As millions celebrate their dads and grandfathers this Father's Day, there are millions who won't or cannot.
Fatherlessness is a major problem in the United States.
Some 40% of children do not live with their biological fathers.
The statistics show fatherlessness causes a lot of other problems in children. Depression, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and even criminal behavior and suicide are all higher for children who grow up without fathers.
Pastor Sean Teis of Pennsylvania knows this firsthand. He grew up without his dad — who walked out on the family when he was a baby.
Said Teis, "Kids grow up differently when they don't have a dad because he passed away or because he's incarcerated or he's down the street."
Then there’s the other problem of a dad present in the home but one who is a "no-show" in every other way for his children.
Said Teis, "He's physically present, but he's absent mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and he's not nurturing them."
On a recent episode of "Lighthouse Faith" podcast, Teis talked about the ministry he created called God Is My Dad. It helps children and single mothers navigate the treacherous waters of life with and without a dad.
Dads, said Teis, are "there to affirm their child. A dad provides security for his daughters and teaches them who they should be and how they can be a young lady — and how they should respect themselves." He added, "A dad teaches a boy how to process anger and how to be a man."
What Teis described is a biblical worldview of fatherhood.
But there's another problem lurking that is contributing, perhaps, to fatherlessness: It's the culture's attitude toward men in general.
It could even be said that men have become the most maligned group in the country today.
Don't believe it? Here are some examples.
If those sentiments were expressed about any other group, there would be outrage. But there is none.
How about plain economics?
This year people spent $35.7 billion on Mother's Day. It's projected that Father's Day spending this year will be around $23 billion.
Then there's the phrase toxic masculinity, a derogatory term that has risen in mainstream media describing traits that are deemed masculine: dominance, violent, assertive power and superiority.
Evangelical Christian men are most associated with this term — especially those who prescribe to the headship role of husbands.
Author and professor Nancy Pearcey said in an interview that the problem is this: "There are two competing scripts for masculinity."
They are the "God Man" vs. the "Real Man."
Pearcey said, "Men are made in God's image, and they do know innately what it means to be a good man. They do know that their unique masculine strengths are not given them just to get whatever they want ... but to provide, protect and take care of the people that they love."
The "Real Man" image, however, comes from the secular world.
Said Pearcey, "Culture imposes this real-man script on them that contains a lot of the traits that, of course, we consider toxic. Now the words entitlement, dominance, control, and so on — when disconnected from the moral vision of the God man — can slide into being toxic."
Pearcey, a professor at Houston Christian University in Texas, writes about the dichotomy of masculinity in today’s culture in her new book, "The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes."
She spoke about the book and her research on an episode of "Lighthouse Faith" podcast.
The irony is that ideas of toxic masculinity come from the secular culture, which then accuses the Christian church of being the problem. But it turns out the problem and its solution are exactly the opposite.
Those accusations ignore the data from social science, said Pearcey.
She said, "So they [the researchers] went out and did the studies, and they found just the opposite, that the media message is completely wrong and that evangelical family men who attend church regularly — so, you know, really committed, authentic Christian men — actually test out as the most loving husbands and the most engaged fathers."
So why the misguided message?
Research shows that men who are only nominally Christian, who rarely attend church and just check the box of their religion, tend to be toxic — more toxic, actually, than secular men.
Nominal — in name only — Christian men, said Pearcey, "are the least loving with their wives [and] their wives report the lowest level of happiness they have. They are the least engaged with their children. They are the most likely to divorce of any group in America, higher than secular men. And they have the highest rate of domestic violence of any group in America — higher than secular men."
When people in general take a godly directive and twist it to mold to a sinful nature, the results can be worse than if they were not religious at all, she suggested.
For example, said Pearcey, "A man [may] take the language of headship and submission from the scripture, but [then] infuse the definitions from the secular script for masculinity."
But then, she added, these men "also feel permission from the church to act this way ... That's why they end up actually testing out worse than secular men, because they take the secular definition and give it a Christian veneer."
Most surveys take the Christian men as a whole and then average out the numbers, rather than look at men who truly practice their faith and submit to the headship of Christ.
Pearcey’s research revealed that one of the key factors in the rise of "toxic masculinity" is the Industrial Revolution.
As she notes in her new book, "Before the Civil War, 90% of American freemen owned their own farms, shop, or small-craft business."
That means that fathers worked alongside their wives and children in creating these tight-knit communities. Sons worked alongside their fathers. Fathers mentored their sons and daughters.
There was an almost poetic bond of independence and dependency.
But, said Pearcey, "the Industrial Revolution takes work out of the home ... The family industry is broken up. It shatters the relationship between husbands and wives. But more important for what we're talking about, it shatters the relationship between fathers and sons. And for the first time, boys are growing up without a day-in, day-out model of what it means to be a man."
For Pastor Teis, his life is a cautionary tale of what it's meant to live in the wake of generations of boys separated from that "day-in, day-out" contact with their fathers.
His own father grew up without a father.
So fatherlessness often begets fatherlessness.
Teis said that looking to God as his father was the only way he was able to break the cycle and be there for his own son.
Pearcey, for her part, said 21st-century families have to work harder to help men take their place as men made in God’s image.
Sometimes it can be as simple as having flexible work hours so that a man can spend more time with his children.
Both Teis and Pearcey said there are millions of people suffering from what psychologists call "the father wound."
Still, as one theologian said, "There is no earthly pain that heaven cannot heal."