Blended families are extremely common in our time, but most of the time they don’t work as smoothly as they did on the Brady Bunch.  I do need to understand blended families aren’t a new thing.  Abraham and Sarah had a blended family in that he was the father of several children.  He had Isaac the son of promise with Sarah, Ishmael by Hagar and he has several children with Katura mentioned in Genesis 25 but about whom we know almost nothing.  Can you imagine how much effort went into keeping the blended family going when Jacob had thirteen children by four different women.  Two of the mothers were sisters to each other and the other two were servants of the two sisters.  If you looked inside David’s family and saw the relationship between the different children with their half brothers and sisters it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I’ve not had any couselling cases in which the problems became so drastic that one of the children decided to kill his half brother because he had raped his full sister.  It doesn’t really seem that any of the children had great respect for their dad even though he was the king of Israel and was the most highly respected king they ever had.  If you were to come down one more generation and look at the blended families in Solomon’s family it would cause all the others to pale by comparison.  I doubt Solomon could remember all his wives names much less all the children had by the different wives and concubines.

If you think about it the family that Jesus grew up in was a blended family.  Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married when it became obvious that she was pregnant and Joseph knew the child wasn’t his since he had never had sex with her.  The child was a miracle baby because the Holy Spirit of God came upon Mary and even though she was a virgin she became pregnant with a child that would be the very son of God.  Joseph had the angel of the Lord to come to him in a dream to explain the situation to him and to inform him that his wife to be hadn’t been unfaithful to him and that he should take her as his wife and not have any sexual relationship with her until after this baby was born.  In time they would have other sons and daughters who would be Jesus half brothers and sisters.  Do you remember when Joseph and Mary took Jesus when he was twelve years old up to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast and when they started home they supposed that Jesus was with other family members.  After a couple of days they realized he wasn’t with them and headed back to Jerusalem to find him.  It took a while but they finally found him in the temple talking with the religious teachers and leaders, asking them questions and answering the questions they asked him.

Mary spoke up for both of them when she asked Jesus why he had treated them in such a way.  Didn’t he know that his father and her were worried about him?  I suspect that Jesus reminder to both Joseph and Mary hit hard that day.  He said, “Did you not know that I had to be about my father’s business?” (Or that I had to be in my father’s house).  It was a powerful reminder that he wasn’t the child of Joseph and Mary.  God was his father and Mary was his mother.  Yet the phrase that follows said a lot about Jesus and about Joseph.  “He went down to their house and was subject to Mary and Joseph.”  It seems very likely that Joseph died while Jesus was still a young man and that his mother was left with a large family of children and the responsibility to raise them on her own.  The fact that Mark pictures the people of Nazareth calling Jesus the carpenter and saying that his brothers, sisters and mother were still among them tells us a lot about Jesus.  Most likely when Joseph died Jesus took up the step father’s trade as a carpenter and supported the family until they reached the maturity to support themselves.  That may be at least part of the reason Jesus waited until he was 30 years old to begin his ministry.

I’ve had many a young person to look at the man who has been there to bring them up, paid for all their expenses, provided food for their table and put clothes on their back and declare he isn’t my daddy.  Most will go ahead and declare that the man who fathered them is their daddy in spite of the fact he left them to do his own thing, acted selfishly beyond belief and never helped to provide for their needs at all.  Each time I want to cry out to them, don’t you realize it takes more to be a daddy than being a sperm donor to your mother.  Being a dad has to do with being there for your children, crying with them, laughing with them and providing discipline when they need it.  I always hope that the day will come when the child will mature and realize just how blessed they have been to have a man in their life who won’t pick up and run away every time something doesn’t go right for him.  Real dads are there through the thick and thin of life.  They are there when you act like you love them and when you act like you hate them.

I also hope deeply that that child will grow up to imitate the man who has been a real dad to them by being there day and night and meeting their needs when it was easy and when it was hard.  This world has had far too many dads who were satisfied to have the pleasure of producing a child but not the manhood to raise them.  When God described the duty of read dad’s it went like this, “You father, don’t provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the training and discipline of the Lord.”

Even when God was the one to provide the means for Mary to get pregnant, He still wanted his son to grow up in a family where there would be a resident dad to would train and discipline him in the right way.

Every child deserves to have a real dad who loves being with them, enjoys playing with them, and works alongside them to show them how to take care of themselves and others as the years roll by.  I know a great mother can bring her children up right on her own.  But I also know that having to do so isn’t something God intended.  He knew a child needed the influence of both a father and mother.  He needed the toughness of a dad who would correct the wrong and praise the right whether I liked it or not.  He also needs the tenderness of a mother who loves us all the time and can feel the hurts and pains down inside us when no one else can.  For one to grow up tough enough to stand for what is right even when it isn’t popular and to be dependent enough that I never feel like I am sufficient on my own without God or man requires both influences.

If you are a dad talk to your sons about being a dad that will always be there for their children.  Also talk to your daughters about making sure they are in a healthy marriage with a man who will stick around when the going becomes difficult before they start having children.  I hope there will arise a real movement to honor dad’s who take up the slack left by pretend dad’s who only have enough maturity to be selfish brats themselves.  These dad’s deserve all kinds of praise and encouragement.  God knows what you are going through and He will bless you for what you have done as a real dad.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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