Surrogate Father

A few months ago Congress signed into law the most expensive crime bill in history— allotting $30 billion to more cops and more prisons. Yet this whopping bill fails to address what virtually every social scientist today identifies as the main cause of crime: illegitimacy. In a Wall Street Journal article, Charles Murray describes illegitimacy as "the single most important social problem of our time— more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare, or homelessness." Why? Because, Murray says, illegitimacy "drives everything else." A recent study by Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation discovered that crime correlates more closely with family breakdown than with poverty, race, or any other factor. In other words, the most potent factor in crime is the failure of men to be fathers to their children. The reason crime is rampant in the inner cities is that roughly 80 percent of the families there are fatherless. And yet there's no federal program aimed at stanching this social hemorrhage. In fact, many federal programs actually contribute to the problem. Most welfare programs, for example, are targeted primarily at mothers and children, including Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps, subsidized housing, free medical and legal services. In the words of Bryce Christensen, of the Center on the Family in America, in essence the state has become "a surrogate husband to poor women and a surrogate father to their children." In a similar vein, researchers Wade Mackey and Ursula White say that "the state has emerged as a competitor with the father as the key provider for his family." In this competition, many inner-city men are driven to the sidelines. Eventually they become drifters, living off one welfare woman after another—while their children grow up without fathers, without discipline, becoming the next generation of crime-prone youth. It's time we asked how welfare policy took such a destructive direction in the first place. The answer is that we have largely lost a sense of what it means to be a man. In Scripture men are called to be warriors for the cause of the good; to fight against the evils that threaten our communal life—starting in our own families. It's a fight men wage not by being belligerent but by following the model of Jesus: being brave enough to suffer and sacrifice for others. But the ideology of social welfare encourages men to give up that fight and passively blame others. Former President Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society in a famous speech at Howard University, where he told minorities that their problems were the fault of "white America"—and that "white America must take responsibility" for solving them. But this cult of victimhood has emasculated a whole generation of the poor—and now it's spreading to the middle class as well. It's time we once again taught a fully biblical view of masculinity. If we do not enlist men as warriors in the battle of good against evil, then they will surely pack their guns, form gangs, and wage battles against society.  


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary