“New choices for adults have not generally been helpful to the well-being of children.”

14 Nov

whatwecan'tnotknowIn the class at Concordia University St. Paul that I taught the other night, I said, among other things, something like this:

“In Romans 1 we are told that we know there is a creator by what has been made…. we also know what is right and wrong even if we do not have the power in ourselves to do it… That said, it also tells us that even though we have this knowledge we suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  We can “sear our consciences” and bury this knowledge very deep so that we do not even feel fear of God.  We are willing to call evil good and good evil, flatter ourselves to the extent that we cannot discover or hate our sin…or even assert that there must be no God…”

Regular readers of this blog might know that I listen regularly to the Briefing, the daily news review from the highly significant Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler.  All of what follows is from the Thursday program of this week, Nov. 13, 2014.  Just seemed like some significant stuff (I have bolded some of they key sentences…..) that has ceased to be obvious to many persons.

Here is Mohler, starting with the title for this section of his show:

Studies indicate demise of intact families negatively impacts economic success of children


All these points in the research demonstrated within them point to the importance of the intact family. And this is coming from a rather conservative sociological and economic analysis. The full report from Professors Wilcox and Lerman is found at the American Enterprise Institute entitled “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.” Now that came from the right, but what about from the left? That’s where the second item looms even larger in importance. It’s found in an article published recently in the Washington Post by Robert J. Samuelson, a columnist and economist. He writes about what he calls the ‘family deficit.’ He said,

“We Americans believe in progress, and yet progress is often a double-edged sword. The benefits and adventures of change often vie with the shortcomings and disruptions, leaving us in a twilight zone of ambiguity and doubt about the ultimate outcome. Few subjects [he says,] better illustrate this than the decline of marriage,”

He cites, again a more liberal source, Isabel Sawhill and her recent book, ‘Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage.’ He then writes this,

Even those who know marriage is on the skids — presumably, most of us — may be surprised by the extent of its decline… [He goes on to say] Americans coming of age in the 1950s, the expectation was that most would marry. It was part of society’s belief structure. And most did. Now these powerful social pressures have faded and, for many, disappeared.

In 1960 he cites only 12 % of adults ages 25 to 34 had never married. So that’s 1965, only 12% of relatively young adults had not married. By the time they were 45 to 54, the never-married share of that generation was only 5%. That was just 1960, fast forward Samuelson says, to 2010 and 47 % of Americans aged 25 to 34 had never married. Based on present trends he says, this will still be 25% in 2030 when they’re aged 45 to 54.

Now in terms of worldview, consider the importance of the admission he makes in the next paragraph; and I quote,

“The stranglehold that marriage had on middle-class thinking and behavior began to weaken in the 1960s with birth control pills, publication of Betty Friedan’s ‘The Feminine Mystique’ — an assault on women’s traditional housecleaning and child-rearing roles — and the gradual liberalization of divorce laws.”

Now note quite carefully that those very three things – the sexual revolution, feminism, and the gradual liberalization of divorce laws – those have been the very three things that many Christian conservatives, and furthermore social conservatives from a secular arena, have pointed to as the fountainhead of much of the breakdown of the family and the marginalization of marriage. But that paragraph was not written by a conservative Christian or otherwise, it was written by a mainstream liberal – a rather influential columnist – and published of all places in the Washington Post on its opinion page.

But the most shocking paragraph in Samuelson’s column comes later. It reads and I quote,

“But the biggest social cost of less marriage involves children. ‘New choices for adults,’ Sawhill writes, ‘have not generally been helpful to the well-being of children.’ [Samuelson then writes,] Single-parent families have exploded. In 1950, they were 7 percent of families with children under 18; by 2013, they were 31 percent. Nor was the shift isolated. The share was 27 percent for whites, 34 percent for Hispanics and 62 percent for African Americans.”

Then follows this absolutely blockbuster sentence,

“By harming children’s emotional and intellectual development, the expansion of adult choices may have reduced society’s collective welfare.”

That is indeed a stunning sentence. It’s an absolutely true crystallizing clear sentence. It’s a sentence that rightly describes what has been happening in America over the last 4 to 5 decades. There has been a radical expansion of adult choice and it has been at the tremendous now documented undeniable expense of America’s children. That’s the kind of thing the conservatives have been talking about for decades now. But it tells us something, something very important when that message comes from now one of the most influential syndicated columnist in one of the most influential liberal newspapers in the United States.

Now to be quite honest, in terms of Samuelson’s argument, he is not suggesting any kind of moral reversal. He seems to be just as committed now to the kind of moral individual expressive that created this kind of liberalizing trend. But he does at least have the honesty to document the problem and to trace it to its roots and to point out that this radical expansion of choices for adults, this great moral revolution, has come at the direct and now documented expense of America’s children. We should pause and note that the documented decline in the family unit, the documented marginalization of marriage itself, and the documented impact on children, the fact that this is now documented in the pages of the Washington Post, well that’s a remarkable cultural achievement; a moral achievement that should not pass without our notice.


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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


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