Mary Eberstadt is a sociologist who studies faith and family. She wrote recently in First Things, “… Summer 2020 signals something new. The triply disenfranchised children of the West have achieved critical mass. They have slipped the surly bonds of their atomized childhoods; they have found their fellow raging sufferers and formed online families; and they have burst as a destructive force onto the national consciousness en masse, left and right, as never before.”
Like me, many of you may wonder why so many young men expressed such anger last summer with their rhetoric and destruction of property. I often ask whether this might be due to absentee fathers.
Eberstadt notes, “The riots amount to social dysfunction on parade. Six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness.” I continually maintain in this blog the importance of fathers and their commitment to their families. The real issue in culture as I learned years ago from Derek Prince is “renegade fathers.”
Eberstadt believes the riots are a “frantic flight to collective political identities” that have primordial origins. Rioting shows in part the “invisible crisis of Western paternity.” When the family has no father, a vacuum is created in which lost young men seek family substitutes. Quoting a study by the Minnesota Psychological Association, “A high percentage of gang members come from father-absent homes…possibly resulting from a need for a sense of belonging…the gang leader may fill the role of father.”
The problem of fatherless young men finding identity in gang families is not going to disappear. More angry and lost young men are going to find their way into these gang-families. “They have been left alone in a cosmos with nothing to guide them, not even a firm grip of what constitutes their basic humanity, and no means of finding the way home” (Deborah Savage). Eberstadt warns, “The dispossessed children who roam the streets in search of yet more destruction…will not go away until the crisis that has unhinged them and severed them from their own is ameliorated.”
So, what can we anticipate in the coming days? I believe there will be more riots. We will see young angry, disinherited men on the streets expressing their anger at our culture. What does this mean for the reader of this blog? Here are some suggestions:
First, give priority to the kingdom of God, in which parents hold an honored place. The fourth commandment tells us to honor your father and mother. There is this promise added, “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you…” (Deut. 5:16). Proverbs 20:20 gives us a warning, “If a man curses his father and mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.” Honor your own parents for the role they played (or continue to play) in your life.
Second, be a godly man. We cannot alleviate fatherlessness in our nation. But we can be examples of godly men who live out godly parenting. We not only honor those placed above us, but also seek to be servant-leaders in our sphere of influence.
Third, commit to pass on a healthy paternal principle to the next generation. Find a fatherless young man to mentor… Be an involved dad… Read and discuss Mary Eberstadt’s article… This blog is one man’s attempt to be a voice speaking to the curse of fatherlessness in our culture.
Fourth, remember that God opposes the proud (those opposed to authority), but gives his grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5). May we all be men under authority.