The Bible gives a categorical commandment that we honor our fathers. This commandment was so important to the Hebrews that they proscribed the death penalty for transgressing it. In Leviticus 20:9, we read: “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”
To be clear, it’s not wrong to honor your father (especially today, Father’s Day!). But I’m not so sure every father deserves our unconditional love, respect, and obedience. My father has certainly earned those things from me—a million times over. Other fathers, however, have not.
Steve Wells over at Dwindling In Unbelief has compiled a list of bad father figures in the Bible. You’ll have to check out his full list, but I just wanted to highlight a few examples:
Noah got stumbling drunk and passed out—naked—in his tent. His poor son Ham inadvertently discovered him in this condition. Realizing that Ham saw him naked, Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan and all the descendants thereof to be “servants of servants” (a rather disproportionate response).
Lot, the only “just and righteous man” in Sodom and Gomorrah, volunteered his daughters to be raped by a mob so as to spare his two male guests (angels). Later, his daughters would rape him and bear his children.
Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac as a human sacrifice, as you all know.
Jephthah killed and burned his daughter, whose only crime was to greet her father upon his return from battle.
And then of course you have Yahweh, the father figure in the Bible, who drowned millions of his children and (depending on your Christology sent his “only begotten Son” on a suicide mission.