02 April 2008

Family Follow-Up

Yesterday's post prompted some very thoughtful discussion. We appreciate your comments whether you agree with our point or not.

We hope that you will not get distracted, as in times past, by our examples. Of course gay marriage is an issue that affects the family, but it is by no means the only or even the biggest issue--it's part of a larger cultural problem afflicting marriage. The larger cultural problem surrounding marriage is that marriage and family is no longer a big deal. And we don't mean this in the Anchorman sense.

Marriage and families are started on a whim. We keep referring to Wilson because he's awesome, and his point about the diminution of the family bears repeating--especially for those of you who haven't done your homework. Speaking of marriage, Wilson wrote
we have learned how it (marriage) can be undercut by people who think that their lives will be fuller, their opportunities greater, and their burdens fewer if they are allowed to treat sex as recreation, children as toys, and income as an obligation of government rather than a result of work.
We probably should have had said that "relationships and children" are had on a whim. Meaning, people get together, live together, whatever and have unwanted children with little or no thought to the consequences.

We can think of few more selfish acts.

Then, they either get married or put the child up for adoption or abort the baby, etc., etc.--nearly all of these, certainly the most common, are complete abrogations of their filial responsibilities.

As "rights" have increased in this country, so too have the methods for escaping what should be the responsibilities that automatically accompany them. It's easy to point to women and the right to choose, but where are the prospective fathers? Don't they care at all for their children? Historically, men have always been able to avoid their paternal responsibility because they can just up and leave. Rarely could a woman could do the same with her pregnancy. Abortion, in some women's minds, has leveled the playing field--as though sex and children were some sort of tit-for-tat game.

Spikers is right in the sense that it would probably take a Constitutional Amendment to legally protect marriage in this country. As difficult as that may be, it doesn't mean that it's not a battle worth fighting.

An equally difficult battle, but one which we can fight every day, is the larger cultural battle that buruboi referred to in their comments:
we, those who believe that functioning families are integral to society, should pursue cultural standards that protect the traditional and intrinsic values of marriage. That means cultivating sensible cultural norms that motivate people to realize the right, responsibility, privilege, commitment, and even sanctity of marriage and family (i.e. the Mormon community). This can be effectively accomplished, I think, without instituting legal parameters defining what constitutes marriage.
We would expand the thrust of their comments to include not just marriage, but also the family. Regrettably, there are cultural assaults on more than just marriage and motherhood and fatherhood. In Wilson's articles, the impact of culture on the family is a constant theme. We agree with him and buruboi in believing that there needs to be a cultural sea change with respect to marriage and the family.

For this reason, we oppose abortion and pop cultural attacks on the family and gay marriage and all that stuff because it all affects the family. And for us, the family isn't just this nebulous thing that needs saving just because of political-religious mores. For us, it makes good policy sense. As we mentioned in yesterday's post, strengthen the family and you strengthen America. Want to combat crime or illiteracy or, pretty much anything? Do whatever you can to encourage the necessary policy and legal and cultural changes to help America's families.

*UPDATE 3 April 12:20am MST: Obama's Abortion Extremism, by Michael Gerson


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6 comments:

RD said...

Great points, Jake. We are agreed that the deterioration of the family is among the biggest causes of many other social and economic ills. Be sure not to interpret my comments in the previous post as being antagonistic; they are just benign observations.

Being a policy wonk, I would be interested in a concrete discussion of this family topic from a policy perspective. Other than the amendment idea, what kind of legislation would be necessary to address family deterioration? What would be the implications of such policy? Any thoughts?

buruboi said...

1. Great follow-up post. I feel strongly about the central importance of the family as it is traditionally defined. I still feel, however, that the legal route addresses the symptoms rather than the source itself. The deterioration of the family has been brought about largely by cultural changes, so it is those changes that need remedial care.

2. Jake, you are right: preserving the centrality of the family in society is great policy, even beyond religious/moral reasoning. Great point! This is not necessarily a religious discussion. It certainly is a practical one, however. Thanks for generating it.

3. I too am a policy wonk. Unfortunately, I haven’t the foggiest idea of what sort of incentives the government could put in place to enhance the role of the family. Hopefully, my curiosity will get the best of me.

4. Speaking of pop culture and the family, do you guys remember great family programs like the Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince? In view of my mentioning of Juan Williams’s book Enough, it would be awfully convenient if those two shows represented contemporary trends in African-American homes (or any race’s home for that matter).

MJ said...

im a little foggy on the "it would be awfully convenient if those two shows represented contemporary trends in African-American homes (or any race’s home for that matter)." part of your statement. Do you mean that if more african-americans were rich doctors and lawyers?

MJ said...

As Brad Pitt said in Fight Club (Writer, Chuck Paluhniuk), “We are a generation of men raised by women.” Even the many men who are good fathers are also great businessmen who will have to neglect their families in some way. Society as we know it has changed forever. We can only now fight for the sanctity of strong families. Yes, even the “Democrats” believe in a strong family unit.
When you compare mortgages and marriages, I laugh, but I also seriously think about which is worse or more scary. I have known all too many sub-prime marriages in my short life. And predatory agents exist everywhere, especially my favorite places like LA and Las Vegas!
Im with you on everything except pillar two of your “ways to defend marriage,” which is what EVERYONE disagreeing with you will bring up. This is an issue that needn’t be dragged into your argument, I want to see GOOD HARD proof before you do. We needn’t look further than Spikers II B where he cites the establishment of a “civil contract” which must be honored. As long as we are decent people, we must include city hall to work for all of the cities peoples. A civil contract for a family with two adults of the same sex seems inevitable and inconsequential to the rise or decline of strong American families.
And Im sorry sir, but what I do with my vacuum cleaner in the privacy of my own home is my business. They don’t call it a Hoover for no reason.

As for the On Life and Lybberty comments section…As for Joseph serving alcohol…who is Emma? His wife? I think the first brewmasters of Utah would be an interesting story. I am also interested to know if we can learn from the arguments made by the “early Mormons” (please inform on PC title) regarding the seperation of the State and marriage. There could be great wisdom to be gained as they were one of the groups of faith to more recently be attacked by the government if I am not mistaken. And marriage has long been linked to Churches.
I really like BuiBoi He is like the Fred Friendship of a tumultuous group of posting pontificators.
A constitutional amendment for marriage? I thought I would oppose it more than I do. I would much rather see “pro-family” advocates fight for a constitutional marriage amendment before using their efforts on the “anti-abortion” crusade. And to that point, why must we drag the abortion debate into the argument so often. The degradation of the American family is not directly linked to a woman’s right to choose. As one of this country’s (USA) great thinkers once wrote, “safe, legal, but rare,” is a prudent stance to take on marriage as well. I think I must abandon watching Lebron dismantle the Bulls as there is a lot of writing here and this discussion has yielded numerous detours…Oops, its too late, I started writing, and da Bulls came all the way back, hitting a winner with a second to go. That’s what I get for blogging.
I must close with a last thought spawning from the comments section. One thing that concerns me about the LDS Church is the young age at which so many of the members marry. While I do not have strong feelings about age difference in marriage, the union of two 19 year old people. If as you argue, that marriages and families are started on a whim, should The Church not dissuade these young people?

Danite said...

Last summer I worked for an old guy who was a lifelong member of the church. It was really interesting to hear some of his stories, and a few items are worth relating. First, he was called to the Lamanite mission of North Dakota. He worked on the reservation and I loved that his mission was actually called the Lamanite mission. This is enough to make the limited geography apologists spin in circles.

Regarding mj's comments on young marriage in the church, my boss also said that his mission president told him as he was leaving the mission that his mission wasn't officially complete until he had found his wife and married her in the temple. This wasn't the friendly nudging we received from our mission presidents; my boss told me that he sincerely was lead to believe that he hadn't fulfilled his mission until he had been married, which he did at the ripe age of 21.

buruboi said...

Yes, doctors, lawyers, and don't forget, university professors (women count too, MJ). Think of the upward social mobility the African-American community would experience!

As I think about it, however, along with all those lofty professions, it would also be helpful if more mothers and fathers were around.

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