Monday, January 16, 2012

Traditional Marriage: The nature of the family

In our previous post on marriage we discussed the nature of the sexual relations and how this relates to the question of traditional marriage.  In this post we will discuss the nature of the family and how this affects the human condition, including marriage.

Modern notions of the family treat it as a very abstract concept.  So much so that seemingly any configuration of partners and children constitutes a "family" if the participants label it as such.  It has gotten to the point where the "family" is such an amorphous concept that it is almost devoid of any real meaning.  I basically assume that it means a generic collection of individuals (children and adults) who share affection for each other and mutual dependence.

A definition of family that actually has some meaning is the one provided by Natural Law.  In this case, family is defined as the biological relationships between parents and children, siblings, and extended relatives.  The biological aspect of family is a real one, and it directly impacts the nature of relations between people.

This is most obvious in how nature brings a new human into the world.  The child is provided with a mother and a father.  Because of this, the natural tendency for a new human to be born with a mother and a father is a "natural right."  If the child is deprived of this natural right through circumstance (the accidental death of the parents) or through unnatural means (such as homosexual adoption/IVF) is to create a sub-optimal situation.

This is illustrated by an obvious fact.  Medical history.  Regardless of configuration of the "family" as defined by moderns, biological reality intrudes when dealing with medical issues.  The medical history of the child is not imparted by the non-biological parents.  Genetics is a constant reminder of the actual origins of the child.

But this goes beyond genetics.  The child often enough has a desire to know where they are from biologically.  This is true for adopted children, IVF children (those who are conceived via IVF but the father remains unknown), etc.

This is not in any way to denigrate the heroic parents of adopted children.  Such kindness and generosity is welcome and needed in a fallen world. That they do the best they can regardless of biological ties should be praised.

But this does not change the biological reality of the family.  The biological ties are real.  They are natural.  And barring some unintended consequences, the ideal for the child is to be raised by the biological parents.  Anything less is, no matter how well intended, is "less than" the natural reality.

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