04 Oct Cultivating Productive Citizens
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg
United Families International uses as its motto, “Securing a Future for Families”. We dedicate untold hours attending conferences and commissions affecting positive outcomes where issues threatening the family are discussed and decided. We also research and write volumes of educational articles informing and encouraging citizens to advocate in behalf of policy that will indeed, “Secure a future for families.”
To what end? Why do we spend so much time and effort protecting what many would have us believe is a sinking ship? Why is the natural family so important that it must be saved at all costs?
In the following article, Tom Christensen answers this imperative question and shines light on the answer being the motive behind the success of great men and governments from the beginning of time. Understanding the principles herein gives each of us the power to recognize the issues that threaten the family and the ability to articulate a defense of the family. I invite you to read on; be informed and empowered; and then to contriute your best means to “Securing a Future for Families.”
Christensen: Cultivating Productive Citizens
The United States of America, a once fragile experiment now the longest lasting and most successful federal system in history, is a model of what works and what doesn’t. Contrary to popular opinion, its strength is more attributable to the common values of its people, the condition of its families, and the nature of its government than its size, armaments, and natural resources.
As stated in its founding document, the Declaration of Independence, the republic is built upon “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” In a 1798 correspondence, John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is totally inadequate for the governance of any other.”
Virtue, or conformity to higher laws, is the glue that holds a diverse, self-governing people together. It is learned in the home and reinforced by the broader society. Motivated by a love of God and country, the natural family does a superior job of mass producing virtuous, self-sufficient, law abiding citizens.
The concept of fixed, unchanging natural law that drives personal behavior, national policy, and the family did not originate in America, but is cited by wise men through the ages: Moses, Aristotle, Cisero, Locke, Montesquieu, Blackstone, etc.
“True law is right reason in agreement with nature,” wrote Cicero in The Republic (III, 33).
It is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting…It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and…one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.
Traditional marriage is one such true law in agreement with nature. It predates government, is universal and scripturally based, and has played a crucial role in the advancement of humanity in every civilized culture.
The Consequences of Altering or Disobeying Natural Law
Just as invisible natural laws govern the physical universe, the observation or violation of natural laws produces quantifiable results in society. Marriages fall apart and individuals suffer when spouses abandon their moral commitments. Economies fail when natural laws governing markets are violated. Likewise, a good and powerful nation may collapse from within when its government alters or strays from its core principles.
The Declaration, for example, states the natural law that “all men are created equal.” Rather than clinging to the constitutional concept of equal justice, US lawmakers in the 19th century violated it, catering to a large segment of the population that embraced slavery. It took a bloody civil war to keep the nation together and reform its laws. Lincoln, in his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, connected the Civil War to our “national perverseness and disobedience” to the Laws of God.
Laws and practices that undermine God’s natural laws inevitably result in barbarism, political upheaval, economic collapse, family breakdown or human misery. As Jefferson observed, a nation cannot expect a just God’s blessings and support if it ignores His standards. As stated in the Declaration, when civil laws are out of step with the laws of nature, it is up to the people to “alter or abolish them.”
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
The Declaration speaks of the natural rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These rights are first learned and practiced in the home.
The creation and nurture of human life is the most important of natural rights. It is what the family is all about. Life is more crucial than freedom, for there can be no liberty, no hope for the future, no nation without the creation of life. The right to live is to be enjoyed by all, including the most defenseless of society, the accused, aged, infirm, and unborn. No nation can long endure if it tolerates the senseless abuse, abandonment, or killing of its citizens and future citizens.
There can be no happiness, no quality of life, no self-sufficient families without liberty, the agency to act in accordance with natural law. Next to life itself, liberty is the greatest gift of God. It cannot exist in a state where the government constantly seeks to rescue, reinvent its rules, and control. Liberty does not mean license, the freedom to act without moral boundaries. License is a counterfeit and an enemy to freedom. Liberty must be constrained by moral law, such as the Ten Commandments, which forbids idolatry, killing, lying, cheating, stealing, infidelity, etc.
In the home, children learn to temper freedom with moral law and authority. Boundaries are provided to protect the child from physical and spiritual harm, and to safely navigate the child into society. As the child matures and becomes trustworthy, parental controls and boundaries are lifted and replaced by the self-imposed boundaries of the conscience and societal norms.
The pursuit of happiness is the primary object of human existence and a stated rationalization for the creation of the American republic. Happiness is not conferred by governments or through the individual pursuit of wealth, learning, popularity, or power. Most agree it is most likely to be found in a home were love abounds, initiative is rewarded, and moral standards are respected and modeled.
Leaders who care about the happiness and well-being of their people will adopt and implement natural laws aimed at preserving successful families, including those encouraging marriage, childbearing, and responsible parenting.
A Garden Analogy
A simple analogy illustrates how natural law, government, and the family work together. The nation is the garden. Individuals are the seeds of the desired plants and the main focus of the garden. Families, according to Cicero, are the “seedbeds.” The air, sunlight, and water are the natural laws that sustain life. The gardeners are the institutions–government, churches, schools, etc.–which cultivate the seedbed and stunt the weeds. Weeds are pride, avarice, ignorance, envy, greed, etc.
No matter how rich the seedbed or effective the fertilizer, plants will remain dormant, wither, or die if sunlight (freedom) is blocked, water (equal justice) is unevenly dispensed, noxious weeds flourish, or the air (natural law) is thin or altered/polluted.
Likewise, external conditions and cultivation alone cannot compensate for dry, shallow, infertile seedbeds (families). The state can adopt comprehensive regulations and build jails, but it cannot compel childbearing, effective parenting, moral discipline, and provident lifestyles. It can create jobs but cannot make people work. It can protect property rights and adopt zoning restrictions, but cannot make people care for their property. It can reduce class sizes and hire more qualified teachers, but cannot make children learn. It can protect religious exercise but cannot instill faith, honor, and virtue.
The state can only draw upon such qualities that are embedded in the human soul and are tenderly nurtured, according to the unchanging laws of nature, in the rich, fertile seedbed of the natural family.
Tom Christensen, former CEO of United Families, is a successful father, attorney, and politician. He has written extensively on the natural family and has addressed UN delegations in behalf of UFI in Istanbul, New York, Nairobi, the Hague, Lisbon and Geneva.