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While Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for being the most influential leader in the civil-rights movement and his “I Have a Dream” speech – delivered 51 years ago this month – the God-fearing family man also had a deep concern for America’s emerging epidemic of fatherless homes, the breakdown of the family due to premarital sex, biblical marriage and taking a stand against the “evil” of abortion.
King’s niece, Alveda, author of “King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper,” told WND King emphasized the importance of biblical relationships to protect the purity of marriage and the family bond.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-family,” she said.
In a November 1957 advice column for Ebony magazine, King wrote, “The problems created by premarital sex relationships are far greater than the problems created by premarital virginity. The suspicion, fears, and guilt feelings generated by premarital sex relations are contributing factors to the present breakdown of the family. Real men still respect purity and virginity with women. If a man breaks a relationship with you because you would not allow him to participate in the sexual act, you can be assured that he did not love you from the beginning.”
Alveda told WND, “People think that’s old-fashioned, but that’s still true today. It was true then, and it’s true now. He was pretty much contemporary, very modern, but those standards that are timeless he supported.”
In her book, Alveda shares principles, or “rules,” that have guided the King family through generations of success and tragedy. Those rules include:
1) Make home a priority.
2) Serve your family.
3) Get a good education.
4) Guard your heart.
5) Defend life.
6) Fight for justice.
7) Care for the needy.
8) Work for peace.
9) Build the beloved community.
10) Find your joy.
Like her uncle, Alveda, too, is concerned about the weakening of American households today.
“The absence of men in the household has caused people to not know how to respond to authority with respect,” she said. “There’s a major problem with the patriarchs having been chased out of the house.”
A full 43 percent of American children – or 15 million kids – live without their fathers, according to the U.S. Census.
In 1960, only 11 percent of U.S. kids lived without their dads.
Today, the problem is even more evident in black families, where more than 50 percent of children – or 5 million – live without fathers.
“The welfare system helped to do that, not just to blacks, but definitely in African-American families,” Alveda said. “It says to a woman, if you have a man living in the house, you can’t get assistance. With the economy being so bad now, there ended up being laid-off women. To say we’ll only help a woman if there’s no man in the house, that model is terrible. I think that’s one of the problems.”
Alveda said, in the King households, men were “unquestioned leaders.”
“They’re the guardians, the ones who step in when life threatens to become too dangerous. They lead with strength and with resolve,” she wrote, adding that a father’s role was to make his family feel safe, secure, cherished and loved.
“In our family, the men have always stood at the head, true patriarchs that take the lead, teach, and live their lives as examples. … Women have a significant role as helpers to our husbands and co-counsels in the parental equation,” she wrote.
“[T]he women in our family, our mothers and grandmothers, were always wise and able to know the value of their strategic roles as wives and mothers. The role of matriarch and patriarch are distinct, and in the King family, we have been blessed with strong examples of both.”
While the King family had strong patriarchs, Alveda said that fact never weakened the King matriarchs.
“The women were not weak or feeble or subservient or cowering,” she said. “They submitted unto each other. The Bible even says submit yourselves one to the other. It doesn’t say the woman has to be a doormat. None of the women in my family ever were.”
As a child, Alveda said, she watched her father, Alfred Daniel King – Martin Luther King Jr.’s brother – seek refuge from difficult days in the arms of her mother. The couple turned to God to get them through times of darkness.
“The two of them would kneel and pray together, finding enormous strength in their shared connection with God,” she wrote. “… Like my mother and father, my aunt and uncle have always prayed together, and they point to this as a key to the longevity of their union. ”
As part of his faith and profound respect for strong families and the marital bond, Martin Luther King Jr. never wavered in his belief in biblical marriage, Alveda said.
She explained in her book, King “lost a high-ranking member of his organizational team, Bayard Rustin, because Rustin was openly gay. Rustin was convinced that the homosexual agenda should be included in the civil rights struggle for desegregation. But Uncle M.L. clung to the Scripture and refused to acknowledge homosexuality as an issue that needed to be addressed on the public platform where the battle for skin color equity was being engaged.”
Alveda continued, “He had strong reasons for this because he was a man of God, and the Bible is clear on this topic. … By the Bible’s definition, marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Other forms of human sexuality, including adultery, fornication, and homosexuality, don’t fit God’s design.”
And if a person claims to have been “born gay”?
“God has the same answer for any sin, including heterosexual lust,” she wrote. “Turn to Jesus.”
Alveda added, “The Bible has multiple accounts of people who were born with various conditions and in various states of existence, only to meet Jesus and be healed or delivered from whatever was their concern. Truly, there isn’t a human ever born into this life without having to contend with one issue or another along life’s journey.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a Christian man who believed in traditional marriage and advocated strong family values, said Alveda. He was steadfastly pro-life as well.
In 1966, Planned Parenthood presented King with its Margaret Sanger Award, named in honor of “the woman who founded America’s family planning movement.”
Margaret Sanger was “a racist and a significant figure in the eugenics movement, one of the ugliest social movements in our history,” Alveda wrote. “Neither of these things was widely known in the mid-sixties. Regardless, my uncle was wary about receiving the award from the moment he heard about it.”
She explained that King never actually accepted the award. His wife accepted it for him.
“His thank-you letter was very likely drafted by his secretary, who also had those leanings,” she told WND. “He just signed the letters at his desk. Those are things that people didn’t know.”
In fact, abortion was still illegal in 1966 and Planned Parenthood was publicly against abortion but for birth control, as was King. It wasn’t until 1967 that Colorado became the first state to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest or in cases where the pregnancy could cause permanent physical disability in a woman.
Nonetheless, Alveda said, Planned Parenthood continues to trade on King’s name today. She said Planned Parenthood President Cecil Richards recently released a statement claiming the 1966 award was “in recognition of his excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and rights. …”
She explained, “There are several problems with this statement. The first is that when Planned Parenthood announced it was giving my uncle the award, it was for ‘his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.’ Reproductive rights were not mentioned in relation to him anywhere in the announcement, though the award citation did say ‘Dr. King has lent his eloquent voice to the cause of worldwide voluntary family planning.’
“The bigger problem is that this simply isn’t true. In the Planned Parenthood lexicon, phrases like ‘reproductive health rights’ and ‘worldwide voluntary family planning’ are code for abortion, which my uncle never advocated. I know this because I grew up in the same values system that nurtured him …”
WND asked Alveda what Martin Luther King Jr. would tell people today who argue that access to abortion is a civil right.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she said. “A woman has a right to say what she will do with her body. The baby is not her body.”
In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King spoke against “such ancient evils as infanticide,” which serves as “yet another clear indication that he would have never come out in favor of the institutionalized killing of unborn children,” Alveda wrote in “King Rules.”
As a close-knit family of strong values, love and respect, the Kings prayed together, served their communities, cared for the needy and fought for peace and justice.
But Alveda doesn’t pretend her uncle and her family were faultless.
“Was he perfect?” Alveda asked. “We are all imperfect people doing our best to serve a perfect God.”