This is the final part in the series on the values requisite for civilization. For the first seven parts, here are the links.
· Part I: Life
· Part II: Truth
· Part III: Property Ownership
· Part IV: God and Freedom of Religion
· Part V: Civilizing Religion
· Part VI: Repenting as a Civilization
· Part VII: FamilyPerpetuates Civilization
If we start with the values of honoring God, life, truth, and property ownership, family is how we teach and pass along those values. So we need to value family as well. The term “family values” has been tossed around for several decades, but for our purposes we need a more specific definition of what it means to value family. What is family?
As we’ve said, family is the basic unit of civilization. An individual is a unit even smaller, but it isn’t a unit of civilization—because society by definition requires at least two people to associate with one another. And civilization is a particular—good—kind of society. The fundamental relationship leading to civilization and its perpetuation, then, is family. We talked in Part VII about how well family does that.
Today we’ll talk about the relationship that founds a family.
This is not to say that individuals, unmarried people, grandparents helping raise children, foster care situations, and various other-than-the-ideal family structures don’t contribute. If the individuals in these other situations lead intentionally civilized lives, they do contribute to civilization. But the essential relationship—because it means a mother and a father raising their children to be civilized for the next generation—is a married man and woman. And what is essential for this relationship is complete fidelity and permanence.
There’s huge societal upheaval today trying to declare that other relationships are as deserving. But if any other relationship is designed not to produce children, does not require complete fidelity, and is not permanent, it does not offer society what marriage provides.
The section on marriage and fidelity in the Spherical Model website article “Family Is the Basic Unit of Civilization” is long. There’s a large section on why sex outside of marriage is always uncivilized. If there’s something our current society needs to learn, it is that. So here’s a portion of that.
Sex Outside of Marriage Is Always Wrong
This is such a simple concept, and so many problems would be settled if people would believe it. It’s an essential of civilization. Every time a society attempts to “progress” or “evolve” beyond the old-fashioned notion of virtue, it slides into decay. Every time. This decay happens so frequently and is currently so widespread that the need for virtue must not still be self-evident. So we might as well spell out the reasons.
Human Children Take Time and Consistency to Bring to Adulthood
|image from here|
Human children grow slowly. It takes close upon two decades to get them from birth to functioning on their own, capable of supporting themselves, reproducing, and raising a civilized next generation. It requires consistency and care from someone with a stake in the child’s success. It takes a pair of parents, providing both male and female role models and ways of nurturing.
The best (really, the only) way to plan for children to be raised by the same two (one male, one female) parents throughout their growing up life is for those two parents to be permanently bonded to each other. To be married. (See Why Marriage Matters.[i]) Marriage isn’t as ephemeral as just a declaration of love between two lovers; it is a commitment to each other and to the entire society that they will stay together for life. This commitment establishes a family, the most basic unit of civilization. There isn’t any way to break up a family that doesn’t harm civilization. Therefore, there isn’t any possible way for sex outside of marriage to be acceptable behavior without harming civilization. Without the attitude of its sacredness, it is impossible to maintain virtue (chastity). And without virtue, families are always harmed.
Look, for instance, at what happens when two young people, believing they are in love, give in to sex. They have just admitted to each other that they value their own desires over the needs of the society they live in. They are both lessened for that selfishness. But what if they recognize that, though what they did was wrong, they could marry and move on? Yes, they could alter their course—what religious societies call repentance, change their thoughts and actions for the future. And if it is true that they love each other, they could go forward making a happy home, with very little harm to society. So, while society wouldn’t condone the mistake, it can easily forgive.
What if the couple decides not to marry? What if they realize they were just young and foolish, and gave in to selfish desires? They could stop, and go their separate ways. Again, it would be possible to repent—change their thoughts and actions for the future—without society being very much degraded for their temporary lapse. Because society never approved. Nor did they require society to grant approval. They realigned themselves with civilization’s requirements following their lapse.
What if a pregnancy resulted from their foolish episode? If they have any hope that they actually can love each other, then they can marry quickly, because forming a family in which to raise their offspring is the highest priority (a much higher priority than the honor of a big wedding celebrated by all their friends). Even if they’re too young to know how to establish and maintain a healthy family, the society around them—their parents, their church, their friends, counselors—can give them guidance and assistance as they finish maturing. It makes the beginning of their family more difficult than a more reasoned, more mature decision, but with effort and help they can succeed in sustaining, rather than degrading, civilization. So, again, while society doesn’t condone the sex outside of marriage, it can forgive without being decayed.
If the couple find themselves in the very sad situation of being pregnant while also realizing they are incompatible, then, again, the highest priority is the need for a family for the child. There can be no civilized focus other than that child whom their behavior brought to life. A child needs, and is entitled to, a loving two-parent family. The two young people should do everything within their power to make sure the child gets this entitlement. This is a much greater concern than whether they themselves love the child and want to be near him/her.
[Note: I am not advocating here that some distant government entity step in and make these difficult decisions and insist that the child be adopted out. I am advising that, for the sake of society, the child’s welfare must be of greater importance than what the foolish accidental parents may want. There should be pressure from society—again, from their family, their church, their friends and mentors—to help these young people see society’s need for them to value the child. Societal pressure and expectation, even shame, coming from a truly civilized society, is much more likely to bring about the best choices following mistakes than rigidly written laws could do. But laws should make it possible for society to be supported in the pressure.]
Let’s assume that, if these two people are at all susceptible to civilizing influence, then they want for their child what every child is entitled to. If they themselves cannot provide the child’s family, then adoption is the most likely way to provide it. The least that can be expected from the young mother is to bring the child to term and then give the baby to a loving two-parent family, being willing to grieve at her own loss of the child because the child gains so much. That’s a lot to expect of an immature young woman, but civilization requires that it be expected.
The young man absolutely should be held accountable. (This has historically been a major failing of many attempts at civilization.) Society should decide how. My personal belief is that, if marrying the young mother was not what he could do, then he should, for the next 18 years at least, provide support, possibly a trust for the child’s college or other needs, taken out of everything he earns until that child is an adult. This should be done even though the adopting family is expected to be able to provide; it is necessary for the sake of civilization that the young man be held responsible. And the young biological father should have no expectation of visitation; he gave up that right by giving up the opportunity to be the father in a marriage with the mother. Sexual indiscretion does not entitle a male to being honored as a father; he has to actually be one, in partnership with the mother, to earn that. Individual communities may find other solutions, but civilization requires that the father be held accountable for his actions.
Adoption should never be seen as the mother not loving the child enough. It should be seen as the positive, probable, expected course for such a situation—without prolonged stigma to the mother, and certainly without stigma to the child. As long as both biological parents provide for the child’s needs, society can forgive without civilization being decayed.
|Adoption family, image from here|
I believe that, in a truly civilized society, there will never be insufficient families willing to adopt. Children are too highly valued, and fertility problems come up frequently in nature. [Note: Undervaluing children and celebrating or causing infertility to avoid inconveniencing adults who choose to be sexually active without forming a family are two signs of a decaying society. The documentary Demographic Winter is a good source.[ii]] But, hypothetically, if the young mother were unable to place her baby in an adopting family, she could, if her parents stepped in to assist, raise the child at home. This is, self-evidently, less valuable to civilization. There’s a child without both parents, and the mother’s choices caused that to happen. So her folly can never be condoned. But it can be forgiven, because civilization, no matter how far advanced, is made up of imperfect human beings. The way society sees the situation is what affects whether society is decayed by it. And if this type of situation were rare (which it would tend to be if there were serious stigma against it), then society could absorb the difficulty for the individual child. While maintaining that adoption should be the usual choice, I believe civilized society can allow the young mother to get her own answer through prayer about whether she should keep her child.
There’s more. I’ve written more about this issue than just about any other. Refer to “Defense of Marriage Collection,” from July 2013. http://sphericalmodel.blogspot.com/2013/07/defense-of-marriage-collection.html I’ve now written six more years of posts. Many of these appear to relate to LGBT issues, but to me this is always about defending real marriage in an effort to build civilization and repair its decay. Here are a few additional posts I believe are worth checking out:
· Family Proclaiming, April 9, 2015
· Millennia of Marriage, May 7, 2015
· Another Nail, February 20, 2017
· Surprise at Old News, August 10, 2017
· Family Isn’t Extinct, October 12, 2017
· Normalizing Has Already Gone Too Far, August 2, 2018
· Stop Throwing Out the Baby, May 23, 2019
That’s it for this series on civilization values. In summary, civilization requires that we value God, life, family, truth, and property ownership—which, coincidentally, summarizes the Ten Commandments. It’s been good guidance for a very long time, and it works every time it’s tried. Simple, not easy, but worth trying from the family level on up.
[i] Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-one Conclusions from the Social Sciences, © 2002 Institute for American Values.