Principle 4: The Family is Sacred. My Spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

I’ve been turning this principle over and over in my head and I have to admit I’ve had a hard time trying to decide what to say about this. It seems so self-evident.

And yet…


I remember a story that made the rounds last year, of a family in Great Britain that had their kids all taken away, because they were all overweight. The local social workers took seven children into custody because the parents and some of the kids were overweight. The story admits that three of the seven children did not have weight problems and one was less than a week old at the time that they were taken into custody, but the state stepped in and separated the children from their parents anyway.

I am reminded of a small scandal that erupted last year. Al Gore told a group of young children attending a “kids only” inauguration party that they knew better than their parents about issues of global warming. He told them to question their parents’ authority. And he told them that one day their attitudes on global warming would be seen as the equivalent of racism in the 50’s and 60’s.

Of course, now that I’m actually writing this, I realize that the trouble I have in talking about this principle lies in the fact that I’m not placing enough of an emphasis on the first four words. The Family Is Sacred. What do we mean by that? And how do we apply it in our own lives? And why is this principle so needed?

When I say “The Family is sacred,” I mean that I believe that marriage is ordained of God. In the biblical account, when Adam was created, God said that it is not good that the man should be alone, and he immediately made Adam a woman – his wife, Eve (Genesis ch. 2, start with verse 18 and read to the end of the chapter).

Whatever you believe about the veracity of the Garden of Eden story, you have to admit that the husband-wife relationship has survived in something close to its current form for thousands of years. It is not good for us to be alone – not the man nor the woman.

The Founding Fathers recognized this. Samuel Adams told the young man who was about to marry his daughter that “The Marriage State was designd [sic] to complete the Sum of human Happiness in this Life.” Benjamin Franklin said that “A Man does not act contrary to his Interest by Marrying; for I and Thousands more know very well that we could never thrive till we were married; and have done well ever since….” Do we see this attitude encouraged today?

Noah Webster, in issuing advice to young men said “… I would recommend that their treatment of females should be always characterized by kindness, delicacy and respect.” Compare that with the lyrics of most any popular song released in the last ten years, and tell me that the popular attitudes haven’t changed. Compare that with the actions of prominent people in American culture – from Bill Clinton to Tiger Woods, and tell me that this principle isn’t needed. (Quotes above pulled from “Our Sacred Honor”, edited and compiled by William J. Bennett)

In my own faith, we’re taught that after our duty to God (not the church, but to God Himself), our next greatest responsibility is to our families. Indeed, we’re taught that no success can compensate for failure in the home. In April of 1969, David O. McKay said “Parenthood… should be held as a sacred obligation. There is something in the depths of the human soul which revolts against neglectful parenthood. God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth. There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility from the home to outside influences, such as the school and the church. Important as these outward influences are, they never can take the place of the influence of the mother and the father. Constant training, constant vigilance, companionship, being watchmen of our own children are necessary in order to keep our homes intact.” (April 1969, h/t to this article)

If we lived up to that ideal, and encouraged others to do so, we’d see less need for social programs. We’d have fathers in the home, providing a needed example that kids aren’t getting from other sources. (As a quick aside, who is the best dad you see portrayed in movies or on tv today? Think about it.) If we lived up to that ideal, we wouldn’t need government to intervene in our homes. We’d recognize that intrusion as the infringement it is.

Let’s be more actively and earnestly engaged in our homes. Not only is it our duty as spouses and parents, it’s a source of some of the richest and choicest experiences we can have in our lives. And if you’re still single, let me finish by quoting Benjamin Franklin again (quoting Horace):

Thrice happy They, that free from Strife,
Maintain a Love as long as Life:
Who fixt and binding Vows,
No intervening jealousy,
No fears and no Debates untye;
And Death alone can loose.

– Zach Ricks

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