Word from the Center: Friday, January 11, 2019
Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s topic/issue….
The Sanctity of Life and the Institution of the Family!
There’s a disturbing trend in the European and American Western cultures. It’s the virtual dissolution of the family as an institution (See Ted Malloch’s, The Tragedy of the European Family @ https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/tragedy-european-family). While we are having discussions (or lack thereof) about relationship “fairness” for all, about no-fault divorce and serial monogamy with impunity, the actual building block of society is being ridiculed and ravaged with enormous consequences. In this month of looking at “life issues,” there’s none more important than the institution of the family as a unit that was meant to protect and foster life. From a biblical perspective, marriage is not only a sacred bond between a man and a woman for life (Matthew 19:6), it is a necessary foundation for a healthy society (whether people believe in its sanctity or not). When the notion of “family as an institution” erodes, there is more crime, more societal unrest, more poverty, and more vulnerability for those who need the loving protection and guidance of a father, a mother, brothers, and sisters, as well as an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who love them. That’s more to marriage than a mere relationship; a healthy, institutional view of marriage is fundamental to a healthy society.
Here’s another weighty thought: while it is true that the Bible proclaims such a view of family, it is not unusual to find this attitude about family even in cultures that do not affirm the Bible’s authority. That shouldn’t surprise us. The Commandment to honor one’s father and mother (Exodus 20:12) is intrinsic in virtually every culture around the world because it is intrinsic to the hearts of human beings created by God (see Romans 2:14-15). Again, that’s why it’s disturbing to see the cultural trends undermining marriage in Western cultures, societies that at one time honored marriage as an institution, not merely a relationship. Sadly, the most vulnerable, especially children, are the first casualties in this short-sighted re-imagining of marriage and the family.
Malloch’s article identifies a disturbing undercurrent in all of this. The family dissolution is not happenstance. It is part of a movement to empower the State in the most basic relationships of society, that of marriage and children. Just think back to the debates about marriage in the last few years where many have proffered the notion of the government’s role in establishing relationship “fairness.” People have spoken of the government granting civil rights to all; you know, the way that they do for a man and a woman. But that idea is completely backward from the way that the State should engage us in our relationships. The State doesn’t grant us civil rights. Those are granted to us by our Creator. In fact, the State’s natural impulse is to limit people’s rights for its own power. That’s just how power, especially political power, works in the world. So, what’s the role of the State in marriage? In a proper role in regard to marriage, the State would limit its involvement to those areas where it had a vested interest. For example, in “marriage,” it limits the rights of a man and woman (i.e., makes them sign the contract called “marriage”) purely due to the physiological reality that such a relationship could produce a child. And children need their parents (more than the State) to raise them, educate them, protect them, and love them. That’s what is under attack today. That’s the issue on the table and there are societal consequences when the State usurps its role as a defender of God-given rights and starts defining what our rights are, even defining what healthy relationships are for all.
The next time that you see issues of community violence, poverty, or illiteracy come up, ask yourself, “Why all these solutions from the State?” “Why aren’t they talking about strengthening the family as an institution instead?” They should be, because when families are strong, life is valued, children are nurtured, and society is blessed. Defending traditional marriage is not merely a discussion about relationships. It’s a discussion about a healthy society, one that values life in all of its vulnerabilities.