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  • Amy Travis

Family Matters

As a woman, one of my heroes is my mother-in-law, Mary-Ann Travis. My husband Perry is the fourth of five sons in the Travis family. Mary-Ann had the unenviable task of raising five boys on her own after her husband left when the youngest son was only a year old.

With little help from government assistance programs, Mary-Ann worked several jobs in order to feed her family and keep their home. The older sons needed to pitch in to the family finances, too. Perry recalls his older brothers Don and Doug handing over their paychecks from their high-school jobs to mom to pay the bills. Christmas’s and birthdays were pretty lean, as you may imagine.

In spite of the immense challenges she faced, Mary-Ann was one of the kindness and most compassionate individuals I have ever met. She was quick to forgive, even those who hurt her deeply. If you knew her, you understood that—next to her sons—her faith in Jesus Christ was the most important thing in her life. And if you didn’t know this, she would be sure to tell you. Mary-Ann would walk up to talk to strangers in restaurants about Jesus and would pray for the neighborhood plumber before she would let him conclude his service call.

Perry would call or visit his mom every Father’s Day, in addition to the typical holidays. She had to be both mom and dad, a task that she took seriously. Mary-Ann took literally the promise in Psalm 68:5-6 that God was her husband.

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

Momma Travis went to be with Jesus on January 2, 2019. I will forever remember her kindness to me and faithfulness to God.

Love and Marriage

The family is the earliest institutions established. God created man in His image; created the woman so man wouldn’t have to be alone; and gave them both the command to be fruitful and multiply. The Creator of the Universe could have populated the earth any way He wanted, but He chose to create families.

God created the Family for the purpose of protecting and preserving its participants. We understand how children benefit from the family unit, but the same is true for adults too.

Both secular and faith-based studies on health and wellness conclude the same thing: marriage is beneficial to the individual. Consider a study from Harvard Medical School first published in 2010 and updated in 2019 that discusses married men and mortality. The survey of over 120,000 individuals found that married men are healthier than unmarried, widowed, or divorced men.[1]

The study also concluded that marriage has a positive effect on a variety of health outcomes, specifically mental health. Married men have a lower risk of depression, reduced risk of Azheimers’ disease, improved blood sugar levels, and a greater probability of recovering from serious physical conditions.[2]

Remarkably, same or similar results were discovered in countries all over the world! In addition to the American study, Great Britain and Japan also recorded findings that marriage was positively linked to greater health outcomes.

Some of these studies went as far to suggest the quality of the marriage had little effect. Married men with poor relationships with their spouse still enjoyed greater health and happiness than their never married or divorced counterparts.

Married people are just healthier, either. A study from the University of Michigan concluded that “getting married increases wealth and income.[3]” Other studies have concluded that marriage is a surprising predictor of wealth.[4] Even those who disparage marriage, for one reason or another, have a difficult time explaining away this phenomenon.

If adults fare better within the family unit, it goes without saying that the benefit for children is even greater. Children in two-parent households are more likely to get A’s in school, enjoy school and enroll in extracurricular activities. As teenagers, these children are less likely to abuse drugs, drop out of school, and have children out of wedlock.

Orphans, on the other hand, have always been and always will be the most vulnerable population of any society.

In recent years, my family enjoys the pleasure of being involved with an orphanage in Kagadi, Uganda in East Africa. On our first trip to Uganda in 2018 we met Robert and Milly Kikomeko, a young couple who started a school/orphanage at their own expense to care for the growing number of vulnerable children in Robert’s home village. Uganda has one of the highest orphan populations in the entire world—largely due to the AIDS epidemic in this region—with more than 12% of all children likely to end up on the streets or worse.[5]

Robert and Milly recognized that children compromised because of parent-lessness or a dysfunctional family situation are at much greater risk to be abandoned, abused, or trafficked—including the practice of childhood marriages, still common in rural Uganda. As a result of the care and dedication of this one couple, over 450 children are cared for at Maisha School and Orphanage. We love Robert and Milly so much that we’ve unofficially adopted them into our own family.

Closer to Home

Here at home we face a different epidemic that threatens our society… fatherlessness. The lack of a father in the home poses a very serious risks to the health and wellbeing of a child.

Poverty is regarded as the greatest risk for families without a father at home. Women-only households are significantly more likely than two-parent households to live below the poverty line. Children from these families are vulnerable to many hardships, both economic and social, throughout their lives.[6]

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census, and other government sites tell the following story:

· 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes

· 85% of children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes

· 90% of all homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes

· 80% of those convicted of rape and other violent offenses come from fatherless homes

· 85% of all youths in prison are from fatherless homes

Special thanks to Sabrina, author of The Fatherless Generation Project for collecting these statistics from government websites.[7]

I would like to acknowledge that many, many adult children who grew up without fathers have overcome the challenges and live fruitful, productive lives. Many of these men, like my husband, develop a greater commitment to their children and families, as a result of being abandoned by their own fathers. Some will tell you, however, that having male role models and mentors made all the difference in their lives.

The brutal truth is that fathers, even more than mothers, have a direct and undeniable impact on their offspring.

Fatherhood Failures

Tragically, absent fathers and the problems associated with them have adversely affected the black community more than any other ethnic group in our country.

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player with the Minnesota Vikings, is also an evangelist who has initiated a prison ministry through his foundation. Brewer acknowledges that as many as 77% of babies born in the black community are born to single moms. “The number of kids that don’t have fathers or positive male influences is devasting,” according to Brewer. “Our institutionalized system has made this acceptable in black culture today.[8]

Brewer’s Foundation has implemented programs to teach business and leadership skills to incarcerated men. Teaming up with the Trump Administration in 2019, Brewer is committed to bridging the gap of missing fathers within the black community through improved legislation and rehabilitation. This course offered through the prison systems in Texas qualifies under the First Step Act[9] to give reduced sentences to men who successfully complete the program.

“The program is about rehabilitation, but at the core, it’s about fatherhood. We talk about not just the father in the flesh, but about our Father in heaven.[10]

Under Attack

Given the extraordinary, God-given protection offered to both adults and children, it’s no wonder that the family structure and institution is under attack. God created the family to protect and preserve its participants. It only makes sense that Satan would seek to destroy the family.

In one of the early experiments with Socialism in 1826, Robert Owen—originally from England—purchased property in Harmony, Indiana and set up a colony which he said would produce morally superior human beings. Owen called the settlement “New Harmony.”

Owen proclaimed the liberation of humankind would happen through the elimination of the “Trinity of Evils” responsible for all of humanity’s misery: traditional religion, conventional marriage, and private property. Owen’s prescription for paradise included abolishing the church, disrupting the family structure, and eliminating capitalism. His social experiment in America was a spectacular failure and he moved back to England.[11]

Historically, any attempt to usurp the Natural Order of marriage and family leave its members vulnerable and results in chaos.

China, for example, instituted its One-Child policy in 1979 designed to systematically decrease the growing population of China. This policy imposed harsh consequences for families with multiple children, thereby encouraging parents to give up—and even kill—their daughters in order to have a son to carry on their family name. Families who defied the policy were punished by financial sanctions or worse. Many women were forced to have IUD insertions, abortions, and even sterilizations. [12]

This policy has had devastating consequences on the family structure in China. Families are experiencing the “4-2-1 problem.” There are four grandparents and two parents who will look to a single child for care and financial support. Also, in a country of 1.4 billion people, there are 34 million more males than females. Hundreds of single men of marriage age are competing for one woman. Family life as we know it will be extinct in China within a matter of generations.

China is not the only country to experiment with the family structure. In the last 10 years Cuba has become a haven for the LGBT community. This may seem like a victory for human rights, but it’s not. Raul Castro supports homosexuality as a means of population control. Less babies being born will eventually lower the population on the island. In addition, encouraging the breakdown of the traditional family will isolate more individuals, thus strengthening the regime’s hold on its citizens.

America is in the midst of its own social experiment seeking to disrupt and uproot the traditional family. The political organization Black Lives Matters (BLM) is masquerading as an advocate for minorities and under-served communities, but that’s not their mission. Why do I say this? I looked at their website. Their name is intended to be ironic, because—who in their right mind—doesn’t believe that black lives matter.

BLM’s intended mission is the “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.[13]” According to their mission statement, the group was intended to make space for transgenders to lead, and to dismantle the patriarchal practice of mothers caring for their children so that they have time to protest for social justice. The websites goes on to state their intention… namely, freeing themselves from the tight grip of “heteronormative thinking.”

The irony of their name can be seen in the destruction this group has caused in minority communities. BLM has undermined law and order by burning black-owned businesses and demanding the defunding of the police. It stands to reason that those who suffer most when police protection is taken away are vulnerable women and children.

The Wrap-Up

A wise man once said, “Family is the Original Department of Health, Welfare, and Education.[14]” God designed the family to protect and strengthen its participants… to protect us! Health, wealth, and companionship are some of the greatest advantages the family offers. Everyone within the family unit benefits both physically and emotionally when the family remains intact.

Thankfully, many brave individuals have learned to thrive, despite of the challenges associated with divorce, abandonment, and the general breakdown of their families.

Fathers play a particularly important role in the family structure. Fatherlessness can be directly tied to poverty, crime, and hopelessness for the women and children they leave behind. Men face enormous challenges in today’s society which threaten their own livelihoods, as well.

Satan, the “father of lies,[15]” seeks to destroy the institution of the family. His plan is to leave men, women, and children exposed and vulnerable. He infiltrates societies, governments, and individuals to spread his lies and deception.

There is a beautiful—but haunting—promise in the book of Malachi. Verse 4:6 says, [God’s] preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.

This we know for certain… families matter!

[1] Publishing, Harvard. 2019. "Marriage And Men's Health - Harvard Health". Harvard Health. [2] Publishing, Harvard. 2019. "Marriage And Men's Health - Harvard Health". Harvard Health. [3] Landas, Luke. 2019. "Does Getting Married Increase Wealth And Income? - Consumerism Commentary". Consumerism Commentary. [4] "Love And Money: The Surprising Wealth Predictor |". 2019. Partners4prosperity.Com. [5] Wandawa, Vicki. 2012. Newvision.Co.Ug. [6] Parker, Wayne. 2019. "The Troubling Statistics On Fatherless Children In America". Liveabout. [7] "Statistics". 2018. The Fatherless Generation. [8] "A Christian Catalyst For Change: Jack Brewer's Story". 2020. Falkirk Center For Faith & Liberty. [9] "BOP: First Step Act Overview". 2020. Bop.Gov. [10] "A Christian Catalyst For Change: Jack Brewer's Story". 2020. Falkirk Center For Faith & Liberty. [11] "The Unauthorized History Of Socialism". 2020. TV programme. Fox News: Bret Baier. [12] Pletcher, Kenneth. 2020. "One-Child Policy | Definition & Facts". W88top. [13] 2020. [14] Blue Bloods, Season 7, episode 11. 2017. [15] John 8:44

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