Something shifted within me three years ago. My heart was moved in entirely new and different ways upon the birth of my son. Truth be told, I’m more easily emotional than I used to be.
I now have to steel myself to prevent weepiness at the stop light when Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Teach Your Children” comes on the radio. Those other drivers just wouldn’t understand.
Finding Nemo used to be my least favorite Disney/Pixar film. Now as the father of a boy, I’ve realized that, well, I am Marlin.
I’ve read some prayerful Scriptures aloud over my son at all three of his birthday parties. I really thought I’d get through this year’s reading without welling up. Well, I’m 0 for 3 now.
And all this, silly and sobering as it may be, is a blessing in my continued sanctification and emotional education.
It is a good thing. It is a God thing, this changing and softening of a man’s heart when he becomes a father. It’s intrinsic to our makeup, design and destiny—and now science agrees.
Recent Research shows that fatherhood leads to a drop in testosterone. The study suggests that men’s bodies “evolved” hormonal systems that helped them with a deeper commitment to family once children were born.
One Harvard researcher commented on the results, “The real take-home message is that male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.”
He goes on, “Unfortunately, I think American males have been brainwashed to believe lower testosterone means that maybe you’re a wimp, that it’s because you’re not really a man….My hope would be that this kind of research has an impact on the American male. It would make them realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.”
For the Christian, this should only be seen as confirmation that men are fearfully and wonderfully made to be committed fathers. The Bible speaks often to the father’s role in the life of his children, nowhere more explicitly than in Proverbs.
One of my key prayers over my boy is Proverbs 23:26: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” I painted and posted it over his bed as reminder to me that I’m to be deeply involved in this little boy’s life—to the point that I earn his full trust as a daddy whose heart is enraptured by the Heavenly Father.
This is what we were created for, gentlemen. The Bible and our biology cry aloud that we are no longer to be wanderers—for our good and that of society. An unhelpful quote from a popular book of my generation (see how easily the dad phraseology comes now?) is that the “core of a man’s heart is undomesticated” and because we have wild hearts, our souls must belong in the wilderness instead of the tended garden. This is a doctrine of manhood that is as unhelpful as it is unbiblical—and, as science now proves, unbiological.
We are not created to be testosterone-adled Lost Boys with wild hearts seeking to get out of the garden God has laid before us to cultivate and to keep watch over. God placed the first man in the garden to “work and keep it” (Gen. 2:15), where his life would not be shaped by escapades or dead-end identity quests but by embracing his Creator-ordained role as lead covenant keeper and cultivator of a family.
This is your true identity, fathers and future fathers. You’re meant to feel it to your emotional core. God’s design for your leadership of your family is important. It’s so important that He’s built it into your DNA and issued it in His decrees over your life.