Christian and Jews believe that the family, both nuclear and extended, is an institution designed by God for the welfare and continuance of the human race. When God’s design was threatened in the time of Noah, he responded by destroying all of humanity except for one extended family. When God called out Abrahm and his wife (a nuclear family) he promised the blessing of an extended family that would be his people. It was through one extended family, the descendents of Levi headed up by Moses’ brother Aaron, that assumed the duties of priests before the most high God. It was through another extended family, headed up by King David, that the lineage of Jesus the Messiah would be traced. In the Christian Church, the concept of extended family was expanded to encompass all who believe, making them brothers of Jesus and children of God.
Family is very important to God. It forms an essential purpose of the institution of marriage and is the nucleus of the human race in all its forms and all its historic societies. The sanctity of the family is addressed in three of the Ten Commandments: honor your father and mother, do not commit adultery, and do not covet your neighbors wife (part of the larger do not covet tenth commandment).
However, the sanctity and significance of the historic family, both extended and nuclear, has been under attack for some time. James Kurth, in the fall issue of the National Interest, makes a seminal observation in his article “The Real Clash” (registration required). In it he says:
The agricultural economy … employed both men and women. They were … employed at different tasks, but they worked in the same place, the farm, which was also the home.
The industrial economy largely employed men … away from the home.
The service economy … employs both men and women. But it employs them at much the same tasks and at the same place, the office … away from the home.
The greatest movement of the second half of the 19th century was the movement of men from the farm to the factory. … The greatest movement of the second half of the 20th century has been the movement of women from the home to the office. …
The movement from farm to factory in large measure brought about the replacement of the extended family with the nuclear family. The movement from home to office is carrying this process one step farther. … It is helping to bring about the replacement of the nuclear family with the nonfamily (“nontraditional” family, as seen by feminists; no family at all, as seen by conservatives).
The splitting of the family’s nucleus, like the splitting of the atom’s nucleus, will release an enormous amount of energy (which feminists see as liberating and conservatives see as simply destructive). Some indication of that energy, and its direction, may be gleaned from the behavior of the children of split families or single-parent families, especially where they have reached a critical mass … as in the large cities of America. In such locales, there is not much evidence of “Western civilization” or even of common civility. For thousands of years, the city was the source of civilization. In contemporary America, however, it has become the source of barbarism. [Emphasis added.]
So, when Christians fight for the traditional view of marriage and the family, they are fighting for more than a narrow sectarian view of social mores, they are fighting for the essential nature of humanity as designed by God. And those who seek to destroy the traditional family are not just attacking a limiting view of human social institutions in an effort to garner greater freedom for themselves and acceptance of their historically deviant lifestyles, they are attacking Gods purpose in human creation, rebelling against the root of what it means to be human as defined by the God who created them.
There is a lot of dialog going on these days about what Christians should do; how they should engage in this specific culture war, as if it is only one battle among many and maybe one not worth fighting, since it doesnt look winnable. Yet it can be argued that this is the last line to be defended before rebellious humanity opens the gates of hell upon itself.
Some argue that we dont have a right to legislate our morality on others, yet that statement is the mark of a fool since all legislation comes from someones morality and it isnt a matter of if, but whose morality will hold sway. We dont have to push a theocracy to push our Judeo/Christian morality. And I would argue that contending for the faith (re: Jude 3) goes well beyond the confines of the insular church and forces us to be leaven in the bread of the society of which we are part.
Jesus was very succinct when he told his disciples in Luke 11:23
He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
I cannot presume to tell you what to do, but I can ask that you consider what I have said and pray about how you should respond. Remember, God and a great cloud of witnesses are watching everything we do, so let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12: 1)
Amen [so be it].
Update: An excellent resource concerning these issues can be found in the articles and arugments of John C. Rankin at the Theological Education Institute (TEI).