Our hearts break for what the country is experiencing. From Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that added sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of protected classes in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to ongoing racial tensions and continued physical and economic suffering related to COVID-19, we’re living through difficult days.
As president of a world-wide organization dedicated to the preservation of the home, and setting apart things like a virus, which are outside our control, I want to address what I believe is a major part of our problem – the breakdown of the nuclear family.
Since time immemorial, marriage and family have served as the building blocks of all civilizations. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that as goes the family, so goes the world.
Family breakdown is at the headwaters of so many ills in our culture. It affects all of us black, white, Hispanic and Asian – everyone.
Back in 1965, there was a man named Daniel Patrick Moynihan who was serving as a sociologist in Lyndon Johnson’s administration. He would later become a highly respected senator from New York.
As part of his duties with President Johnson, Mr. Moynihan was asked to research and write what would what become a groundbreaking report on the black family. I doubt many of the findings and recommendations in his report would be welcomed by today’s liberal establishment.
At the heart of Senator Moynihan’s findings was the warning that the black nuclear family (a mother, father and children) was collapsing. He warned the disintegration, if not addressed and reversed, would be culturally catastrophic. He was right.
In the past 55 years, the problem has only gotten worse.
According to the most recent statistics, 77 percent of black babies today are born to unwed mothers.
But fatherlessness isn’t just a problem in the African-American community. Over 32 percent of Hispanic children and 21 percent of white children live without a father. According to recent research, 24 million children in the U.S. live apart from their biological father – that’s one out of every three kids. Only 46% of teens grow up with both their parents always married to each other.
The consequences are both personal and societal.
In every way social scientists know how to measure it, they’ve found in the last 50 years of careful, scholarly research that no other family form comes close to providing the rich array of benefits for healthy child development like that of a child being raised by his or her own married mother and father.
Children who live with their own married mother and father rarely live in any form of poverty, they are more likely to do better in school, graduate from high school and attend college. They are consistently more healthy physically and mentally in all measures. They are less likely to get in trouble with the law, do drugs, be sexually active, etc. Whatever the measure of child well-being, kids from married homes do better. This has become one of the most reliable truisms of social science.
Bottom line: Family form matters, and it’s marriage that makes the difference.
The family, an institution designed and ordained by God, provides stability. Anchored and steadfast families are healthier and exponentially less likely to produce children who grow up to loot stores and desecrate and destroy churches and public monuments.
The impact of dismembering the nuclear family is now being seen from coast to coast. Yet, some groups are even championing and celebrating its very demise.
Jesus desires for us to flourish spiritually, emotionally and physically. That nurturing starts in the family. Single parents should not live in despair. Children from a single parent family can succeed, I’m evidence of that, but it will take help from others, including teachers, coaches and youth pastors. Attacking the nuclear family is unhelpful and ill-advised. The data clearly shows us this truth.
There’s an old story about a young boy who was asked to put together a complicated world map from a torn-up newspaper. Much to his father’s surprise, the boy completed the task in record time. When asked how he did it so quickly, the youngster replied, “There was a picture of a family on the other side. I just put the family photo together and the rest of the world came together, too.”
Our problems are multi-factorial, but the health of the family rests at the core of our current crisis.