November 2013 – If you are over 50, you can remember the names of girls who got pregnant in your high school. Their numbers were few, and usually they “went away” to have their babies. There was a stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock. It was frowned on by society. But in the 1970s and even before, American popular culture began to move away from the mores of the Christian worldview as it pertained to sexual behavior, viewing the “thou shalt not” approach as too restrictive on personal freedom.
In short, we, Americans in general, developed a more hedonistic lifestyle approach. This was especially pushed by Hollywood and the entertainment industry, idolized by millions of people. “If it feels good, do it” became the anthem of the age.
The Bible says that there exists in man the desire to enjoy the “passing pleasures of sin.” In other words, hedonism is fun for the flesh and for a season. There is no denying that. However, there is a price to be paid down the road. And America is dealing with those consequences, consequences which are highlighted in every news outlet, day and night, print, online and broadcast.
In May, U.S. News & World Report ran an article which began this way:
Research released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says states with a higher percentage of out-of-wedlock births in 2011 tended to have a higher incidence of poverty.
The article went on to state:
The American Community Survey found that 36% of the 4.1 million women who gave birth in the U.S. that year were unmarried, up from 31% in 2005. Utah had the nation’s lowest out-of-wedlock birth rate in 2011 at 14.7%, followed by New Hampshire at 20%. The District of Columbia had the highest rate, at 50.8%, followed closely by Louisiana at 48.7%, Mississippi at 48.1% and New Mexico at 47.6%.
We are closing in on a statistic where four out of every 10 babies in America are born to girls/women who are not married. In Mississippi – my home state – almost half of the babies are born out of wedlock. These are, for the most part, children who will not have a daddy in their home. The problems fatherlessness leads to are many and obvious.
A post by Australia’s Fatherhood Foundation (fatherhood.org.au) says that in addition to poverty, fatherless children are at increased risk for “child sexual abuse, child emotional abuse, child physical abuse, child and adult drug abuse, child and adult increase in suicide, child and adult self harm, and much other destructive and abusive human behavior.”
Back here in the U.S., there are a few encouraging things happening in response to this societal dilemma. For example, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant recognizes that it is a serious threat to the family and to society, and he is attempting to do something about it by making teenage pregnancy prevention a major issue for his administration. From what I could gather, the effort includes blacks and whites, young people and educators, Republicans and Democrats, clergy and laymen.
To me, reducing teen pregnancy is one of the most important goals any governor in any state could take on. Although it may be a tough uphill climb, maybe Gov. Bryant’s efforts can put a dent in this problem in Mississippi. And maybe his courage in addressing the issue will inspire or challenge other governors to acknowledge the fact that fatherless families are a formula for failure in families and in society.
I recently heard a pastor preach a sermon that reminded us that God gives us standards in His Word for our own good. Obeying God’s standards leads to a happier life. Obeying them also keeps us from suffering the consequences of disobeying them, which can be really harsh on ourselves as well as society at large.
Galatians 6:7 says: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” And so it goes with