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July 25, 2013
Column #1,665
Answers to the Disintegration of the Black Family
By Mike McManus

On his show Bill O’Reilly praised President Obama for making a plea for understanding of black reaction to the Trayvon Martin case.

Obama said: “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”

However, O’Reilly also added these trenchant comments, “It is time for some straight talk. We need him to lead on this issue. Young black men commit homicide at a rate 10 times that of whites and Hispanics combined.” Yet civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton look the other way.

O’Reilly charged that “The reason there is so much violence and chaos is due to the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now about 73 percent of all black babies are born out-of-wedlock. The boys grow up resentful and unsupervised.”

I asked Bishop Harry Jackson, who leads the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, 1,200 black congregations, for his reaction to O’Reilly’s comments.

“I agree with him. He is absolutely right,” he replied.

What ought to be done? O’Reilly argued that Obama ought to fund public service announcements “urging young women to avoid getting pregnant.”

Bishop Jackson, who is pastor of Hope Christian Church in suburban Washington D.C., disagreed, “It is not the government’s place to address this issue – but the black church’s job.

“But black churches have failed. We have to go back to old-fashioned hard core preaching about fidelity and faithfulness. This spring we have been preaching about the positive value of marriage…and the value of the primary sexual relationship being between one man and one woman for life.”

A number of his young people have accepted this thesis and are now undergraduates at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, etc. “They are smart and they love the Lord,” he said proudly.

However, this is not easy. “Gangs are trying to recruit teenage girls, who are subject to intimidation by lesbian gangs.” Lesbian gangs? I had never heard of such a thing. “They promise to protect girls, and are out of control,” he told me.

Generally, his approach is not what most African-American churches are doing. Jackson confessed that they “need to get their own act together and say that `We are part of the problem. We have not produced a marriage culture, and we have not disciplined or provided any penalty for those who do not adhere to Biblical truths.’”

For example, if a teenage girl gets pregnant, there should a “due process of repentance classes about morality and life.” Jackson acknowledged that the first people you try this with - won’t care, and will say, “I don’t need your approval, and can go to another church.”

That fact intimidates many black clergy who fear losing members to other churches. “That’s why the truth of the matter is that there is no encouragement for righteous living. Nor do most folks have a Godly matriarch who will have a talk with them, saying, `This girl will understand that she messed up.

“Without that, Baby Number Two will be accepted. She has to be told, `You will NOT have a second baby. Don’t get pregnant again. If you are going to have sex, get protection. What’s better is to wait until you are married. Do not have these babies.”

Girls hurt their chances of ever marrying if they have children out-of-wedlock. The child is likely to perform poorly in school, and is three times as apt as those from intact families to be expelled or to get pregnant as a teenager and 12 times as apt to be incarcerated.

Jackson proposes that parents encourage couples to marry at a younger age, so that “a marriage culture is promoted.”

I propose another answer: Train couples in healthy marriages, who can be found in any church, to mentor other couples at different stages of the marital cycle.

First, prepare for marriage by having young couples take a premarital inventory in which they react to 150 statements such as:

“I am concerned that my partner is more of a spender than I am.”

“Sometimes I am concerned about my partner’s temper.”

The assessment is taken online, and results are sent to couples in healthy marriages, trained as volunteer Mentor Couples to discuss the inventory’s results with them.

Second, train couples whose marriages once nearly failed to mentor those in current crisis. A couple who has recovered from adultery can tell a couple in current crisis, how they rebuilt trust.

All churches need courageous pastors like Bishop Jackson, plus a pro-marriage plan.

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