In 1965, Daniel Moynihan, then working for the United States Department of Labor, issued a report in which he found that 24% of black children and 3% of white children were born out of wedlock. At the time, the report was a scandal, and the culture was abuzz with questions regarding the state of black families in America.
Now fast forward almost 50 years. As it turns out, those of us living in the 21st century may now find ourselves looking back on those days with a kind quaint fondness. For here, at the dawn of the new millennium, we live in a era where 73% of black children and 29% of white children are born to single mothers. What’s more, for the first time in U.S. history, more than 50% of all American children born to women (of any race) under the age of 30 will be born into single parent homes.
As a society, the question that we have to ask ourselves is this: what are we going to do for the these children? According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for:
- 63 percent of all youth suicides
- 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies
- 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse
- 80 percent of all prison inmates, and
- 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children.
Likewise, a study cited by the Village Voice found that a child brought up in single-parent homes was:
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide,
- 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
- 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 14 times more likely to commit rape (if they are male)
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and
- 32 times more likely to run away from home.
Nearly 50 years after Moynihan’s initial report, there can be little doubt that our sexual revolution has lead to disastrous results for our children. Our fleeting satisfactions have been bought at a price; only we’re not the ones paying the tab. We’ve left that messy task to the Fatherless Generation, even as we continue to wring our hands in frustration, wondering why the kids aren’t doing so well.
It’s one thing for us to ask questions as a society, but it’s another thing altogether for us, as a church, to face these questions. How are we meeting these kids where they’re at? Are we caring for them in ways that are tangible and consistent? Scripture tells us time and again that we are to “defend the fatherless.” But when we look around at our church ministries, how much of our collective efforts are really directed towards this need? Have we truly taken up the call of the prophets to minister to this generation? Or have we selfishly left the children of our country to carry the burden of their parents’ debt?
 See Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 10:18; and Psalm 82:3 for just a few examples.