Bruce Logan – Deregistering Family First would affect much more than just one charity

The attempt by the Charities Board to deregister Family First, if successful, would be a watershed, not just for Family First, but for the whole country. It is unlikely that Family First will ever find itself defending any issue of greater importance.

Deregistration would be a legal victory for those ideologues who would take power away from the family and give it to the state.

The irony is that this might not be their intention, they might not know this is what they’re doing, but that will be the consequence nevertheless.

The Charities Board believes that the primary purpose of Family First is to “promote and protect its view of the traditional family through advocating its view on various social issues.” This is a reductionist understanding of what Family First is doing.

The term “traditional family” is inadequate because it is only part of the story. “Natural family” is a precise, useful and rational term. The natural family is biologically determined, intergenerational and rationally and historically observable. The natural family is the consequence of the sexual nature of men and women. It is not a subjective or ideological or religious construction.

Advocacy, to use the language of the Charities Board, should be “objectively aimed at promoting the moral improvement of society.” The Charities Board denies this is what Family First is doing in its promotion of the natural family.

The Charities Board also says, “the promotion of moral improvement may be charitable where it is directed at the promotion of an ethical philosophical system.”

That is exactly what Family First is doing. The natural family is an ethical system that can be philosophically and sociologically described. It is the primary institution of civil society. We can take civil society to mean that rule of law that permits various social institutions to have their own limited areas of responsibility and rights. For example, the family, the church, clubs, businesses and so on.

The refusal to accept the natural family as the primary institution of civil society is a shift in our culture’s understanding of authority. Western culture is built on a belief in knowable truth, truth that, among other things, is rational, observable and historically verifiable.

Deregistration is a critical issue, but it is not the most significant. The desire for deregistration has its origin in an ideology that redefines the family. That redefinition is a direct attack on productive social order, the rights and responsibilities of parents and children and consequently it is a reordering of the nature of human rights. For example, the conflict around parental notification has only become possible because the essential role and authoritative responsibility of the natural family is no longer understood by many social agencies. (This is not the place to talk about the contrast between negative and positive human rights; some other time perhaps.)

The rejection of the natural family as foundational is only possible after the acceptance of the authority of the “Self”. Rational thought is overwhelmed by the authority of personal subjectivity.  The family is simply an organisation of people that anyone can claim it to be.

The position of the charities board is incoherent. It confuses metaphor with reality. Any discussion of the family must presuppose that it can be defined. That definition until recent times has always been accepted to be the natural family. It’s not possible to talk about alternative families, different kinds of families without first having a primary model. One cannot describe coherently different family forms without a preconceived notion of family. To suggest that one might be as good as another is irrational.

The Charities Board does not define the traditional family, nor any other kind of family. Without saying so it declares there is no virtue of one particular, so-called, family form over another.

It’s worth noting, that hatred of the natural family underpins Marxism and its contemporary offshoots. The natural family, the primary educator of children, stands between the freedom of the individual and the tyrannical state.

That understanding is clearly sustained by biblical scripture, and even Aristotle and Plato debated the issue. Plato would have parents produce children, but have them taken away to be educated by the state. Aristotle, on the other hand declared this would be destructive because the children would be fatherless, and the consequences of that fatherlessness would be catastrophic. He knew that the family is a basic cell of society and without the investment between biologically related individuals, family love will run thin, violence will increase and social well-being will decline.

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