Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Fathers

The 2010 census showed that nearly 1 out of every 3 families are absent their biological father. For school-age kids, the number is 39% without fathers. The racial breakdown for fatherlessness is depressing. For white children, the number is around 21% according to the U.S. Census Bureau reporting in 2012. For Hispanic children, it is 31%, and for black children it is more than 57%. In 1960, children living with only their mothers constituted about 8% of the population; today that number is 24%. In 1960, children living with single mothers constituted 4% of the total of children living with their mothers alone; in 2011, than number was almost 46%. In terms of race, in 1960 6% of white children and nearly 20% of black children lived with their mother alone. In 2010, more than 18% of white children and 48% of black children were living with their mother only. While income is a key predictor of a lack of live-in fathers, reports say that the overwhelming fact is this is a black problem. According to the Washington Times, 54% of black children live only with their mothers. In Washington D.C., 85% of white families are two-parent families while only 25% of black families are two-parent families. This is a serious problem.

In terms of income, married couples with children average $80,000 a year while single mothers average $24,000 a year. But that barely scratches the surface of the problem. Studies show that children without fathers have an array of negative tendencies. There is a higher rate of poverty, a higher infant mortality rate, a higher demand for psychological treatment, higher suicide rates, higher behavioral problems, lower educational attainment, and more negative attitudes about school. Young men growing up without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail. They are at a higher risk for drug and alcohol use and for abuse either physical or sexual. Most boys with confused gender identities come from father-absent homes. The Census Bureau reports that 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. So while our society complains about income inequity and poor families and the rising violence, they ignore the elephant in the room ... fatherlessness.

Why do fathers leave their families? Well, of course, there is the overwhelming numbers of kids growing up without fathers who, therefore, learn this from their childhood. "Fathers leave." That is, the more this occurs, the more it will occur, as historical statistics show. But why?

There are lots of reasons offered. Lots of fathers bail on their families because of their own sense of inadequacy. You know, "I'm not the man I need to be." Many are not as "noble". Instead it is because they can. They don't need to bear the responsibility or shoulder the burden. Another frolic without the work is available. Go there, instead. This doesn't even take into account the "absent fathers" who still live at home.

And, let's face it, many times women encourage it. They encourage it by not requiring commitment before being "one body". I read of a woman bemoaning the fact that her three kids were without fathers ... each of which had a different father and none of them had married her. This isn't uncommon in our day. Single mothers are rising to an unbelievable percentage of the mothers. (Currently 4 out of 10 children are born to unwed mothers.) And there is the curse of Eden. When God told Eve, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen 3:16), He wasn't saying, "You will have a deep love for your husband." No. As when God told Cain that sin desired him (Gen 4:7), this was a commentary on the fact that women will always wish to rule over their husbands. Husbands will have to respond. They can fight or run. Neither is the right response to a wrong situation.

There are lots of reasons, but, in the final analysis, there is one.
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
It looks like a physical and emotional conflict, but, in truth, it is a spiritual one. It is the assault by "spiritual forces of evil." One of most prevalent weapons at hand for those forces is our own flesh. "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do." (Gal 5:17)

The core of any society is the family. This is why it is "family" that is under attack by Satan. Attack it from the sexual angle so that "sex in marriage" is no longer the only right place for sex. Attack it from the commitment angle so that marriage is no longer permanent. Attack it from the marriage angle so that marriage is no longer meaningful. Attack it from the parent angle so that parents are no longer effective. Attack it from the father angle so that fathers no longer father. And Satan is becoming quite successful at this in our day.

We cannot fix society. The reason we cannot fix society is that it is not a societal problem; it is a sin problem. We can't get laws passed that will solve that. We can't pound our gavels and force it on our world. We don't have the power to remedy this situation. But we do know Who does. We can show what God intends in sex, in commitment, in marriage, in parenting, in fatherhood. We can let our lights so shine "before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16) We can share with those around us the good news of the One who can work in them. And we can pray. Pray to the One who has the capability to change hearts. And we can stop being a part of the problem.

I do not believe that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is written to everyone. I believe God was talking to Israel. Still, I think the premise is sound. "If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chron 7:14) I do not see in this a promise to heal America, but I do see a call for all of God's people to humble themselves, to pray, to seek His face, and to repent. We cannot correct the massive disarray America has wrought, but we can do those things and God can work. Since He always accomplishes His purpose, I'm counting on it.

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