In an age when celebrity trumps hero, except for a few news cycles when something truly heroic just can’t be ignored (like an airplane in the Hudson River), some of my heroes are single moms. In my work as a pastor I see first-hand the devastation and collateral damage of what we used to describe as broken homes.
Now they’re called dysfunctional families; or simply – families.
As Leo Tolstoy said in the opening line of Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Circumstances vary, contexts are different, and situations are idiosyncratic, but there are some common denominators in families that fall short, all of which have to do somewhat with a failure of human character.
In the church I lead, we have Women’s Ministries, but they are not the garden-variety “churchy” kind. There are no knitting circles, covered-dish luncheons, or Tupperware-like parties. It’s an outreach decidedly focused on troubled homes, divorce recovery, and the unique challenges of single moms. In fact, the lady on my staff who leads this effort is herself a single mother. Her NFL-player hubby defected for some bimbo (or bimbos) far away, leaving her with no money and two wonderful sons. One of her boys has autism.
Her “ex” is a toad (my apology to toads everywhere).
She has a great support system, largely built around her church family. And it demonstrates the surrogacy potential of faith communities as a time-honored refuge. In fact, Jesus himself alluded to how people of faith can step in when biology falls short. In one of his famous seven utterances on the cross he gave instructions to a disciple about guardian-like care for his beloved mother. He knew very well that sometimes blood relatives fumble the ball and others must step in.
So just to be clear, I am not a “single-mom-basher” – quite the contrary. Ann Coulter has taken a lot of heat by devoting a chapter of her recent book, Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America, on the cultural and public policy implications of single motherhood. She draws significant lightning – and not all from liberals – when she says: “The most worshipped figure in modern America is the “single mother.” But is she on to something?