Elijah’s Razor and Social Justice

I see a great deal of talk today about being a “social justice Christian.” Although supposedly a theological stance, it usually devolves into a political one: favoring certain government remedies for social ills, such as government healthcare, for instance.  Many Christians are almost tripping over one another to declare themselves “social justice Christians,” in what appears to be an attempt to distance themselves from “ordinary Christians.”

As indicated in the previous blog, I’m going to apply Elijah’s Razor to that issue. And when I do, I find that, as well-intentioned as they may be, most of these remedies are treating the symptoms, not the disease.

Just take a look at these statistics. Children from a fatherless home are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • 32 times more likely to run away.
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

And that’s just the beginning. For a fuller (and more frightening) description, go here.

Years ago, when I was regularly in contact with the legislature, members of both political parties wanted to implement measures to deal with “at risk” children. I still hear that concern mentioned, in connection with certain social policies. Well, I’m no longer going to remain silent.  You want to really help ‘at risk’ children? Then don’t enact policies that encourage fathers to leave, or women to be single mothers.  Too harsh? Try this on for size:

“”Daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages.” (that’s on the same page as the previous data)

Should we provide help for single mothers? Of course. But we must be careful to do it in ways that do not encourage other women to become single mothers, and condemn further generations to fatherlessness and all that entails.

So Elijah’s Razor compels me to oppose anything that weakens the incentives to marry carefully, and then to stay married. Want to decrease child abuse? Then make cohabitation illegal, and enforce it. Find that too coercive? Then don’t talk to me about “at risk” children. A cohabiting male is much more likely to abuse mothers and children, both physically and sexually. End cohabitation, and you will dramatically reduce abuse.

And no, this has nothing to do with legislating either religion or morality. The costs to society are enormous. If it’s reasonable to prohibit one person from dumping their trash on another’s property, it’s reasonable to prohibit them from polluting the neighborhood with behaviors that injure us all.

No doubt this will alarm some. But it is time that we are all alarmed by the damage being done to the family.

And before anyone hyperventilates, I am not proposing that we outlaw everything that is injurious. Lying is injurious in various ways, but unless you do it in court, or in a contract or other legal document, it is not illegal, nor should it be. There are many behaviors that are wrong, but are not and should not be punished by the government.

But today’s “at risk” children may well be tomorrow’s felons. Yes, as Christians, we should do all that we can to help those already at risk. But one of the best things we can do is to help prevent more children being put at risk by the irresponsible behavior of adults.


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