A Word from Your Crossroads Team: You’re reading the third in a series of posts by Professor Hosea Baxter on Urban Apologetics. You can read Part 1 at: Urban Apologetics: Answering Their Questions. And you can read Part 2 at: Urban Apologetics: Sex-Offenders as Ex-Offenders. Today, Professor Baxter addresses Urban Apologetics: The Rejection of Biblical Realities.
The Destruction of the Family
“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm” (Proverbs 12:17).
One of the central problems we witness in urban communities is the destruction of the family. This disintegration is seen at a both the local and national level. It includes many disorders, perhaps highlighted by the absence of fathers.
After decades of social researchers telling us that traditional families were optional, we are suffering the cataclysm from believing those lies. There is no getting around it. God has created the laws of the universe both—both physical and moral. When we opt-out of His way of being and doing in any of these areas, no good can come of it. Year-to-date, nothing good has. The current state of our nation and our inner cities is evidence of this truth.
On a national level, it’s easy to see that families that do not center their lives in the will and the Word of God are in distress. From sea to shining sea, we are in trouble. Scores of organizations that analyze American families are in agreement. The American Family Association, Barna Research, Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, Family in America Journal, Vision.org, Values & Capitalism, and the Statistic Brain Research Institute echo one another relating to the downward spiral of the American family.
The Need for Fathers
One of the first challenges we face in relation to the American family is the necessity of fathers. As late as 2007, questions of the necessity of fathers were being asked. Maureen Dowd poses this question in her book, Are Men Necessary, according to Vision.org. Gloria Steinem gives us an amen to the lack of need for men when she compares a women’s necessity for man with a fish needing a bike (Vision.org). While men have done very little to endear themselves to the feminist movement, it is clear from God’s perspective that godly men are essential to a wholesome family (Proverbs 1:8).
Allen C. Carlson speaks of the decline of the American family in the midst of what should have been a success. Dr. Carlson notes in his article, The Family in America: Retrospective and Prospective, that between the 1950s and 1960s there is evidence of a decrease in children living in poverty because of intact families. It dropped from 27 percent to 15 percent. He also informs us that unemployment among blacks and whites was at a record low. Carlson reminds us that during this same time, Medicaid and other national programs were implemented to assist families. In spite of all these positive indicators, by 1974 America experienced a 150 percent increase in divorce.
Why have we experienced this dramatic shift? There was a gradual turning away from biblical norms related to love and marriage. Carlson identifies two aspects of the sexual revolution. First, there is the rejection of monogamy and a shift to erotic arousal as the primary attraction of loving relationships. Secondly, there is the rejection of the nuclear family as a norm. Hence the national story of the family:
- High divorce rates
- Accelerating singlehood childbearing
- High rates of poverty among families
- High rates of addiction for children born in inner-city hospitals
The list goes on and on.
Breakdown of the Urban Family
In a very real way, our local stories reflect our national realities. Pick any neighborhood in the inner-city of Indianapolis and one reads a tale of woes. Blacks lead this saga with South Americans following behind. Our Caucasian brothers are doing better; however, it’s not by leaps and bounds.
Black lives do matter, but not so much in our communities. Clarence W. Havvard III, Coriana Johnson, Makayla Mitchell, Deshaun Swanson, and so many other black lives were ushered into eternity even though some of them were role models in their communities. One need only follow the IndyStar and the work of Jill Disis for details of their stories.
Another trap for urban families is drugs. This, of course, is a national problem, but as we focus in on blacks and minority families, we develop a greater sense of urgency. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) tells us that drug abuse among blacks between the age of 12 and up in 2014 was12.4 percent compared to the national average of 10.2. Among Native Americans and Native Alaskans, the numbers were 14.6, and among Hispanics or Latinos the numbers were 8.9-to-10.2.
Tamika C. B. Zapolski, a researcher at IUPUI, avows that blacks seem to fall within the highest risk factors for poly drug use. Zapolski is confident that cultural factors are a major influence. Still, my concern is while some of their research can be beneficial, our concluding solutions will not be found in social science and social policies minus the Gospel of Christ as its final filter.
The final factor we will discuss concerning the deconstruction of American families is material poverty. While poverty is on the rise in suburban areas (11.4 percent), according to The Center for American Progress, 20.9 percent of our city population is materially poor. Tracey Ross tells us that concentrated poverty in urban communities aid in its destabilization. Poverty aids in creating the perfect storm for the desecration of the family. Higher crime rates, failing schools, poor health outcomes, and substandard housing are among the norms according to Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Where Is the Hope?
With so much bad news, it’s logical to ask, “Is there any hope for our cities and our nation?” While there is still more bad news to process, in Christ the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!” What is equally exciting is that Crossroads Bible College is striving to bring biblical solutions to our decaying cities. Through a holistic application of the Gospel, God is providing solutions to every area of human brokenness.
Christ’s approach looks at fractured humanity and demonstrates how the Gospel reaches us with answers in every area of our lives. God’s grace mends humanity’s relationship with Himself. It restores our inner sinfulness, it reconnects us with our fellow man, and finally it rejoins us with creation. In Urban Apologetics: The Plight of Urban Families Part IV, we will delve into deeper divides within the family and in Urban Apologetics: The Plight of Urban Families Part V, we will look intently into God’s solutions for our familial plight. I trust when I am through, you will walk away saying, “Look at what the Lord has done!”