Friday, May 15, 2009

Far Worse Than Gay Marriage

I wrote earlier my reasons for opposing "Gay Marriage," most notably the effects it has on innocent children by weakening the traditional family model. But there is a far, far bigger problem out here in hetero-land. Word recently came out that the illegitimacy rate in the USA has climbed to 40%. This is amazing, and not in a good way. It was more than 40 years ago when Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Hillary Clinton's predecessor in NY) pointed out (correctly) that illegitimacy among the African-American community was reaching a terrible social tipping point. Then, the rate in that demographic was 25% (now it's over 70%). Just add this to my ever-growing list of signs that our society is going to hell in a handbasket.

This article by Charles Murray analyzes the rate of births to unwed mothers among white women of the previous generation (just to take the distracting factor of race out of the equation). What Murray found (then, when things were not as bad as now!) was that among educated and affluent women, having a husband precedes having a baby. But among the poor, and increasingly among working-class and even middle-class women, that model is terribly broken. Back when I started blogging, my first few posts were about poverty and its causes. One of the things I said back then that remains true today is that finishing high school, putting off marriage until after the teen years, and not reproducing while unmarried are the three-prong recipe for avoiding a life below the poverty line. It seems like a vicious cycle--a collapse of the basic family unit leads to more poverty, which in turn further undermines families.

Murray was also the author of a controversial book a few years ago called The Bell Curve. He took a lot of heat for his analysis of nature and nurture in intelligence (full disclosure--I haven't read it, just a few articles pro and con). One of the things he said that was very un-PC was that smart people tend to hang out with smart people, and therefore marry and have kids with them, creating little smart people. And that less-smart people do the same, in reverse (and they do it in greater numbers). If you accept that thesis, what you've got is my kids growing up in a home with pretty much 1950s family values, and they'll likely go to college and marry someone similar, before they have babies, and they'll keep on occupying a middle or upper rung on the ladder of social success. But more and more folks lower down the ladder don't have a father, don't know anybody with a father, and will have kids who also don't have concept of the role of a father. The social consequences of fatherlessness are severe, and pretty soon the whole ladder is structurally unsound.

Those of us (and I'm pointing at myself here) who call ourselves pro-family should not be ONLY anti-gay-marriage. We need to also be aware of the dangers of divorce and fatherlessness, and do what we can, if not to reverse the course of our decline, at least to slow it down.


bekster said...

AMEN. The frustrating thing is that when you talk to people who have the mindset that babies don't necessitate families with fathers, they don't think anything is wrong with that model at all. Their mother probably did the same thing, and her mother (and so on). When my brother was in England, some Brit asked him why he was married, as if it were a completely useless thing to do. I don't understand why these people don't understand. There has to be more to it than sheer stupidity. You'd think that even the cultural example would only go so far when the consequences of this lifestyle are so apparent. I guess maybe the good feelings "at the time" make it seem worth it. It must be easier to give in to human nature than to follow some "old-fashioned" and "outdated" rule. Still, though... I don't get it.

Pete said...

Maybe these kids who are "famly-less" need a family? I think that is why G_d wants us to reach out to them. They do not know to reach out to us who display Christ's values. Instead, we could instill those values into those kids by building real, unconditional relationships with them.

A friend of mine (Sheppard Deese, who worked @ PBC one year) works at an suburb ministry Chicago. He went fishing and playing ball with some of the kids from his ministry. He said, "These kids don't have dads. They will never have memories of going to a game or playing ball or going fishing with their dad. Their memories of their childhood will be about the people who cared about them. If that's a gang or a drug dealer, then they will remember them. But if that's us, they will remember us and hopefully their life will be changed because of it."

One answer to "Class Warfare" is to reach out to those in need. Social structures are somewhat ridiculous when you think about it in the right light! In our society, I might be regarded as rich by some standards and poor by others. But in Christ, we're all beggars... it's just some beggars know where to find the bread.

Building real, unconditional relationships with "those people" means a bit of discomfort & sacrifice. No politician will give them hope. Oh, sure. There will be some with salesman smiles and smooth voices that will give comforting words. But real hope doesn't come from capital hill. It comes from us being the hope to those who need it. Change comes from our house, not the white house.

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." Deut 10: 18

I think our calling is less to tell the poor how to fix their own lives... rather be instrumental in helping them fix their world. We are to give food, clothing & care to the foreigner. Next time you see a "Mexican" out "stealing a job," remember that G_d loves the widows, orphans & "Mexicans."

If a person grows up in an "unwed home" & the person feels loved, valued & accepted by those of us with conservative values... if they don't receive such love from their family, don't you think they will try to turn to our example to replicate in their family? I know that it's not a perfect solution. But the only solution I can see to our nation's problem relies in our people turning back to G_d & G_d's command.

Okay, imma hang up now... cuz i feel like this call is going long and i'm getting more random...

Lookie! A bunny!

Greg and Kim said...

I read The Search for Christian America recently (great book), and I was actually outlining it this morning (it's that good) when I came upon these quotes that made me think of this blog:
"The equations b/t the number of Christians in a society and the positive cultural results is never a simple one. Often, in fact, the positive influences seem not to predominate. To resolve these apparent paradoxes it may be helpful to use the image of the salt of the earth. That is, Christianity acts as a retardant against the natural tendencies of cultures built on sinful human nature to fall into decay."

The book goes on to warn about Christian humility, especially in politics, since none of us "have the final blueprints for establishing the Kingdom of heaven on earth." And we should remember that the relationship b/t Christianity and culture is always reciprocal, that both are transforming each other at the same time.

It then says, "Yet the combination of these two views does not reduce the urgency...of our cultural task. If anything, we should use such obligations to apply Christianity to all areas of life even more urgently. Yet as we do so, we should recognize that the positive effects of Christianity are basically those of mitigating the fundamentally distorted character of human cultural life."

I liked that perspective. Whenever I hear dire facts like the ones you site, my tendency is to freak out b/c the situation is so overwhelming. Yet, b/c it is overwhelming, the end result is that I do nothing meaningful to fight it. After all, what can one person do to turn around a whole culture? It's just discouraging. But I like the idea of us being the salt of the earth. Our goal is to do all we can to reflect and bring about the Kingdom. In that sense, sometimes it is better for me to look at the little picture of our world and influence instead of focusing on--and getting depressed by--the big picture.

bekster said...

Good point, Kim. I think part of the way that practically works is by doing what Pete mentioned. Another way is by simply living our own lives in godly ways ("let your light shine before men," etc.). I think we tend to underestimate the power of unconditional love (at least I tend to forget about its effects). It IS so easy to get depressed by what is happening around us, but we have a source for hope, joy, and love. Maybe in these depressing time, others will be more receptive to what we can offer them.

C. S. Fox said...

I have worked in the S.C. prison system for over 17 years and the one thing that sticks out as a sore thumb is that most of the inmates have only had mothers or grandmothers taking care of and/or raising them.