Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Melissa Cain Travis: motherhood and the life of the mind

Melissa Cain Travis

Melissa Cain Travis

Melissa Cain Travis explains how she transitioned from a career in biotechnology to motherhood, then integrated motherhood with a robust influence in Christian apologetics.

Excerpt:

My last day on the job was five days before I became a mother. BAM! The world shifted under my feet.

For the first 18 months of my new life, I was surrounded by several close friends with new babies. I had an active mommy-social-life in addition to the demands of caring for an infant and a husband. My life was rather full. But one by one, those friends moved away, my son grew and became a bit lower-maintenance, and I found myself experiencing increasing restlessness. I knew I was called to be a stay-at-home mom, but I was becoming desperate for intellectual stimulation. For about five years, I tried to develop passions for things I saw other moms doing, but to little avail. I joined Bible study groups made up of young moms, but never quite fit in and often found the material shallow; I tried my hand at various visual arts but found out pretty quickly that I didn’t have much natural talent; I started writing a novel that never went beyond chapter 1. I felt discouraged, like a piece of me was missing, and my spiritual life was a bit crippled by that deficiency.

Then, through a series of very painful circumstances, God showed me, in no uncertain terms, that my intellectual fulfillment was inextricably linked to Him and to my ministry calling–a calling that He had been leading me towards since college, though I didn’t recognize it until that much later date. So, exactly 10 years after finishing my bachelor’s degree, I applied to graduate school and began working towards a master’s in science and religion (that science background had a much higher purpose than I ever expected!). Five years after that momentous event, here I am, about to begin doctoral work. I am overwhelmed just thinking about where I was spiritually and intellectually (stagnant) and where God has brought me–while I’ve remained a stay-at-home mother and the primary educator of my children. Sometimes my heart feels like it’s going to burst with the gratitude I feel for this transformative, enlightening,  joyful, no-turning-back journey I’ve been granted. The most wonderful thing about it, though, is not how my inner life has changed for the better; rather, it’s how much better equipped I have become to be the mother I should be.

And that’s not all. It’s not just that Melissa has become the mother she should be… she wants you to become the mother you should be, too:

Here’s what I want you to know. As mothers, our spiritual maturity depends in a major way on our intellectual development. We have to get beyond knowing WHAT we believe to be true about God and the world and be able to say WHY we believe it to be so. When one of our children approaches us with questions such as “Mom, how do you know God’s real, and not just made up?” or “How do you know the Bible is true?” we’d better have something more substantial than, “Oh honey, we just have faith!” if we want to train up warriors in this decaying, increasingly hostile culture. What’s more, we cannot underestimate the value of modelling for our children the value of lifelong learning.

There is a lot of advice in the rest of the post for how to adding some muscle to the motherhood role. I have to say that this is exactly what I need to hear from a woman in order for me to choose her for my marriage plan. If a woman has a desire for continuous improvement, then there is no limit to how far they can go intellectually, even as they honor that commitment to their children.

You can find more about her and her work on her blog. She is a homeschooling mom and has authored several books on apologetics for children.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

What difference does the doctrine of humans being in “the image of God” make?

Here’s an article from the leftist The Week about how Christianity transformed our view of the value of children. (H/T Trina)

It says:

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn’t exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural?

In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe’s ancient pagan world.

As the historian O.M. Bakke points out in his invaluable book When Children Became People, in ancient Greece and Rome, children were considered nonpersons.

Here’s how children were viewed before Christianity:

One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants.

[…]Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children. It is sometimes pointed to paganism’s greater tolerance (though by no means full acceptance) of homosexuality than Christianity as evidence for its higher moral virtue. But this is to look at a very different world through distorting lenses. The key thing to understand about sexuality in the pagan world is the ever-present notion of concentric circles of worth. The ancient world did not have fewer taboos, it had different ones. Namely, most sexual acts were permissible, as long as they involved a person of higher status being active against or dominating a person of lower status. This meant that, according to all the evidence we have, the sexual abuse of children (particularly boys) was rife.

[…]According to our sources, most abandoned children died — but some were “rescued,” almost inevitably into slavery. And the most profitable way for a small child slave to earn money was as a sex slave. Brothels specializing in child sex slaves, particularly boys, were established, legal, and thriving businesses in ancient Rome. One source reports that sex with castrated boys was regarded as a particular delicacy, and that foundlings were castrated as infants for that purpose.

Of course, the rich didn’t have to bother with brothels — they had all the rights to abuse their slaves (and even their children) as they pleased. And, again, this was perfectly licit. When Suetonius condemns Tiberius because he “taught children of the most tender years, whom he called his little fishes, to play between his legs while he was in his bath” and “those who had not yet been weaned, but were strong and hearty, he set at fellatio,” he is not writing with shock and horror; instead, he is essentially mocking the emperor for his lack of self-restraint and enjoying too much of a good thing.

This is the world into which Christianity came, condemning abortion and infanticide as loudly and as early as it could.

Here are a couple of stories that contrast the Christian view of children as made in the image of God with the secular leftist view that children, unborn and born, are basically just machines made out of meat.

First one from the Washington Times is on a wealthy Democrat donor named Jeffrey Epstein:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is incensed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been tied to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who’s also at the heart of an investigation into Prince Andrew’s alleged sexual dalliances with a minor, the New York Post reported.

[…]Court documents related to a suit filed by Virginia Roberts, who allegesMr. Epstein paid her $15,000 to have sex with the prince, also included several references to Mr. Clinton. The documents from 2011 show thatMr. Epstein had 21 different email and telephone numbers for Mr. Clinton and an aide in his directory.

The court documents also show Mr. Clinton “frequently flew” with Mr. Epstein on his private plane between 2002 and 2005. The court documents say that Mr. Clinton “suddenly stopped, raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein’s sexual abuse of children,” the Post reported.

Mrs. Clinton, widely considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential bid, is reportedly outraged that her husband’s name has again popped up in a sex scandal.

When I read the story about what allegedly happened to Virginia Roberts, I literally cried my eyes out. But then again, I’m coming at this from a Christian perspective where selfish adults ought to give way to the needs of vulnerable children. Secular leftists don’t have that view, so anything goes.

The second story is from Oregon Live and is about another wealthy Democrat donor:

The former boyfriend of Terrence P. Bean was arrested early Thursday on sex abuse charges stemming from the same alleged 2013 encounter with a 15-year-old boy at a hotel in Eugene.

Kiah Loy Lawson, 25, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. at the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center shortly after 2 a.m.

[…]Detective Jeff Myers from the Portland’s Sex Crimes Unit made the arrest, hours after police took Lawson’s ex-boyfriend, Portland developer Terrence Patrick Bean, into custody Wednesday morning.

Bean, 66, a prominent gay rights activist and major Democratic Party fundraiser, was arrested at his home in Southwest Portland and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 10:12 a.m. Wednesday.

The indictment charges Bean with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor, police said.

[…]Both Bean and Lawson are accused of having a sexual encounter with the same 15-year-old boy in a hotel in Eugene last year. They had arranged the encounter with the teen after meeting him via a website, investigators allege.

[…]Bean has been one of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state. He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama. He’s also a close friend of former Gov. Barbara Roberts.

Children are weak and adults are strong. Secular leftists believe that selfish adults should be able to do whatever they want with children in order to gratify their own desires. This is the default “no God” view. I can guarantee you that no one who abuses children, unborn or born, expects to face God and be held accountable for what they did.

The secular left, which does not recognize that children are made in the image of God in order to know God, has discovered that it’s easier to sexually abuse children if you separate them from their biological parents, especially their fathers. That’s one of the reasons why they support no-fault divorce, single mother welfare, and now even same-sex marriage. Children who don’t have biological parents are much easier to exploit sexually. And if the children find anything wrong with being sexualized at an early age and groomed for sexual exploitation, well, we have public schools to teach them that this is all perfectly normal. Public schools that are championed by Democrats, of course.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

Why do famous atheists believe that God does not exist?

Here’s a lecture by New York University professor Paul Vitz to explain a connection between atheism and fatherlessness:

Here’s an article by Paul Copan (related to the lecture) which points out how father presence/absence and father quality affects belief and disbelief in God.

Excerpt:

Seventh, the attempt to psychologize believers applies more readily to the hardened atheist.It is interesting that while atheists and skeptics often psychoanalyze the religious believer, they regularly fail to psychoanalyze their ownrejection of God. Why are believers subject to such scrutiny and not atheists? Remember another feature of Freud’s psychoanalysis — namely, an underlying resentment that desires to kill the father figure.

Why presume atheism is the rational, psychologically sound, and default position while theism is somehow psychologically deficient? New York University psychology professor Paul Vitz turns the tables on such thinking. He essentially says, “Let’s look into the lives of leading atheists and skeptics in the past. What do they have in common?” The result is interesting: virtually all of these leading figures lacked a positive fatherly role model — or had no father at all.11

Let’s look at some of them.

  • Voltaire(1694–1778): This biting critic of religion, though not an atheist, strongly rejected his father and rejected his birth name of Francois-Marie Arouet.
  • David Hume(1711–76): The father of this Scottish skeptic died when Hume was only 2 years old. Hume’s biographers mention no relatives or family friends who could have served as father figures.
  • Baron d’Holbach(1723–89): This French atheist became an orphan at age 13 and lived with his uncle.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72): At age 13, his father left his family and took up living with another woman in a different town.
  • Karl Marx(1818–83): Marx’s father, a Jew, converted to being a Lutheran under pressure — not out of any religious conviction. Marx, therefore, did not respect his father.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche(1844–1900): He was 4 when he lost his father.
  • Sigmund Freud(1856–1939): His father, Jacob, was a great disappointment to him; his father was passive and weak. Freud also mentioned that his father was a sexual pervert and that his children suffered for it.
  • Bertrand Russell(1872–1970): His father died when he was 4.
  • Albert Camus(1913–60): His father died when he was 1 year old, and in his autobiographical novel The First Man, his father is the central figure preoccupation of his work.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre(1905–80): The famous existentialist’s father died before he was born.12
  • Madeleine Murray-O’Hair (1919–95): She hated her father and even tried to kill him with a butcher knife.
  • We could throw in a few more prominent contemporary atheists not mentioned by Vitz with similar childhood challenges:
  • Daniel Dennett (1942–): His father died when he was 5 years of age and had little influence on Dennett.13
  • Christopher Hitchens (1949–): His father (“the Commander”) was a good man, according to Hitchens, but he and Hitchens “didn’t hold much converse.” Once having “a respectful distance,” their relationship took on a “definite coolness” with an “occasional thaw.” Hitchens adds: “I am rather barren of paternal recollections.”14
  • Richard Dawkins (1941–): Though encouraged by his parents to study science, he mentions being molested as a child — no insignificant event, though Dawkins dismisses it as merely embarrassing.15

Moreover, Vitz’s study notes how many prominent theists in the past — such as Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer — have had in common a loving, caring father in their lives.16

Here are some corrections to the list:

1) Voltaire was not an atheist but a deist who rejected claims of the Bible’s inspiration, like Paine. Voltaire’s aphorism, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him,” far from being the cynical remark it is often taken for, it was meant as a retort to the atheistic clique of d’Holbach, Grimm, and others.

2) David Hume’s religious views remain uncertain. He never said he was an atheist. A gentle skeptic suits him more.

3) Bertrand Russell was an agnostic.

Not only is there that anecdotal evidence of a psychological explanation for atheism, but there is also statistical evidence.

Excerpt:

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goesupfrom 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.

[…]In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.

Basically, anyone who doesn’t have a benevolent, involved father is going to have an enormously difficult time believing that moral boundaries set by an authority are for the benefit of the person who is being bounded. The best way to make moral boundaries stick is to see that they apply to the person making the boundaries as well – and that these moral boundaries are rational, evidentially-grounded and not arbitrary.

By the way, isn’t it interesting to note that Barack Obama also grew up fatherless and has issues with God and morality.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What can we do to have the perfect marriage?

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

I’m finding it hard to convince young feminists that marriage is worthwhile, but here is something that might work.

This is from chapter 1 of the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Is there really ever such a thing as a perfect marriage? The answer to that question is, “YES.” I know you’re stunned. Stay with me here: “perfect” doesn’t mean that everything goes right, or your way for that matter, or that you’re feeling romantically perky all the time. There are just too many unpredictable events, challenges, and tragedies in life for any of us to feel content and satisfied for any prolonged period of time. Yet, even in the midst of misery, you can still feel and believe that your marriage is perfect if you have the right attitude; and I don’t mean that you think positively – I do mean that you think outwardly. When you do so, married life becomes perfect no matter what difficulties you’re going through.

I took a call from Michelle, a seventeen-year-old high-school student, which will clarify:

Michelle: Hi, Dr. Laura! It’s a pleasure to speak with you. My question is this: this Saturday is my boyfriend’s and mine senior prom. As it turns out, we have a conflict because it is also his championship lacrosse game, at the same time as the dance. He has told me that I could decide which one we should do.

Dr L: Really? So, what’s your decision?

Michelle: Well, personally, I want to go to the prom because it’s our senior prom and it’s our last dance together, it’s meaningful, you know? But it’s also his major opportunity because scouts will be at this game for college recruitment. So, for him the best choice would be for the game but I want to go to prom… selfishly.

Dr L: Do you love him?

Michelle: Of course. Yes.

Dr L: Do you imagine you’re going to marry him? I’m asking you that because I just want to know the depth of your compassion and caring for him.

Michelle: I can see it. I can definitely see it working, but I’m only seventeen… Yes, I care for him a lot.

Dr L: Well then, I guess he’s going to his lacrosse tournament.

Michelle: (sounding deflated) Okay.

Dr L: Because that’s what we do when we’re in love – we give them gifts… that doesn’t mean you go to the store and buy something. It means you give up something that’s very important to you to give them something that’s very important to them. O’Henry wrote a short story called, The Gift of the Magi. There was a young couple, very poor, married, and very much in love with each other. Christmas is coming and there is no money to buy gifts for one another. Her prized possession was her long, lovely hair which she had grown since childhood. His prized possession was his solid gold pocket watch – an heirloom, passed down from generation to generation.

Come Christmas morning, she hands her beloved a package. It is a solid gold chain for his pocket watch. He hands his beloved a package. It is a bejeweled comb to hold her beautiful hair in a bun on top of her head. They both cried with joy… even though… he no longer had the pocket watch, as he had sold it to buy her the jeweled comb… and she no longer had long hair, as she had sold it to buy him the gold chain.

Neither could use the gift the other had given them from a store – but look at the gift they truly got from the other.

Michelle: WOW!

Dr L: So, when you love somebody you give them what they really need – and your boyfriend needs you to be supportive of the fact that this game is important to his college career – for scholarships. If you do get married, you’ll be dancing together for the rest of your lives.

Michelle: That’s true. Well, I guess he’ll be playing this game and I’ll be sitting on the sidelines cheering.

Dr L: Good for you! That’s the kind of woman a man should marry.

Michelle: Thank you so much, Dr. Laura.

Oh, wait a minute, friends! The story does not end there. A few days later I received this email from Michelle:

“A few days ago I called in with a dilemma I had with prom because my boyfriend’s championship lacrosse game (with college scouts) was the same night. You told me the story of the Gift of the Magi, and that if you really loved someone you would be willing to give up whatever was most important to you – which for me was the prom. I took your advice and called up my boyfriend telling him that we would be going to his lacrosse game instead of senior prom. He explained to me that he knew I would decide to go to his game, so he went ahead and bought our prom tickets so we would go to the prom.

So, basically, I was willing to give up senior prom for him, and he was willing to give up what was most important to him, his championship game – proving the story of the Gift of the Magi…

But hold on! The story gets better! Yesterday we found out that because of some unknown factor, his championship game was changed from 7 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Is this a God thing? I think so! Now we not only get to go to prom and his lacrosse game, but we have the knowledge that we are both willing to sacrifice what is most important to us because our love is stronger.

I know that I am only 17, but I think I found a keeper!! Thank you so much for your wonderful advice to let my MAN know how important he is to me. This experience not only made me grow as a person, but is strengthening our relationship as well.”

Now, dear friends, even some seventeen year olds can understand the beauty and meaning of having somebody care enough about you to put themselves aside for you – that beats every prom and game imaginable. And when you are living this scenario, no matter what grunge is going on in your life, your marriage is PERFECT!

Emphasis mine. The point of getting married is to give self-sacrificially to someone else. Just like Jesus. Instead of being annoyed by other people’s needs, we should be happy that there is something there for us to do. And of course, the right person for you will be looking at you and thinking the same thing – how can I help you by giving self-sacrificially to you? I’m not sure what is scaring women away from marriage, but if I had to guess, it’s this fear of losing their autonomy and having the moral obligation to care for the needs of other people – even if those other people are strong in other areas and able to care for them.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Study: fathers are important for the development of children’s brains

Fathers and children

Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

I think this is important because we hear so much today that marriage can be redefined, that having one of each parent doesn’t matter, that live-in boyfriends and stepfathers have the same motivation to care for a woman’s children as the biological father does. We don’t want to make judgments, even if setting boundaries is better for children. A child’s well-being is enormously affected by the woman’s choice of biological father.  You can’t have it both ways – either we are going to judge women who choose men who don’t have the desire to commit to marriage, and do the father role, OR we are going to take things away from children by encouraging women to choose men based on “feelings” instead of abilities. Lowering moral standards and removing moral obligations hurts children. It sounds so nice when we tell women, “you can do whatever you feel like, and just forget about responsibilities, expectations and obligations”, but letting women be guided by their feelings harms children. My stock broker makes me feel uncomfortable because he knows more than I do, and does not respect my opinion. But I pay him to make investment decisions for me. I mustn’t let my pride get in the way of letting him do his job – a job he is more qualified than I am to do. Let him do his job.

Here’s a related question: Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. We should probably be teaching women to choose men who have a certain tenderness towards people they mentor or nurture, as well. These things are not free, you have to persuade women to value the male tendency to want to lead / guide / mentor. A lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead. Swallow your feminist instincts, and prefer men who take seriously their role of leading others upward.

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