It was only the 4th paper I’d read that evening and I was already crying. Junior English narrative essays didn’t always elicit that much emotion, but this student described the night his dad slammed him against the wall, shaking him like a rag doll with both hands around his neck, trying to strangle him. The young man had had practice telling the story; he had already testified in court as the key witness in his father’s trial for attempted murder.
I wish that story were the only horrifying paper I ever had to read, but it’s not. I wish I hadn’t gotten entangled is some of the families I had to deal with, but it taught me first hand what our society is up against. Ask any teacher what the state of the union is and you’ll get an earful. Schools are on the front lines and are the biggest window into the conditions of the family in this country, and the view isn’t pretty.
You can walk through the halls of any public high school and see the ravages of the disintegrating family. Counselors at my high school estimated that 60% of our students came from dysfunctional situations. Much of drug use goes back to family instability, as does a great deal of poverty, to say nothing of crime. Unhappy, unstable individuals are less likely to become knowledgeable, productive, self-disciplined members of society. They are less likely to make wise decisions, and more likely to just give up and let someone else runs their lives.
But let’s not take my word for this. According to the New York Times 29% of white children are born out of wedlock, as well as are 53% of Hispanic children and 73% of black children. Mercatornet.com reports that in 1960 65.9% of women 15 years and older were married. In 2009 only 50.6% were married. Big deal?
Yes. Look at this: Children raised in female-headed households are 10 times more likely to be beaten or murdered. They are more likely to suffer from asthma, headaches, injuries, and psychological illnesses. Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates came from broken homes and kids from broken homes are twice as likely to drop out of school.
The destruction of the family is our second biggest national problem. Human society has always been organized around the family; no society has ever existed outside of this concept; great nations have been built on it.
Jacob’s family is a good case in point. He had twelve sons. Each son married at least one woman, and each woman had children, and that continued for several hundred years until the Exodus when Jacob’s family officially became a nation. By then there were over 2 million of them – still organized according to those 12 sons. From a single family to a nation in less than 400 years; family has the power to do that.
The early Anglo-Saxons (5th century AD) understood this basic concept and set up governing bodies called tithings, which were each made up of ten families. Ten tithings created a larger body called a hundred, which met monthly to settle disputes. The hundreds were gathered into larger groups called shires, which were represented in the Witan – the early form of Parliament. It was a society very clearly organized around the concept of family.
As was ours, being patterned after both Biblical and Anglo-Saxon law. Families are to America what molecules are to the elements – clusters of atoms that have a built-in affinity for one another, organized in such a way as to allow them to connect with other similar molecules to form elements, which can, in turn be mixed together to make essentials like air and water. Small to big; it is God’s pattern.
In 21st century America, however, the pattern is unraveling. The advent of easy birth control coinciding with trumped-up over-population concerns and the women’s movement cut down drastically on the size of our families. (In 1790 over 35% of households numbered over 7 persons. By 2006 only 1% of families were that size.) We add to that the mobility of our society and we find that our dwindling families have fragmented and dispersed all over the country. This has made it necessary to farm out the care of our children and our elderly to strangers. It has broken the bonds that help us to see and value family as an essential unit.
None of those developments are really moral issues, but moral issues also play into this. We no longer attach any stigma to out-of-wedlock childbearing, which has led to tens of millions of single-mom “families,” who often live in conditions of poverty and calamity, and fail to contribute in any substantial way to the society as a whole. Even when we produce children within marriage, we no longer place much value on its continuity. Divorce has become fashionable and looks like an easy way out, but every failed marriage is a broken molecule in the element of a society; get too many and it all comes unglued.
The idea of family in a socialist society, however, is different. Because the family is the primary source of production and capital, it has to be devalued and destroyed before a socialist utopia can exist. The communists in every society they infest attack the family whether it is through abortion, contraception (mandatory in China), state-run childcare, or confiscation of private property. Only if they can destroy the family can they tear down a society, and they must demolish the economic and social fabric of a nation before they can begin to remake it according Marxist dictates. Look at the family in the nightmare societies of 1984 or Brave New World -- nonexistent. We need to be wary of people and organizations that push this anti-family agenda. They use benign names – the pro-choice movement, or Planned Parenthood, or health class, or Rainbow. We all love choice and parenthood and health and rainbows, but watch out, deep underneath all these fronts are folks who don’t want the best for you or your family.
If America is to regain its position as a nation that is useful to God, we must do things God’s way and use the family as our basic molecular unit. Nothing about the 21st century makes the family obsolete; it is as necessary today as it was thousands of years ago. In the early 19th century Alexis de Tocqueville said, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great," and we cannot stay good without strong healthy families. Take care of yours and you are taking care of all of us.