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Single parenthood may be a heroic struggle, but it’s not ideal and shouldn’t be promoted

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WHAT DOES CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL SINGLE PARENT DAY SAY ABOUT OUR COUNTRY?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, first there was Mother’s Day, then there was Father’s Day, and now we have Grandparent’s Day. Interestingly, another day has popped up, which I wasn’t aware of until recently, March 21st is National Single Parent Day. That caused somewhat of a debate between The New York Times syndicated columnist, Robert Samuelson, and Tucker Carlson. Harry, the bottom line on this debate is being a single parent — is that a detriment to a family and to a society?

DR. REEDER: Single parenting, in many cases, is heroic. Single parenting is something to be avoided if possible. Here’s the reality: We live in a broken world, so what happens? A spouse dies or a marriage gets broken because someone is unfaithful. And then what happens to the children? Well, they’re in a single-parent home. Then the single parents who remain in that home and faithful to those children are engaged in a heroic struggle.

SINGLE PARENTHOOD IS HEROIC, BUT NOT IDEAL

But why would we say it’s a heroic struggle? Because it is not the created order. The created order is it takes a man and a woman to have a child and God designed that to take place within the covenant of marriage because it takes a man and a woman to raise a child rightly. The child needs a father and mother to be created by the hand of God. We need both a father’s love and direction and a mother’s love and nurture: the teaching of kindness upon the mother’s tongue as Proverbs says, and the direction and empowerment that a father’s exhortation gives to their child.

So now what we’re being told we ought to be celebrating is single parenting and the answer is no. We celebrate the faithfulness and heroic efforts of a single parent and the reason they’re heroic is it is not the best possible solution. They are trying to overcome something that would be better and the better would be for the child to have two parents. While we want to obliterate single parenting, we want to assist and honor single parents unless they are single parents just simply out of rebellion. We need to recognize the consequences of a culture that attempts to normalize and celebrate single parenting and that’s what the article attempted to do.

WHO IS PROMOTING IT AND WHY?

One of my father’s — I’m sure he borrowed it from somebody — “Figures don’t lie, but liars sure do figure,” and that’s what The New York Times opinion piece attempted to do but Mr. Samuelson responds to it and he just points out that this was purely fabrication in an attempt to normalize single parenting and we know that poverty, lack of education, a lack of employment — all of those things skyrocket in the children’s lives that are raised in a single-parent home.

This is why, for instance, in our church whenever we have parents who are faced with single parenting, we try to step in and assist them because we know they’re facing an uphill struggle in what will happen in their children because of the single parenting. However, the answer is not to try to normalize single parenting.

Tom, here’s what’s really interesting: Because of the sexual revolution, in the African-American community, before 1970, the statistics for children born out of wedlock in a single-parent situation were less than 20 percent and now they are up to 72 percent, approaching 75 percent since 2010. And, in the Caucasian community, it was 6 percent and now it’s at 36 percent. The Hispanic community has faced pretty much the same situation.

Tom, what we are attempting to do because of the prevalence of single-parenting, which is promoted through the sexual revolution and which is promoted through the all-out assault upon the nuclear family of one man, one woman for one life — because of that, we have attempted to normalize it so, when an opinion piece comes out, they attempted to fabricate the statistics to lie about the unbelievable challenge of single parenting.

WHO IS REPORTING THE ACTUAL STATISTICS ON LONG-TERM EFFECTS?

Well, thankfully, Mr. Samuelson, who is no conservative at all, just says, “Listen. Let’s be honest about this. It is an undeniable fact that, out of single-parent homes, that the children by no means have the same record of engagement and gainful employment, finishing education, staying out of poverty, staying off of governmental support programs. It is an unbelievable challenge.”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, indeed. Samuelson finishes his column on single-parenting by saying, “We are condemning more of our children to a precarious upbringing and that’s a problem.” Harry, is this a 21st century example of the sins of the father being visited upon the child?

DR. REEDER: That’s right. And you see what’s happening out of engagement of soft pornography, sexual revolution of the 1950s and the consequences have now arrived in the 21st century and now the attempt to socially approve what we ought to be disapproving of as a cultural value and what we ought to be responding to as a cultural challenge.

Single parenting is a cultural challenge with moral and spiritual implications and we ought to respond to it, not attempt to normalize it and say that it is not a problem and, in fact, ought to be embraced as a way of life. Not if we really have any senses.

AS CHRISTIANS, LET’S PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH AND PREACH WHAT WE PRACTICE

Let me finish this way, Tom, with two comments. Here’s what’s really interesting: the secular elite, who would celebrate not single parents, but single parenting, actually are the second largest demographic of consistency in marriage. The No. 1 demographic of those who get married and stay married are evangelical Christians. The No. 2 are college-educated, six-figure families.

In other words, college-educated, six-figure families, while in their secularism promote rebellion against God’s creation laws of sex within marriage and marriage between one man and one woman actually, in practice, are the second-largest demographic who embrace God’s creation laws — at least the notion that they get married and stay married more than the cultural norms that they are promoting in the sexual revolution and in their secularism.

In other words, they live differently than what they’re telling others to live and destroying the lives of others while, themselves, embracing God’s order of marriage. The only ones who do so more consistently are those who affirm marriage and staying in marriage as evangelical Christians and are engaged in the local church.

The second thing I would say is this to the church: Let’s respond to the challenge of single-parenting with grace, compassion, and resources in assisting single parents, but let’s not glorify single-parenting. Let’s work hard at pre-marital counseling, marital counseling, Gospel evangelism of men and women and the impact in their marriages. Let’s, in discipleship, reinstitute and burnish brightly the foundational value of marriages that begin in the Lord, that stay in the Lord. And let’s bring the value of marriage as a creation ordinance as we promote it in the ministry of common grace throughout society.

GOD CALLS US TO PROMOTE MARRIAGE FOR ALL PEOPLE’S GOOD

If we love people made in the image of God, we will promote the most foundational institution in society that God has created for the well-being of society, and that is a marriage of a man and a woman that is monogamous, covenantal, heterosexual marriage that makes every effort as the vow says, “for better or for worse,” to stay the course and raise children within the boundaries of a home where they have a father and a mother, both supplying what’s necessary physically, financially, morally, culturally and spiritually in the life of the next generation.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.