Re: Family (a definition)

John Miller (jmiller@gi.alaska.edu)
Mon, 22 Jul 1996 17:14:04 -0800

>Welcome to the real world, Dean.
>
>When a man & woman are married -- are they not a "family" right away? Must they
>wait for offspring? What if none appear?
>
>When two elderly brothers, having lost their spouses, or, perhaps, having
>never married, form a household & hold all things in common -- are they
>not a family?
>
>What if the "two elderly brothers" are unrelated to one another?
>
>What if they are sister & brother?
>
>I have not, in the above, touched on issues of sexuality. That is not the
>issue.
>The issue is the human rights of any "bonded group" to be recognized as
>such, and share in the priviledges & responsibilities of such. Those
>include tax status, hospital access when another family member is ill,
>inheritance, etc. etc. that we "heterosexual married folks" take for granted as
>"our rights."

But I believe sexuality is an issue. Your generically defined family is
valid outside of procreational associations, but that has nothing to do
with the essence of marriage.

I fail to see any logic in society trying to meet the legitmate needs of
those non-sexual families by legislating marriage to encompass such
voluntary associations.

Can't those legitimate needs be met by the affected people taking action by
notifying hospitals and medical care-givers who their appointed
"next-of-kin" shall be?

Can't issues of inheritance be met with existing legal documents, whether
wills or trusts? Dying intestate is not the fault of society, which cannot
be expected to anticipate every real of imagined relationship the deceased
may have entered into.

Tax status is different, but it is not obvious to me that two single people
living together as a household should necessarily qualify for the same tax
privileges as spouses who are likely to generate offspring--the essence of
continuity of society.

For myself, I'm tired of activitists campaigning for this or that right.
In addition to dehumanizing absurdities or obscenities, there is no end of
rights issues. Let the mainline ones attract our limited resources for
constructive change. We've all probably been "victimized" one way or
another--or eventually will be--by a denial of what most folks expect as a
natural right. (Try turning 65 if you doubt that.)

The key question isn't whether society is denying anyone some rights, but
how are those folks reacting. They can become activitists and raise a hue
and cry hoping the rest of society hears, agrees, and can afford to take
legislative action. Or they can take control of their own lives and work
around the artificial impediments in the way of their goals.

The former course of action inevitably leads to increased cost of
government and more intrustion into human affairs. The latter course leads
to stronger, more self-reliant people who, in the course of managing their
own affairs, often bring about gradual changes in society outside of the
legislative process.

This is not to deny the benefits of legislation. To me, legislation
happens to be the last resort for major issues that just cannot be
ethically or morally tolerated. Legislation should not be the first appeal
for every injustice, which after all, exists first in the eye of the
beholder.

These are more political than theological issues and I question whether
such "rights" issues are appropriate for this reflector. On the other
hand, I agree that our Christianity should indeed be coupled to what is
going on in society. But how does this relate to science and Christianity?
Maybe there's another forum where this thread could be more at home.

John