We are all still reeling from the tragic murder of 19 beautiful children in Uvalde, Texas earlier this month, and wondering how something this incomprehensible could happen.
Some are trying to bring more restrictions to gun ownership or even ban guns outright, while others point an accusing finger at local law enforcement and wonder why they did not respond more quickly. Others suggest we harden the targets with more security officers at schools. But none of those options genuinely get to the heart of the problem.
Have we considered the often-ignored reality that the absence of fathers causes a breakdown of the family?
In an article from the Heritage Foundation published in 2018 after the Parkland, Florida shooting there was this observation: "‘Among the 25 most-cited school shooters since Columbine, 75% were reared in broken homes.’ Psychologist Dr. Peter Langman, a pre-eminent expert on school shooters, found that most came from incredibly broken homes of not just divorce and separation, but also infidelity, substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic violence, and child abuse."
Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter responsible for the deaths of all those precious children in Texas, had no relationship with his father. His mother lived out of state, and he had a strained relationship with his grandmother, whom he also shot. All of them had criminal records as well. Ramos’s own father said in an interview, "He would always say I didn’t love him."
We ignore this problem of the breakdown of the family at our peril.
One person said, "If you want to know what kind of father you were, don’t look at your children. Look at your grandchildren." Families, with both fathers and mothers doing their part, are our nation’s very foundation.
When my oldest son Christopher was a little boy, I bought him a toy tugboat. It was an unsinkable bath toy. We would try to hold it underwater in a pool, and it would always pop back to the surface.
When Christopher got older, I asked him if he wanted to sink that tugboat once and for all. So, I cut a little hole in the top and dropped a cherry bomb in it, much to my son’s delight. It was not dramatic, but the cherry bomb blew a hole in the tugboat. The unsinkable craft finally sunk slowly to the bottom of the pool.
If you want to sink something, blow a hole in the hull.
With all our social experimentation today in America, we are blowing a hole in our hull. If the family sinks, the culture will sink with it.
Eighty percent of teenagers admitted to psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes. Fatherless children are 100 to 200% more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. A child from a fatherless home is 68% more likely to use drugs or alcohol, far more likely to become sexually active at an early age, and three times more likely to commit a violent crime.
Fathers who are there to raise their children are the true superheroes in our society.
Sixty-three percent of teenagers who attempt suicide come from fatherless homes. Seventy-one percent of children who don’t finish high school come from fatherless homes. Ninety percent of our homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. Fatherless sons are 300% more likely to become incarcerated and stay in juvenile institutions.
Fatherless daughters who marry have a 92% higher divorce rate, and fatherless sons are 38% more likely to experience marital failure. Fatherless daughters are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers. Fatherless daughters are 111% more likely to have children as teenagers, and they are 164% more likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth. Eighty percent of all sitting in prison today grew up in fatherless homes.
Fathers are the missing piece in all of this.
In a time when cinematic ‘superheroes’ dominate the screen, it’s time to celebrate the often-overlooked heroes in our culture: Husbands who remain faithful to their spouses and honor the vow to stand by their mate "for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish till death do them part" and fathers who are there to raise their children are the true superheroes.
We need more fathers to step up to the plate in our nation like never before. And even more, we need godly men.
The Bible says, "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-5).
The word "heritage" used in the passage can be translated as a "gift." Kids are not given to keep but to nurture. They need our example, but most importantly, they need us. The best resource you can spend on your children is time, and lots of it.
It’s been said, "A family can survive without a nation, but the nation cannot survive without the family."
Most importantly, we need God in our nation. We need to return to the Lord who loves us and will help us rebuild our eroding foundation, brick by brick, family by family. We need to call out to Him and ask for help.
God says, "‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’ ‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God’" (Jer. 3:22).
I never knew my biological father. My mother went on to be married and divorced seven times.
But when I heard the good news that there was a Father in Heaven who loved me, I turned to Him.
He changed me, and in the church, I met many older father figures who gave me an example to follow.
I went on to marry my wife, Cathe, and we are getting ready to celebrate 50 years of marriage. We have two sons and five grandchildren.
Christ broke the cycle of sin in my family and He can do the same for yours!
With Father’s Day this weekend, if you have a faithful father in your life, be sure to thank him.
To fathers who have led their families well, I want to thank you on behalf of a grateful nation!
Happy Father’s Day!