Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Changing the Inner City Through Families

Many of us know that the inner cities are troubled. We do not lack for attention to this reality, and the problem has drawn many suggested answers. Some believe that building sustainable economic structures is the way out. Others put their hope in programs that address various aspects of the inner-city situation: Big Brothers/Sisters and that sort of thing. Some think that education is the way out. Others emphasize the role of the government in aiding the weak and weary. Clearly, we are not lacking in suggested solutions to the problem.

But I think that all of these solutions fail to get at the heart of the problem. The foundation of society--of the world, really--is the family. The family is the institution from which all else proceeds. There is no one in the world who is born outside of the context of the family. Our father and mother constitute the primary shapers of our world. Their beliefs will impact ours. Their presence or absence determine whether we grow up as loved children or lonely children. The physical environment they create stamps itself on us for a lifetime. The family is the basic unit of society. When the family is strong, society is primed to be strong. When the family is weak, society readies itself for weakness.

The fundamental problem of the inner-city is that young men fail to see themselves as men. Young men are the cornerstone of the family. When they abandon their God-given role as leaders, husbands, and fathers, then all else crumbles with them. Though women do not make the first move, they will eventually rebel from their God-given role, thus completing the process of disintegration. But know this--the men lead the way for a society. Men were created to lead, provide, and protect. In far too many cities, men fail to lead, provide only for their own desires, and prey upon women rather than protecting them. As a result, the inner-city crumbles, and the broader society declines as well.

It's interesting to trace the history of this problem. Surely, slavery contributed to this woeful situation as it took away from black men their rightful role, but interestingly, the inner-city family (predominantly black in the twentieth century, though that is changing) was relatively stable until the 60s. Births out of wedlock were relatively low, coming in around 22%. The 60s, however, fomented rebellion, and nowhere was that rebellion more destructive than in the inner city. Several decades later, the out-of-wedlock birthrate had skyrocketed to around 60%. The current situation is dire. As Christians, many of us white and middle-class, what can we do to assist our countrymen and strengthen our society? We'll look at my simple proposal tomorrow.

Statistics: William Gairdner, The War Against the Family


Blogger Ryan Hill said...

owen...good thoughts about the inner-city and the need for men to act like men. Are there any good books you have read that discuss this topic and provide a similar solution to what you are proposing?

~ryan hill

12:18 PM  

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