The Unique Roles of Mums and Dads

Our culture is increasingly confused about gender and all that it means for marriage, families, parenting and the flourishing of children.

Last week, it was remarkable to watch U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson say that she was unable to define what a woman is. Asked by a Senator to provide a definition for the word, Jackson responded, “No. I can’t. Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.”

Even if our culture is confused, God is not. He created both male and female in his image (Genesis 1:27). He explains that when a man comes of age he leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). One of the things God seeks from this union is godly offspring (Malachi :15).

Family dynamics are deeply important to God. He commands children to honour their father and mother (Exodus 20:12). He promises parents that if they start their children off on the way they should go, even when they are old they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).

God expects parents to provide for their own household, and he warns that to neglect this is to deny the faith (1 Timothy 5:8). He tells fathers not to exasperate their children but to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Lest we are tempted to think that these are just commandments for Christians, Psalm 24:1 declares that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. God repeats this theme when he says in Ezekiel 18:4a, “everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me.”

In other words, these aren’t mere “religious rules”. They are God’s handbook for successful living for all people.

Science agrees. Thousands of studies spanning decades of research affirm the vital role of both a mother and a father in the socialisation of children.

The witness of both Scripture and science is why the Australian Christians are strongly committed to policies that strengthen families and protect the rights of children.

Parenting is not a genderless endeavour. A child’s experience of parenting is always defined by a parent’s gender. It is a simple fact of life that mums and dads love differently, lead differently, and play with their children differently. Generally speaking, fathers represent the structured and disciplined aspects of life, while mothers represent care and nurture.

The way a child views the world is deeply shaped by both of these perspectives. The love and example of both a mum and a dad are crucial in the development of a child. This is to be expected. Both male and female are made in the image of God — and together they provide a full picture of the image of God.

Of course, some children miss out on a mum and a dad due to difficult or tragic circumstances. There are many single parents doing a phenomenal job in such situations. Christians have an important role to play in providing love and compassion to single parents who need support. Extended family likewise play a vital role where a mother or a father are missing.

It must also be said that following God’s design for marriage and family doesn’t prevent failures and abuses from taking place. Even within a bride-and-groom covenant, God holds every mother and father responsible for how they treat each other and their children. And he provides an abundance of grace to help us live out our various callings.

But even with these caveats in place, we should never deliberately deprive a child of their God-given right to both their mother and their father. And we should never place the happiness and convenience of parents over the wellbeing of children.

Ironically, in an age preoccupied with diversity, the one place that diversity is being rejected is in parenting. Two mums or two dads doesn’t cut it. One of each is the optimal, God-given safe place for a child to be raised.

For all these reasons, we invite you to stand with Australian Christians for policies that protect biblical marriage, healthy parenting and happy, flourishing children.

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