Monday, June 30, 2008

Statists and Parental Authority

The family in the West is under attack from numerous sources. Divorce ravages the culture like a plague. Men and women are waiting longer to marry, but not to copulate, and having fewer children as a consequence. Feminist ideological claptrap has led to the “liberation” of women from the "narrow" and "constricting" roles of wife and mother while the siren song of the marketplace has drowned out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. The culture of death has raised its ugly head not merely at the local abortuarium but even in the Christian family where the contraceptive mentality has gained a foothold. Family authority over property is threatened by an overweening state wielding the weapon of eminent domain and exacting tribute in the form of onerous taxes on property. The familial duty to provide welfare for its members and leave an inheritance for its heirs has been usurped by a godless state that has seized 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 family is the fundamental institution of civilization. It is the first state and church for a child. It is where youngsters begin to develop their callings. As the family weakens civilization hangs over a precipice.

Fundamental to the purpose of the family is discipline. It is parents who are commanded by God to use the rod of correction to drive evil from their children. God commands corporal discipline for deliberate defiance. Moreover, He also says that parents who refuse to ever use this form of discipline "hate" their children:

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24

Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

Withhold not correction from the child: for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14

Increasingly not even the church takes family discipline seriously. In 2004 the United Methodist Church passed two anti-spanking resolutions. In so doing they repudiated the teachings of their founder, John Wesley, who believed corporal punishment of infants and children was necessary "to break their rebellious wills and save their souls."

When portions of the church are negligent in providing a biblical case for discipline the culture at large is sure to be racing further down the path to anarchy. In California Jacobins on the state assembly's Public Safety Committee advanced legislation in March defining the use of switches or paddles to be child abuse. The punishment? One year in jail. Spanking is already outlawed in Scandinavia, Austria, Cypress, Croatia, and Latvia. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is pressuring countries to ban corporal punishment.

Meanwhile in Canada it is now illegal for a father to forbid his child from going on a school camping trip. The dispute between father and daughter began when he cut off her Internet access. The Horror! She continued to use the Internet at the homes of friends and when dad found out he told his daughter she couldn't go on a three-day school trip.

That should have been the end of the story. But the girl's mother allowed her to go on the trip (yes they are divorced and in the midst of what is apparently a bitter custody dispute). Because the school wouldn't allow the girl to go unless both parents consented, the girl took legal action against her father with the support of her mother. Ultimately the father may win on appeal, but his standing has already been undermined. A court has become complicit in a daughter’s disobedience and made a mockery of his authority.

The cry of the libertines and leftists is that the state must “stay out of our bedrooms.” What about our family rooms?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Religious Liberty, Homogenization and Civil Rights

The American Conservative has a short blurb in its recent edition lamenting California’s judicially imposed recognition of homo marriage. They are concerned about the thorny legal issues that await religious entities who do not recognize gay unions.

The tension between freedom and coercion, however, is a necessity in any regime that empowers the state to punish purveyors of “discrimination.” What we have effectively is a clash of visions and a struggle to define civil rights. Sometimes a civil right is a freedom right or the right of a person to act free from coercion. Such an understanding demands restraint and forbearance on behalf of the state.

Other times and in other contexts civil rights become benefit rights, whereby a person is “entitled” to something from others, who have a corresponding obligation to put their hands up and allow their wallet to be taken. The alleged right of the elderly to tax receipts taken from the mouths of children would be one example.

Civil rights may also be clothed as nondiscrimination rights, whereby others are bound to disregard various characteristics of individuals when they are pursuing employment, housing, education, and public accommodation. For example, an employer or restaurant owner may not discriminate against an applicant or customer on the grounds of race or gender.

Advocates of “civil rights” in the second and third senses actually reduce “civil rights” in the first sense. So for instance an individual’s right to dispose of his private property as he wishes (a freedom right, properly understood) is contravened by the nondiscrimination rights of others. Advocates of nondiscrimination rights and policies therefore empower the state as an agent to level any and all institutions who “discriminate” or want to maintain their own freedom of action or character. Civil rights crusaders, despite their lionization in the press and culture at large, are not interested one wit in individual liberty but wield a doctrinaire egalitarianism designed to create homogenization.

As it pertains to the question of homosexuality, we see that cherished rights to religious liberty likewise are kicked aside and torn asunder by rampaging gangs of bureaucratic thugs. The editors of TAC cite the example of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts. Rather than complying with state law requiring mandating that gays be allowed to adopt children, Catholic Charities simply got out of the adoption business. A Methodist camp in New Jersey lost tax exempt status by refusing to allow its facilities in a lesbian “commitment ceremony.” Meanwhile, the “New Mexico Human Rights Commission” fined a photographer who refused to take snapshots for a lesbian couple on religious grounds.

In short, in the name of tolerance and pluralism Christians are to be deprived their right to shun moral perversion. In so doing it is the pink lobby and its willing accomplices in the organs of cultural power that are legislating their morality in the names of the false gods of pluralism, equality, and tolerance.

Finally Back in the Saddle

I received an encouraging email from someone who read an essay I penned at nearly four years ago. The thrust of the email was gratitude that I had expressed such views and an encouragement to continue writing.

I've been away from the web generally of late dealing with more pressing concerns related to work, family, and church. That is as is should be. Whether helping to organize transitional activities at church, planning lessons from the New Testament, or picking school curriculum for my kids, I have better things to do than regurgitate the same laments about the various follies infecting public life. Likewise, some issues related to one of our sons has consumed not merely time but also our energy and spirit.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy writing. Not because I care who, if anyone, is reading but simply because it helps me to clarify my thoughts. My prayer is that I will be faithful in the small things--like blogging--but not consumed by them. Ultimately my calling means living a life before God that is empowered by the Spirit and aided by the sources of strength he provides. And in those roles, there is a hierarchy of obligation and duty.

So do check back from time to time. Give me about fifteen minutes though.