A mother can only mother well within a well-ordered family. Mary needed Joseph, and Jesus needed both. 30 years ago the social engineers at CBS made America’s first promotion of single motherhood in the sitcom Murphy Brown. The vice president of the time criticized CBS for devaluing the family and childhood, and he was shouted down. From that day on, we began to redefine divorce and single parenting as a triumph of the human spirit rather than a tragedy. The social wreckage of this intellectual error is incontestable.
Along those lines I would like to recommend a book for your back-to-school reading: Mary Eberstadt’s Primal Screams. She is, for my money, one of the most perspicacious observers of our cultural moment. Last week I read her 119-page book, which answers the question “Where is all the rage coming from?” Why have politics become so vitriolic? Why are people looting and burning stores in the name of racial justice? Why is social media filled with such outrage? How is it that angry street mobs attack people leaving political conventions, and university professors are physically assaulted by furious students? Why can’t we just get along like we used to? This is what society looks like, says Mary Eberstadt, when a significant portion of its citizens have been deprived of their families. We become isolated and socially incompetent to the extent that we are deprived of a father, siblings, and extended family members. We don’t learn how to share, to sacrifice, to forgive, and how to work together. The “sexual revolution” necessarily destroys families, because you can’t have stable families and unlimited sexual access at the same time.
We must fight for the family. We must believe in it again. We must keep our marriages together if at all possible, because divorce scars children for life. Parents must know what their children are learning in school about the family, and all of us must hold entertainment corporations accountable for mocking family life. We must resolve to repudiate shows that equate unnatural “families” with natural families, or celebrate single-parent families, or portray broken families as the norm. We should insist that our elected officials promote the irreplaceable good of family life in law and economics. We allowed Murphy Brown to denigrate marriage and family in 1992. Are we angry enough now to take family and childhood back? Let us pray to the Mother of God for wisdom, grace, and fortitude.