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Rushdoony on the "Functions of the Family"

By R. J. Rushdoony
May 29, 2009

"Historically and Biblically, the family is the central institution in law and in society. Although we do not think of the family normally as a law-making body, the family is nonetheless the basic law-making body in all history…

"Procreation is a function of the family, and, in a healthy, Biblically oriented and governed family system, this function is preceded by an important fact that conditions birth. The parents marry because there is a bond of faith and love between them, a resolution to maintain for life a covenant under God. As a result, a heredity of faith and a unity in terms of it is established as a prior condition of birth, so that a child born into such a family has an inheritance that cannot be duplicated. The Biblical family cannot be rivaled by man’s science or imagination as the institution for the procreation and rearing of children.

"The family is man’s first and basic school…

"The family is also the first government in the life of the child, with the father as the God-ordained head of the household and his government under God as the child’s basic government…

"A basic function of the family is motivation and guidance. The child is provided with the best kind of guidance, because the family is most interested in him, and the child is, in the Christian family, given the highest kind of motivation for his own future and present development…

"The family also has a major economic function. The father provides for his family, not for strangers….The family as an economic unit has an excellent division of labor plan, whereby certain duties are required of the father, others of the mother, and still others of the children. There are mutual rights and duties, all of which are discharged with a greater degree of success and efficiency, despite all the problems, than in any other institution. The family, moreover, can withstand and survive more shock than any other institution – economic disasters, personal disagreements, social catastrophes, and the like…

"The state has extensively interfered in the family’s functions, and it has claimed vast areas that properly belong to the family. Does this mean that the family has been weakened? Does the future portend a decline in the importance of the family? On the contrary, the more the state has interfered, the more it has thereby underscored man’s need for the family. The incompetence of the state as family has made more obvious the competence of the family as a family. The prevalence of sickness does not make health obsolete, but only all the more urgently needed and desired. Historically, every period of statism is followed by an era of an intensely family-oriented society as men turn from sickness to health.

"We are today in an era of burgeoning statism. On every side, the family is under attack, and the state is assuming progressively more and more of the family’s functions, and progressively finding itself more and more prone to social disintegration and demoralization. More than ever before, the Biblical faith and law concerning the family, its functions, property, and faith, must be stressed and taught. The future does no belong to disease; it belongs to health. Because this is God’s world, it is God’s order that shall prevail. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1)."


{Excerpted from Law & Liberty, by RJRushdoony.}


Topics: Family & Marriage

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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