Save Civilization – Find a Father

Deaths by drug overdose, particularly from the class of heroin-containing drugs known as opioids are generally high. But there is one demographic that constitutes only 32% of America’s population but accounts for over 70% of opioid deaths—single men.  They do stand out, but there is another group that stands out even more conspicuously for deaths by crime, overdose, suicide and disease.  Their statistics are even worse than for single men in general.  This group is  men who are not fathers.  They are the most dangerous and the most vulnerable group in the United States. 

Not only are they vulnerable but by far and away, men who are not fathers and who never had fathers themselves, perpetrate most violent crime.  Mass shooters are overwhelmingly single men but there are exceptions. For instance, Stephen Paddock, the 2017 Las Vegas shooter, had been married twice and had a girlfriend. However, he had never been a father.  If instead of identifying them as single men, we identify  men who are not fathers, that pretty much covers all the mass shooters in recent American history.

For purposes of these statistics, father doesn’t mean any man who has impregnated a woman. It refers only to men who play an active role in the lives of their children.  And men who fail to do so are harming both society and themselves.  Nothing comes even close to restraining risky and self-destructive behavior in men than feeling responsibility for a child.  Unsurprisingly, the insurance industry knows that while some men buy life insurance when they marry, most do after the birth of their first child. 

In the late 1950s Japan implemented its birth-control program called the New Life Movement. By the 1960s it was in full swing and together with their enactment of the Eugenic Protection Act (legalization of abortion) in ten short years they had halved Japan’s fertility rate.  For a number of reasons aggravating the trend men stopped marrying, a pattern that continues in Japan to the present day. One unintended consequence is Japan’s contemporary plague of “kodokushi” meaning “lonely death.”  This refers to people  dying alone and being discovered in some cases, only weeks later. According to Tokyo’s Meiji University, almost all kodokushi cases involve men who never had children.

Men who become fathers, real fathers, are doing both themselves and society a favor.  Obviously no man becomes a father without the cooperation of a woman.   Not only is her compliance required for the biological process, but usually unless she promotes the role of the man in her child’s life, he will have none. 

Sadly, however, a woman becoming a mother is not necessarily doing herself and her neighborhood a favor.  It all depends upon the presence of a father.  Without the active involvement of the father, her chances of living in poverty and becoming dependent upon her fellow citizens through the welfare system are very high. Without the child’s father being involved in the day to day nurturing of a boy, her son stands a very high chance of criminal involvement.  Without the child’s father being involved in the day to day nurturing of a girl, she too faces challenges. These are, to quote someone-or-other, very inconvenient truths.  In summary, a shortage of fathers brings tragic outcomes.

So, I am not surprised that  although there are 1,534 verses in the Book of Genesis,  it takes  only 55 verses to reach the first mention of ‘father’ and ‘mother.’

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife…
(Genesis 2:24)

In other words, only about 3%  of the way into Genesis, we encounter the concept of establishing families.  We see emphasis  on mothers and fathers again in the Fifth Commandment:

Honor your father and your mother…
(Exodus 20:12)

And in other places like this:

Every man must revere his mother and his father…
(Leviticus 19:3) 

That seems about right for something as fundamental as family is to the human experience.  Now if secularists are right and Scripture is nothing but a compendium of ancient ramblings by a bunch of bored Bedouins, there is nothing more to say.  Life is too short to waste time analyzing something so trite. However, if this is God’s message to mankind, subtle patterns are important.  Which is to say that I am curious about why Genesis contains more than 90 mentions  of the word father but only 19  mentions of the word mother. After all, surely they go together?   To have one you need the other.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that God’s message to mankind wastes no ink telling us things we already know.  A close relationship between a child and its mother is completely natural. Just visit YouTube to see baby giraffes or baby zebras being born and bonding with their mothers.  Fathers? Nowhere to be seen.  When we acquired our beautiful llama, Llucky, he was reluctant to leave his mother. He clearly knew or cared nothing about his father.  Sadly, as God’s message to mankind becomes less and less relevant in public policy and in social life, our human communities increasingly resemble nature. Children are born, bond with their mothers and know nothing of their fathers. (As society disintegrates further, we do even worse than nature, producing women who harm their own children.)

To teach us of this disastrous state of affairs, ideally before we fall off the cliff as Japan seems to have done, Genesis emphasizes the role of fathers five times more often than it speaks of mothers.  Yes, we get the role of mothers. Even nature in the wild gets the role of mothers.  But for a civilized human society you need fathers.  That needs to be emphasized. 

Far more than a father gives life to a child, a child grants life to its father.

19 thoughts on “Save Civilization – Find a Father”

  1. This particular Thought Tool, IMO, is beautiful and very important. I think all human societies would improve tremendously if people know, understand, and live its lesson. I shall share it with as many as I can.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you David!
      I especially appreciate you sharing it with people who might find encouragement in it.

  2. My Rabbi and Susan.
    I viewed your Pod Cast last week and happy to see that you covered again. I had a chance to speak of my Rabbi Lapin’s Pod cast on this subject this morning at a fellowship meeting. I talked about how the baby saves their father.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Mark–
      I always appreciate the efforts of listeners to spread the word about our podcast and promote it. The more listeners the more I am able to do.
      I hope your fellowship meeting found it interesting and perhaps even valuable.

  3. Dear Rabbi Lapin and Susan,
    I believe every thought that you have conveyed in this article is true. To my genuine regret, I found your teachings later in life than would be optimal. I am blessed to have married a wonderful woman a few years older than myself, and we followed the societal trend of having children later in life. We have three wonderful children who have indeed made me a man, and I would absolutely love to have many more. My wife is now past the age of safe and reasonable pregnancy. I love my wife very deeply and would never leave her. I do find myself fantasizing about marrying a younger woman, or even taking on a second wife, for the purposes of having more children. I fear I am being ungrateful to God for blessing me so wonderfully for even having these thoughts.
    I do not believe adoption would be an agreeable option in our household, and I do not have plans to convert to Mormonism or move to Utah.
    Have you any advice for my particular situation?
    With great respect and sincere gratitude,

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear TP–
      I think you know the answer to your question as well as I do; profound gratitude to God for His many kindnesses. I could add, “in spite of your earlier mistakes” but it isn’t really necessary. Do all you can to educate your children about how the world REALLY works and maybe also try mentor some young men whom society is pressuring to make even more grievous mistakes in their lives. And express gratitude to God for His kindness to you and cherish your wife. The mistakes of earlier times were yours. Try avoid fantasizing. Popular culture assures you that there is no harm in fantasies but like everything else the culture teaches, this too is entirely incorrect. Live in the present, fully and passionately. And express gratitude to God for your wife and children and His other many kindnesses. Did I mention not just feeling, but expressing gratitude? Remember that doing so helps to fill your heart with happiness and optimism. But as a long time student of our teachings, you already know that.
      Thanks for writing and sail onwards in happiness and optimism.

      1. You are a wise man, and I will follow your instructions. Thank you, Rabbi.
        I hope to have the honor of meeting you in person one day.

        1. Dear Rabbi Lapin and Susan,
          I am compelled to share with you an update following your wonderful advice, and I hope you get a chuckle out of this as I did.
          I just learned that I have been promoted (due in no small part to your teachings, of course) and will assume the leadership role of 7 team members in my organization. I am thankful to God for this, and I view my responsibility for these seven individuals almost as I would for my own children. I am wondering if the adage of being careful what you wish for would apply?
          Warm regards and sincere gratitude,

  4. Michael Overstreet

    Rabbi I’m reading “Boy’s Adrift” a book about the demise of young boys in our education system, culture and society. Your article dovetails into the reality that our society and culture is increasing emasculating Boy’s at an early age. While the “social construct” spirals further and further out of control, the timeless message of Scripture become paramount in saving mankind from themselves. Thanks for your insight and perspective.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You’re welcome, Michael
      Thanks for writing. Mrs Lapin has recommended that book “Boys Adrift” and its companion volume about girls.
      I appreciate your encouraging words.

  5. Wow!

    That is so powerful and so rare. Thus, there’s great value in understanding this.

    Thank you Rabbi

    Dumisa from Cape Town

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Dumisa from Cape Town,
      Thank you for writing. You make me feel nostalgia. My father was the rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Cape Town’s beautiful government Gardens.
      I’m happy to know we have another student of ancient Jewish wisdom in Cape Town.

  6. ISAIAH 49.15 Paraphrase: Can a woman forget her nursing child, or fail to have compassion upon it? She may forget, But Lo, Will I not.
    The heart of Avinu Malkenu. Our Father,Our King.
    There was song I heard and the phrase I just used is that. Touching. Worthy of copy.
    Your topic prompted my recall. Thank you.

  7. There are, sadly, exceptions to this principle. I am currently going through a divorce in Florida from the father of my 5 children. Turns out he was lying, stealing, possibly cheating, and planning for this divorce for many years by secretly creating crushing, unnecesary debt in my name to financially ruin me, rendering me unable to adequately house and care for our children or myself. He had wanted a divorce earlier, while I was pregnant with our third child, but I resisted then, believing in the importance of fathers. In spite of our reconciling, then his pushing for more children, he gradually became increasingly negligent, even abusive by some definitions, of the children and me over the years. In ignorance of most of what he was doing, I shielded my kids from what I wrongly thought was the worst and kept seeking ways to improve our marriage, until he suddenly moved out.

    Florida is ridiculously pro-fathers in divorces. I was warned that I could not object to sharing 50/50 custody with him, even though he only wanted that because neglecting his kids seems cheaper than paying child support. I was warned that if I did voice my concerns, I could lose all custody of them, in spite of being their primary caregiver and a good, devoted mother. The kids are miserable with him and I am increasingly concerned about their safety as they describe to me his erratic, irrational, overactive and often depressed behavior while they are with him. I am repeatedly warned by my lawyer that there is nothing I can do to protect them, since Florida favors fathers over mothers.

    In general, I still believe in the importance of fathers, but in my case, I am now wishing I had divorced my husband when he first wanted it. I honestly believe our children would have benefited far more by his absence and have, overall, been harmed by his presence in our lives.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Jennifer–
      What a sad tale you relate. I am saddened by your challenging journey. This world is a complex place and human beings are God’s most complex of all creations so of course there are, as you say, exceptions.
      I hope you and your children will rise above the pain of the past to build a bright new future.

  8. I can not thank you, enough for all that you and your wife Susan do. But especially this article is so essential. I’ve tried in my way to inform people but unless one has degrees or something that others respects. A person isn’t heard. Thank you, again for such an important and timely work.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You’re welcome, Debbie–
      Thank you for writing. Let me encourage you to disregard degrees or other credentials of exaggerated value. Merely do what some of history’s most successful preachers and evangelists have done; speak to only one person. When that person is with you, approach a third. In this way, one heart at at time, you build what is called a ministry, a congregation, a movement, or in today’s Internet parlance, a platform.

  9. Dear Rabbi,
    What about women without children and are not mothers? Why don’t they show these behaviors? Do they have other issues. I was not blessed with children due to many physical issues, yet I am a teacher and live a pretty full life with nieces and nephews.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Dawn
      Thank you for writing. We know many amazing women like you who, though childless, nonetheless exert enormously felicitous influence on their communities. God made men and women differently. A childless man is a man with nothing much to lose and men with nothing to lose can become desperate and dangerous. That is not true for childless women as your life so eloquently proves.

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