Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
I have always appreciated President Obama as a family man. He and first lady Michelle have popularized several healthy family practices. For example, his practice of date night is something that thousands of congregations have taught for several decades. In some ways, he is the nation’s father in chief! He has had the opportunity to serve the US as the nation’s paternal role model. When a father stands for and lives by truth, “the blessing” of the scriptures comes upon both the man and his family. In addition, a good father figure emulates the character of God and in special circumstances can be an instrument of healing for wounded hearts far beyond his own family.

Unfortunately, the president's politically motivated “revelation” concerning same-sex marriage has forced his staunchest supporters (black church goers) into a compromising position. They have to choose between their faith and the historic presidency of Barack Obama.

Entire black denominations are officially denouncing the president's stance on marriage. More practically, secular leaders wonder what could happen to the definition of the word ‘father.” Would the role of a father get diminished, eviscerated, or ignored by homosexual marriage? Some educators question, “How does reading the book Heather Has Two Mommies affect a child’s understanding of his or her own family? How will a child with a ‘fluid’ understanding of families interpret their own future role in a family? Further, where will the next generation find role models for fathering?”

For the sake of clarity, let’s define the word father. Miriam Webster’s Student Dictionary defines “father” as follows:

1. a male parent

2. an ancestor

3. one who cares for another as a father might

4. a person who invents or begins something, the father of modern science

5. a priest -- used especially as a title

After reading Webster’s current definitions, I concluded that fatherhood matters. It matters in three dimensions literally, figuratively, and spiritually. They are needed on many different levels in a modern society. Please don't mistake this observation for misogynism. My affirmation of fatherhood is not meant to demean women or the traditional feminine role in a family. In fact, the average person knows that it takes both a mom and a dad to raise consistently healthy children.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.