MAN ENOUGH: Fatherhood as a Sacred Responsibility Every Man is Armed For | By Rev. Fr. George Ehusani & Dr. Yaw Perbi


Father’s Day is marked annually on the third Sunday of June in many countries across the world. It is a fitting day not only to celebrate the gift of our fathers (and husbands), but also to highlight some of the elements of the unique and sacred vocation of fatherhood. As responsible fathers ourselves (by God’s grace), we take this opportunity to celebrate fatherhood and to encourage all and sundry that what we have been called for, we have been simultaneously designed for and divinely equipped enough to accomplish.


The Source of Fatherhood

In many religious traditions, God the Almighty Creator is recognised as the Pre-eminent Father. God is the One to whom the title of Father truly belongs in an original and primary sense, because God is the Source, the Creator and the Sustainer of the Universe. Human beings are only called fathers in a derivative, participatory, imitative and secondary sense, since in some way through procreation, human agents do partake in the generative process. From this point of view, the fatherhood vocation is a profound and an inestimable privilege for the adult male species. But this privilege of sharing in the human generative process and being addressed as father, like the Almighty Father, comes with critical responsibilities that cannot be shirked on a wide scale without significant deleterious consequences for the entire society and for multiple generations.

For the purposes of this article,  by fatherhood we refer to all men, fathers and fathers-to-be, biological and functional alike. Fatherhood is a profound phenomenon that calls for a great measure of accountability on those who knowingly assume the task, or those who have the task foisted upon them by circumstances. We can describe fatherhood as a function, and not simply a title or a name. The father plays critical, irreplaceable roles that shape the lives of the children. He is the progenitor, the source of identity, and the one who enables the children to have a definite sense of self. He lays the foundation for the children that leaves a long lasting impact on future generations. The father is the primary provider, the sustainer, the protector, the guardian, the teacher, and the role model of those who call him father.  He is the emotional anchor and the wellspring of stability for not only the children, but also the wife and others who live with them. The father inspires the children, nurturing their dreams and aspirations, encouraging them to reach for the stars and pursue their passions and God-given purpose. He instils confidence and builds self-esteem, paving the way for his children’s success in life.


The State of Fatherhood

Fatherhood is characterised by love and tenderness, but also discipline, decisiveness, courage and sacrifice. Fathers ideally possess an innate instinct to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of the members of their families over their own, ensuring that the wife and the children are shielded from the vagaries of life. With their effort to provide for the family, fathers teach their children the value of hard work, responsibility, diligence, integrity and perseverance; and in this way, equipping the children with the required tools to navigate life’s inevitable challenges and disruptive circumstances. The father is the source of stability and the rock-solid shoulder to lean on, amid the chaos, the insecurity, the instability and the uncertainties of life. He is the source of encouragement, reassurance, and hope, at the most difficult times in the life of the family members.  Indeed, fatherhood is a godly enterprise. The fatherhood vocation is an invitation to live out in the concrete circumstances of family life, the human potential for responsibility, commitment, deferred gratification, courage, and sacrificial (selfless) love.

Yet, the number one crisis of the Twenty First Century appears to be the absence of the fatherhood role model. Many young people today are “fatherless,” not because they have no male parent alive, but because their male parent has either been completely absent from their lives, or they have been a source of scandal and trauma, and they are remembered only with pain, regret, and resentment. Thus, often lacking in models of positive masculinity to emulate in their growing years, many young men are today struggling with a variety of character defects that amount to negative masculinity, including the psycho-emotional abuse of their wives, actual physical battering, and remorseless infidelity. Many young men have little or no sense of commitment to their families or responsibility for the children they have brought into the world.

Many children have indeed had their innocent minds defiled and their delicate sensibilities assaulted, as they watched their fathers beat their mothers or heard them vomit venomous invectives on the ones they called their wives. While many young men struggle with what they saw in their formative years, and sometimes they have ended up exhibiting the same traits of negative masculinity in their own marital relationships, many young women on the other hand, have grown up with deep-seated resentment and hateful feelings against the male species in general, on account of what they saw as gross injustices and inequities, or glaring imbalance in power relations between their fathers and their mothers. In many cases what they witnessed as children is the callous and blatant abuse of power and privilege by the menfolk. And it doesn’t help that in the effort to emancipate and affirm women and girls over the last half-a-century, positive masculinity has suffered both direct and collateral damage.

The global celebration of Father’s Day this year is a most fitting occasion to remind the men—the fathers, the would-be fathers and the father-figures in our society—to spare a moment to reflect on the enormous privilege and the sacred responsibility that come with fatherhood, and to work in concert with other individuals and groups, towards overcoming the gross anomaly of toxic masculinity that contradicts all the lofty ideals of fatherhood outlined above. Far from being a bully, the husband who often doubles as father, is ideally “one who cultivates, nourishes, tills, and tends” the wife and the children. The male headship of families in our society is not something to be achieved through domination and coercion, but through a high sense of responsibility, commitment, and sacrifice. Today, experts in the Christian Scriptures hold that even the allegedly controversial statement of St. Paul in Ephesians Chapter 5, that wives should be submissive to their husbands, is (in the context of the entire passage and in the context of the teachings and practical examples of Christ), not an endorsement of any form of misogyny, to be expressed in psychological abuse, wife battering or domestic terrorism. Instead, the husband is admonished to love, cherish, and honour his wife.


The Supply of Fatherhood

While gender-based violence (and such) tends to be associated with males’ abuse of power, perceived or real, a concomitant but often missed cause of such negative masculinity actually comes from a place of inadequacy. Hurting people hurt people, insecure people make others insecure too. Men who abuse others often do so from a place of feeling inferior or being too small in the head or heart to handle perceived or real threats to their person or towards what they care about. On this Fathers’ Day, we call on all men—fathers and fathers-to-be alike, both biological and functional fathers—to know that they have all that is needed and have all that it takes for positive masculinity. You are enough, man enough. Abusing others doesn’t make you a man; it actually makes you less of a man. Even less of a human.

In encouraging men to rise up to life’s challenges and to live out their God-given identity and purpose, the expression used in many contexts is “man up.” However, inherent in ‘manning up’ is the danger that one has to harness some ethereal resources and put forward a personality that is neither them nor theirs. On this Father’s Day, again, we sound a clarion call and offer an alternative paradigm to ‘manning up’: man enough! You are man enough. Where you feel or fear a lack of wisdom, courage or strength, call to the ultimate source and intricate designer of fatherhood Himself: Father God. Author and apostle James concurs: If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5, Amplified Bible) Being a good man isn’t just good for others, it is good for you. One has such a sense of fulfillment and happiness having accomplished the purpose of one’s being.



Finally, recognising that many young men today have not had the good fortune of being raised or mentored by exemplary fatherhood role models, perhaps individuals and organisations, and especially religious groups, who are sufficiently invested in the promotion of positive masculinity for the wholesome development of our society, must begin to take on the project of healing our youths of their traumatic experiences with toxic masculinity while growing up, and forming the boys particularly in the above outlined principles and practices, values and virtues of ideal fatherhood. Men, you are man enough. Happy Father’s Day.



This op-ed is an initiative of the Ford Foundation Office of West Africa towards ending Gender Based Violence.

The writers:

 Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, Executive Director of Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, Abuja Nigeria.

Dr. Yaw Perbi, Founder and Global CEO of The HuD Group, an international human development NGO (



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