|Big Idea: The family is not subservient to nations, but coequal with them in natural and divine authority. Any lesser view of the family as a self-governing unit is not “pro-family.”|
A sure way to degrade the family is to refuse to let it govern itself. The most common method of taking the family’s job and giving it to others is to place government in charge of supervising what families do. That is what regulation is all about. The result is that while politicians debate public policy, the family is trampled underfoot by a government which is poking its nose into purely private matters.
A family is one of the four basic units, or institutions, in society. These include the individual, the family, the Church, and nations. Each basic unit was created, or instituted, by God, not by people. Each basic institution is something a person must be born into. Every person is born with an individual identity, born into a family, and born the citizen of a nation. [The Church concept of being “born again” is beyond our purview.] Since it is a basic institution (created by God), the family’s authority and structure do not evolve, but remain constant.
Every other social unit, group or organization is really a voluntary association. These include schools, clubs, businesses, charities, unions, political parties and religious groups, among others. A voluntary association is something a person decides to join. No one is born a member of a school, a club, or business. An association, unlike a basic institution, is created by people, not by God. Consequently, the authority, structure, and identity of an association, unlike the family, can be changed at will. The only limitation is that associations may not usurp, or take priority over, the role of any basic institution. Man’s creation cannot supersede God’s creation as to rights or authority.
Among the basic institutions, none is superior compared to the others. Family authority is not lesser than, but co-equal with, civil authority. Since each basic institution is created by God, each is equally accountable directly to Him, not to each other. This result is by design, not accident. God is not the author of confusion, and this is reflected in the way He created the basic institutions. In other words, even though the authority of the basic institutions are co-equal, they are not the same and they do not overlap. The family and the state each have distinct purposes and structures. Neither one could possibly have the right to supervise the other. Otherwise, the distinction between family and state would be confused.
Since the family is co-equal with the state under lonang, it has the equal right to govern itself. In His wisdom, the Creator has fitted the family with a structure uniquely suited to its purposes. It is improper to refer to the family as being a democracy, a partnership or a commune, etc. Each member of the family has a distinct office to fulfill which, in keeping with the law of nature, cannot be redefined. Husband and wife, parent and child, and brother and sister, all have unique rights and responsibilities. The authority each person has by virtue of his family office is all that is required for him to be competent in handling family concerns.
The competence of the family to govern itself does not depend on the qualifications of its members. A person does not qualify to be a husband or wife based upon their experience, education, or other credentials. People do not have to pass a test before they can become a parent – nor should they. Similarly, a family does not become qualified to handle its own affairs when its members receive government approval. A family can govern itself because it has the right to do so, even if its members are uneducated, inexperienced, and lack certification.
Legally and historically, a person’s competence has nothing to do with his skill, abilities or talent. In other words, “competent” does not mean “qualified.” Competence, in the legal sense, means that a person has the authority, or right, to do something. Incompetence, on the other hand, merely means that a person lacks the authority to do something, not that he is unable or unqualified to do it. For example, historically, husbands and wives were not competent to testify against each other in court. This rule had nothing to do with their ability to communicate truthfully, but was based on a presumed lack of authority. The modern usage of competence and qualification as interchangeable or equivalent terms perverts their true meanings.
The right to vote is another example of when the distinction between competence and qualification is important. The only requirements a person must meet in order to vote in an election have to do with age, citizenship and residence. Education, experience, and social status are not only irrelevant, but are illegal voter qualifications. [Let us defer the question of property ownership, for the present.] No one needs to pass a test in order to vote. In reality, the right to vote is a matter of competence, not qualification. Further, our freedom depends on it. If voting rights were dependent on a person’s abilities or status, they would soon become the privilege of a few, not the right of the many.
A person’s qualifications are sometimes relevant, but only where no legal right is at stake. For example, parents may examine several candidates for tutoring their children and select one based upon his or her education, experience and other factors. However, the tutor has no right to teach that family’s children. A private tutor is competent to apply for positions, because he has that authority, but he is not competent to compel being hired, because he does not have that right. Whether a tutor is qualified is up to the parents to decide. In other words, the tutor’s qualifications are relevant only because he has no right to be hired. Competence and qualifications are not the same.
Unfortunately, family competence is no longer highly valued in our society. Public officials increasingly disregard family structure in the blind pursuit of so-called individual rights. Increasingly, husbands are unable to relate to their wives as the natural head of household. Parents are unable to make decisions respecting their minor children. Instead, public officials want to fracture the family. Instead of being treated as a governing unit, family members are isolated from each other. What once were family matters, have now become individual concerns. What once were family rights, have now become individual wrongs.
Spousal consent, as it relates to abortion, is a good example of how family competence (i.e. authority) is denied. Although it still takes two people to make a baby, only one is required to kill it. When a woman wants to have an abortion, her husband’s consent is irrelevant (according to court rulings), even when the baby is his offspring. According to the Supreme Court, since a state cannot prevent a woman from having an abortion, the state cannot give her husband the right to stop the abortion, either. In other words, the Court believes that a husband lacks the right to decide whether his family will give birth to another child, unless government can give him that right. In effect, the Court assumes that a husband’s rights come from public officials.
The same analysis is made with respect to parents and minor children. If an unmarried minor girl wants an abortion, her parents are denied the right to protect the life of their grandchild. According to the Court, recognition of parental rights will hurt, rather than help, society. The parents’ rights are not viewed as weighty enough to counterbalance the privacy rights of a girl supposedly mature enough to have become pregnant. Thus, the Court is unable to imagine how a state could give parents the right to veto an abortion which the state could not itself prevent.
Whether intended or not, the Court has substituted qualifications for competence. Family rights are no longer recognized as coming from the Creator. Instead, a person’s authority has been made dependent upon his expertise, training and licensure. Within these criteria, only licensed professional (primarily physicians) qualify to consult with a pregnant woman about whether to have an abortion. The doctor-patient relationship, a man-made association, has been made superior to the husband-wife or parent-child relationship, a God-made institution. In so doing, the Court has ignored a fundamental principle: a person may gain expertise on his own, but rights must come from God.
In effect, the family has been made subservient to the state in this context. Further, rather than affirming the institutional equality of nations and families, the Court has treated the family as the creature of the state. Instead of affirming the family’s competence to govern itself, the Court has treated individual license as though it had evolved into a fundamental right. However, when families have no rights except what public officials give them, they have no rights at all. The most a public official can ever give anyone is a mere privilege.
The issue is not really whether anyone should support laws requiring spousal consent or parental consent. Nor is it a question of whether anyone should be for or against the freedom to choose. The issue is whether each family is going to be allowed to govern itself as a matter of right, or not. It would be rare for any individual family to match the resources, experience, knowledge or manpower available to civil government. Yet, these things give government no right to supervise the family. If the truth be known, most public officials cannot even manage their own families well, much less everyone else’s.
- Under lonang, families are self-governing
- The virtue of good household management
- The duty to care for one’s own family
- Neither Church nor State have been appointed to manage families
- Family structure is designed to best facilitate its government
- The Church must reflect and defer to the family order, not the reverse
- Civil society must reflect and defer to the family order, not the reverse
- So why aren’t families allowed to govern themselves?
- Equal government status
- Institutional status co-equal with other governments.
- Pre-defined offices: [Husband – Wife; Parent – Child]
- A pre-defined mission: [Bear and raise children; Exercise earthly dominion]
- Family freedom from regulation
- Families have not only the capacity, but the right to govern themselves.
- Family rights do not depend on its members’ qualifications.
- Family rights do not depend on the permission of civil government.