It’s no secret America faces a percolating fatherhood crisis, with the U.S. having the highest rate of children growing up in single-parent homes and masculinity generally in peril.
That’s why NFL star Jeff Kemp is on a mission to help men fulfill their biblical duties and flourish in an ever-complexified culture.
“There’s been a blitz upon manhood and masculinity and it’s particularly traced to the lack of fathering, the absence of fathering, the fatherhood deficit if you will,” he recently told CBN’s Faithwire. “A lot of dads are doing a great job and plugged in, but there’s tons of dads who aren’t in the home.”
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Kemp, a former quarterback who played for the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, among other teams, said many dads are simply missing from their kids’ lives — and warned there’s a lack of real masculinity in our culture.
“There isn’t such a thing as toxic masculinity. We don’t have too much masculinity,” he said. “We have too little. What’s toxic is a culture of obsession, addiction, digital entertainment, selfishness, anger, confusion.”
Listen to Kemp explain the solutions to America’s fatherhood crisis:
Kemp defined manhood and masculinity as “Christ-likeness made by God” and said a marker of manhood is serving others and being strong for them, not being strong for the sake of the self.
This role of showing God’s love is one the former football star said is deeply important for dads today.
“Fathers are the ones who show sons what it is to be a man, to be masculine, to have your identity given to you from God,” he said. “Not [one] earned through football, or sports, or money, or girls, or fashion, or whatever the latest fad will be because it’s a very confusing culture today, for young sons in particular.”
Speaking about a culture that continues to crowd out the Lord, Kemp said too many people have a false idea in their minds about God’s nature.
They assume He is scary, judgmental, or distant, and that He frowns on us and beats us up, he argued, before painting a very different — and a solidly biblical — picture of the Lord.
“We’ve just crafted our own versions of God that are wrong,” Kemp said. “God talks about Himself as a Heavenly Father. Jesus paints the picture of Him as that amazing father of the prodigal son who jumps off the porch and graciously welcomes the humble son back.”
Thus, the solution to America’s fatherhood crisis, Kemp said, is the embrace of “vertical fatherhood” — that is, fatherhood in which God is at the center, with His love permeating the lives of human beings.
“The solution is every Christian person, daughter, son, woman, man needs to go back to their relationship with God,” he said. “It’s transformative, once we receive that fathering. We receive our identity as a son, a beloved and well-delighted in son or a daughter … because of what Jesus has done.”
Kemp said it’s not about being a perfect father, but implored men to approach fatherhood with humility and intention. Rather than squandering time, Kemp said it’s essential to talk with children about the Lord.
“Deuteronomy says you’re supposed to talk to them about the things of Abba Father and Jesus and the Word of God,” he said. “In the morning, at night, when you put them to bed, when you drive in the car, when you’re on the way to little league, when you’re on the way home from school, after they watch something weird on TV.”
In addition to helping men forge relationships with the Lord, Kemp is passionate about encouraging men to come into community with one another; he has free resources to help aid those interested in forming lasting and formative friendships.
“Jesus did friendship. He turned men [and women] into His friends,” Kemp said, noting how friendship breeds safety, loyalty, and connection. “Confess your sins to each other.”
Kemp knows what it’s like to navigate to build a team with a purpose. He played for 11 years in the NFL and now devotes his life to spreading the faith.
As for his own journey, he, too, had to come to grips with embracing God over self.
“God had got my attention at the end of college when I went to the NFL and he led me to Christian teammates, some great chaplains, and then my wife, Stacy, [who] was deeply anchored in Jesus,” he said. “I had to choose His purpose … and up until that point, Jeff was my purpose.”
Find out more about Kemp’s faith-inspiring resources for men here.
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