This post is part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace
Having finally wrapped up his discussion of government (after only 28 chapters!), Kuyper now turns to the family. Kuyper is going to limit this discussion to the family as related to common grace, rather than everything that Scripture has to say on the topic.
Unlike government, family predates common grace and “is rooted in the original creation order.” (339) This is important for at least two reasons:
- We tend to forget this truth and need the reminder;
- “All civil liberties ultimately spring from the fact of the family’s origin and not the origin of government.” (339) If this were not true, if family post-dated government, we would have no rights and the government would be absolute since it would be the source of the family.
Preaching has failed here for years, and so the family crumbles under secular assaults. Public freedom and virtue collapse and character fails to develop. This leads to two further conclusions:
3. The government can recognize families and protect them in the law, but has no authority to modify or change the nature of families.
4. “Each family… has the right and the duty to resist government when and where government misperceives or threatens the independent character of the family.” (341)
Government may intervene if the family fails to do it’s duty, but otherwise it must stick to its own sphere. The right of the family to resist government is clear in Scripture, starting with Genesis 2 and the establishment of the household. This is not “cohabitation” or people living together is a mysterious unity. (342) The family is a specific kind of thing, not whatever fuzzy sentiments we think bind us to others.
This leads to the question: what is a “Christian household”? Sin has clearly undermined the creation order. Look at what sin has done to sex! The household has been assaulted more than any other institution. Even with the blessing of common grace, sin continues its assault. The rise of “free love” with its sole standard of morality being “consent”, however momentary, has further undermined the centrality of the household. This moves us away even from mere humanity and towards the life of an animal. Even thinkers like Plato undermine the household. If not for common grace it would have vanished by the time of Christ. Fortunately, there is common grace and by a mighty work God has preserved the household.