The Single Parent Solution

My 8‑year-old twins have a prob­lem. There are three sides to the story.

The Black Fam­i­ly in Amer­i­ca has suf­fered tremen­dous set­backs since our arrival over 400 years ago. In recent decades, some, like Bill Cos­by in his infa­mous  2004 com­ments and sub­se­quent book “Come On Peo­ple,” have placed the blame on the black com­mu­ni­ty, itself, admon­ish­ing us to retire the vic­tim men­tal­i­ty, take some respon­si­bil­i­ty, and stop hav­ing so many babies out of wed­lock. That’s one side.

Anoth­er belongs to Cosby’s oppo­nents, name­ly, Michael Eric Dyson, an ordained Bap­tist min­is­ter and pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty.  He calls Cos­by out for “blam­ing the vic­tim” and turn­ing a blind eye to the injus­tices that still per­vade the unfair soci­ety in which we live in his “blan­ket indict­ment of poor blacks.” The sec­ond side.

After all, it is, in fact, true, that blacks are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly tar­get­ed by police, the issue lit recent­ly by events in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri; blacks in low income neigh­bor­hoods have access to few­er resources, edu­ca­tion­al­ly, and oth­er­wise; and the job mar­ket has his­tor­i­cal­ly been skewed in an oppos­ing direc­tion. But it is also fac­tu­al, that 70% of chil­dren born in black house­holds are born to sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies, me and my twins, among the num­ber. The conun­drum com­pounds many mat­ters and has intro­duced a host of prob­lems that have affect­ed the Black Fam­i­ly men­tal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly, specif­i­cal­ly dilut­ing the strength of the Fam­i­ly and weak­en­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties to each oth­er. So who’s right?

Let me sug­gest that the ques­tion can be answered in exam­in­ing, as I have begun to do, our iden­ti­ty. The family’s iden­ti­ty is not what it looks like through America’s lens­es, set against a back­drop of Euro­pean ideals. But wait, it is also not found in “going back to Africa,” and learn­ing who we were in anoth­er cul­ture, a polyg­a­mous one at that. After all, that’s sim­ply exchang­ing one opin­ion for anoth­er. As Chris­tians we know that the bib­li­cal view sur­pass­es any oth­er, and the right answer can only be found with God. The final side, and more impor­tant­ly, the truth.

The Bible tells the sto­ry of our sal­va­tion.  Cre­ation. The Fall. Redemp­tion. And Renew­al. The fam­i­ly is held in high regard in God’s eyes and was cre­at­ed to ful­fill his pur­pos­es per­fect­ly. One moth­er and one father in an inex­tri­ca­ble bond (Gen­e­sis 2:24–25), obe­di­ent chil­dren (Deut 5:16) and a fear of the Lord, the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple for all aspects of life (Proverbs 1:7, 3:5–6).

Let me say it this way… The Fall sep­a­rat­ed man from God, broke order, and among oth­er detri­ments, put Whites against Blacks. Slav­ery cre­at­ed a sit­u­a­tion of pro­found dehu­man­iza­tion in the Black Fam­i­ly, which could be eas­i­ly bro­ken up and fam­i­ly member’s sold sim­ply at the master’s whim, the break­down of the fam­i­ly ide­al still evi­dent today.

But we know that we have been redeemed and are being renewed day by day if we be in Christ. This is the sto­ry of sal­va­tion. It is not sim­ply sal­va­tion from death, but also sal­va­tion from any and every­thing that is destroy­ing us, by the grace of Jesus Christ. Lean not on your own under­stand­ing, but in all your ways, acknowl­edge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6). The vic­tim men­tal­i­ty, while based in fact, dis­miss­es God’s author­i­ty over heav­en and earth that we have declared in our hearts to be true. And while we have been called to be respon­si­ble, we are casu­al­ties of sin and will nev­er live our lives in per­fect accor­dance with God’s intent until the com­ing day of glo­ry. Our truest iden­ti­ty and the solu­tion for an ever increas­ing prob­lem in the sin­gle par­ent house­hold can only be found in sub­mis­sion to Christ.

I heard a preach­er tell a sto­ry of his dear friend who had recent­ly under­gone surgery to remove can­cer from his body. While the surgery was suc­cess­ful, and the can­cer erad­i­cat­ed, the friend still groaned in pain for weeks, side effects of the oper­a­tion. Psalms 6, arguably, one of the sad­dest Psalms, filled with lament and anguish, illus­trates David’s suf­fer­ing, much of it per­haps, a con­se­quence of his own irre­spon­si­ble behav­ior (2 Samuel  7, 11, 12). And yet, while he has been for­giv­en, his prayer is for deliv­er­ance from sin’s consequences.

Like­wise, the hope, for my own chil­dren, is that they would come to know the impor­tance of the nuclear fam­i­ly despite their own upbring­ing, and regard God’s ways as per­fect. My prayer is that God would fill in where I have fall­en short, apply grace in emp­ty crevices, and have mer­cy on our house.