I was visiting some friends recently who told me a story of a young single mother in their building. She had an ongoing relationship with a man and got pregnant. When she told him of her pregnancy he replied very plainly “You were nothing but a booty call to me. You mean nothing to me.” He made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her or his child. While few men may use such direct language when they talk to women, many men share those sentiments. Too often, women are just objects that can be disposed of once they have lost their usefulness.
At Justice NYC, several expert speakers will outline the harm to women when men treat them like objects and how we can speak up for them. Dr. Fernando Cabrera is a Pastor and City Council Member in the poorest congressional district in the U.S. He will discuss the impact he sees every day when men abandon women and children and effectively make them widows and orphans. In addition to the economic harm that comes with raising children alone, there are many negative outcomes for children who’ve been abandoned by men.
The chart below show’s how much more likely a child living with just one parent is to be poor than a child with both parents. When men get women pregnant and abandon them to raise the kids on their own, they are creating poverty.
James 1:27 instructs Christians to take care of widows and orphans. When men get women pregnant and then abandon them, they are effectively making them widows and orphans. One way to take care of widows and orphans is to reduce the number by challenging men to step up to their responsibility as fathers. Promoting marriage, and encouraging men to wait until marriage to have children reduces poverty. It’s a justice issue. Christians are often afraid to speak up on this for fear of being labeled “judgmental” or “moralistic.” However, our silence lacks compassion. We’re often more concerned with what people think about us than we are about the welfare of the widows and orphans we claim to serve. To have true compassion, we must be willing to suffer insults and persecutions to promote justice. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963, MLK Jr. wrote:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
We claim to want to reduce poverty and create a just society, but too often we choose the negative peace because we don’t want tension. We’ll give money to organizations that deal with the symptoms but we don’t want to address the real problems because they’re messy. We view MLK through the lens of history as a transformational leader, which he was. However, he was initially viewed as a trouble maker who was causing lots of tension. He understood that the only path to true justice came with lots of tension. We should learn from his example and talk openly about the true causes of poverty and challenge men to stop treating women like sex objects even if it costs us a few friends.