To me, one of the saddest phenomena of modern times may be the paternity test. I guess it’s not the test so much as the reasons for it that get me down. Lawsuits leveled at dead-beat dads seek proof and retribution. Mothers who were promiscuous want to know who actually fathered their child. The hit play and movie “Mama Mia” was predicated on this situation with huge popularity. It’s actually really sad.
Now, with the prevalence of in vitro fertilization, more and more children are trying to find out who their father is…or was. Vince Vaughn’s critically unacclaimed movie “Delivery Man” was the story of an underachieving man who learns that he actually fathered 533 children through his donations to a sperm bank 20 years earlier. To his horror, more than 140 of them were looking for him. It certainly speaks volumes about what’s trending in our culture, doesn’t it?
But why do so many people seek paternity tests to find out who their biological father is? Is it merely for monetary gain or because they have a desire for connection with their source of life? A desire to have a relationship with him? Perchance to be loved by him?
I learned recently that such tests can tell people even their country of origin. That amazed me. Genetic markers can show so many things. But of course, it’s not really a human invention but more accurately human intelligence unlocking codes that a Supreme Intelligence created at the dawn of creation. If we think about it, one can’t help but marvel that a Supreme Being thousands upon thousands of years ago installed into creation not only genetic markers but radio waves and cellular signals in the air that can perfectly transmit human voices from one part of the world to another. Even pictures are transmitted in real time with amazing acuity.
In our pride we celebrate such achievements of modernity. We have an obvious sense of superiority over centuries of human beings sleeping in the dark, rather than staring at a box of canned humans with computer-generated laugh tracks. But back then more people thought and contemplated philosophy and the idea of an Intelligence behind creation – yearning to know Him. Today, we appropriate His gifts as our own accomplishments and drift further and further away from our Source of Life toward death.
As technology paves with unrelenting arrogance this road toward self-sufficiency, the Paternity test stands out as a contradiction and, dare I say it, an ironic sign of hope…hope that we have not really changed as much as some factions would like us to believe. That when it comes right down to it, the human desire for connection, for relationship, for family militates against an Orwellian tenet that seeks to reduce us simply to drones, that champions a utilitarian ethos to our own destruction. The clamor of some on the left for government to take care of their every need, juxtaposed to the conservative embrace of the Trump phenomenon, in my view, may be related. A fatherless generation seeks to fill the deepening void of an absent or inadequate father to provide for their needs or one who will protect them and lead them to be better than they are… to be great.
If they could only pull away from their electronic gods for even a little while, they might hear the whispered shouts of a Father who wants to be known whose DNA permeates all of creation. A Father, who loves them and wants their love so much that He allows them the freedom to wander, to exploit their liberty in chains that may finally catapult them in His direction. As times get darker and darker, as many prophets and pundits predict that they will, we need to see the handprints of a loving Creator as He allows the natural consequences of our foolish pride to crumble our self made deities. Though political spectacles are an amusing preoccupation, the reality is that we are too far gone for human solutions. There’s no salvation in politics but only in One who has the power to save us from ourselves. Trying to figure it out or choosing the perfect candidate may be an exhausting and pyrrhic victory in the long run. Seeking the true Father is the only hope mankind has for regaining its humanity and being saved from our own rebellious destruction.
Scott Hahn’s book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises is a great read. Sometimes our narrow focus on our own times or our own lives needs to be balanced by a wider lens that sees God’s unmistakable imprint on human history. We truly do have a Father…and He loves us!
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