Vital Signs

Remembering the Covenant

During his term as president, Jimmy Carter, then a Southern Baptist, called for a White House Conference on Families in order to redefine family as any group of humans living together—so general a definition that college roommates or even a military platoon could be considered a family.  Even the French Foreign Legion, whose motto is Legio patria nostra (“the Legion is our fatherland”), never thought of saying Legio familia nostra.  In our era of globalization and secularization, it is becoming harder and harder to speak of patria nostra, and the familia has also become very unstable.  One reason is that family, in almost every human society, including ours, is very closely tied to religion.  In our highly secularized Western world, religion is in the process of disappearing.

There are many efforts to reassert the fundamental importance of family to the health of society.  Dr. John Howard, the founder of The Rockford Institute, continues to devote himself energetically to this project.  Because the concept of family has become somewhat fluid, Dr. Howard and others consistently refer to the “nuclear family,” by which they mean father, mother, and children.  The difficulty, however, is that this term does not go back to the source of the family, which involves the order of nature, Creation, and the nature of man and woman.

The...

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