A perilous propensity to purge paternity from American life is leaving us a fatherless society and a host of long and short-term crises which we will be hard-pressed to fix.
Speculation about why a large cross-section of American children are growing up papa-less is varied. No doubt part of the answer is in the rejection of any morality beyond personal conscience. An over swing of the pendulum in feminism's rush for independence is another possibility. And, men can't escape responsibility either. The historic failure of many men to carry their paternal responsibilities beyond fertilization is undeniable.
But whatever the cause, statistics show illegitimacy to be a growing plague in the U.S. Census figures show a dramatic rise in these out-of-wedlock births, from 3 percent in 1950 to 4 percent in 1960 to nearly 16 percent in the early '80s and now almost 25 percent in the '90s.
These figures represent an overview of all groups and races in our country. A look at specific groups raises even more alarm and questions about causes. For instance: only don't discourage illegitimacy but, in fact, facilitate it.
Few people in or out of government seem to want to sanction the adult participants in this moral degeneracy but our sympathy for the plight of the innocent babies born of this fornication has led to lifetime support of the mother and child. Fatherless children know little of a complete home and so they repeat the pattern in the next generation.
It is easily seen that the percentage of fatherless homes is growing in ever increasing leaps.
We are rapidly approaching the point where there will be no political solution. In our system of majority rule, the party of the misbegotten soon will have the votes to insist on the legitimization of illegitimacy. In the Afro-American population that majority already exists and whites quickly are moving toward the same.
Among blacks, 67 percent of children are born out of wedlock.
The answer, therefore, probably won't lie in political answers but in a rejuvenation or rebirth of Christian morality. As more and more of our population is made to suffer poverty, educational deprivation, absentee parents and the connected and increasing crime, drugs and unemployment, perhaps we'll be able to see the truth and reason in God's design of the home.
Among Hispanics, the rate is 27 percent.
And, among whites, the rate of illegitimacy is growing the fastest, from 10 percent in 1982 to 17 percent in 1992.
Unlike many other social problems that often are blamed on poverty, lack of education or other factors, American bastardy is growing in an environment of ever increasing sex education and prophylactic distribution.
It appears to be a conscious choice. It is not just a choice, as in the past, to participate in promiscuous sex, but a choice to produce children without marriage and usually without any plan to involve the male in the child's rearing.
Without significant thought, American taxpayers underwrite and even encourage the expansion of this phenomenon through liberal welfare rules that not
That design calls for active and involved moms and dads who are faithful to one another and to their children. It defines the father as the primary provider and the mother as the primary keeper of the home.
It is true that there always will be families where this ideal can't be achieved, whether because of the death of a spouse or because of infidelity. But the critical need today is to acknowledge that the biblical pattern for the family is the ideal and fundamental for a properly functioning society.
Our nation needs its fathers visible, responsible and active. Our children and our future depend upon it.
(Randy Blackaby is a former reporter, columnist, editorial writer and newspaper managing editor who now serves as minister for the Courtland Ave. Church of Christ in Kokomo.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 9, p.