Are Fathers Optional?

July 6, 1998
With newsmagazines and newspapers talking about Jodie Foster having a baby, I guess itís time to revisit the so-called "Murphy Brown Debate." Of course you remember the debate started by Vice-President Dan Quayle over Murphy Brown. He was criticized in part because Murphy Brown was a fictional character. But Jodie Foster and millions of other women having children out-of-wedlock are not fictional characters.

Now itís not my intention to criticize Jodie Foster. But she does represent a trend developing in society. According to recent projections, forty percent of all American children and eighty percent of all minority children will be born out-of-wedlock. Many women do not have a choice in the matter, but mothers like Jodie Foster did have a choice. And they chose to deliberately bring a child into the world without a father.

In a real sense the central issue in this debate isnít single mothers; itís societyís assumption that fathers are optional. To listen to the news these days, youíd think that most fathers are deadbeats, wife beaters, and child molesters. And the rest may be nice, but theyíre still dispensable and unnecessary.

The thoroughly modern mother asks herself, Why bother finding Mr. Right? He will probably turn out to be Mr. Wrong? I can have a baby without being married. I donít need a father, just a vial of sperm and a good day care facility. Already nine percent of all babies today are born to mothers who deliberately sought single parenthood.

Well, fathers arenít optional. They are an essential part of Godís plan for the family. At a time when we are seeking to support single mothers struggling to be good parents, letís not get so comfortable with the arrangement that we send the no-so-subtle message that fathers are optional.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International