It seems like there isn’t a weekend in Chicago this summer where we don’t hear about horrific shootings in the city and more innocent, usually young people dying. The July Fourth weekend was an especially violent one for the city. As the article linked to asserts in its title, the city has become a war zone. That’s quite a statement. Chicago isn’t Iraq, but I’m sure walking some streets in certain parts of the city at night might feel like it. What could cause such a cultural breakdown that civilization itself seems in peril? I would argue the answer is as simple as the problem is intractable: the breakdown of the family.
I know, on the right that is a veritable cliché, and the left thinks it’s overstated, but in inner city, lower class America the family, i.e. mom, dad, married, kids has all but vanished. Over 70 percent of black children are born to unmarried parents, and most are raised without their father living in the home. In a city like Chicago that’s probably even higher. All the sociological data tell us that children from broken or unformed homes fare worse in every social, psychological and emotional category. In what used to be known as the ghetto, these wounds from family dissolution are even worse. I heard somewhere that 80% of our prison population comes from broken homes. And liberals want us to believe that other factors than family are more important. That is simply not true.
I was reminded of this when I heard a radio interview of the manager of Chicago’s little league team that almost won the Little League World Series. He said these kids have incredible character because they have incredible parents. Obviously I can’t say all these black kids from the south side of Chicago have married parents, but their families obviously had something to do with their success, and keeping them on the ball field and off the streets. I imagine this is much harder for a single mom struggling to get by.
It is important to remember, in fact critical to understand that this problem started with Western cultural elites a very long time ago. The foundation of the historical epoch known as the Enlightenment was the dethroning of God, and the Church, as man’s ultimate authority, and replacing it with reason. It wasn’t all that long until many of the intellectuals of that time got rid of God altogether. Those that figured a Godless universe was a leap too far, nonetheless, in their deism of various stripes made God altogether irrelevant. Once we get to Darwin, Marx, Neitzsche and Freud the coup was complete.
Of all of history’s atheists, Friedrich Nietzsche would have been the least surprised by the July Fourth violence in Chicago. He was honest; he knew that getting rid of the moral foundation of Western civilization would not be without its consequences. Nietzsche didn’t make it to the 20th Century to see the horrors of philosophical atheistic materialism, but he predicted them. Without a transcendent rationale for moral values found in the Jewish and Christian religions, the only logical conclusion he knew would be the will to power, that might makes right. What could better reflect this worldview than over 80 shootings and 16 dead in a small area of the city of Chicago on a holiday weekend?
I can envision the progressive brain exploding in a mass of bilious rage over the ridiculous argument I’m trying to make here, which isn’t easy to do in a blog post. But it, my argument, makes perfect sense. You may be surprised that the sociological data agree with what God said a very long time ago, that the family is the foundation of civilization. You can see this throughout the Old and New Testaments, but I’ll give a couple supporting texts. One is found in Genesis 2:
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Then we will go to the amazing Ten Commandments. The first four commandments are about man’s relationship to God, the last six about how human beings interact with each other. No fewer than three of these final six have to do with marriage, commandments five, six and ten:
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
This blew me away when I read it recently. You see in these commandments that from God’s perspective the family is foundational to a society. The marriage bond is so sacred that we are commanded not to even covet, a perspective of the heart and mind, our neighbor’s wife, let alone actually take her.
I can hear some of our libertarian friends and liberals of various sorts say that I can’t make arguments from the Bible in the public square in a pluralistic society like ours. And why would that be? Because lots of people don’t believe in the Bible. Fine, don’t believe it. Believing it or not is irrelevant. I’m just pointing out what the Bible says, and what Western civilization embraced until not too long ago. It just so happens, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out recently, that reality is conservative. I would add that I believe that it is created by God, and we break his law at our peril. One of those laws would be the civilizational foundation of the family: mom, dad, married, kids.
Yet what has the secular, progressive left asserted for the last couple hundred years, at least since the French Revolution? That the family is not only unnecessary, but positively harmful, an oppressive patriarchy meant to benefit men and subjugate women. Of course the vast majority of the population of the West didn’t believe this, but the intellectual and artistic elites did, and eventually by the 1960s they got their dream come true; their worldview finally trickled down into popular culture and the average person.
Oh, it was a heady time for the baby boomer generation. The pill once and for all freed women from the bondage of their procreative functions, and abortion accomplished what the pill missed. Divorce laws weakened the marital bond even more. Finally, sexual liberation arrived, and freedom sweet freedom finally meant the fulfillment that religion, especially Christianity, had for so long denied the human race.
I came across a piece by Mitch Albom, as far as I know a liberal in good standing, where he asks a very pertinent question about the current cultural milieu: “When did fathers become expendable?” Mitch, I think it’s called feminism. And even though most radical feminism has long since been discredited (most women like being women, thank you very much), the residual hostility to the family and the man’s role in it has been subtlety demeaned. I heard someplace recently about a panel of conservative women, I think on Fox News, that was talking about this, and basically said the same thing as the reliably liberal women on The View. As we see in the real world, not the one of make believe or intellectual abstractuib or statist government obsession, fathers are not expendable at all. Many people are paying with their lives because too many people actually believe it.
Both men and women are to blame for the breakdown of the family — but women more so, since most divorces are initiated by women, and for frivolous reasons.
But conservative politicians and media pundits are loathe to hold women responsible for any of it. I recall Dan Quayle blaming “deadbeat dads” for the breakdown of the family, perhaps to lessen feminist anger at him. Conservatives love to join liberals (and Lifetime TV movies) in blaming “deadbeat dads” for abandoning children. Yet it’s more common for divorced mothers to deny visitation to fathers, in order to punish him. It’s less common for the father to willingly abandon the kids.
Frivolous women, taking advantage of “no fault” divorce laws, and courts that give women most of the parental rights and property in a divorce, are largely to blame for the divorce epidemic. (More so than men.) The marriage contract means nothing anymore, because with “no fault” divorce it’s no longer enforced. Hence, it’s no longer a contract.
There’s even a new term on the internet — frivorce. It means a frivolous divorce. Google it.
Bradley, I admit I have no idea what you are talking about. Please enlighten me.
I read somewhere that on internet bulletin boards, people would clog up the threads with “me too!” and “I agree” type comments. I am filling up the comments thread here, by thanking you.
I am grateful for your reply, but is writing this filling up the commentary thread? I read that it is bad form to add “me too!” comments to internet threads.
Bradley, the answer is quite simple. For about 1400 years Western Civilization had been dominated by the Catholic Church along with Reformation Christianity after Luther. As I point out in the piece, western cultural elites we’re purposefully moving away from a biblical worldview, but the average person in the street was still seeped in a Christian way of seeing things. Not to mention that in revolutionary France, the revolutionaries went way too far way too fast, and with way too much blood, in trying to eradicate every kind of tradition that came before. Getting rid of religion after that didn’t seem real appealing to most people.
The West up until the 1960s had lived on borrowed Christian capital, marriage and the family even if not revered were seen at least as an ideal, that something people should strive for. If you want to read someone who really gets at this intellectual foment that eventually took over western culture check out works by Gertrude Himmelfarb. She has so many great books, but this one addresses some of what we’re talking about there: “The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values.” Paul Johnson has also done some great work in this regard.
Yet what has the secular, progressive left asserted for the last couple hundred years, at least since the French Revolution?
—How come it didn’t happen back in 1790’s France?
Fantastic, accurate, fair, purposeful. You hit the nail on the head. So, how does society change when it’s comprised of selfish people who only act for themselves.?
I’ve worked in the criminal justice mill for 23 years. As a public defender it was common for me to have about 100 clients at any given time. Of those 100 on any given day, I don’t think there were ever more than 5 who came from intact 1 marriage families. A huge percentage were mentally ill and/or drug addicted, but the mental illness or addiction was frequently the consequence, or at least an aggravator of coming from a broken home.
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