|Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” * * * So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
[Gen. 2:18, 21-24.]
Consider the possibility that family authority is established by God. Further, suppose that God has given families a peculiar form, or structure, uniquely suited to their authority. If these things are true, then family structure and authority are inseparable. No one can exercise the family’s authority unless they also possess the family’s structure. Neither can anyone adopt the structure of a family, unless they also have family authority. No wonder, then, that the integrity of family structure is under attack by people who want to usurp the family’s authority.
|Big Idea: The family was not invented by man, therefore it cannot be defined by man. God created the family, so only he can define it.|
A REASONABLE FACSIMILE?
Our society is being overrun by family wannabees. Children and adults live in the same household like families do. These households look like families and act like families to the casual observer. Yet, there is something different about them. The mother and father figures are not married. In short, these family wannabees are based upon a wrong relationship. The problem, though, is not merely relational, nor merely interpersonal. It is legal and structural. A valid family cannot be built upon an invalid relationship.
Without a unique family structure, there is no unique family purpose. If family purposes are unique, but anyone can fulfill them, the uniqueness is illusory. One of the best ways to undermine family integrity and identity is to change the definition of what a family is. This is especially true when society accepts false families, or family wannabees, as genuine. Yet, according to evolutionary thinking, family definition can, and must, change with the times. Under this view, there are no false families, since what is legitimate today may not be so tomorrow. This leaves us with a choice: Is family definition subject to change, or not? From a creationary perspective, the answer is clear.
The family is a divine creation, not a social invention. Families do not exist because society was planned that way by social theorists. Families are not the remnants of some ancient idea that society functions best when organized into small groups. Nor were families formed for individual convenience. Families are not even the result of social evolution. According to Genesis 2:18-24, God created the family, and He did so for His own purposes. In fact, the family was created even before there were any children. The family began before any government, church or other social organization ever existed. The family is the first and most basic unit of all society, and it has always been that way.
Since God created the family, He alone has the right to define it. The rules of marriage, like the family itself, are not social inventions. They are part of the marriage institution itself, apart from which marriage has no meaning. Hence, the rules of marriage apply to each family whether or not anyone consents. The rules of marriage are a part of human nature. God made people in two sexes, and He made marriage a certain way. These are things no one can change.
The family was created when God fashioned the first woman as a helper suited to the first man. Ever since, when a man leaves his parents to unite with his wife, then, and only then, a new family is formed. It was intended to be this way from the beginning, regardless of changing circumstances. No other social institution, unit, group or organization is created by one man and one woman entering into a monogamous lifetime union. The marriage relationship, and the rules of marriage, are unique to the family, and give it a unique structure.
Let’s rephrase this in legal terms. The creation and definition of the family are inextricably connected, in time, circumstance and the persons affected, with the creation of humanity. Therefore, the definition of the family is a part of the immutable laws of nature which have existed as long as man has existed, and will continue as long as man exists. The laws of nature’s God confirm that mankind will never escape the operation of this family law. Try as we might, humanity cannot re-create or re-invent itself. This first law of the family is something we are stuck with as long as this natural order remains. It is the law of our nature.
This law of the family, and the rules of marriage subsequently revealed by divine law, however, do not bring oppression, even though they are often portrayed that way. Actually, they are a great blessing. What God has established and defined, He will also preserve. When people keep His laws of the family and marriage, they help preserve their own families. Further, the rules of marriage are a source of security and comfort for every family. After all, no family purpose would be unique, much less secure, if the family could be redefined whenever someone thinks it convenient. The rules of marriage exist to give the family its definition, and hence, its identity. Families should always be on guard against any attempt to alter the rules of marriage, as a matter of self-preservation.
Many people have openly rejected this view of the family, however. They prefer to view the family merely as an evolving social form. Consequently, mere cohabitation has replaced marriage in many homes. Men and women live together for a while to exercise family authority, such as sexual relations and to raise children, but no marriage exists. This practice was once called fornication and “living in sin.” Now, when cohabitants part company, they sue each other for palimony, as though they were really married. Such practices pervert the nature of the family.
Cohabitation and marriage have never been the same. Jesus confronted a Samaritan woman who had five previous husbands, but was then living with a man who was not her husband. Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” [John 4:16-18.] By refusing to recognize her current partner as her husband, he recognized the difference between cohabitation and marriage. Then, as now, cohabitation is an attempt to avoid the rules of marriage, both going into, and out of, the relationship. Supposedly, cohabitation makes it easier for individuals to do what they want. But what people want is contrary to lonang.
Family wannabees actually make it harder for families to do what they should. Cohabitants generally want the same legal rights as families. They want to be regarded as a single family for zoning law and census purposes. They want the same child custody rights as married people. They want their partners treated as a spouse, and their partner’s kids treated as dependents, for income tax and medical insurance purposes. They want the benefit of two incomes plus alimony (which usually stops when a person remarries). In other words, cohabitants are competing with true families for nearly everything unique to the family – sexual liberty, child-bearing and child-raising, and economic dominion.
The result is that family structure is disadvantaged, for some purposes, compared to mere cohabitation. In a sense, true families are being run out of business. To be sure, family wannabees are not getting everything they ask for. Some public officials are holding firm to true marriage definition to protect the family. Yet, family wannabees are gaining in many areas. Armed with misapplied principles of law, such as privacy rights, they are increasingly able to convince government to recognize family wannabees as genuine. Much of this increased recognition is due to the acceptance of evolutionary thinking. Yet, some of it is no doubt due to the failure of public officials to realize how family wannabees affect true families.
Once the laws of nature and nature’s God are cast aside, family redefinition knows no bounds. Where cohabitation leaves off, sexual preference or orientation takes over. An increasing number of people are pushing hard for legal recognition of same-sex marriages. Inroads have already been made in allowing same-sex partners to obtain and keep the custody of minor children, as well as the right to adopt. Unless this erosion of the exclusive family rights to adoption and child custody is halted, the family will lose much of its unique purpose. Once sexual relations and child raising are removed from the family context, half of what gives the family purpose and identity has been lost.
Conventional wisdom holds that whatever two people do in the privacy of their own home does not hurt anyone else. However, do families not have a right to be protected from shams? When people violate the rules of marriage, and are rewarded instead of punished, everyone in the community is affected.
Do not be misled. The issue is not whether anyone should be for or against the traditional family structure merely for tradition’s sake. It certainly is not a question of whether anyone should be for or against consensual relationships or true privacy rights. The fact is, however, when society rewards people for redefining family structure, true family identity and purpose is destroyed. Thus, the real issue is whether our society is going to uphold family structural integrity, or not. We do not need to redefine the family in order to keep it socially relevant – the reverse is true. Family redefinition diminishes its relevance.
The acceptance of family wannabees in our society implicitly recognizes that families are a mere social invention, not God’s creation. It affirms the Myth that there is nothing special or valuable about true family definition, because there is nothing which a true family has the unique right to do. People who accept family wannabees view God’s plan for the family as irrelevant to carrying out the mission of the family. Whether intended or not, family wannabees cheapen the significance of true families in society.