FATHER HUNGER – Douglas Wilson (2012)

Douglas Wilson is not known for timidity or soft-peddling the truth.  His writing style is bold, pithy, and loaded with biblical admonitions and rebukes.  His newest book, Father Hunger is no exception.

Father Hunger is not your typical parenting book.  Readers looking for popular parenting principles should look elsewhere.  The subtitle of Wilson’s work aptly describes the theme that emerges throughout, namely – “Why God calls men to love and lead their families.”  The author succeeds and does so in style.

Wilson draws a line in the sand in the opening chapter by confronting egalitarianism – a movement that has a death grip on the church in America.  Wilson alerts readers to this deadly ideology and presents the biblical blueprint for fathers: “God wants men both to work and to protect.  Work has to do with nurture and cultivation, while protection refers to a man’s duty to be a fortress for his family.”  The so-called “provide and protect” framework emerges throughout the work and guides the writer’s thoughts along the way.

The author describes the fatherless generation we live in and argues that the solution is to return to God: “The need of the hour is to return to the worship of God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and all conducted in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  And so Wilson’s argument for fathers is rooted deeply in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Wilson draws the attention of readers to the true meaning of masculinity, defined simply as “the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.”  He continues, “A man who assumes responsibility is learning masculinity, and a culture that encourages men to take responsibility is a culture that is a friend to masculinity.”  Tragically, this ideal of masculinity is being marginalized in American culture and is being replaced by effeminate men who are neglecting their God-ordained roles in the family and the church.

Perhaps the most helpful feature in Father Hunger is the balance and even-handed approach.  For example, Wilson goes to great lengths to encourage fathers to model the character of God the Father.  In one watershed moment, the author goes to the core of the issue: “This is why fathers need to learn how to be strict in the same way that God the Father is strict, and to be merciful in the same way that He is merciful  If we are strict only, we crush the spirit out of our children, or we provoke rebellion.  If we are merciful only, we create a culture of entitlement and self-indulgence in the home.  And, in the worst possible combination, if we are strict where God is merciful, and merciful where God is strict, then we are busy supplying the strip clubs of the future with all their pole dancers and customers.”  Readers offended by Wilson’s blunt language should seek to understand his heart here. In a stroke of pure genius, this author not only sums up a key plank of Christian parenting but demonstrates the painful consequences of disobeying God’s divine standard.”   In a stroke of pure genius, this author not only sums up a key plank of Christian parenting but demonstrates the painful consequences of disobeying God’s divine standard.

Father Hunger may not be for everyone.  One review gave Wilson low marks for using language that needed to be referenced in a dictionary.  Certainly not an admirable reason for rejecting a book!  Readers willing to think deeply and be challenged will greatly benefit from this book.  My prayer is that a new generation a godly fathers will commit themselves to providing for their families and protecting them in the way God intended – for his glory!

4 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher in exchange for my review.

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