Toward a Natural Law of the Family
By Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.
Rev. of The Natural Family, by Allan C. Carlson and Paul T. Mero, The Hausvater Project, Apr. 2009, www.hausvater.org.
... By emphasizing the family as the foundation of society, Carlson and Mero echo Luther’s Large Catechism with regard to the Fourth Commandment and part ways from both libertarians on the right and socialists on the left. For example, they fault the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), who has inspired much of libertarian political thought, with overemphasizing individual rights at the expense of family relations. “Locke,” they explain, “carved out only a small place for marriage as a reasonable, temporary pact for procreation and early childrearing” (32). It was both ironic and inevitable that the Enlightenment’s liberation of individuals from their historic ties to the sometimes oppressive institutions of family and church would pave the way for “the grander oppressions of the twentieth century, whether in the ‘total states’ of National Socialism and Communism, or in the ‘welfare states’ of Western Europe, North America, and Australia-New Zealand” (36-37).
While libertarianism overemphasized the individual, thus fragmenting the traditional strength of families, industrialism underestimated the importance of gender, thus weakening families further still. Carlson and Mero claim that “androgyny—the negation of male and female—is a political creation, an act of war against human nature” (127-28). By treating fathers, mothers, and children simply as nondescript “employees” (as if gender and family relations had no relevance to the workplace), the modern industrial order has fostered a redefinition of personhood. People are now viewed as autonomous individuals, rather than as a social beings interdependent upon others through the family in ways shaped by gender. The authors contend that this change resulted not only in weaker families, but also in weaker individuals, who increasingly turned to a new institution for their most basic needs: the welfare state of capitalist nations or the too-often totalitarian state of socialist ones. ...
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