A Strategy for Changing the Inner-City
Now, I am not one to mock middle-class America. That is a dangerous and vengeful mistake, and it has been perpetrated many times over, and not simply by liberals. Sometimes Christians--who mean well but execute poorly--aim blistering criticism at brothers and sisters who have committed no sin but that of being economically stable, a condition that these people worked very hard to achieve and that has not prevented them from sacrificial giving and generous living. I do not want to be in the camp of those who attack people with money. That's an intellectually immature way of thinking. However, I do think that no group in a fallen world is above scrutiny and criticism. In addition, in a fallen world, good often comes through criticism and analysis, as we are shaken out of comfort and mobilized for action, often in ways we didn't know existed. So that is my aim as we think through this matter of inner-city change: not to mock, but to suggest; not to attack, but to analyze, and hopefully arrive at a helpful conclusion.
The issue I want to examine this week is this: the inner-city is a very troubled place in America (and worldwide). Many inner-cities seem locked in perpetual spirals of degeneration, with periods of economic growth or spiritual resurgence being soundly checked by tides of violence and economic difficulty. Many who desire a better life seem ill-equipped to reach this goal; the American education system throws its arms open (particularly to inner-city minorities), but few youths lack the family structure necessary to ensure that they weather the trials necessary to reach that end. Popular media, which is readily accessible, does little to help, portraying inner-city life as a glamorized darkness. Nihilism and naturalism play to a beat in the inner-city, and few are found who can correct or challenge this vision. After all, for many, this vision is realistic.
There are those who care, of course, and there are churches that seek to help, and government agencies that try to do the same. There are many who work sacrificially to reverse the sad trends of the inner-city. But though much good is done, I would suggest a course of strategy that is not innovativee or noteworthy but is surely bound to revolutionize communities: the recovery of the classic family structure, where a man commits to a woman in marriage and raises children with her. This week, we'll talk about this idea, which I'm sure others have suggested and some have tried, but which, in my opinion, few seem to see as the key to inner-city revitalization. It will be my argument that nothing--not money, not programs, not initiatives--will change the inner-city like the revitalization of the family. Stick with me, and see if this idea holds some hope, some light, for a darkened place.