The Hite Hype

You can forget all you've ever heard about the importance of family values. So says sexuality researcher Shere Hite. In a provocative Washington Post article, Hite announced that "the breakdown of the family is a good thing." But the way she describes it, the real problem is not families, it's fathers. In Hite's view, the increase in single-parent families merely shows that women are tired of the old "repressive" father-headed household. Family breakdown is a "clear signal," Hite says, "that more and more women cannot be bribed into traditional, Mom-as-servant families." Besides, look at the wonderful freedoms it offers for men, Hite goes on. In her words, the single-parent family caters to "men's desire to be free of the traditional roles of breadwinner and family disciplinarian." Her dream is a Brave New World of "female child-rearing partnerships" and "networks of friends." Hite seems to have come down with a severe case of romantic nostalgia for the communes of the sixties. But, ironically, the very same issue of the Washington Post carried another article that ought to cure anyone of sixties romanticism. A report by Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation found that family breakdown is the primary predictor of crime. Fagan discovered that high crime rates are less a function of race, poverty, or bad neighborhoods than of having children outside marriage. The numbers are staggering: 60 percent of rapists grew up in fatherless homes, as did 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates. The solution to crime, Fagan concludes, is not more cops or more prisons. The solution is more fathers marrying the mother of their children—and staying married. This ought to be common sense. It's obvious that two parents can invest more love and time in a child's life than one parent can. Besides, a father's love has a different nature from a mother's love; children benefit most when they have both kinds. It's no wonder that the two-parent household has been the universal ideal across both time and geography. But our culture seems to have lost sight of this common-sense ideal. In the words of David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, our cultural elites have embraced the idea of the "superfluous father"—the idea that fathers don't offer children any special relationship, that the only drawback to single parenthood is lack of economic support. We hear little about the unique and irreplaceable kind of love fathers give their children. The idea of the superfluous father actually has a long history, beginning more than a hundred years ago—which I'll be explaining in this special BreakPoint series on the history and meaning of fatherhood. Why don't you use this booklet in your church and Bible-study groups. Christians need to learn how to defend the biblical teaching on family and fatherhood in a hostile culture—a culture where radicals like Shere Hite are actually celebrating the breakdown of the family.


Chuck Colson


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