John Howard is a highly decorated veteran of WWII (two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, battlefield commission). He served in the Eisenhower administration, as President of Rockford College and founder of the Rockford College Institute and co-founder (with Allan Carlson) of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society. This article is republished from The Howard Center.
A recent book, Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? provides detailed statistics about the consequences of legalizing same-sex unions in Scandinavia. The authors, Darren Spedale and William Eskridge, have judged from their findings that there have been no negative consequences for the institution of marriage from this new status for gay unions.
Spedale, an investment banker, and Eskridge, a professor of jurisprudence, have, in effect, carefully studied an elephant's trunk and made a totally unwarranted conclusion about an elephant.
Years ago, at a national conference, America's all-purpose genius, Buckminster Fuller, went to the podium and said,
Before I give my speech, I want to say something to that college president who just finished his talk. You folks in the colleges are going to ruin this country. What you do is identify the bright students and make them experts in something. That isn't all bad, but it leaves a residue of people with mediocre intelligence and the dunderheads to become the generalists, who must serve as the college presidents.
When the laughter subsided, he added, "and the Presidents of the United States."
That was an observation of the greatest importance. A true generalist is knowledgeable about human nature and the primary institutions of society, including their vulnerability and their interdependence. The generalist recognizes that social institutions can operate effectively only as long as the citizens support the fundamental principles of those institutions, and as long as the citizens esteem the people who reinforce those principles and disdain those who thwart and scorn those principles. In a successful free society, each new generation grows up learning to abide by the laws, for example, just as it learns to speak the language. The unspoken general assumption that lawfulness, truthfulness and family are just part of living is the glue that holds the free society together.
The family is chronologically the first human institution and has been the center of life in almost every known society. It is where children are sheltered and learn how to live responsibly in their own communities. It provides an intergenerational web of security.
In 1948, The United Nations formalized its complete support of the family, when it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article I, Section 16 of the document asserts:
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have a right to marry and found a family.
Section 3 of Article I states:
The family is the natural unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the state.
The many important benefits to the child raised in a natural family have been thoroughly established in innumerable studies. The child raised by his or her married mother and father is far more likely than children raised in other circumstances to succeed in school, in a job, in a marriage, and far less likely to use illegal drugs, commit a crime, run away from home, have emotional problems, become an alcoholic or commit suicide. In short the natural family is the most reliable breeding ground for the good life and the good society. It is an invaluable and irreplaceable institution of the free society.
The watershed action which unintentionally, but actually, tore a gaping hole in the national belief system embracing the family occurred on the nation's campuses. Radical students at the University of California at Berkeley, coached by revolutionary Marxist professors, demanded that the campus parietal rules be abolished. Those rules, a fixture of America's co-educational campuses, barred men from being in women's dormitories and women in men's dormitories after a specified hour.
The human sexual impulse is so powerful that societies through the ages have found it necessary to establish standards of sexual behavior to protect the family. And because human nature is strongly inclined to act contrary to those standards, the societies have established taboos against behavior that does not conform to those standards. The parietal rules reflected the national commitment to the family. All the majesty America's higher education was, by policy, on record in support of the code of sexual conduct required to sustain the institution of the family. The students at the University of California asserted that since they were old enough to be drafted and killed in the Vietnam war, they were certainly old enough to decide how they would live their lives. There was, they said, no justification for rules about their sexual activity. The powers that be at the university, apparently not blessed with any generalists, couldn't think of any good reason not to grant the request and so the parietals were cancelled. In a few years, most of the other coeducational institutions followed that example.
No matter what standards of conduct the students had learned from family and church, they were living in a circumstance where they were, in effect, told by their university:
It makes no difference to us whether you shack up with your girlfriend or anybody else you find attractive. You decide for yourself.
Without the society-wide support for the code of sexual morality that had prevailed in America since its origin, family's secure status as the central and most important institution began to unravel.
The principle here is that since the institution of the family requires society-wide approval and support for standards of sexual morality, the formalized rejection of those standards results in a devastating and probably terminal attack on the family. Sexual liberation and the family are mutually exclusive. The more there is of the one, the less there will be of the other. America's acute shortage of generalists in high places leads to the weakening of all the social institutions, especially the family. *
"In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free." --Edward Gibbon