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Aug 01, 2006


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This is not a slam on single people or people in other circumstances. It is merely a recognition that the family has a special role in society, not the least of which is the birthing and socializing of children. That role is not to be usurped by the state.

On this, you and I are in complete agreement. (I'd argue that we ought to strengthen families and extend ritualized coupling for same-gendered folk, whatever you want to call it, but families are certainly fundamental.)

John Lunt

"Our focus should not be on whether people marry or not, it should be on the welfare of the child, and the quality of the upbringing." If he were interested in the quality of the children's upbringing he would understand the importance of marriage. It's about commitment and love of another human being. Without that, many children will grow up self-centered and self-focused.

Michael Kruse

Thanks Kairos and John. I am always sensitive to giving off the impression that I think that any given single parent (for instance) can not raise a child as well adjusted as a child in a home with a mother and father. That is an unfair generalization.

However, from a purely utilitarian public policy standpoint we know that the chances of raising a well adjusted child are significantly higher in the traditional two parent home. Therefore, a society with a high percentage of children raised in such settings should be healthier than one that doesn't.

Then, of course, apart from any utilitarian concern, as a Christian (and I think you can make the case from natural law as well) the family is an enviable institution that should only be intruded upon when debilitating dysfunction emerges and then only to restore it to health. This has always been a hallmark of our Western legal heritage and it is evaporating. (Envision Star Trek transporter special effect here. *grin*)

Ed Darrell

A bit of a cruise into the history books would be in order.

Marriage as an institution, particularly in western European culture and descendants, is a social device and a legal device, largely to facilitate the passing of property from one generation to the next in an orderly fashion. Legally, children of a marriage were considered to be chattel property of the husband, under common law in some cases to do with what the husband wished -- including abuse and what we now call murder.

So a call to focus on the welfare of a child is a massive shift. But it's a massive shift that reflects a growing moral understanding, that children are real people, that children should have rights, that our future depends on the existence of those kids.

Dysfunctional families have been present throughout our "western legal heritage," and the law has generally created fictions to paper over the dysfunctions, often to the detriment of the welfare of the children.

Why not look at this call for what it is: A recognition that kids need certain things to grow into healthy adults?

You guys are way, way too crabby. Why don't you like kids?

Michael Kruse


Of course I like kids. I even was one once. (For my wife's money, you can leave out the past tense.) *grin* But I digress.

My understanding is that going back to the Roman system slaves and non-citizens could not marry. I think I understand your point about evolving law in the Western tradition. I think much of what was driving that development was a growing appreciation for the fact that all human beings are created in God's image and implmenting appropriate laws and customs that reinforce that.

You Wrote:

“So a call to focus on the welfare of a child is a massive shift. But it's a massive shift that reflects a growing moral understanding, that children are real people, that children should have rights, that our future depends on the existence of those kids.”

I don't disagree with what you say here a long as we clarify who the subject of "a call to focus" is. Does this mean society or the government? Let us not conflate the two.

The government is one vital institution of society but it is not society itself. Society consists of multiple institutions arrayed from the most elemental in the family, to a variety of voluntary groups, to local government entities, to regional or state government, up to the federal government.

Western society developed the ideas of balance of power and subsidiarity. Balance of power prevents the development of a totalitarian entity. Susidiarity suggests that any task is best accomplished by the institution in closest proximity to the issue being addressed. When higher level institutions began to usurp the role of lower level institutions, three things happen. The quality of service goes down, the ability of affected institutions to perform their duties atrophies, and the larger institutions become ever more powerful, running the risk of a slide toward totalitarianism.

Yes, the higher order institutions have a role to play in assisting families with the nurture of children. It is right to call families to accountability for children. But this is different from saying that a high order institution like a federal government IS the child’s family (protector, educator, nurturer, provider) and any configuration of the adults can serve essentially as the states service provider to the child. That is what I read in the ministers remarks and that is what troubles me.

Does this clarify anything or I am still just being crabby? *grin*

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