Question: I read recently that the
definition of the family needed to be revised in light of cultural
changes. The writer said a family should be thought of as "a circle
of love," including any individuals who were deeply attached to each
other. How do you see it?
I am familiar with the effort to
redefine the family. It is motivated by homosexual activists and others
who see this institution as a barrier to the social engineering they hope
But what is the traditional definition
of the family? It is a group of individuals who are related to one another
by marriage, birth or adoption?nothing more, nothing less. The family
was divinely instituted, when God created one man and one woman, brought
them together and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply.
By contrast, if the term family refers
to any group of people who love each other, then the term ceases to have
meaning. In that case, five homosexuals can be a "family" until
one feels unloved, and then there are four.
Under such a definition, one man and six
women could be regarded as a legal entity, reintroducing the debate over
polygamy. We thought we settled that issue in the last century.
It would also be possible for parents
who dislike a rebellious teenager to opt him out of the "circle of
love," thus depriving him of legal identity with the family. With
such amorphous terms, wives would have no greater legal protection than
female acquaintances with whom men become infatuated. We end up with an
unstable social structure rife with potential for disaster.
There is good reason, then, to defend
the narrow legal definition of the family. After all, the family as I have
characterized it is not merely human in origin. It is God?s marvelous
creation. And He has not included casual social relationships?even the
most loving ones?within that bond of kinship. Nor should we.