by Nick France
“The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family.”
– Pope John Paul II
How true are those words that are spoken by the Holy Father. And yet, for society at large, the future of the family seems to be an institution to experiment with, as though the world can get along just fine without it.
The future will ultimately depend on our children, that we all know, but who will form our children? For better or worse, it all takes place in the family. By taking logical steps we can forecast the future by analyzing cultural trends. In doing so, we see that the future of this nation and our Church is in jeopardy.
Why do we, as a society, make things so difficult for the “family” in this country? As a father of four, in a household heading up as a married couple, my job as husband and father gets more difficult every year. With each cultural assault to the family, the challenges married couples face each year increasingly gets harder and harder to overcome. It’s no surprise that there are fewer households headed up by married couples than ever before. In 1950, married couples headed up 80% of households. Today, that figure is only 50%.
How did we get here? In my short 44 years on this earth I never dreamed we’d come to this, and yet here we are. I would argue we get to a place like this by slipping down that proverbial “slippery slope.” Many would argue it all started with the wide spread acceptance of contraception. Let’s face it, sterile contraceptive sex by a husband and wife only weakens a marriage at its core, it does nothing to Glorify God and comes dangerously close to sterile homosexual sex itself.
Many Christians believe the “same-sex” marriage war was won in the last election, but think again. The relentless secular media will stop at nothing until they get what they want. We Christians will have to battle the media for our children’s innocence every step of the way. In March, MTV will launch a 24-hour homosexual channel for youths. How’s that for problematic? Respecting adult homosexuals as people is one thing, but what does this say about our society when we target the youth with the homosexual agenda? I’m trying to instill in my children the biblical truth of the Glory to God only heterosexual marriage can bring, and the media is contradicting me at every turn. Some primetime television is virtually pornography.
A look at some of the trends, show the steady decline in marriage and children’s welfare in America. In 1960 the divorce rate for first marriages was just 16%, today it’s over 40%. The lack of commitment is staggering yet the culture accepts these statistics as the norm. Most young couples today go into a marriage with the assumption that if the relationship gets too difficult they can simply get a divorce. Working through the tough times never even enters their minds.
Statistics show that youths that start dating at an early age, tend to have troublesome relationships later on down the line. And couples that live together out of wedlock before marrying, are more apt to divorce. Many don’t marry at all. The U.S. marriage rate has fallen nearly 50% since 1960. There were 500,000 cohabiting couples in 1960. Today there are 5,000,000. This is an increase of 1000%.
These situations have become commonplace among the youth of today and are depicted quite frequently in the media. To the contrary, youths that wait until 17 or 18 years of age to date, or couples that enter marriage as virgins, have an overwhelmingly better rate of success in their marriages. All of which is rarely depicted in the media.
If the children are our future, what then are the media saying to them? The media and culture are doing their level best to undermine our Christian values more and more each day as we slide down that slope into cultural depravity. Instead of bolstering solid values, they hinder our efforts. It’s hard enough to raise children with sound Christian morals when there are both a mother and a father present, but what about single parent homes? A third of the children in America live in a home without a father, and 60% of American children will spend a considerable portion of their childhood without a natural father present. Over the past 40 years there has been a 600% increase in out-of-wedlock births.
Social scientists have said repeatedly that children, when raised by both a father and mother, grow up more stable, with an infinitely better chance of success intellectually, monetarily, physically and spiritually. More than 70 percent of men in prison come from fatherless households. Living in a mother-only family decreases a child’s chances of completing high school by more than 40 percent for whites and 70 percent for blacks.
Thirty-eight years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan said,
“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern Seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Many couples don’t plan to divorce and place their children in these predicaments; in fact they don’t even now how they ultimately get into them. The culture and how their parents raised them usually lead them there. However some women deliberately place their children into the single parent environment. Actress Calista Flockhart, (Miss Ally McBeal) adopted a baby. She told the New York Post, "I want more children. I guess it would be nice to have a husband, too, and if you know where I might find the right one, let me know. But meanwhile, the baby is all I really want."
What about what the baby wants? More importantly what about what the baby will need, say a year from now? Until mothers realize giving their babies everything it needs includes a loving father, problems are sure to occur.
President Bush recently said,
"a child's greatest source of security today is not only knowing 'my mom loves me' and 'my dad loves me,' but also that Mom and Dad love each other. If we are serious about renewing fatherhood, we must be serious about renewing marriage."
Until we weigh the rights and needs of the children we bring into this world or adopt, before those of adults, then problems are sure to occur. That’s what I find to be a common thread among caring parents I meet and discuss parenting with; placing the needs of their children’s above their own.
Children are a gift from God. If we are all God’s children, then shouldn’t we raise our children as though they are His and not entirely ours? We are given the privilege to do God’s work for him by having the opportunity to love and care for these wonderful gifts that God so lovingly bestows upon us, and to look at it in any other way is, in my opinion, fooling ourselves and just plain wrong.
Marriage performs a fundamental need in society; it provides the world with its primary source of sustaining itself – children. Without the ability of men and women to procreate, the human race would cease to exist; at least for now, until science finds a way to eliminate the father from the process; but that’s fodder for another column in the future, hopefully way into the future. Those sick-o’s are probably working on it right now. God help us.
Until then, this is the model we know works the best, the model that God has given us. This is the model that Pope John Paul II has declared the “Domestic Church;” shouldn’t we do everything we can to protect it? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to lift it up to the Glory of God? I think so. It is for that reason that I align myself with the likes of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church and that I pray for society to come back to a more traditional point of view to marriage and the family, to what’s best for our children. I am pro family, not necessarily anti this or that. My primary concern is for a better environment for our children no matter what age they happen to be.
Note: Statistics used in this column are taken from The Family in America Report: A Publication of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. http://www.profam.org/