The Fatherhood Principle: God’s Design and Destiny for Every Man by Munroe Myles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’re a Christian, or are willing to become one, this book lays out a strong and principled approach to being a man and a father in the contemporary world. For this author, man and father are synonymous terms, regardless of whether one has had actual biological offspring, since a man’s role and purpose in the world is to act as a “father” to others who need dependable and unselfish guidance and support.
Munroe’s views are based on the Bible, which he takes seriously and literally. And if you’re willing to accept all Bible stories, especially that of Adam and Eve, as literally true, then his arguments are strong and well formed. You can even say the same about his views on homosexuality, for which he became notorious in his native Bahamas (he died in a plane crash in 2014), for in the Bible God’s position on homosexuality is as clear as can be.
The big question is whether one who is not a Christian, or not a Christian who takes every Bible story literally, can still benefit from Dr. Munroe’s vision of fatherhood. I like to think yes. My own experience is that genuinely spiritual people, of whatever stripe, are a positive force in the world. Here Dr. Munroe tells men, especially young men who may feel confused and aimless, how to gain a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and thereby become the rock that others can lean on or stand on for support. Feminists would no doubt howl with execration at his ideas about men being the heads of their households, but I suspect that many women would be happy to marry a man who was principled, ethical, and dedicated to the welfare of his family. Munroe’s vision of man as the head of the household is that he leads by example and does his best to help everyone in his care to realize their potential.
But for such a man to be entirely credible he does need to have a strong spiritual grounding, and in Munroe’s view this means being thoroughly versed in the teachings of the Bible. For the real question is what one does when the going gets tough. The godly man has the Bible and his church as his supports; what does the secular man or the non-Christian man lean on? I think that men from other spiritual traditions, such as, say, Buddhism (where I’ve had my own spiritual training, such as it is), can probably take valuable advice from Munroe’s book, even though Munroe himself is dismissive of other spiritual traditions. If you believe there is such a thing as masculinity and masculine virtues, then it makes sense to apply these notions to that most defining of male functions: fatherhood. If you can ground those virtues in spirituality, then you’re on your way.
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