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IN FOCUS – Undermining the Family

Teddy Bar on Rocks

Stable families — ideally consisting of a father and a mother working together to nurture and educate their children — is God’s template for a successful, free society.  Governments that respect the freedoms of their people seek to uphold and encourage stable families.  On the other hand, if there is one characteristic common to all tyrannies, it is implementing policies to weaken the family.  The reason is obvious:  the family provides a check on the power of the state.

Family Friendly Politicians

Today, many of our politicians tell us they are family friendly, but then implement policies that undermine the family.  In 1969, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill.  That law allowed divorces to be processed routinely by courts without the need to find any wrongdoing to justify a divorce.  The trend swept the country, and divorces skyrocketed.  Reagan later admitted that this was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life.  It is speculated he supported it because his first wife, Jane Wyman, had unfairly accused him of “mental cruelty” to obtain a divorce in 1948.  Although we are told the personal lives of politicians do not matter, it is clear that their lived experiences can alter their political behavior.

Family as the Foundation of Civil Society

God created four types of government.  The first is self-government.  “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”  Proverbs 25:28.  The other three types of government are institutions:

  • The family (Genesis 1:26-28);
  • Civil government (Genesis 9:6) with the power of the sword;  
  • In our time, the Church (Ephesians 2:19-20).

Herbert W Titus, Founding Dean of Regent University Law School, noted that “God created the family as the primary governing authority upon which the success of the civil government depends.”  Although designed to complement each other, in a fallen world, the civil government often views the family and the Church as competitors for the loyalty of the people, and thus are the enemy.  This is not a new development.

In 1947, Sociologist Carle C. Zimmerman undertook a study of how the institution of the family has altered the development of civilization, concluding that while good governments need strong families, there is also some tension between those institutions:

Aristotle’s dictum that if children did not love their parents and family members, they would love no one but themselves would have caused them to stop and realize that … the attachments basic to human society all arise and take their orientation from the human family….  In the absence of strong central governments … familism as a key to the internal strength of social groups must have played a much greater role in social order than in other periods….  [S]trongly developed central governments made the internal cohesion of family groups less and less necessary as a unified social force.  [C. Zimmerman, Family and Civilization at 13-14 (Harper and Brothers: 1947) (emphasis added)].

Government Has Undermined the Black Family

Good governments do not regard the family unit as competitors, but tyrants throughout history have attacked and undermined the family.  Consider the case of black families.

Long ago, American slavery laws allowed attacks on the black family, often ripping families apart and selling one family member away from another.  “Historian Michael Tadman has estimated that approximately one third of enslaved children in the upper South states of Maryland and Virginia experienced family separation in one of three possible scenarios: sale away from parents; sale with mother away from father; or sale of mother or father away from child.”

Dr. Joe Morecraft writes:  “The family, not the state, is to provide for its own economic and moral welfare, with the … assistance of the church.”  Let’s consider what happen when the state usurps that role with respect to black families.  While most today will blame the condition of black families on the legacy of slavery, distinguished black libertarian economist Professor Walter E. Williams puts the blame squarely on government:

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure….Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare stateushered in by the War on Poverty? … The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has.

Dr. Williams’ analysis applies the basic economic principle that if you subsidize something, you get more of it.  If you tell a young teenage girl she can escape her mother’s control, get an apartment on her own, and get SNAP benefits (formerly “food stamps”) from the government, if only she has a baby, that government program will lead to more single mothers with children.  As a result, while in 1938, only 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers, more recently it hovers near 72 percent.

Dr. Williams wrote the “most damage done to black Americans is inflicted by those politicians … who assert that every problem confronting blacks is a result of the legacy of slavery and discrimination — a vision that guarantees perpetuity for these problems.”  When Lyndon Johnson launched his “War on Poverty,” he created a vast national and state infrastructure to hand out benefits which then depends on the existence of, and perpetuation of, a large number of people needing those benefits.

Thus, while politicians run for office claiming to be compassionate to those in need, their policies are undermining the family.  Often, a new government program is designed to solve a problem created by an old government program.  Americans should ask if the need was created by the government.  One of the most influential black Christian conservatives of the late twentieth century was J.A. (Jay) Parker, who often described the War on Poverty as the best way to keep blacks subjugated and “on the plantation” by leftist politicians.

Communism Abhors the Family

Karl Marx knew a great deal about how to usher in and preserve tyrannies.  Marx called for nothing less than the “abolition of the family.”  He and his co-author Friedrich Engels, in their book The Origin of the Family, derided the institution of the family as the creator of capitalism and private property.  They wanted to end family so that the state could take control of children.  They advocated a: 

fanatical push to abolish all right of inheritance, to end home and religious education, to dissolve monogamy in marriage, to pursue pre- and extra-marital sex, to foster and ‘tolerate’ (as Engels put it) the ‘gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse’ by unmarried women … and, most of all, for society and the state to rear and educate children.  [Emphasis added.]

Marx rejected every rule and principle that God established for his created order.  It is no surprise that he wrote in a poem in 1837:  “Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well … My soul, once true to God, is chosen for Hell.”  [A deep dive into the demonic doctrines of Marx was conducted by Grove City College Professor Paul Kengor — The Devil and Karl Marx (TAN Books: 2020).]

Make no mistake about it:  Tyrants want your children.  During Hungary’s first brief experiment with Communism in 1919, the short-lived regime declared war on the family: 

Special lectures were organized in schools and literature printed and distributed to ‘instruct’ children about free love, about the nature of sexual intercourse, about the archaic nature of bourgeois family codes, about the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasure.  Children [were] urged thus to reject and deride paternal authority and the authority of the church, and to ignore precepts of morality.

Theologian Rousas John Rushdooney explained how the destruction of the family ties into other communist objectives and leads directly to disaster:

Private property is a stabilizing force for the family and society.  When the state dispossesses the family of property and replaces the family as the custodian of property, the marriage tie is harmed thereby….Socialism attacks parental control over both children and property in order to ensure the priority of the state in society.  [R. Rushdooney, The Institutes of Biblical Law at 415-16 (The Craig Press: 1973).]

What is the legacy of communism?  By one study, “[o]verall the communists murdered approximately 168,759,000 from 1900 to 1987

American Totalitarians

Today’s totalitarian ideologies beat the same drum.  Black Lives Matter, whose co-founder Patrisse Cullors describes herself as a “trained Marxist,” has also called to “abolish the family.”  And radical “transgender” ideology demands the right to snatch children from their parents, to be sacrificed in the service of perhaps the most radically anti-family ideology the world has ever seen, cutting off body parts and destroying the fertility and self-esteem of children despite their parents’ best efforts.

In 2023, California’s legislature passed AB 957, declaring that a parent’s failure to provide “affirmation” to a “gender transition” of a confused child would constitute child abuse.  Abigail Martinez testified to the legislature how “[m]y daughter was murdered by gender ideology.”

“CPS took my daughter when she was 16 years old….  My daughter was taken from her loving home because the State of California claimed I was abusive for not affirming her trans identity.  I lost my daughter over a name and pronouns — even after I promised to call her a male name.  It wasn’t enough.  My daughter was not a boy trapped in a girl’s body.  She had mental health issues.  Against my consent, my daughter was given testosterone instead of therapy.  The LGBTQ group used her to raise money for them…” Martinez finished in tears, sharing the details of her daughter’s suicide as a result of destroyed mental health.

After the bill passed, California state senator Scott Wilk urged parents, “In the past when we’ve had these discussions and I’ve seen parental rights atrophied — I’ve encouraged people to keep fighting…. I’ve changed my mind on that.  If you love your children, you need to flee California.  You need to flee.”

Strong families promote free and self-reliant societies.  Strong families provide support structures for individuals, making them better able to resist tyranny.  To attack the family, tyrants attack Biblical morality.  For the preservation of the nation, the demonic theme underlying every attack on the family must be perceived and the attack resisted.  

Editor’s Note: To read the articles in this series, please click here.

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