“Father absence is the bane of the black community,” writes African-American Washington Post columnist William Raspberry, “predisposing its children (boys especially, but increasingly girls as well) to school failure, criminal behavior and economic hardship, and to an intergenerational repetition of the grim cycle.” Raspberry says that the culprit is the decline of marriage. Two-thirds of black babies in America are born out of wedlock, and one man who works with youth says he often meets teenagers “who’ve never seen a wedding.” (Quoted from What In the World! )
Why is this the case? Raspberry continues:
There have been two main explanations. At the low-income end, the disproportionate incarceration, unemployment and early death of black
men make them unavailable for marriage. At the upper-income level, it is the fact that black women are far likelier than black men to complete high school, attend college and earn the professional credentials that would render them “eligible” for marriage.
Both explanations are true. But black men aren’t born incarcerated, crime-prone dropouts. What principally renders them vulnerable to such a plight is the absence of fathers and their stabilizing influence.
Fatherless boys (as a general rule) become ineligible to be husbands — though no less likely to become fathers — and their children fall into the patterns that render them ineligible to be husbands.
The absence of fathers means, as well, that girls lack both a pattern against which to measure the boys who pursue them and an example of sacrificial love between a man and a woman. As the ministers were at pains to say last week, it isn’t the incompetence of mothers that is at issue but the absence of half of the adult support needed for families to be most effective.
You hear the debate all the time about whether families are important. Witness firsthand what people are saying about a community which has trouble finding fathers that are there for their children. I pray that they find a way to get fathers back involved in their children’s lives to be a testimony and role model. However, we as a nation are headed toward more of the same if we continue to allow whatever family model people want to follow instead of encouraging commitment.
Whereas Raspberry ends his column saying anything can help, I would like to posit that the only thing that can truly rectify this problem is a change of heart. A change toward the things of God. A change that makes a vow a vow. We can try to legislate morality by making it harder to divorce or live together, but that won’t change the problem, and it would be an enforcement nightmare. We need to work at changing hearts.