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Can we start tackling the real problems now?

Government money is an unworthy substitute for marriages and fathers

President Lyndon Johnson talks in his White House office in Washington with anti-poverty aides Sargent Shriver, left, and Bernard Boutin, center, on Oct. 5, 1965. Associated Press photo

Can we start tackling the real problems now?
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Summer 2022 will be a season pro-life Christians look back on and celebrate. But responses to the Dobbs decision reveal a gap in how the pro-life movement considers the path forward. Some pro-lifers—less gleeful—have cautioned about the work ahead.

The first instinct is to turn to massive government spending on social programs. Even some Christians start there. If you are really for mothers and kids the retort begins, then you must address the issues that lead women to even consider abortion. These issues usually boil down to a singular theme—money. State sponsored childcare, free meals at school, mandatory paid maternity leave, and more. Some of these things merit discussion. But largely missing in this conversation is the most important factor—fathers.

Statistics show that the leading factor in childhood poverty is fatherlessness. A child is four times more like to live below the poverty line if there is no father in the home. This is staggering information, but rarely discussed in abortion conversations. Marriage rates have plummeted in the United States. According to one report, in the 1960s, 74 percent of white Americans were married, as were 61 percent of black Americans. By 2008, only 56 percent of white Americans were married, a dramatic decline. But black marriage rates bottomed out with only 32 percent married in 2008. This is a drop of almost half within two generations.

Marriage blesses children. Children who grow up in two-parent homes thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively, not just as children but as adults. However, one in four children under 18 are growing up without a father in their lives (that is 17.4 million kids). Half of that number (45 percent) are living under the poverty line.

These statistics shine light on both tanking marriage rates and fatherless homes. Any programs the government creates to address the care and support of mothers that do not address this central issue are throwing money into the wind. This does not mean targeted pro-life policies are in vain; but such programs often paper over the greatest underlying justification people resort to for abortion. Children need fathers in their lives. Two-parent homes are vital to raising thriving children and seeing them flourish.

We’ve been fighting the “war on poverty” since LBJ was president in 1964. We haven’t won that war.

Just fund these social programs for moms and kids! Expect to hear that argument again and again. Our country loves to fight wars we have no intentions of winning. We’ve been fighting the “war on poverty” since LBJ was president in 1964. We haven’t won that war. The results of this government-initiated program ushered in an ocean liner full of welfare legislation that hasn’t eliminated poverty. In many cases, these programs have only enslaved poor people to government assistance. The “war on drugs” is similar. Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971, yet the drug crisis in America today is still with us.

In each of these “wars,” the government threw trillions of dollars at problems, but never fixed them—because government, by design, cannot solve the most basic problems. But the political reality is that winning these “wars” would eliminate the need for those government institutions, departments, agencies, and programs. Once these entities existed, it became almost impossible to eliminate them. And for them to accomplish their mission would mean the end of their usefulness (and their funding).

Politicians try to solve problems with governmental solutions, but these problems won’t be solved by more spending. The government should recognize the value of marriage and help promote it as a part of the common good. We should hold men accountable for the care of the children they father. School programs should teach about sex, the consequences of sex, and the duty of personal responsibility (surely, we can squeeze this in around Drag Queen Story Hour). Adoptions should be made easier, and the bureaucracy and bloated costs eliminated.

Churches must renew their efforts to tackle these problems. They can offer counseling to women who have had abortions or are considering abortion. Young boys and girls need to be shown God’s wisdom for saving sex until marriage. Marriage and children need to become synonymous again as we show what kind of devastating results come from ignoring God’s commands and good design. Parents cannot skirt the consequences of producing a child by killing it. Instead, marriages need to be formed. Responsibility needs to be taken, and that responsibility begins at home.

And, most importantly, the Christian ethic of dying to self needs to replace the cultural ethic of asking the child to die for us.

Erik Reed

Erik Reed is the lead pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tenn. He also founded Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. Erik is the author of Uncommon Trust: Learning to Trust God When Life Doesn’t Make Sense and the upcoming book, Hold the Line: A Call for Christian Conviction in a Culture of Conformity. He is married to Katrina and has three children: Kaleb (who went to be with the Lord in 2019), Kaleigh Grace, and Kyra Piper.


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