This started as a response to Julie’s very well-thought out comment in response to her first impressions of the Family Manifesto I mentioned in my last post, but they are interesting issues. She is right that the manifesto starts with a false foundation and depicts the foundation of the family as a sort of romantic love, although I believe they back away from that later. Later, this is an expression of the created order.
The biggest difficulty I had with this document is that it is a little vague and generic and there are several statements that could mean several things. I enjoyed chapter one much more. The manifesto seems to seek a governmental solution through a form of Christian activism and seems to support some form of Interfaith and the UNs ability to further these goals. Or maybe not. I’m not sure. For the moment, I’ve credited most of the specific problems with the document to an attempt to make this document appealing to humanity, not just Christians.
Is such a thing possible or even desirable? As a Christian, can we set aside religious and denominational differences to work together toward a common goal? Should we? After all, we hold that all solutions flow naturally from a right relationship with Christ. But here are a couple of quotes that are more what was in mind when I said that they are close. Close enough to discuss. And, just for your information, Chapter I also gets into the philosophical background for the ideas in our culture. Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, etc. So you know that would attract my attention!
First, what appears to be the foundation they are going forth from. I agree with the first part and would say the second part has to do with Christ. Like I said, they are close.
The problem is not serial divorce, nor gay marriage, nor widespread elective childlessness, nor the general disregard for the lives of the very young and very old. Those are only symptoms. The deepest problem is the loss of a generally shared vision, firmly grounded in nature, of what the family is, and why our destiny as individuals and as a society is inseparable from its proper flourishing.” Wilfred McClay, quoted in The Natural Family, a Manifesto (p. 30)
The institution of the home is the one anarchist institution…It is the only check on the state that is bound to renew itself as eternally as the state, and more naturally than the state. G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World (1910)
A just political life also flows out of natural family homes. True sovereignty originates here. These homes are the source of ordered liberty, the fountain of real democracy, the seedbed of virtue. The Natural Family, A Manifesto (p. 6)
This is where they run into some difficulties, because they treat the family as an end, but they haven’t defined what they mean by that, yet. Today’s problems also flow naturally from the family because our families are without a foundation. And a bit tying this to America’s founding:
In his provocative book The Myth of American Individualism, the political historian Barry Shain shows that “Americans in the Revolutionary era embraced a theory of the good life that is best described as reformed Protestant and communal.” The American Revolution, he asserts, had more to do with the defense of “familial independence” than it did with quests for personal liberation. Americans of the founding era, Shain insists, were rooted in agrarian, religious, family-centric communities. These Americans saw family households as the common source of new citizens, the places where the character traits necessary to free government would be shaped, the foundation stones of ordered liberty…Ibid, p. 39
It goes back to “first principles” which the authors attempt to do. I think those of us on the more conservative side will tend to say that the first principle is Christ and until the foundation is set, the rest is irrelevant. But we can uphold a model for the world…and our churches splinter the family as much as the world.