I don't think many people would argue with the premise that strong families
are important. I don't think many people would argue with the premise that
self-control is an essential skill that helps restrain selfishness for the good
of the group (religion often serves the same purpose). However, the
belief that only the family structures and religions preferred by the majority
can accomplish these goals is quite myopic.For example, even
non-theistic (e.g. no God) religions like Buddhism very effectively promote
self-control and familial/community responsibility. Arguably, they do so without
the self-righteousness and animus so common among practitioners of the Abrahamic
religions. If we want a further the ends the authors promote,
perhaps we should consider alternative means.
As a historian myself, I would suggest the Linda and Richard Eyre go back a
little further and study Ancient Athens. It was a mix of strong exceptionalism
(they were better than everyone else), interventionism (control and interference
in the affairs of other city-states), and a shift towards extreme conservatism
(the killing of their greatest mind, Socrates, and the suppression of visionary,
do-it-together ideas) that brought at end to that once mighty civilization.
Family problems is the least of our concerns. We are following the politics of
Athens almost exactly. That is our pressing problem right now. Family is
important, but our political system is in dire need of some soul searching, and
it better be fast.
This article was wonderful. Thank you for writing it.
I have lived in China now for a few years and I agree that Family AND Religion
are required for a strong nation. The Chinese have a strong family connection
but have had the religious aspect persecuted for last 65 years. There are many
examples in their recent history that prove that the missing component for them
to feel happy in their situation is not something that can be provided by a
government. If the Socialist and Communist version of government, clearly feels
responsible for providing everything, then how can any version that includes
more freedom imagine it could be any more successful.In discussions with
my colleagues here it is even recognized by those who are Party members that
Religion cannot be substituted by government. If American's want to
save the America that was respected and looked to as an example for democracy
then a change to the original concepts needs to become a priority for the
Scott & MaurineThank you for having the courage to write this
piece. We do in fact live in a world where some think that government and force
will answer/solve society's pressing questions and problems. I
wholeheartedly agree that if all of us as individuals and as families take
responsibility for our lives and place faith in God we will be much better off.
There are many things in life that money cannot buy. The family is the best
place for our children to learn personal responsibility and the need for
boundaries. The family is the perfect place for children to learn that with
freedom and choice come responsibility and consequence. Keep
"Going back to the Roman empire, the decline of family solidarity and of
religious faith ..."Actually, any "decline" in faith in
the Roman Empire was the result of embracing Christianity and abandoning their
own gods.I can get by without faith in god's
"sovreignity" and without religion.My (LGBT) family is just
as strong and necessary as the "traditional" family the Eyre's
Thank you very much for this. I find it shameful when incredibly obvious and
basic ideas such as this have to be repeated so frequently. It's like
people today are stabbing themselves with needles in an attempt to cease the
pain of being stabbed with needles, willingly ignorant of the needles as the
source of their pain.To those who don't quite agree with this
article; Without trumpeting my studies or credentials, I invite you to look more
closely at history and to exercise critical thinking in doing so. This
article's assessment has held consistantly through all recorded cultures
and ages thus far.
Kings Court, as a historian myself, I find your point to be more in support of
the Eyre's thesis than against it. Athens, though a city-state, still built
a power base, eventually imperial in structure under the Macedonians, that
established many of the conditions that Rome later followed—as outlined by
the Eyres.Our present-day political quagmire in America and the turmoil in
much of the rest of the world fits the profile the Eyres delineate. Given enough
time and space, you, I, or they, could portray how our world-wide large
governmental/political structures suppress individuals and families that are
striving to live according to the dictates of their own conscience.As to
the political parties in America, George Washington warned us about the dangers
inherent in their existence and use. They are extra-constitutional at best, and
manipulative, oppressive, and counterproductive at worst. Wishful thinking,
perhaps--but I for one wish they'd just go away! In the meantime, as you
say—we’d better do something quick!
Thank you for this article! I enjoyed hearing something positive about
traditional marriage. I agree with the points this article highlights. Faith
and family are paramount to having a thriving society. Only faith and family
can prevent a complete collapse of principle and duty. The government, though
it may try to help, is as the article describes, insufficient to meet the needs
of all people without compromising their faith and their family. What America
needs to stay unified is more faith and more traditional families.
RE: Faith is a force from the heavens above, the belief that God’s word
is more important than man’s[JS]. True,Ephesians 6:2,3. Honor
your Father and Mother”[not mothers],which is the first commandment(Not a
suggestion) with a promise. God distinguishes father and mother from all other
persons on earth, chooses them and sets them next to Himself, occupying the
highest place in our lives next to God.. The Apostles did not maintain
any .O.T.pattern of polygamy and they and the early church condemmed it:
Justin Martyr (c.160) rebukes the Jews for allowing polygamy: "Your
imprudent and blind masters [i.e., Jewish teachers] even until this time permit
each man to have four or five wives. ..." [ANF, vol. 1, p. 266].
Irenaeus (c.180) condemns the Gnostics for, among other things, polygamy:
"Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced
promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives..." [ANF, vol. 1,
p.353]. Tertullian (c.207) was also explicit: "Chapter
II.-Marriage Lawful, But Not Polygamy. We do not indeed forbid the union of man
"The greatest institution — of the sovereignty of God — and the
most basic institution — of family — are the only elements powerful
enough to stop government from excesses and from sucking away individual
agency." Individual agency is lost in many ways - for example being laid
off as a breadwinner at age 55 when one's job is shipped off to China.
It's happened over and over again. I don't think the Eyres are able
to see how people can become trapped by the forces of the market they presume to
love so much.
I choose faith over fear, I feel like this article is catering to peoples fears.
What exactly are we saving america from? America is doing pretty good right now
if you ask me.
The Eyres deserve credit for a wonderfully tendentious column and for displaying
courage in preaching to the choir in an era when fewer and fewer people ever get
a pat on the back for doing so. Also, I didn't detect a single attribution
problem in the column, so congratulations on that, too.Sometimes
it's best just to give credit where credit is due.
Will any one remember the guy who died trying to live free.
Many, many issues in this article. But I'll challenge the notion that all
totalitarian regimes work as hard as they can to create a secular society and
eliminate religion. That completely ignores some of the worst totalitarian
regimes in power right now, for example Saudi Arabia. Totalitarian regimes use
whatever is at their disposal. At least half of the time that has been
religion. To use your own example, the Roman Empire was a Christian,
totalitarian regime that imposed conformity through baptism or demanded your
execution. I really hope people aren't naive enough to believe that the
mere presence of religion is any kind of guarantee against totalitarianism.
Family often falls short of the holiday greeting card image that seems to
enthrall us. The excesses that stifle freedom and stunt growth originate within
the home as often as from without. The Eyres paint a cozy idyllic picture no
decent person wants to trample on but it’s just not the whole picture or
the real world.Did family play a role in the American Revolution?
Perhaps, but powder and lead had much to do with the outcome. A crosscut of
colonial America made up Washington’s Army whose volunteers weren’t
asked if they were gay or straight when they enlisted. They were black and
white, Protestant and Catholic, atheists, Jews, farmers, and drifters. Americans
OHBU, I looked at the article again to check the Eyres use of the term
"totalitarianism." I think most of us think in terms of the
Stalinist/Nazi regimes when the term is applied, and that's the way I took
it. It may be that the Eyres could have given more attention to
state-controlled religions, some of which you have listed. But I think their
main point dealt with faith, not any particular religion. Some of the posters on
this thread seem confused on that point. I believe that America, with its
historical emphasis on freedom of religion, as well as privacy and other rights
of individuals and families, is being threatened by excessive governmental
interference in faith and family. Wasn't that what the Eyres were trying to
It is difficult to know where to start with the criticism this article merits.
The article is an obvious attempt to tout the authors' commitment to
limited government by connecting its virtues somehow with family and faith. The
level of conflation by the Eyres in forging this connection makes my head spin.
Yes, plenty of DN readers will like the sentiment because it conforms with their
values; however, the arguments made in the article are at best specious.
Throughout history families have fared well or poorly in a broad range of
political societies. In one limited example, I spend considerable time in China
and eastern-bloc countries and I can say with confidence that families in China
are at least as strong there under a totalitarian regime (and without religion)
as they are along the Wasatch Front where the values of limited government and
religion are accepted and adopted norms. Much of this has to do with the
culture of "clan" in China. Culture and many other intangibles matter
far more than the size of government when it comes to family values.
We were warned of pride and political apathy among other things. We were warned
to read and support the Constitution. Now we're "paying the
The unanswered questions here are: Which religion? Which God? What type of
Family? The source of much of the divisiveness in the world today and throughout
history is differing opinions on these questions. “Family or
Religion” is not the answer. If it was, we wouldn’t have the
divisiveness we have today. Secularism in politics and policy is the only way.
Have your religion in your personal lives all you want. I will defend that
right! Be Secular!
GL W8,Sorry, just because we think of the Soviets and Nazis most
readily as totalitarianism, doesn't in any way mean they have an exclusive
hold on that title. Notice that the authors even labeled socialist and
communist AND all totalitarian regimes in their article. Totalitarian regimes
are defined by their control over their citizen's daily lives though
oppression and removal of personal freedom. Theocracies fit the bill every bit
as good as do communists. Put yourself in the shoes of a Germanic tribe during
Christian Rome. They invade your city, restrict your movement, force conversion
and enslave you. How is that not totalitarian? The Taliban are totalitarian,
are they not? How about the Catholic Church during the Inquisition? Or the
Aztecs? Or the Japanese Emperor's use of Shinto? Please
don't think I'm arguing religion results inevitably in
totalitarianism. But to think it is immune, and that only atheists can be
totalitarians is disingenuous at best. Quite the contrary, religion has a lot
longer history and has had more time to be used in this manner than
communist/socialist ideas ever had.
Many recent "attacks on the family" are thanks to the plutocrats in the
USA over the last 30+ years. Ever since Reagan's 1980 election, most of
the nations's growth in productivity and wealth have gone to the top 1%,
while the average income of the "ordinary working American" has
stagnated. The "king-men" who bought our politicians and made a
government "of the dollar, by the dollar, and for the dollar" have made
it harder for men to provide for his family. They "outsourced" jobs, cut
workers' hours, and their HR departments toss away the resumes of those who
suffered from their greed; if working men were paid like they were 60 years ago,
more wives/mothers wouldn't have to work outside the home. More men are
jailed in America's Gulag simply for using something which is far less
harmful than alcohol or tobacco. If America, its Constitution, and its families
are under threat, it's because of the king-men who have bought the
government with their ill-gotten billions. The "free market" has hurt
America far, far more than "over-reaching government". And if America
becomes totalitarian, blame the "conservatives", NOT "socialist"
boogeymen. Terrible, terrible article.
In order for us to know why the Roman Empire fell, we would be wise to consult
the inspired words of our prophets, seers, and revelators, rather than the
ever-changing theories of scientists. From the Prophet Brigham Young, we learn:
"Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed
more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient
empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy ... and
hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and
which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all
the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and
decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious."
(Journal of Discourses, 11:128, and many other similar statements made by
prophets) Thus we can know with a surety that is was actually
Monogamy that led to the "rottenness and decay" and eventual fall of the
Roman Empire. This is why we who know the truth, even the Latter-day Saints,
know with a certainty that polygamy, although temporarily not practiced by us
here on earth, is the irrevocable law of heaven.