Restoring the Family
Consider, for example, the Ten Commandments. There is nothing pertaining directly to church or state therein, but several explicitly address family life. The imperative to honor our parents, and the prohibition of adultery and covetousness are intended to preserve the integrity of the family.
Moreover, the Bible often uses family terminology to describe the mysteries of the faith. For example, salvation is described as God’s adoption of His people. We see that Christ’s relationship to the Church is described as a marriage. Idolatry is frequently associated with adultery, and the idolater is synonymous with the harlot. Such examples could be multiplied indefinitely.
We live in a virulently anti-family culture. For example, in 1970, just 36% of women ages twenty to twenty-four were unmarried. By 1995, 68% were in the "never married" category. Women are not just waiting longer to have children, but are conceiving fewer of them as well.
Meanwhile, divorce is rampant. The National Center for Health Statistics released a report which found that 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. To our shame, “born again” Christians are as likely to be divorced as any other group.
What is to be done?
Resurrecting the family as an institution entails reclaiming numerous powers arrogated to it that have been usurped by the state. Chesterton once wrote that, "The ideal for which the family stands is liberty. It is the only institution that is at once necessary and voluntary. 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."
Revolutionaries from Jacobins to Nazis to Bolsheviks have sought to control the future by controlling children. American liberals, and their ideological cousins, the Neocons, are no different with their propagandizing on behalf of universal daycare, expanded Headstart, Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, messianic education and the whole panoply of statist programs looking to supplant mom and dad and become the universal parent.
One good place for Christians to begin is by removing their children from the public schools. As Christian parents, we ought not hand our children over to the enemy, and can anyone argue persuasively that these ignorance centers are anything other than godless?
Some Christians resort to the ludicrous argument that we must send our precious children into these Temples of Atheism so that they can be salt and light to a dying world. We must, they say, sacrifice our children to Molech in order to fulfill the cultural mandate. The problem with this argument is that the evangelism process usually works in reverse. The Nehemiah Institute has proven conclusively through its surveys of student beliefs and attitudes that acceptance of a secular humanist worldview by Christian children attending government schools has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years. Moreover, according to the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life, 88% of the children of Evangelical parents leave church at 18 and never return. Are we to assume that this sad state of affairs has no connection to the fact that secular public education divorces God from creation and science, history, mathematics, and philosophy?
Secondly, family authority over property must be restored. In the December issue of Chronicles, Steven Greenhut cites a report by the Institute of Justice documenting that localities have used or threatened to use eminent domain to benefit other private parties 10,000 times over the past five years. Invariably such land grabs entail a local government stealing the property of families and destroying neighborhoods for the benefit of large retailers like Wal-Mart.
Scripture is clear that all the earth belongs to the Lord (Ex. 19:5) and that He allows families to be stewards of His creation. In the Bible, we see that property is owned by families, not by the state or atomized individuals (see for example Naboth’s vineyard in I Kings 20). Importantly, the eminent domain of the state is clearly and directly forbidden in Scripture. In Ezekiel 46:18, we read, “The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people will be separated from his property.' Indeed, God warned Israel that the eminent domain of the state was a consequence of apostasy. In I Sam. 8:14, God says that the king “will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.”
Like Naboth, Christians ought to realize that property is more than a product to be bought and sold. It is a place where homes are built, children are raised, memories are instilled, and the Word is taught. Christian families need to restore the ties that bind property, home, and kin.
Third, Christians must reclaim authority over inheritance and welfare. In the Old Testament, the eldest, godly son was entitled to a double portion. He then had primary responsibility to care for his parents. Scripture says that a wise and godly man will leave an inheritance for his grandchildren. Today, the state has usurped the role of the eldest son, demanding the double portion and promising to take care of mom and dad with Social Security and Medicare.
The apostle Paul says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Today, the welfare state has supplanted the family as provider for our aged parents and the indigent. As Christians, we have allowed this state of affairs to prevail, and it is godless.
The family, has been given stewardship over children, authority over property and inheritance, and control over education. The family is also the institution preeminently responsible for social welfare. The early church did not depend on the Roman civil authorities to meet social needs. Likewise, we see Jesus on the cross with His dying words ensuring that His mother is taken care of by John (John 19:25-27). The modern State has encroached into all these areas that rightly fall under the purview of family government. Strong and stable families, jealously guarding their prerogatives, are the foundation of strong and stable communities, and only these mediating institutions can protect the naked individual from the maniacal, power-hungry State.