The fact that God is referred to as Father in the New Testament and that Adam was the first person He created, followed by his wife, Eve, shows that by divine intention civilization was originally patriarchal in nature. Also, the fact that males generally have a larger body frame and are more task-oriented than women demonstrates that, originally, man's primary role was to protect and provide for his family while the wife was called to help him walk this out as his help mate. Of course, this is not to say that a woman was not expected to take initiative and even take the lead at times in her family—since in Christ there is no barrier when it comes to functioning in the gifts of the spirit, ministry participation and salvation (see Gal. 3:28).
That being said, an orphan spirit came upon the earth and humankind after Adam was alienated from Father God, whom he walked with in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-8). Since "The Fall" had cosmic consequences that negatively affected the ground, the heavens, human relations and the animal kingdom, there were societal consequences on an existential and emotional level. Thus, the consequences of sin have been incalculable—not the least of which is the sense of alienation between Father God and humanity, which resulted in profound alienation at a human level; thus, releasing an orphan spirit upon the earth.
The following are characteristics of a fatherless society:
1. Competition Instead of Collaboration
Right after the account of The Fall in Genesis 3, in the very next chapter we see Cain moving with jealousy against his brother Abel and killing him. He saw his brother as "the other" in competition with him, instead of an irreplaceable member of his family. Who knows what the condition of Adam and Eve was after their sin resulted in a traumatic shift away from their God reality? Were they in the right state of mind to parent their oldest children appropriately?
Unfortunately, the orphan spirit wreaks havoc on the earth by pitting people against each other since the rest and trust of knowing your Father will provide for you has been shattered and it is now "every man for himself"!
2. Fear Instead of Faith
The opposite force of faith is fear. Fear is a result of not trusting that you are covered and protected and that your needs will be met. When the orphan spirit was released upon the earth it released the forces of fear, as we see illustrated when Adam hid himself from the presence of the Lord (see Gen. 3:10).
With the progressive fragmentation of the nuclear family in contemporary society, there is a twofold orphan alienation: the absence of fellowship with the heavenly Father and the absence or abandonment of many earthly fathers. This has resulted in many young men living with a fear-based "scarcity mentality" while compensating by trying to be tough, joining gangs and exhibiting violent behavior (as a way to ward off competitors and potential predators).
Many inner cities of America are trying to deal with abortion, poverty, drugs and gang violence with bigger and better government programs; however, until the root cause of the orphan spirit is dealt with, there will be no lasting remedy.
3. Survival Mode Instead of Rest in His Providential Care
God entered His rest after six days of creation (Gen. 2:1-4). When we trust God we enter into that rest (Matt. 11:28-30). In this spiritual place of rest, we believe and know that God is our source of strength, our deliverer and our provider.
When we are alienated from God we are on survival mode, which can result in high rates of societal anxiety and workaholism, with a preponderance of the population sacrificing the future for immediate provision. Furthermore, the advent of Darwinism in the 19th century further secularized our culture, introduced functional atheism in the public square and released its philosophical ethos related to "the survival of the fittest" (where only the strongest survive and thrive).
4. Independence Instead of Community
Without the biblical understanding of God as Father, orphaned humanity was divided according to the nations (Gen. 11). Taking this a step further, the 19th century produced the false notion of Darwin's evolution of the races, instead of viewing all people as one human family who descended from one common father and mother (see Acts 17:26).
Consequently, secular society intentionally divides humanity according to their so-called "race" (which is a false scientific, cultural construct). Hence, a sense of the brotherhood of all people was scraped for the evolutionary premise of "the survival of the fittest," which destroys community and enhances rugged individualism.
In a typical megacity in North America and Europe, there is hardly a sense of community but a strong sense of independence that bottlenecks the enormous potential of interdependence.
5. Family Fragmentation Instead of Wholeness
When men are alienated from God they are more apt to be alienated from their own spouses and children—further perpetuating the global orphan spirit. Only Jesus Christ can restore us back to true shalom. Consequently, many fathers have abandoned their children (either emotionally or physically).
Presently, children raised up in a stable two-parent home are the cultural anomalies as more children (percentage wise) are born out of wedlock in many communities. Unfortunately, many children have different last names even though they live in the same house—since various men have sired their siblings—producing half brothers and sisters. It's no wonder there is so much instability, confusion, as well as abject poverty in many families. I know many people who had to learn how to fend for themselves before they even became teenagers.
6. Hatred Against Patriarchs and Men
The orphan spirit and the negative experiences many have had with their fathers have resulted in a general hatred against the concept of a patriarchal society, as well as against men in general. Many cultural elites are attempting to emasculate men and make boys feel bad if they desire to protect and provide for the opposite sex. This has resulted in extreme feminism, as well as extreme egalitarianism (in which the distinct roles of men and women in society are totally obscured while emotional and physical differences between them are frowned upon, ignored and even debunked as a cultural vestige of the past that has to be eviscerated).
7. Living For Temporal Pleasure Instead of For Eternity
Without the sure foundation of relating to God as Father, as well as having an earthly father who can give guidance, moral values and wise perspective, the orphan spirit has awoken the basest fleshly desires among the masses.
This has resulted in industries related to drugs, gambling, pornography and entertainment reeling in multiple billions of dollars annually. Often, people will attempt to use the above vices to medicate themselves so as to temporarily deaden their pain.
8. The Abundance of "Father Wounds" and a Spirit of Rejection
When a child is abandoned or rejected by their earthly father, they experience deep "father wounds" and a spirit of rejection that subconsciously drive them the rest of their lives. This has caused many men and women to inordinately strive to be accepted and approved based on their own accomplishments.
Consequently, this internal desire for affirmation causes many men to compromise their values for the sake of success and (vulnerable) women to be physically involved with men who give them attention (which results in more bad relationships replete with more children born out of wedlock).
- A Huge Identity Crisis
One of the core responsibilities of a father is to bestow an identity upon his family. We see family identity illustrated in Numbers chapters 1 and 2 when every family had their own banner in front of their family tent.
The more fatherlessness proliferates in society, the more young men will lack an understanding of their true identity and the more they will crave the affirmation of other men to fill that deep void in their heart. This need for male love and affirmation can be expressed through sexual relationships and in some cases, young men find a surrogate father figure manifested in the coach of their sports team.
Women wounded by men or abandoned by their father have also given rise to a general mistrust and hatred toward men in general.
All of the above has resulted in a profound identity crisis, which has contributed to various forms of alternative families, as well as gender confusion that is now viewed as the norm in culture.
- Pastors and Christian Leaders With an Orphan Spirit
Unfortunately, just because someone is born again and receives God as their heavenly Father, the wounds of the past do not automatically go away. Even though our spirit is instantly saved and united in fellowship with Father God, it takes a while for our mind, perspective, attitude and emotions to catch up.
This only takes place through years of allowing God (as Father) to heal our brokenness and reframe our minds and thoughts through Scripture (see Rom. 12:1-2). That being said, many gifted, high-octane, high-performing pastors and spiritual leaders have not yet received adequate emotional healing and are still carrying an orphan spirit with them into the churches and ministries they lead. (Their gifting exceeds their character development and emotional maturity.)
Many try to fill the void of "father abandonment" and rejection by attempting to accomplish great things in the name of the Lord to receive the affirmation of God and men. Unfortunately, far too many leaders are subconsciously "driven by the need for love and acceptance," instead of operating out of an overflow of divine love and being led by His Spirit. This has resulted in many emotionally immature ministers objectifying people in an attempt to accomplish big things, who also often presumptuously drive their ministries into huge debt.
The church needs to understand our primary role as sons of the Father and shift away from the commercial, institutional model of church to becoming a "family of families."
Young men and women need spiritual fathers and mothers more than preachers giving nice sermons, which also means that the biblical model of making disciples has to do with imparting and doing life with church members—not just trying to fill buildings with crowds of people.
To the extent that this biblical model of disciple-making permeates the body of Christ, the curse of fatherlessness will be broken in that community, region, city or nation (see Mal. 4:6).
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today's postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma News called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.
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