Just a few days ago, I had the encouraging privilege of participating in the installation of Kenneth Canfield as the new executive director of the Boone Center for the Family, launched 12 years ago at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
The purpose of this Center is to analyze all the factors contributing to happy and productive families and to teach them in many ways to people who are already married, whose marriages and families may be in trouble and looking for help, and especially to young people who aren’t married, but who seriously want to create and nurture happy families.
Obviously, this is something very important to me, Shirley my wife of 54 years, and to a growing host of expert observers of America’s social fabric.
The meeting, attended by a large crowd of influential educators, business leaders, ministers, psychologists and counselors, started in a very upbeat manner. In its relatively brief existence, it’s already made significant strides and is being recognized as an important resource in the preservation of society’s basic foundation. And while the Center has had able leadership already, the new director has very impressive credentials and the endorsement of knowledgeable experts all the way to the upper reaches of our government.
As all these positives were underscored, there was a feeling of elation, of hope. But then we heard from Keith Phillips, founder and director of World Impact, an inner city organization.
Keith exudes an electric urgency whenever he speaks, but his short remarks shocked us a lot more than usual. We all knew that after the 1992 L.A. riots, Keith moved his all-white family into Watts, determined to do something himself to assuage the anger and poverty and deterioration of the whole social structure in the black community.
It had taken almost unthinkable courage — and faith. And since then, he and World Impact have moved into more of the worst, most run-down and needy cities in America, improving situations dramatically. He’s a genuine hero, and we looked forward eagerly to what he might say. But we weren’t ready for “75 percent of the children born in urban hospitals this year will be born out of wedlock.”
Or “50 percent of children born in inner-city hospitals will be born addicted.”
Or “There are more African American young men in prison in the U.S. than in colleges and universities. There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S."
Or for this: “In L.A. County there are 90,000 homeless; and close to 40 percent are women and children!”
We were all stunned. For a moment, many of us were tempted to feel “Well, then it’s over. What’s the use of our even going on with our efforts? We can’t undo this horrible situation; it’s totally out of hand, and getting worse every day. American society has developed a deadly cancer, and it’s spreading exponentially!”
But we caught our breath, prayed collectively and individually, and we responded something like King David, who, after his own family had been abducted by marauders, “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” We pressed on in our meeting, with renewed zeal and energy.
Shirley and I joined the already formed and active Center for the Family some years ago, convinced that the family is the center of God’s whole plan for man on this earth. He started with a nuclear family, and directed the first man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply, and populate the earth.”
When, after several hundred years, He saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” the Bible says “the Lord was sorry that He had made man; He was grieved in His heart.” But when He caused the great flood that all ancient civilizations record, He saved one family, eight people, to start all over again, and commissioned them to implement His plan.
Still later, in the days of Abraham, God determined to completely destroy the corrupt cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, raining fire and brimstone on all the inhabitants — except one family, Lot and his wife and two daughters. On and on the story goes, the creator working with and through families, fathers and mothers and their children to perform his will . . . and in the process, become the eternal family with whom he plans to dwell eternally.
These are my convictions, based on the best-selling book in the history of mankind, the Bible. I know some will scoff and reject the Bible accounts, but the scoffer is at a great disadvantage when confronted by eye-witness accounts. And then he must try to explain the continued, repeated corruption of society when the Bible is ignored; and he must try to conjure up some other solution for man’s failing, something other than returning to God’s original blueprint for humanity, the family.
And in this election year, I feel compelled to pass along some data just provided to me by Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Organization.
Quoting statistics combed from the 2004 University of Georgia Selig Center Study, the National Black Chamber of Congress, and the 2004 National Urban League’s “State of Black America” report: "In 1950, when most blacks were Republicans, 63% of blacks were married. By 2002, when most blacks were Democrats, only 35% of blacks were married.
"In 1960, when most blacks were Republicans, 80% of black children were born in wedlock. By 2002, when most blacks were Democrats, only 25% of black children were born in wedlock."
There are many more sobering and revealing figures in these reports; but for this column the simple truth is that, in contemporary American politics, the party of Lincoln has always been the most committed to the traditional structure that made America great, most supportive of true civil rights and the black citizen—and most supportive of the family.
Back in Biblical Ziklag, recounted in I Samuel 30, after David and his men found their city burned to the ground and their wives and families taken captive, and after he “strengthened himself in the Lord” and sought His directions, he and his men attacked their attackers and “recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away” — most notably their families.
I’m convinced that the family is at the center of true conservative principles. Grounded in the eternal plan of our creator, they are our country’s only hope.
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