June 19, 2009
It is news to no one that, in the Western world in general and the United States in particular, the call to fatherhood is being heeded less and less. Anyone unfortunate enough to pick up a newspaper is painfully aware that one third of American children live without any father and that, in many inner cities, the out-of-wedlock birth rate exceeds seventy percent. Also well known, though rarely acknowledged, is the devastation that such a lack of paternity has wreaked on children and society more generally. Fatherless children have rates of incarceration, criminal activity, possession of firearms, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, incompletion of school, and overall parental neglect and maltreatment alarmingly higher than their two-parent counterparts.
Coupled with the staggering divorce rate and the move in the West toward alternative lifestyles—permanent bachelorhood, cohabitation, or “serial monogamy”—it is now possible, without the slightest exaggeration, to begin using phrases such as “the end of the human family.” Reflecting on this paternal and marital landscape, theologian and pastor David P. Gushee soberly confessed, “I think it is quite possible that society as a whole is a lost cause.”
If there is to be any hope of stopping this societal hemorrhaging, then we must first identify the cause or causes of this decline in paternity. What exactly is making so many fathers abandon their posts?the rest image