Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Multiple studies confirm that children abandoned by their fathers often report feelings of rage and shame. As adults, they tend to have difficulty trusting others and struggle with fearing abandonment in their relationships. Rapper Lecrae expresses a young boy’s yearning for his father in his song, “Just Like You.” He notes the reason so many fatherless boys fall into making poor life decisions:

So now I'm looking at the media and following what they feed me,
Rap stars, trap stars, whoever wants to lead me
Even though they lie, they still tell me that they love me,
They say I'm good at bad things at least they proud of me

Is it any wonder that young boys turn to lives of crime and violence, when the purveyors of such lifestyles are the only men to show them any real attention? It is about as surprising as a starving child attempting to steal bread. And no social policy that fails to take into account the deep and legitimate need that every child has for both a mother and a father can ever be considered fair or just.

What does the internal aching so many children have for their missing fathers have to do with how marriage is legally defined? Advocates of redefining marriage constantly scoff at the notion that their policy goals could have a negative effect on anyone. “How does the legal union of two homosexual men affect your marriage?” they ask mockingly.

And of course the debate has nothing to do with my marriage or yours. It has to do with how future generations of adults will approach the very idea of marriage and parenthood. We already have nearly two decades of social experimentation in Scandinavia to draw upon. And it tells us that the broader the definition of marriage is the fewer adults bother with it in the first place. Since legalizing registered partnerships and gay marriage in Scandinavia, an overwhelming number of adults have simply stopped bothering to get married in the first place.

As I have pointed out many times before, words that mean everything, mean nothing. The looser we make the definition of marriage, the fewer people will feel bound to its obligations and constraints. And while broken relationships can hurt adults, they can destroy children.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.