The Future of Marriage & the Natural Family
Late in June, the United States Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the Constitutional status of same-sex marriage. Despite some promising hints of second-guessing by a justice or two during their April hearing on this question, the majority of seasoned court observers still expect a ruling saying that the penumbra of the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage. A hopeful minority look for a deference to at least some of the states.
For mere Christians, the issue actually lies at a different level. Authentic Christianity has never been a "national" movement. Whether viewed from a spiritual or a political perspective, the Christian communion has always been transnational. While paying necessary deference to the array of "Caesars" that history has raised (or thrown) up, Christian truth transcends them all.
Viewed this way, same-sex marriage is merely the current enthusiasm of a relatively small number of deracinated, secularized, mostly childless, and largely white elites. The push for this novelty has been most successful in Western Europe, where the culture of death appears to be secure. Even "conservatives" there, such as Angela Merkel and David Cameron, have signed their own pacts with the devil on this and related "family" matters.
It is important to remember that the same-sex marriage movement has won in the United States only because of judicial activism. In its absence, the matter would be but a minor irritation, confined to a few of the "border states" (i.e., next to Canada).
Internationally, of the nearly 200 lands represented in the United Nations, a mere twenty or so have adopted some version of the practice. Despite intense forms of bribery and extortion now practiced by the United States and the European Union, few others are likely to join "the West" in this latest surrender to the sexual revolution.
The Universal Declaration
The stalwart 90 percent of the world can find full support for their position in that most remarkable of United Nations documents: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). While indeed expressing universal truths, this Declaration does have a significant Christian accent. It was an indirect product of Christian Democracy, a movement ironically brought to fruition by the European disasters of fascism and Nazism. With roots in the thought of Pope Leo XIII and the Dutch pastor/politician Abraham Kuyper, post-World War II Christian Democracy featured theorists such as Emmanuel Mournier, Etienne Gilson, Wilhelm Roepke, and Etienne Bourne.
Rejecting extreme individualism, these men argued that the good society was communal in important ways. They called for a defense of "natural institutions" that necessarily stood between the individual and the state. As Roepke explained, "the most indispensable, primary, and natural [of these] is the family."
Notably, the direct architects of the language in the UDHR were: Charles Malik, an Arab Christian Democrat from Lebanon who served in 1948 both as Secretary of the U.N.'s Commission on Human Rights and as President of its Economic and Social Council, and Rene Cassin, a French specialist in international law who, while himself Jewish, was highly sympathetic to Christian Democracy.
Allan C. Carlson is the John Howard Distinguished Senior Fellow at the International Organization for the Family. His most recent book is Family Cycles: Strength, Decline & Renewal in American Domestic Life, 1630-2000 (Transaction, 2016). He and his wife have four grown children and nine grandchildren. A "cradle Lutheran," he worships in a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.
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