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World Congress of Families Meets in Poland

By Lee Duigon
July 05, 2007

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

—Matthew 24:12

In embattled Poland, resisting strong pressure by the European Union to change the country’s Christianity-based, conservative social policies, 4,000 delegates met this spring in the fourth World Congress of Families.

“The European Union has become the most oppressive anti-family force in the world,” said Dr. Allan Carlson, founder and president of The Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society, and international secretary for the World Congress of Families. “Their neo-feminist, neo-Malthusian, neo-secularist vision is choking Western civilization.”

The choice of Poland’s capital, Warsaw, as the site for the congress was deliberate, said delegate Robert Knight of the Media Research Center.

“Poland is under heavy attack by the EU, which is using European Court lawsuits and Poland’s liberal media to pressure Poland to relax its moral standards on abortion, homosexuality in the schools, and pornography,” Knight said. “We went to Warsaw to show that a lot of the world stands with Poland. Since their election of a conservative government a year and a half ago, the Poles have felt very much alone in Europe.”

The delegates left feeling that they’d succeeded in heartening the Polish people; but the congress was about much more than that.

Building Networks

Previous congresses were held in Prague, Czech Republic; Geneva, Switzerland; and Mexico City in 1997, 1999, and 2004. With each congress the number of delegates has increased, as well as the number of countries and participating organizations represented.

“The fact that 4,000 people came to Warsaw, from 75 different nations, is very heartening,” Dr. Carlson said. “They came to build new international networks of pro-family advocates, and certainly succeeded in doing that.

“But that wasn’t our only achievement. Delegates mutually inspired each other, let people know they’re not alone, and learned from each other.

“We were also there to address the problem of tumbling birth rates throughout the industrialized world; and I think we did that.”

Shifting the Debate

“Dying Greece and Rome both saw themselves as overpopulated and as overwhelmed with peoples and problems,” R. J. Rushdoony wrote in 1991, “and so does our modern, dying statist humanism. It talks desperately about zero population growth and zero economic growth, because behind such thinking is a zero future, an intellectual and religious bankruptcy.”[1]

Since Rushdoony made that observation, European birth rates have plunged toward the vanishing point and global warming has replaced the “Population Bomb” as the humanist boogeyman.

Swimming against the tide of such “wisdom,” the World Congress of Families cited its intention “to shift the terms of the public policy debate”:

From “the family as an obstacle to development” to “the family as the source of social renewal and progress.”

From “overpopulation” to “under-population” as the demographic challenge of the 21st century.

From “the small family and voluntary childlessness as good” to “the celebration of the large family as a special social gift.”

And from religious orthodoxy as a “threat to progress” to “religious orthodoxy as the source of humane values and cultural progress.”[2]

Rushdoony would have certainly agreed with the last point. “One of the illusions of the 20th century held by many has been the idea that humane actions could exist without Christianity,” he wrote in Genesis. “… It is no accident that the proponents of the myth of over-population are socialists and one-worlders. They cannot trust God, only socialist man … hating life and fertility, they hate God.”[3]

The birth rate in Spain, Robert Knight pointed out, has slipped to 1.1, which works out roughly to a halving of the population with each generation. “Some of these nations will be lucky to make it through the 21st century,” he said. “Industrialization, throughout the world, tends to shrink families. One of the goals of the WCF is to reverse this trend.

“Marriage and family are God’s chosen instruments for human progress, and they can’t be easily wiped out—not even by fads for alternative sexual lifestyles.”

A Created Order

How do Dr. Carlson and his allies hope to shift the terms of the debate?

“We try to highlight the importance of the family in successful societies,” Knight said, “and offer ways to support families through government policy and cultural change.

“Popular culture, for instance, actively undermines the family. So we encourage people to talk back to Hollywood, and stop supporting anti-family entertainment.”

“The social and natural sciences tell us a lot about the value of the family,” Carlson said. He cited a recent decision by the French government to ban the adoption of children by pairs of homosexuals. In this case, a thoroughly secular government took a pro-family stance based on sociological and psychological findings that a child fares best when he has both a mother and a father.

An effort like the WCF, Knight said, “gives legitimacy to public policy that supports marriage and family. It tells the world that people around the globe see the demise of the family as a crisis. Preserving the family is a matter of survival.”

Government policy, he said, “should favor families—through tax breaks for married couples, tax exemptions for having children, and encouraging people to have them; and also through policies like school choice, and the preservation of real religious freedom versus the new religion of equality and multiculturalism.”

Although the conference emphasized “scientific” arguments in favor of the family, most of the delegates were Christians adhering to Biblical teachings on morality and the centrality of the family. A spokesman for the Vatican gave the closing speech, stressing that “The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman,” and “The history of the 20th Century demonstrates that those citizens were right who recognized the falsehood of relativism.”[4]

“There is a created order to the world,” Carlson said. “It’s not just people randomly bumping into one another. A Christian always has to go back to Genesis 1 and 2; that you can’t get away from. And homosexuality has no place in that order.”

On the other hand, he said, much of Europe is “so rigidly secular that no proselytizing group—Protestant, Catholic, or Mormon—can make much progress with Europeans.

“I don’t know if Europe can be saved. It’s possible that parts of it can be. There’s still some hope for Eastern Europe, and the Baltic states—although the birth rates there aren’t very healthy, either.”

Lingering Questions

Surely iniquity abounds—government schools promoting homosexuality, the vocal defenses of abortion, the prevalence of out-of-wedlock births, etc.—and in consequence the love of many has indeed waxed cold.

Of course we respect the hard work of Dr. Carlson and the 4,000 WCF delegates who made the trip to Warsaw, and applaud their commitment. Nevertheless, certain questions linger.

Presenting “scientific” arguments in support of the family is to lean on a bruised reed, which will break and pierce the hand of anyone who trusts in it.

The social sciences are notoriously prone to being bent and warped by political considerations. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association voted to declassify homosexuality as a disorder—an action taken largely in response to political pressure and intimidation.[5] In 1998 the American Psychological Association published a defense of pedophilia, asserting that “adult-child sex” was usually “a positive experience” for the child.[6]

Society did not accept the Psychological Association’s findings, but the Psychiatric Association’s action legitimized the whole “gay rights” movement, with disastrous results.

One can find “science” to support any side of any issue. Trusting in science rather than the Word of God is to build on a foundation of ever-shifting sands.

But it’s even riskier to trust in government. The same politicians who ban homosexual adoptions today may lift the ban tomorrow, depending on which way the political wind is blowing, or which lobby promises the biggest campaign contributions. Also, government concessions to the cause of the family often come with a price: “We’ll give you a tax break for your children, but only if we can give the same break to gay couples with children.” In this example, the inevitable upshot would be the legalization of homosexual adoptions.

We are already in trouble because government has moved into spheres allowed to it by neither the Bible nor the U.S. Constitution. This is why we have government schools preaching sodomy, government grants to Planned Parenthood, welfare payments that encourage women to have children out of wedlock, no-fault divorce laws that break up families at the drop of a snit, and a host of other evils. We doubt the government can be trusted to promote strong families.

Needed: Large Christian Families

So what is to be done?

By all means, active efforts to support the family should continue. It’s a good thing to proclaim the pro-family message loud and clear, and publicly. And it’s very good for people who struggle for this cause to discover that they’re not alone. We all need our morale raised from time to time.

But it must never be forgotten that the pro-family message cannot stand alone. It is part of a larger message of faithfulness to God, trust in His Word, and reverence for His created order. Removed from that context, it has no foundation, no sure defense. It will collapse as soon as strong enough “science” is produced to “prove” that human beings don’t need families.

Large Christian families, committed to living by God’s Word and spreading it to others, will ultimately prevail over secular loners who don’t even reproduce. These families will generate more families, stronger and more faithful churches, and a more godly society. But we must be patient, and trust in God, not man.


[1] R. J. Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1999), 15.

[3] Rushdoony, Genesis (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002), 78.


Topics: Family & Marriage, R. J. Rushdoony, Media / Arts, Government

Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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