Obviously Paul Simon had mommy issues. “Mama looked down and spit on the ground every time my name gets mentioned.” “The first thing I remember, I was lying in my bed/ I couldn’t’ve been no more than one or two/ And I remember there’s a radio, coming from the room next door/ My mother laughed the way some ladies’ do.” “The mother and child reunion is only a motion away.” But the lack of stability in the mother child relationship is not what puts the child at risk. Oh, it is according to Freud, and no matter how many times a psychologist, psychiatrist, or author tells you he is not Freudian he is. We all are, so pervasive has been his influence in all things American, but according to the Bible lacking a mother figure is not what puts a child at risk.
Here our translations let us down. Where our translations have “orphan.” In the Old Testament it’s the word “fatherless.” Seminary professors will tell you this is because of the culture, the times, or even the prejudices. These are the same ones who will tell you that Old Testament patriarchy and monarchy are merely descriptive of those times rather than proscriptive for all time. Our seminary professors who say such things don’t go so far – not yet anyway – as the truly liberal theologians who say Paul’s words about pastors being one-wife males and homosexuality being sinful are descriptive of his times but not proscriptive for ours.
Nope, the Bible makes fatherlessness the true tragedy, the true helplessness, the true pity. Here our society both agrees and disagrees. The facts of our society agree; the fiction does not. 70% of those in juvenile institutions have no positive father figure growing up. African-American society has been matriarchal for a generation at least. Compare the facts about that society with the facts about Caucasian society and see which is more pained, tragic, and helped by the government. But not to worry; popular sentiment, government, and celebrities are working hard to change the metric.
The single-mother, has reached hyphenated status and I predict will soon be one word in usage. She is the 21st century hero. (I purposely don’t use heroine here. Heroine has reached passé and is on the way to sexist.) Watch any reality TV song competition and single motherhood will be the sob story many count on to garner the sympathy so crucial to getting votes. Notice how many of the homes made over for free on TV were for single-mothers.
There are a number of ways for a mother to be single: never married, self-inflicted divorce, divorced, or death. In the last two cases soldiering on could be said to be heroic. The other two are tragic, but are regarded in the same vein as the last two. Single-mothering is regarded in all cases by our society as noble when the Bible regards it in all cases as tragic. So tragic that God Himself pledges to step in.
Where modernism embraced the antihero; post-modernism makes the tragic heroic.