Daily Caller – How Ideas of the Family Evolve Alongside Culture, Politics, and Law

30 Jun


How Ideas of the Family Evolve Alongside Culture, Politics, and Law

Ever since widespread access to birth control and abortion made biological motherhood optional, and the welfare state severely eroded the economic responsibilities of fatherhood, Western Civilization has been struggling to redefine the family. In that context, the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage should be seen as a milestone on the way to a yet unknown destination, rather than a terminal event.

The nuclear family arose from Darwinian reproductive strategies long before anything we would call civilization emerged. It persisted through thousands of years of recognized history largely because it worked. Every culture that tried to supplant the nuclear family failed. So far.

When trying to formulate a modern theory of the family compatible with the expanded role of government, people have sought guidance from the Bible, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Ayn Rand, and others. I’d like to suggest another sage we might learn from. The late science fiction author Robert Heinlein.

Although Heinlein’s book Stranger in a Strange Land, with its depictions of free love and radical individualism, is more celebrated, many consider The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to be his most profound work. On the surface, the 1966 novel is about a revolt on a lunar colony. Heinlein deftly uses this rollicking space opera as a canvas to explore numerous themes, including just governance, the art of diplomacy, the power of mass media, the rise of artificial intelligence, the nature of humor, and most interestingly the evolution of the family.

To read the rest of the column, click here.


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