This post is part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace
“The family,” Kuyper tells us, “derives from marriage.” (378) This raises the question of what common grace means for marriage. There are two views here: one is that marriage defiles us, the other that marriage is a sacrament. The Netherlands has generally just gone along with whatever the culture says and left quibbling to the courts and the philosophers. Though now we’re paying more attention, putting the “Christian” view against the “modern” one–especially the contemporary view that slides towards free love. This free love approach in turn puts child care back on the state.
Resistance to these changes has basically been reflexive conservatism on the part of Christians, rather than clearly articulating a positive view. Attempts to appeal to Christian marriage often slide into the realm of particular grace rather than common grace. And while there is an ecclesiastical aspect to marriage (hence particular grace is relevant), that’s not helpful in the public discussion and ignores that “common grace” aspect of marriage.
It’s helpful for us to look into the history of marriage, where we again see two views:
- that of marriage as being created, fallen, preserved by common grace, and restored by particular grace;
- that of marriage as having evolved upward from the animals.
Of course, these are the two options in all areas of thought–ethics, linguistics, etc. But in recent years the Christian view has come under assault by the modern view. The modern view looks to history and anthropology for proof, and sees matriarchy, polyandry, polygamy, etc. All these were tried historically until eventually monogamy won as best through a social survival of the fittest stretched out over millennia–though until recently even monogamy was often a legal fiction rather than a robust practice–as we saw in Greece and Rome.
In contrast, Christianity offers the only true vision of marriage–and at that it is one that has won historically not by natural evolution, but by slugging it out with its competitors over time.
More on the family in the next post.