

A Brief History of Father’s Day
Despite the controversy in the theories of the origin and development of Father’s Day, most historians agree that Sonora Smart Dodd is credited as having been the founder of this historic day in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Inspired by the success of Anna Jarvis in the promotion of Mother’s Day in the United States, Sonora started a Father’s Day campaign. She participated in the celebration of Mother’s Day, and after hearing a sermon on Jarvis’ mother, she decided to honor fathers. At the age of 27, Sonora planned to start by honoring her own father, Mr. Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Her father had become a single parent when his wife Ellen died in childbirth, leaving him with five young boys to raise. Sonora was only 16 when her mother died. Mrs. Dodd began a rigorous campaign to celebrate Father's Day in the U.S. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) supported Sonora's cause. As a result Spokane celebrated its first Father's Day on June 19, 1910.

Prior to Sonora’s Father’s Day, other historians believe that the first Father’s Day service was held on “July 4, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams’ Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father when, on December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monogah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers.”  Clayton’s campaign touched her pastor, Rev. Robert Thomas Webb. He had the service to honor those who died during the disaster. Grace selected the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her father, minister Fletcher Golden. This was considered the first Father’s Day.

Father’s Day Controversy

For a Father’s Day and Mother’s Day to have one single celebration was a major controversy that sparked out in the 1920s and 1930s. Therefore, a Parents’ Day was organized. On every Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park – "a public reminder,” said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” This debate continued for many years.

The Legalization of Father’s Day

Recognition of Father’s Day into law in the United States of America was a gradual process. The first bill introduced in Congress in 1913 failed. President Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Father’s Day celebration in Spokane. He intended to make it official, but Congress disagreed fearing the commercialization of the day. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended for Congress to make the day official, but that also failed. “In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.” Finally, President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. This law put to death the Parents’ Day Campaign to this day. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World's Fair in Spokane in 1974. She died in 1978 at age 96. Let’s hear what the Bible says about fathers.

What Bible Say about Fathers?

God ordained fatherhood (Gn 1:27, 5:2; Mt 19:4). Because of the importance of fatherhood, the word father is found 1, 573 times in 1,335 verses in the New International Version of 1984. I pray that God will speak to your hearts through His Word as you carefully  read these Bible verses:

  • Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
  • Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
  • Proverbs 10:1 “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.”
  • Proverbs 13: 22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
  • Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
  • Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
  • Psalm 78: 5-8 “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;….”
  • Malachi 2:10 “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”
  • Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
  • Matthew 23: 9 “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
  • Luke 15: 20-24 “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
  • Galatians 4:6 “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
  • Colossians 3: 21 “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”


A Father’s Day celebration was motivated by the successful Mother’s Day initiated by Anna Jarvis in 1908. Most historians agree that Sonora Smart Dodd is the founder of this historic day in Spokane, Washington. The Parents’ Day opposition gained momentum in the 1920s and 1930s but died when Father’s Day was legalized in Congress, and signed into law by President Richard in 1972.

Thank you fathers for all that you do for your children. For those fathers who do not know where their children are, or have children who now have stepfathers, Paul writes, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14). I received an e-mail from Day Spring promoting its father’s day cards that reads, “The heart of a father is found in the heart of God. In order for a man to be the kind of father that his children need, a man must understand what kind of father God is to his children.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Special appeal:

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