Thursday, January 10, 2008

Family-First Conservatism

Joe Carter writes, "To truly understand what a conservative believes, it is often more instructive to simply ask what it is they want to conserve." Toward that end, he sets forth an outline of his political philosophy, which he calls family-first conservatism:

1. We believe the family is the basic unit of society.

2. We believe that from birth we are initiated into the community structure of the family. We are not thrust into a state of radical individualism but rather into the most basic form of community. We are created to be both individuated persons and members of a community; neither can be reduced into the other.

3. We believe the heart of the family is the pre-political institution of marriage, a “one-flesh union” of sexually complementary spouses who cleave to each other in permanent commitment, loyalty, and fidelity and that this one-flesh communion is naturally ordered to the good of spousal unity, to procreation, and to the nurturing of children.

4. We believe it is a self-evident truth that all human beings are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of human flourishing.

5. We believe in protecting the intrinsic dignity of all members of the human family, at any and every stage of life, in any and every state of consciousness or self-awareness, of any and every race, color, ethnicity, level of intelligence, religion, language, gender, character, behavior, physical ability/disability, potential, class, social status, etc., and believe that they must be treated in a manner commensurate with this moral status.

6. We believe the interaction between people in community has lead naturally to societal pluriformity and the formation of various social structures. Families interact with other families to create distinct communities such as the tribe, the city, and the state and that the various tasks and requirements for living has lead to the formation of churches, schools, businesses, civic unions, etc.

7. We believe that each of these structures or spheres of influence has its own autonomy and responsibility and is sovereign within its own sphere. Each also has its locus of sovereignty which is derived not from another structure from God alone. This forms a non-hierarchical structure where all authority is ultimately derived from our Creator.

8. We believe that parents have the primary sphere of authority and influence over the upbringing of their children and that this role may not be usurped by other institutions unless necessary to prevent the child from suffering harm.

9. We believe that while parental authority is primary, other institutions have an interest and a duty in protecting the welfare of children and should do what they can to create and preserve a moral ecology that is conducive to creating virtuous citizens.

10. We believe that while social structures are non-hierarchical, the family should be considered “first among equals” and given special consideration in making decisions about public policy.