According to the Associated Press, “Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.”
In the early 1990s, I did research on Bill Bennett’s Index of Leading Cultural Indicators — it was a compilation of data charting things like divorce and abortion and drug use. What we discovered then was that virtually every social problem was going up. During the late 1990s and early into the 00s, a lot of those numbers trended down. Some White House officials even started sending out emails suggesting that drops in divorce and abortion rates were somehow related to the Bush presidency.
Such claims are funny because: a) some of the numbers actually lag a year or two (it is hard to collect and compile them on a yearly basis) and b) according to that same logic Bill Clinton was the most socially conservative president because virtually all of the social “pathologies” were decreasing during his presidency and no one from that White House was saying anything along those lines.
So what do we make of these numbers?
A couple of things. First, out-of-wedlock births are largely impervious to social policy tinkering. “Marriage promotion” initiatives and welfare penalties on out of wedlock births haven’t exactly worked. Second, most of the social problems out there are impervious to politics.
What to do then? Well, for Christians, spend more time, money and attention on simply helping and loving others and introducing them to Jesus. Because Jesus has a greater potential for turning around lives than anyone else. I fear that right now, some people are less inclined to give him a shot because they think they know what he is about — a certain conservative political agenda.
Let’s liberate Jesus from politics and see what kind of changes might actually occur.