Unification News for December 1996
The Family Party, a Problem with Luther, and Creation Science
A recent set of essays in the monthly journal put out by the Institute on Religion and Public Life has created a bit of a stir. The journal, entitled First Things, is edited by Richard John Neuhaus. Father Neuhaus, along with others as eminent as Robert Bork, call into question the legitimacy of the present American governmental regime.
The crux of their complaint is that the judiciary is contravening the democratic process, by declaring certain laws voted in by the majority to be unconstitutional, on the basis of an interpretation of the Constitution which flies in the face of the meaning intended by the framers of the Constitution, a meaning still plain to the majority of the American people.
To state it plainly, the framers believed that faith in God and practice of religious morality are necessary for our nation's well- being, and our current judges actively subvert and reject God and religion. The framers separated church and state in order to protect the churches from the state, but the courts today see it as a means to protect the state from the churches, and to reject laws generated out of a morality grounded in a religious worldview.
Therefore, the courts take prayer out of schools, make it illegal to post the Ten Commandments in schools or public building, make it legal to curse and swear in schools, make it illegal to punish rebellious students, make it legal to murder a baby as long as the head has not emerged from the mother's cervix, and so forth. Thus, the courts are reshaping the society, against the wishes and values of the majority of Americans.
This critique of contemporary affairs, however, though very compelling, does not strike the root of the problem.
The problem common to both the current judiciary and its opponents is the usage of an individualistic political paradigm: the belief that ultimate sovereignty lies with the individual. Social felicity is defined in terms of individual rights, individual responsibilities, individual fulfillment, individual happiness, etc. etc. What is the alternative, you may ask. There is an alternative viewpoint: that the fundamental value, and ultimate sovereignty, is the family.
After all, where do individuals come from? The family. Where do individuals, for the generality of humankind, find happiness? In the family. What is the foundation for social stability? The family. What is the number one way to reduce crime? Strengthen the family. To end drug abuse? Strengthen the family. To end poverty? Strengthen the family. To end children having children? Strengthen the family.
Where do you find the most ecstatic, cosmic sexual union? With your beloved eternal spouse; that's where you find absolute sex. Why absolute? Because God is there, based upon the couple's absolute commitment to each other eternally, beyond life and death.
Oneness with God and my wife; that's the gate of the kingdom of heaven. And it is the gate through which my children come into this world and it is the plan by which my children and grandchildren and parents and cousins will be with me and my wife forever in the next world. The family is the foundation of true happiness, freedom and goodness.
This is not just a spiritual matter. It's not just religion. It's life itself. That means it is economics. It's culture. It's education. It's housing and the environment. And, yes, it's government.
Government exists for the sake of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We've had enough of the bohemian fantasy that happiness is found by escaping the boundaries of conventional morality. The myth that the true artist is amoral, beyond social "restraints," should be consigned to the ash-heap of history. What we must do is expand the dimensions of love in society: true family life is the center of true art and true love.
The founders of this nation emerged out of the English Protestant cultural tradition, and they had two conflicting heritages to work out. One was biblical, and when they looked to the Bible for guidance as to government, they looked to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is covenantal, organic and family-centered. It teaches that the nation is built from the families (Gen 18:18-19). God began, after all, not by creating a "polis," a congerie of individuals in a forest, but by creating a husband and wife.
The other was rationalist, typified in the thinking of John Locke. Locke was an individualist. For Locke, the family exists as a mere instrument for the production of responsible individuals called citizens. There are no other uses of the family of interest to the state. Parents are responsible to create good citizens, and once those citizens emerge out of the family and into the "world," there are no more obligations between parents and children, and in fact there is no state interest in the husband and wife remaining married.
Now, the first sixty years of Puritan society in New England was biblical and family-centered (Locke, after all, did not appear until the end of the seventeenth century). All people legally were bound to live as part of a family. There were no people functioning as "single," male or female. One could not live on one's own within the commonwealth. One family had one vote. The parents were responsible for those under their roof, be they children, relatives, apprentices or servants. The husband finally was responsible for the wife, and he cast the household's vote in elections.
(So, the voting rights movement, one wo/man, one vote, so transparently valid to Americans today, was the result of a centuries- long transfer of sovereignty, from the family to the individual.)
Look at today's statistics. We see that the preponderance of criminal behavior, in particular crimes of violence, and child and woman (mostly girlfriend) abuse, and drug abuse, and drunkenness, and schizophrenia, and (by definition) abortions and illegitimacy, is the behavior of young, single, unattached people. We might re-consider some of the implications of the "Puritan option."
Let's bring the family back in the driver's seat. For instance, I propose that we need a new political party, called the Family Party. This is a political party which is family-friendly. Its platform is the kitchen table; it caucus room is the front porch; its negotiations are in the garden; its convention is in the bedroom. Man and woman rule together, as husband and wife, as parents.
This transcends left and right, but does not leave us in an undefined space of futurism, nor is it a return to the Puritan religio-cultural tradition. The Family Party stands for solid love, for fidelity, for filial piety, for discipline, for compassion, for intimacy and solidarity and the future surpassing the present (Prov 23:24). It stands for the ultimate creativity (creating true children, true men and true women).
The choice is clear: pro-family or no-family. Those who are for the family, join the Family Party. Those who are against the family, we'll leave the light on for you.
A Problem with Luther
Why did the Puritan family model break down? Basically, it broke down because there was not enough love at home to keep the kids on the farm. There was not enough parental love and children's love; not enough brother-sister love; not enough husband-wife love.
So everyone came eventually to look for love outside the home, away from the family; chasing after phantoms. And it was following an assertion of the first reformers, Luther and Zwingli. They set a fatal flaw into the Protestant vision. These reformers gave up on man's ability to control his own body.
Luther and Zwingli did this when they argued for the marriage of priests on two grounds, one: that celibacy was a form of salvation by works (which is theological'nuff said), and two: that they are going to fornicate anyway. Because we are hopeless fornicators, a religious system which requires its religious leaders to take vows of lifelong celibacy places an undue burden upon their consciences. It turns most of them into hypocrites.
It is intriguing if disheartening to see this same argument: they are going to fornicate anyway, being made today on behalf of providing free condoms to teenagers.
Indeed, if Luther and Zwingli did not believe that mature dedicated men and women could maintain sexual purity, why should a society decree that immature teenagers can? If the sexual drive is deemed more powerful than any vows made by a priest or nun, it certainly must be more powerful than any pledge of abstinence made by a fifteen-year old boy or girl.
So by the same argument that Luther and Zwingli abolished the standard of clerical celibacy, five centuries later we are handing out condoms to teens.
And a second dimension of this issue bears noting: Luther and Zwingli were addressing the problem of the guilt induced by what they deemed to be the all-but-inevitable violation of a vow. That is, they took the priest's self-esteem, or feeling of self-worth, as a value higher than that of the life-long commitment to celibacy and the social import of that. Has not our society elevated this to cultural pre- eminence, in the view that we must not set standards too high, for fear of our children losing their self-esteem?
Luther and Zwingli set up a religious culture which allowed men and women to abandon vows of celibacy and not feel guilty about it. Today, we have set up a secular culture which allows teenagers to abandon the standard of virginity and not feel guilty about it.
Five hundred years of social progress. America, in some ways, is the par-excellence Protestant culture.
Being Open-Minded about Creation Science
I was cheered by reading an article on a recent controversy over a teacher in a Virginia high school. He was reprimanded for suggesting to his science class that scientists sometimes make mistakes. He explained that scientific theories are sometimes proven to be in error. Hence, he said, not everything you read in a science textbook may be fully accurate. (Carolyn McCulley, "By the Book?" Crystal City, Etc., Fall 1996, pp. 30-35)
The problem was exacerbated no doubt by the fact that this teacher believes in "creation science" (although he was not teaching it at the time).
Now, I am aware of the controversies between Darwinists and Creationists, but this article opened by eyes as to how widespread the creation science movement is, even though it is "practically invisible in the general media."
To wit: "Russell Humphreys, a physicist at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, estimates there are at least 10,000 practicing scientists in the U.S. who are young earth creationists. Humphreys is a member of the Creation Research Society (CRS), a scientific organization with over 3,000 members worldwide, more than 600 of whom are voting members: they are practicing scientists with graduate degrees employed as physicists, geologists, (the list goes on) " The CRS is only one out of more than 100 international creationist organizations " such as the New Mexico Creation Science Fellowship.
"`These are the creationists who are open about their views,' Humphreys says. `There are also probably ten times that number who are hesitant about it and who are not sure if they want to risk getting in hot water. " Most of the people I know in academia who do not have their tenure publish in creationist journals under pseudonyms.'
"`We think we have better scientific answers to the origins of humans and the earth than the evolutionists. " For example, creationists have a very good computer-tested model for what started and stopped the Ice Age and for its peculiar characteristics. But evolutionists have nothing to explain the Ice Age except speculation.'"
The article goes on to discuss the fact that mutations "are almost invariably for the worst," and that the fossil record reveals none of the millions of transitional forms which evolution predicts should be there.
The "young earth" theory, by the way, begins with the essential premise that "the earth is relatively young"about 10,000 years old"and formed by a worldwide flood; all living things were created miraculously, essentially in their present state."
The larger implications of this are worth pondering. "We're on the ground floor of a new branch of science"creation science," the article states, "And we're explaining things evolutionists can't. If our successes didn't undermine the prevailing world view, these things would be shouted from the roof tops."
The article goes on to point out that creation science strikes at the root of the present post-modern worldview, that formed by Copernicus, Darwin and Freud. Copernicus moved our home from center to periphery; Darwin relegated us to "descent from an animal world," and Freud completed the operation by undermining confidence in the rational mind.
Creation science calls the whole house of cards into question. "If you accept creationism and if it follows that you accept the Bible as true, then you are also going to be saying, `Well, if somebody did create the world and created people and created me, then do I need to be thinking about what that Creator wants me to do?'
Can we be open-minded enough to consider that?
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