Article 16(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.” Article 16(3) gives further clarity by stating that “the family is the natural and foundational group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” The structure and context of these statements—in particular the use of the conjunction “and” in 16(1)--constrain us to conclude that marrying and founding a family are organically related, the latter being the consequence of the former. At this juncture we need to recognize that although not all families are based on this ideal of “marry and found a family,” the ideal is at the core of what the UDHR advocates. It is therefore severely unhelpful to make the point that there are single parent families, or families where the parents have not been married, because the real issue is that “the family is the natural…unit of society.”
When we are thinking of the human family, then, what cannot and must not be disregarded is the word “natural”. The concept of “natural” has always been used to appeal to that which is derived from and evident in the physical and biological realms of creation. Appealing to nature as a basis for understanding the source of family is very logical, whether we are referring to the human family, or a family of lower primates, or even a family of some species of birds, such as geese, which mate for life. In other words, even before society imposed its rituals and other trappings around the human family, what made a family possible was the biological reality of heterosexuality. Reproduction of the species is the basis for family. And, of course, the concept of reproduction extends beyond the actual process of conception and birth, or conception and hatching (as the case may be). The family’s task, in reality, has to do with the survival of the species; therefore, even among lower life forms there is evidence of parental care by either or both “parents” (those who contributed the genetic material that produced the offspring).
Persons who appeal to the Bible to defend their views on marriage, family and sexuality are often rebuked for bringing religion into a legal debate. However, one could state with reasonable accuracy that the statement in Genesis 1:27-28 is as much a naturalistic statement as it is a religious one. There is no question that human beings exist and reproduce on the basis of their heterosexuality. The command to “be fruitful and multiply” was based on the fact that “male and female created he them.” Consequently, the human family is a natural phenomenon, not a social construct or a religious expression. Various societies may have various concepts about the rights, duties, roles and functions of persons within the human family, but these social constructs are not in fact the family. The family is a natural and biological phenomenon. It is totally unscientific and therefore unreasonable to ignore the naturalistic basis for family and expect that the human family will either survive or thrive. The concept of same-sex marriage is naturalistically and scientifically a functional oxymoron. This is a social construct, rooted in human dysfunctionality and expressed as a declaration of moral autonomy, i.e., man is the final arbiter of what is right and wrong because there is no God.
In the final analysis, then, the new sexual ethic which we are all being compelled to honour is neither true to naturalistic materialism—because it dismisses the truths of science—nor true to theism, since it disavows any allegiance to religion-based morality. The only definition of the human family is that which is determined a priori by nature and nature’s God. (April 30, Pastor M. Alson Ebanks)
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