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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Let's hear it for stepfathers!

(I'm not a stepfather, and I didn't have a stepfather, either.)

Stepfathers get some bad press. Sometimes they deserve it. There is an effect, known as the Cinderella effect, which has been studied for many years. The effect is that stepparents are more likely to be violent toward unrelated children they are raising, than toward children who share their genes with them. Yes, I know, Cinderella was abused by a stepmother, not her stepfather, but I didn't invent the term.

There are good stepfathers. I've known a few. Some men that I thought were good fathers were, no doubt, good stepfathers. In our time, stepfathers may become such in more than the old-fashioned way, such as if the man's wife had in vitro fertilization, using sperm from another man, so it's even more difficult than it used to be to distinguish stepfathers from the ordinary kind of fathers.

The best stepfather of all time was Joseph.

We don't know much about him, but we know more about Joseph than about any other Israeli carpenter from that time, or, probably, more than about any other Israeli man from that time. And we do know some important things about him. Joseph had a very difficult decision to make -- should he continue his relationship with Mary, who was pregnant, when he wasn't the father? Joseph had sense enough to listen to God. God told him to continue the relationship, and he did. Joseph was obedient. He may have questioned God's in-dream command, but there's no record of it. Joseph also listened when God told him to take his family to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath. That must not have been easy, with a small child, and no definite hope of getting work in a foreign country. But he went. And he listened again when God told him to move to Galilee from Egypt.

Many people believe that Mary was especially good, when God selected her to be Christ's mother. Perhaps so. But, if she was selected, Joseph must have been, too. He probably selected because, like Mary, he would be obedient to God, even under difficult circumstances.

Let's hear it for stepfathers! Especially, let's hear it for Joseph, the best stepfather of all time.

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed Christmas.


FancyHorse said...

Yes! Joseph is a hero who doesn't get much attention. He was truly a kind and godly man.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, FancyHorse!

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