Next week, I will be in Louisiana, participating in an event organized by Mike Church, “The Fellowship of The Clans” Crusader Congress. I was given a curious talk title to address: “Harnessing the Power of Family over State.”
Rather than complain about the difficulties inherent in the title of the talk assigned to me, I elected to see them as challenges to overcome. In point of fact, the family is not more powerful than the State, certainly not according to any conventional metrics of social science, nor according to our conventional notions of “power.” Even if the father who is head of any given family happens to be a particularly virile specimen of masculinity, the other members of the family (e.g., pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and other children) are more symbolic of weakness and vulnerability than of power.
What, then, are the powers latent in the family that can be harnessed over and against the modern State that has clearly exceeded its lawful bounds? What is it that this natural and sacramental institution of God can do in opposition to the Nanny State?
In honor of the Five Wounds of Our Savior, here are five fundamental powers of the family and its members:
- The family as an institution is a creature of God, whose constitution, entirely antecedent to that of any State, is written by the Hand of the Creator into man’s very nature.
- They are repositories of tradition, both wholesome natural traditions and the traditions of revealed Religion.
- Therefore, they are also schools of virtue that can — even in spite of the machinations of the statists — form good earthly citizens.
- As such, they are also training grounds where can be formed good subjects of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, and therefore citizens of a new Christendom. Because of this, they form the next generation, and the next, and the next, who can, when the time is right, make a genuine Christian social order in political society actually achievable.
- Better yet, they are also training grounds for Heaven! For in them, the fear of God and the love of God may be imbued into children by a loving father and mother. In short, the family has the God-given power to populate not just this world, but Heaven itself.
Concerning this last point, I cannot resist quoting Pope Pius XI: “Christian parents must also understand that they are destined not only to propagate and preserve the human race on earth, indeed not only to educate any kind of worshippers of the true God, but children who are to become members of the Church of Christ, to raise up fellow-citizens of the Saints, and members of God’s household, that the worshippers of God and Our Savior may daily increase” (Casti Connubii, No. 13).
But it is the first of these “powers” of the family that I wish to write of here briefly; namely, that the family possesses in itself the power of nature. What do I mean by that? I refer to the fact that, while the State has in fact declared war on the family (with the weapons of divorce, abortion, contraception, usury, feminism, and other evils it decriminalizes and/or promotes), the family has to its advantage that God created not only each of its members, but it — i.e., the family itself is a creature of God. Adam and Eve and the mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth is not myth, but a revealed truth. Not only did God create the family at the dawn of human history, but He also elevated family life in the New Testament both by entering into the Holy Family as the Incarnate Logos and by elevating matrimony to the status of a sacramental bond.
Why is this a “power” of the family? Because human nature was made by the Creator to be conformable to family life, therefore human flourishing and well-being are tethered to the status of the family. Families that are faithful to the Christian standards of family life have the power to produce happy, psychologically stable, and spiritually healthy people.
By contrast, all that the Devil and his useful statist idiots can do is corrupt; they cannot create. This is a theme we find in some good Catholic literature. Orcs, for instance, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical cosmos, were not created as such by Ilúvatar (God) nor could they be created by Melkor (the original Dark Lord, the Satan figure of Tolkien’s universe), but they come from creatures of Ilúvatar that Melkor tormented and twisted into a horrible and corrupted form. As Frodo says, “The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the Orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.” (Those interested in delving into the minutiae of this may click here.)
The good that is family life is being ruined and twisted into relationships based upon adultery, fornication, or even polyamory. Such illicit unions, as well as those of sodomites or unnatural women who wickedly ensnare children by adoption or illicit reproductive technologies do not constitute new creations; they are Orc-like corruptions of what God created from the beginning in constituting the family. As long as men exist, they know these abominations to be wrong. The impulse to dwell in a real family, natural to man as he was created by God, cannot be completely eradicated from mankind. These unnatural unions are therefore contrary to the very yearnings of nature, even if that nature can be corrupted by the inflaming of disordered appetites to accept such abnormalities for a time. Because man was created to be good, the desire to be liberated from such unnatural chains is implicit in the human soul — although after suffering such egregious corruption, an abundance of grace will most certainly be necessary to heal and restore man’s rectitude. (Consider the holy Herculean task it will be to rescue the children brought up in such moral squalor! This is the job for saints.)
The Church’s moral teaching on the family is, then, not only not contrary to man’s nature; it is so deeply encoded in that nature that our inner compulsions draw us to it. While those who fight for the family are up against powerful forces of Revolution, we have the advantage that human nature itself (and the God who made it) is on our side.
To benefit from this “power of nature” latent in every family is our task and our challenge. With the aid of God’s grace, it will be achieved by Catholic families themselves being faithful to their baptismal vocation and their matrimonial sacrament.
These are the thoughts I plan to develop much more fully in my hour-long presentation next week. If you cannot join us in Cajun country, I do believe that recordings of the presentations will be available after the event.