One of the ways the New Testament envisages the church is as a family. Jesus famously sets the pattern for this in Mark 3:

‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

Mark 3:33-35

On Friend Zone, I’ve often talked about the way the church is supposed to be family. One thing which I’ve begun to realise, however, is that the church isn’t supposed to be like a family: I think the family is a picture of the church. In short, the church is the ‘real deal’ – the family is only the shadow. The family is supposed to give a little picture of what the church is like.

I will develop this line of thought further at a future date. But today I just want to focus on one aspect – that of fatherhood. A year ago I wrote an article, Mummy’s boys and daddy’s girls do better. As I’ve been thinking about it over the last few months, I’ve come to believe it’s actually vitally important.

One of the things which is hugely valuable as a child is knowing the love of both parents – the security of having a loving mother and father. As I wrote last year, the opposite-sex relationship is actually very important, as it helps begin to understand the opposite sex and how to relate to them.

Now, consider what happens in a society where fathers are often absent. What would that do to children – especially girls growing up without their fathers? A common consequence of absent fathers for girls is sexual activity at a young age. Why should this be the case? I think it’s because we all crave love, and young women who’ve been raised without dads crave male affection – and think the only way they can get that is through a sexual relationship. In a world where love between men and women is primarily seen as sexual, then what other option do they have?

This is where the church needs to step up. Men in the church have a huge opportunity now to love these women, women who perhaps have never known a man’s love in a non-sexual way. What fatherless young people are crying out for is men who can step up and show them what real love looks like. Self-sacrificial, genuine, love.

The problem is, this is never going to happen in a church culture which is too afraid of men and women spending time together out of fear. We in the church need to learn to fight with the weapons of the Spirit, not the weapons of the flesh. If we can learn to walk in step with the Spirit, I feel we have a chance of showing the world a better way – telling ‘A Better Story’. If we continue to pursue Pharisaical godliness, people are going to keep on being hurt.