I was honored to be part of a meeting with some really great men who are working on connecting absent fathers to their children. Yet they are so busy they are too preoccupied to do anything about the cause, so their work grows rather than diminishes.
I understand. Nobody wants to touch the cause. To tackle the cause of this cancer is to call down the wrath of almost everyone they work with — the parents, the extended family, most of the teachers, even the clergy.
What causes fatherlessness? More than anything else: out of wedlock births. And we know what causes out of wedlock births!
What, in the past, dissuaded and prevented out of wedlock sex? The cause was a culture that harshly punished out of wedlock births, monitored out of wedlock sex and shamed it harshly. Taboos were present, powerful, and enforced by virtually everyone. Up to 1950 around 3% of births were out of wedlock
This culture (and its taboos) was the greatest ally parents had in shaping the sexual behavior of their children. It taught the big lesson: sex is for marriage. Period. It was the floor below which you did not dare think of descending, or if you did you decided it was not worth the price. Taboos constrained your choices. Taboos are the powerful defense mechanisms of society.
Those taboos are gone. Leaders today are afraid to lead, and we do not have a polis that permits a discussion about this. The clergy will not speak about it, knowing that many in their congregation will rebel and go elsewhere, taking their money with them. Teachers will not speak about it. They fear getting fired. Doctors won’t touch it (most of them), though they, like teachers, see the consequences daily. Lawyers won’t touch it, though they see the results in court every day. Actors and celebritites won’t touch it.
Yet nobody will touch it. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. That is why taboos were a society-wide task—spread out among all of us, for all had a stake though no-one wanted to be “the bad guy”. Therefore, together we were, collectively, the “the bad guy”. That is how taboos work.
This presents us with a huge problem. Taboos once violated without retribution lose their power. That leaves us with only one option: persuasion. But how can persuasion work when a topic can’t be discussed openly and seriously?
One person has the podium big enough to get attention. And he has the qualifications: he has violated these sexual norms, repeatedly. Controversy is second nature to him. He is not afraid of it. He can get things done.
He has a wife who could stomach this attention and take it with calm, dignity and courage, even as he blows the lid off the topic by saying something like the following:
“You all know my history on this issue. I can see my sexual past with increasing clarity. Many people would say I made many mistakes. They are wrong. They were not “mistakes”. Mistakes are things that happen to you inadvertently, mainly through no fault of your own. But I did what I wanted to do — deliberately. I did not make mistakes. I did wrong. Being blunt about it, I did things that were evil.
“Consensual sex by a man and a woman can be one of the greatest joys on earth if they are married, but a great evil if they are not. Why? Because a baby can result! And that baby is immediately in danger of being killed (in abortion) or having a life of pain and suffering (out of wedlock). The baby is a beautiful new being. The evil is present in the life sentence it is getting.
“I took that chance many, many times. Deliberately. So, I have no authority to speak to anyone about being sexually pure. But I have authority on this evil. I know it. I have practiced it. I wish I had not. One thing you can be certain of I will not be casting any stones.
“It is time for a new deal on matters sexual, a New Deal for Our Children. They need it badly.
“Our children need this new deal so that we stop wounding them through massively misguided sex. It is time to call a spade a spade. Sex is meant for babies and love. Sex leads to babies, and babies need the love of their mother and father and their love for each other. That is safe sex, great sex, beautiful sex, fruitful sex, challenging sex. All else is, ultimately, fake sex.
“All babies are precious. No baby is evil. But a lot of evil can swirl around babies when they are not conceived and born in marriage. We all know that. We all used to uphold that. Now we don’t and we pay a very big price, but no one pays a bigger one than the babies. The mothers and fathers pay, too, but not nearly as much as children do. They pay the price of evils done to them.
“None of us can cast stones at anyone here, me least of all. That is why I take up this topic because you know I cannot throw stones at anyone. But for our children we have to put this genie back in the bottle. The genie is sex. The bottle is marriage.
“The baby is safest there, happiest there, healthiest there, wealthiest there, most learned there, most capable there, lives longest there. We owe this to every baby. There is not a baby in existence who does not deserve the stable marriage of its parents. It is not only its birthright. It is its conception-right.
“I have a great wife – better than I deserve. How she puts up with me I will never understand. Imagine having to live with me. How she loves me is a mystery. Without her support I could not even think of speaking about this. I am in awe of her that she permitted me to do so.
“But we need many others to speak:
“Governors, who want children to have their due.
“Actors and sports celebrities who want every child to have its due;
“Jail birds …yes, jailbirds. Many of them know these truths better than most of us do. What it did to them and what they in turn have done to their children.
“Many will say that I ought to be silent on this issue but the powerful in our county would speak up on this. But they don’t: though almost all of them have married intact families. Here in the nation’s capital almost 90 percent of teenagers in the professional, wealthy Northwest DC are living with their married biological parents? In Southeast DC where the poor live it is 9 percent.
“The successful in life live this way but they are afraid to speak this way in public. That is why I am speaking up for all our children. They need someone to speak for them, even if it turns out to be me.
“For men this is about turning over a new leaf. It is about honoring the woman in our lives by putting a ring on her finger before taking her to bed.
“We want to reduce fatherlessness. If you are not for marriage you are for fatherlessness. With marriage we will heal so many things that have gone wrong:
- School drop out
- STDs and so many other illnesses
- Child physical and sexual abuse
- Violence in the family
- Violence the neighborhood.
“And we will produce
- Increased happiness
- Increased learning
- Increased income and savings
- Longer life
- Healthier life
- And better sex! Yes, better, more frequent more enjoyable sex.
“What a deal!