Father's Day sermon
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
There has been a trend in popular media, especially movies, a rather troubling trend. In superhero movies, male superheroes are replaced with basically the same but female characters. And not only that, whenever a strong female character is introduced, the male characters around her are almost always portrayed as wimps.
Whether it’s an intentional attack on masculinity, or attempts to spread some sort of ideologies, or lack of talent in today’s screen writers, the point is clear – our society, for some reason, does not want us to have strong men and strong women. It has to be either one or the other.
I am not going to get into why this is so. Mostly because I myself do not know the answer. But, just like few weeks ago on Mother’s Day we looked at the role women, not just mothers, play in the life of each family and community; today, on Father’s Day, we will look at the role men play in the same families and communities.
We can and should have strong women and men in our lives, no matter what the popular culture is trying to say. We can and should be those strong men and women in our communities.
Every woman is a mother, even if she never gave birth. Women, in general, are more nurturing. Through this nurturing they bring order to chaos of the world. We need women, we need mothers because without them we would not know what is love.
What is men’s role, then? Are men set in opposition to women, like we are being told and groomed by the current culture?
No, men and women do not exist as opposites to each other. Men and women complement each other, they complete one another.
At the creation of the world, after God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). After creating a woman out of Adam’s rib, God brought her to him, and Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).
Notice, God did not create Eve as an opposite to Adam, but “comparable to him.” And Adam did not see her as his opponent, but “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”
Men and women, masculinity and femininity, complete each other; they are not some sort of weird rivals. And we do not need to belittle one when trying to portray a strong character of the other. That wickedness is left to people who have no idea what they are doing.
So, men. What are men good for? What do they do?
If women nurture their families and communities as mothers (even if they never give birth), then men protect the sanctity of those families and communities as fathers (even if they never biologically fathered a child).
To be a male is to be a father, spiritually and literally. To be a father means to be a priest. Therefore, masculinity is priesthood.
I am going to unpack what I mean, but first I must clarify that by priesthood here I do not mean ritualistic priesthood. I am a priest that performs specific rituals in a specific setting. But that’s not the only kind of priesthood that exists because every man is called to the priesthood.
What kind of priesthood is it then?
Last week, for my Pentecost sermon, I mentioned that in the ancient times gods were seen to dwell on mountains or in gardens. That’s why, for example, the people in Babel wanted to build the tower, which was a ziggurat, pyramid, that looked like a mountain – to bring God down to them. Taj Mahal (the one in India, not Atlantic City) is an example of a garden built for a god.
Eden was, likewise, a garden built by God after the creation of Adam, but before Even. “Then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, and there He put the man He formed” (Genesis 2:7-8).
And God gave a specific job to the man in the garden – to tend and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15). Adam’s task of cultivation, however, was not related to farming. The food for man and woman in Eden was the fruit of the trees, not the produce of the land (Genesis 2:16). Having to work the land to produce food and to survive is depicted as a result of the fall into sin (Genesis 3:17-19).
This garden created by God was in fact a temple, and the garden activity assigned to Adam before their rebellion against God was priesthood. Part of Adam’s role as priest in the garden was to protect the sanctity of that place. Adam was the first human priest and his job was to take care of what God had given him.
In the Old Testament, which is by the way part of our history, the history of the Christian Church, we see heads of various families, fathers, perform priestly duties. First of all, that is done in providing protection for their families. And also, in offering sacrifices on behalf of their families and everyone under their authority.
So we see that from the very beginning, to be a man means to be a father, understood both spiritually and literally, and it also means to serve as a priest before God, interceding with Him for those under his authority, and speaking, teaching, correcting, and reconciling them to and for God.
Women are mothers who nurture the sanctity, men are fathers who protect what is sacred and maintain it in purity. There is no opposition between the two because they are complements.
We can and do have strong women, real-life superheroes, without putting down men and making them look like wimps. We can and do have strong men, who are called by Christ to serve as priests in their families, their workplace, their communities, and their church communities. They are called to this, and called away from those traits commonly associated with masculinity in our culture, such as dominance, aggression, and competitiveness, which are results of the fall into sin.
As we remember all the men in our lives, our fathers, we pray to God for them. And for the men that are here today, we ask the Lord for strength as they protect the sanctity of the families and communities entrusted to their care by God.
And we always praise, worship, and glorify one God in Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages.
This sermon was inspired by Fr Stephen De Young's article "Priesthood and Masculinity"