“A Christmas Carol,” written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, is a riveting fictional tale about the transformation of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge into a renewed, joyful and generous man. After his conversion, Scrooge made a number of resolutions to help others and began to follow through on each one. Dickens wrote:
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father.
A second father? Is that awesome? I have known this story for years and never caught that detail. The renewed Scrooge became generous with far more than just his money.
In 1843, the problem of fatherlessness was real. Most of it was caused by tuberculosis, scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid, cholera, whooping cough and wars. Today, fatherlessness flourishes more by choice.
Are you ready for a devastating statistic? Are you sure? In the mid-1960s, five to six percent of American babies were born out of wedlock. Today, it’s 41 percent. And over half of all births to women under age 30 are out of wedlock. Over half! A second father can be a huge blessing but more and more American kids need a first one.
What is going on? Let’s not mince words. Much of America holds marriage in disdain. Day after day, we watch pundits, politicians, judges and journalists work hard to devalue fatherhood and decompose marriage at its definitional core. The notion that children have a right to a married dad and mom in a loving home is all but lost on today’s America, a nation otherwise obsessed with “rights” for ourselves.
We are becoming a nation of unconverted Scrooges.
Restoring fatherhood and family is a mission with ancient roots. Listen to the last words in the Old Testament on the mission of a prophet yet to come:
He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. (Malachi 4:6)
Children need fathers more than money, government, orphanages, television and schools combined. Growing up with a dad generally yields better academic performance and lower rates of poverty, alcoholism, crime, promiscuity, homosexuality, depression, suicide, drug abuse and more. Fatherhood is central not only to what children need, but also to who God is in relation to His children. Jesus understood this.
We need more Scrooges, whether they have kids of their own or not, to honestly face their past, present and future ghosts (a picture of genuine repentance) and become a second dad to a needy child. This takes so much more than money.