I had breakfast with my buddy Dave last Wednesday. Grits and country ham and biscuits for me. I can say that. My lovely wife, Lisa, gave up reading my column a long time ago. She thinks I had the granola and yogurt parfait.
That’s what Dave had. His sweet wife, Theresa, still reads me.
Talk turned, as it usually does when we get together, to the problems of the world and how to solve them. I was adamant that everything wrong with America today began with the breakup of the family. I believe that with all my heart and soul.
Of course, I believe the Bible. Silly me. I know that’s so 1950s of me. According to the Bible, God created the world. Again, I know that’s so passe`in some circles — just not the ones I run around in. After God had created this beautiful world, the Bible tells us that He — yes, He — I’m not conformed — created man and gave him dominion over the earth and then he created woman to stand by man’s side — not at his feet.
See, before we had nations and governments and even the church — God had created the family to be the foundation of society. With all my heart I believe that man and woman were intended to engage in a permanent union, have children together — after that union — and raise those children — caring for them, nurturing them and teaching them right from wrong. Folks lived a long time back then — look up Methuselah — so, in turn, in would stand to reason that the younger generation would one day be charged with looking after the old folks.
Call me old fashioned and foolish and boorishly unenlightened and any litany of names you can come up with, but that’s the way I believe it was intended to go. That’s my opinion, and mine is the only opinion I have. I am not telling you it has to be your opinion.
Of course, this model was challenged right away. Adam and Eve had trouble with their children from the start when their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Nonetheless, the family unit, I still believe, was intended to be the foundation of society and it served us well for a long time in this country — until people decided that they knew more than God and that their own short-term desires trumped the good of their family, children, country and society, and the family unit began to disintegrate. To me, that’s when we started to preside over the decline of civilization.
I got cranked up Wednesday and started preaching all of this to my buddy Dave, right there in our favorite breakfast haunt. He just listened, primarily because I didn’t slow down for breath and he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
Now I told you all of that to tell you this. I turned on my television late Wednesday night and came across a show my Smart TV had recorded for me while I was out of town last week. It was a television preacher and he was saying the exact same things to his audience that I had been saying to Dave that morning. It was almost the same spiel, and I mean chapter and verse. He had statistics to back up his words, too, although I did some digging and the statistics have gotten worse since the program was recorded.
In the United States of America, 40% of all children born are born to unmarried mothers. That’s all children. In the African American community, it is 73 percent.
I see that as a problem, y’all. Children need to be raised by a mama and a daddy. It just works out better. I know there are shining examples of the thousands of outliers where single-parent homes work well, but the bottom line is that when we started breaking up the family unit, things started going south in our society.
Keep those outliers in mind. I know they are there. But consider these numbers from the U.S. Department of Health:
♦ 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. That’s 5 times the average.
♦ 90% of runaways are from fatherless homes. 32 times the average.
♦ 85% of behavior disorders. 80% of rapists. 71% of high school dropouts. 70% of students in state-operated drug institutions. 85% of youths in prison—all come from fatherless homes.
♦ 80% of our welfare dollars are spent on single-parent homes.
Again, I know that there are sterling examples of single mothers doing a wonderful job raising wonderful children alone. That doesn’t change the fact that society was intended to operate best when a man and woman marry, stay married and raise their children together.
So I guess my plea is to churches and government entities and social organizations to go back to the basics and to start teaching and stressing marriage and commitment to the next generation, because what’s done is done — but if we don’t change things with the future generation, so, too, is our country.
By the way, the guy I caught on television, agreeing so vehemently with me — Billy Graham, preaching in San Antonio, Texas in 1968. He was a prophet.