Many years ago I made a speech with my wife at a function in Parliament House, Canberra on the importance of mothers and fathers. Our goal was to encourage both the Liberal and Labor parties to value equally mothers and fathers after divorce, and not to follow the politically correct line that devalues fathers because of anti-male feminist ideology. The function my wife and I spoke at was the The National Strategic Summit on Marriage, Family and Fatherhood held in 2008 and organized by Dads4Kids.
Here we are now in 2016. We have a government now legalizing the removal of fathers names from birth certificates and an education system hell-bent on destroying the masculine and the feminine as well as trying to tell our children, whom we dutifully send to kindergarten, that they are neither male nor female and can in fact be anything they choose. As if that is not enough we have elite political forces telling us that homosexual marriage is a good idea.
The redefinition of marriage will rob our children of their biological birthright. Our radical feminist friends are rubbing their hands together with glee. This is their long awaited chance to outlaw masculinity. If you detect just a little passion, you are right. A man has got to say what a man’s got to say!
“We are here because our children are innocent. They did not ask to be born. We have conceived them. We have brought them to birth. It is our duty to care for them, to protect them and give them the best possible environment in which to grow.
The best possible environment for a child is to grow up in is with their natural parents who share a mutual bond of love. Some call it complementarity, some call it mystery. We call it love. The greatest expression of love is the ability to say I do. Slip a ring on your husband or wife’s finger and say ‘for better / for worse, till death do us part.’ Life is short and love is long.
This reminds me of the time I was driving through Sydney with my van full. Five children plus one wife will fill any small people mover to the brim. It was a hot day and tension filled the air. I was sure that I knew where I was going. At least I thought I did, but I had forgotten my road map.
“Honey why don’t you stop at a garage and buy a map? Look there’s a person over there; they might be able to tell us where to go.”
But I was sure I knew where I was going and I was determined to get there. I was too proud to admit I was wrong. Too proud to admit that I was leading my family on a wild goose chase to never, never land.
“Honey, please just stop and ask someone.”
“No way,” I yelled as my temperature boiled over. ”I know where I’m going.” But it was patently obvious I didn’t. Almost swearing under my breath I pulled into a garage and looked at the map to find our destination. In no time at all we were there and enjoying the satisfaction of finding our way.
Why are we here today? We are here to provide a road map for a society that has lost its way. Only 6 weeks ago the Institute for Family Studies admitted that divorce is not a good thing for our children or our society as a whole. As a young boy growing up in a broken home I could have told them that 40 years ago.
Thankfully my parents did not divorce but they might as well have done. One of the greatest fears our young children have growing up is the ever present concern that their parents will break up. It’s not the atomic bomb, global warming or getting a job. It’s the fear of having to choose between mum and dad. The fear that maybe I am not really loved after all. Often this results in disastrous consequences.
Tony Miller from Dads in Distress tells the story of 14 year old Chrystal who bought a canister of methylated spirits and went back to the now empty family home that was going through a forced sale. She went from room to room pouring the methylated sprits all over the carpet. What was she thinking at the time? Was she thinking about the good times? Was she thinking about the bad times? Was she thinking about birthday parties with her friends and mum and dad or was she thinking about the day her parents came to tell her the bad news – that they were going to get a divorce. The truth of the matter – we don’t know what she was thinking because she never lived to tell us. Crystal retreated into a corner of the home she once lived in and lit a match.
Our society has done much the same. We have retreated into the corner. The match has been struck. The house is burning. What must we do to be saved as a society?
It’s very simple. We must get a vision for our future. We must get a road map to our destination. We must put a priority on our relationships. We must find our way home because home is where the heart is. As Arnold Toynbee said, ‘Civilisations die from suicide not murder.’
Lindsay Tanner, Member for Melbourne, author of ‘Crowded Lives’, written in 2003 said, “The days of crude materialism are over. In the new era, politics will be more about relationships, recognition and human dignity . . . The role of social capital and the strength of relationships within a community are now recognised as fundamental factors in the economic and social wellbeing of that community. Although material wellbeing has improved dramatically in recent decades, overall levels of happiness have not.
Without better relationships, more money does not necessarily mean more happiness. Money won’t always solve the relationship problems in crowded lives. Expensive presents for our children are no substitute for love and attention.”
So what are the answers to the many problems that we face? We must first of all admit that we have a problem. This is going to take both courage and humility. I must confess I found it hard that day when I was lost in Sydney with my family to admit I was lost. I started to find my way the moment I came to the truth.
Secondly, we must find a road map for our future. That is why we are here today. That is why we are bringing before the government our policy proposals.
Thirdly, we must affirm the obvious. We are men. We are women. We are what we are and we are who we need to be. We must abandon our pathologies and seek healing for our corporate hearts. Our relationships do matter. We find love as we admit our need for healing and collectively prioritise the things that really matter. Our children. Our mothers. Our fathers. Our families. Our marriages. Strong marriages mean strong families. Strong families mean a strong nation.
Our relationships define us. So let us define them. That is why we are here today. In the next few hours you will hear men and women who have thought about our future. Each of them has a story to tell. They each have part of the road map. Together we can find our way home.
Statistics show us that marriage fosters effective fathering. The empirical evidence is quite clear: marriage is our best hope of fostering involved, effective, nurturing fathers.
When fathers do not live with their children, research shows that the relationship between father and child typically dissipates. Marriage redefined is marriage destroyed.
We should not be putting our efforts into redefining marriage. We should be putting our efforts into strengthening marriage between men and women and changing our present divorce culture to a renewal of marriage culture. We still desperately need a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting after divorce in family law. Since 2008 we have lost 8,000 men who have suicided because they have been caught in this horrible web of injustice.
Whenever you get a chance to speak up, please make sure that you do because a man has got to say what a man’s got to say!
Yours for our children
PS: Some good news. Currently there are tens of thousands of Australians praying and fasting for marriage and families all over Australia throughout the month of October. This should give us hope as I have said before. You can sign up to get daily devotions here if you wish. The devotions you missed can be found here.
One more thing – make sure you love and cherish your wife.