I thought the topic of this article would be pertinent to the recent V&C event discussing family breakdown. That event discussed the economic and societal implications of the spike in children whose parents are not married, and this article discusses its immoral roots.
Via Gene Veith, the incisive Dr. Anthony Esolen exposes the consequences of our society’s sexual brokenness when it comes to pedophilia, divorce or out-of-wedlock births, which all have terrible consequences for children.
Here’s how he draws the link between these different, but surprisingly similar, social ills: “The moral structure of pedophilia is simply this: the welfare of children is subordinate to the sexual gratification of adults.” The same happens when grownups make children and then do not marry or stay married to take care of them, although children desperately need this for a good life. While there are some fortunate exceptions, when children grow-up in chaotic homes, they are more likely to hurt themselves and society by dropping out of school, having kids of their own before marriage, depending on welfare, committing crimes, and so forth.
The piece is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few more choice excerpts:
[H]ow many people have done sexual things that redounded to the suffering of children…
We might point here to divorce. Unless it is necessary to remove oneself and one’s children from physical danger and moral corruption, the old wisdom regarding divorce should hold, if children themselves have anything to say about it. Parents will say, “My children can never be happy unless I am happy,” but they should not lay that narcissistic unction to their souls. Children need parents who love them, not parents who are happy; they are too young to be asked to lay down their lives for someone else. It is not the job of the child to suffer for the parent, but the job of the parent to endure, to make the best of a poor situation, to swallow his pride, to bend her knees, for the sake of the child.
We might point to births out of wedlock. The child has a right to enter more than a little nursery decorated with presents from a baby shower. He should enter a human world, a story, a people. He should be born of a mother and a father among uncles and aunts and cousins and grandparents, stretching into the distant past, with all their interrelated histories, with his very being reflected in all those mirrors of relation, not to mention his eyes and his hair, the talents in his fingers and the cleverness in his mind. This belonging to a big and dependable world can be secured only in the context of the permanent love of his mother and father, declared by a vow before the community and before the One in whom there is no shadow of alteration.
Talking about family breakdown is uncomfortable, as Nick Schulz pointed out at the V&C event, because everyone knows someone who is a single mother or divorced. But I think it is primarily because our society has lost the Christian understanding of sin. We start with the assumption that we are all basically good people, so suggesting some commonality with a pedophile is horrifying and offensive. Christians, however, believe we are all broken and sinful, but we needn’t stay that way because Christ’s self-sacrifice redeems our immoral hearts.