Recommendations For Defending The Natural Family
Against The Gay Marriage Juggernaut

by John A. Howard, Ph.D. Senior Fellow The Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society

The campaign now being waged by aggressive forces, largely in the industrialized nations, to redefine the family, and to eliminate the moral codes and civilized restraints which protect the natural family may well represent a new extreme in the short-sightedness of presumably educated and intelligent people.  Should their campaign be successful, it will surely be a catastrophe for civilization.

To introduce the first recommendation, here is an incident that took place when I was President of Rockford College.  I had just finished a speech about education and the next speaker walked up to the lectern.  He was Buckminster Fuller, famous for his brilliant work in several professional fields, sort of an all-purpose genius.  He was evidently troubled about something.  He was silent for a minute or two, and then he said, “Before I give my talk, I want to say something to that college president who just finished, pointing at me in the audience.  “You people in the colleges and universities are going to ruin this nation.  What you do is identify all the bright students as they come through and make them experts in something.  That isn’t all bad, but the trouble is it leaves a residue of people with less brain power who must become the generalists needed to serve as college presidents.”  When the audience stopped laughing, he continued, “And the presidents of the United States.”

In that momentary interruption of the scheduled program, Mr. Fuller phrased a truth of the greatest importance, a truth which so far as I know, no other public figure had ever recognized, or enunciated.

Consider America’s recent history.  In the last fifty years, there have been revolutionary advances in medicine and transportation, in communications, genetic engineering and micro-machinery, in the production and processing of food, and in the whole universe of science, technology and machines.  My grandparents were certain that travel to the moon was eternally impossible and they would have regarded all these other accomplishments I have just mentioned as equally beyond the limits of reality.  This has truly been an era of the rapid fulfillment of impossible dreams, all across the universe of science.

However, during this period when things prospered, human beings did not.  In the same half century, many of the industrialized nations have suffered a serious decline in the emotional stability of their peoples.  Alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide and neurosis have afflicted a large and growing segment of the population.  The demand for psychological counseling and psychiatric treatment keeps multiplying.  Not only are individuals much less able to live at peace with themselves, but they are increasingly hostile toward other people.  There has been an appalling growth in theft, robbery, embezzlement, murder, rape, wife abuse, child abuse, divorce, vandalism, blackmail, and innumerable other actions that harm other people.  The savage, selfish instincts are breaking free of the civilized restraints which centuries of experience and common sense had determined were essential to the civil order.

The cause of this modern duality of a Golden Age of Technology and a Twilight of Human Wisdom was tersely stated by Buckminster Fuller.  The training for the rapidly expanding scientific and technological professions requires such an extensive mastery of specialized material, that it leaves little time in the student’s schedule to encounter the wisdom supplied by history, philosophy, literature, drama and religion.  It is these and other branches of the humanities which familiarize the student with human frailties and human grandeur, with the spiritual and psychological needs of the individual, with the central role of the family in nurturing and stabilizing the lives of young people, with the rise and fall of governments, and the whole network of other social institutions of community life.  The new generation of experts, with a narrow and intense focus of interests, is increasingly unaware of, or simply not interested in, the obligations and responsibilities and rewards of being a wholesome and contributing member of society.

It is the generalists, armed with the wisdom of the ages that have the insight and judgment to guide a confused world through the perils of modernity.  The response to the aggressive campaign of gay marriage advocacy can best be waged by generalists who understand human nature, are well versed in the history of social institutions, and are familiar with the centrality of the family in the teachings of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religions.

The second recommendation is to determine the basic principles at issue in that defense and elucidate them and emphasize them repeatedly in the marketplace of public opinion.  A principle is a constant, unvarying fact about cause and effect.  It cannot be changed.  A principle just exists through eternity.  We all readily understand that you cannot build an airplane that will fly unless you understand the principles of aerodynamics and apply those principles in the design of your plane.  Unfortunately, many people do not realize that there are principles which govern the effectiveness of the systems and institutions of a society just as rigidly and inevitably as principles of physics govern the development of technology.

In order to illustrate the impact of this advice, I offer an account of what happened in the profession in which I served for twenty-five years, higher education.  Somehow, many of the nation’s colleges and universities lost sight of the governing principle of education and eventually not only excluded it, but turned it inside out.  I should at this point note that there are some institutions of higher education that are still on the right track, but this analysis reports on the majority of colleges and universities, including the most famous and influential ones.  This bit of history will reveal how the natural family came to be perceived in the United States as an obstacle to the good life, and why the natural family is now a primary target for elimination by much of the intellectual and opinion-making forces in the United States.

Until the middle of the twentieth century it was universally recognized that the primary purpose of the educational process was to train each new generation how to live responsibly and productively in its own society.  This goal was preeminent in tribal as well as industrial nations.  The young were taught the ideals of the society, why these ideals were important, and why they must be sustained and protected.  They were taught the obligations they must fulfill and the taboos they must observe in support of those ideals.  They learned about the heroes who sacrificed greatly for those ideals and were celebrated for their deeds, and the traitors who defied and compromised those ideals and were punished and scorned for their betrayal.  Education’s first and foremost task is to socialize and acculturate the young for life in their own society.  This process was not resented as an unpleasant burden imposed upon the young, but was understood by most people to be a part of growing up just like learning to speak the native language.  Schooling covered many other subjects, too, but the core of the program was acculturation.

In the United States, education performed this process quite effectively up until World War II.  After The War certain ideas and circumstances that were incompatible with the traditional culture increasingly eroded the university’s commitment to the ancient truths and ideals.  The rapid spread of Marxist doctrine among the professors reduced the faculty’s willingness to advocate the traditional American culture which was essentially Christian in its outlook.  The huge expansion of programs in science and technology, paid for by an outpouring of funds from the Federal Government, rapidly produced a very large number of technological experts on the faculty, who often were unsympathetic to their colleagues in the humanities departments and outvoted them on matters of university policy.

In December of 1964, an aggressive band of students, angry about the Vietnam War, and stirred up by Marxist radicals, erupted in a protest at The University of California at Berkeley.  This was the first chapter of turmoil that spread to campuses across the nation, which over a period of five years involved sit-ins, shouting down speakers, spray-painting and burning buildings, bombing one science laboratory in which a professor was killed, destroying library card catalogs, and an incident at Cornell University where student revolutionaries armed with guns told the University President to sit on the floor until he was invited to speak.  It was a nightmare chapter in American history.

Returning to the University of California in 1964, we find that that campus and all of the other coeducational colleges and universities of the country had what were called parietal rules.  These rules prohibited men students from being in the women’s dormitories at night after a specified time and conversely barred women from being in the men’s dormitories beyond the same hour.  Here was the perfect illustration of acculturation.  Other than the church, the family had always been the centerpiece of American life, and was cherished and honored and respected by the people.  To protect the family, the parietal rules had been established so that all of the nation’s students would understand the great importance of the natural family and the code of sexual morality that sustains both marriage and the family.

At Berkeley, the radical student leaders, coached by their Marxist professors, said to the University President, “We are old enough to be drafted into the army and get killed in Vietnam, surely we are old enough to make decisions about how we lead our lives.  The university has no right to tell us what to do except in matters relating to our studies.  The Chancellor of the University and his associates decided that the radical students’ request should be granted and the parietal rules were abolished.  No competent generalist would have made that judgment.  Before long, most of the other colleges and universities also eliminated their parietal rules.

This widespread cancellation of institutional support for standards of sexual morality was a major landmark, not only in fundamentally changing the purposes of American education, but also in transforming a society that once had a clear sense of right and wrong into one that generally asserts that each person should judge for himself what is right and what is wrong.  In the next few years, many other traditional standards which had produced campus communities characterized by civility, decency and courtesy and morality were casualties of the new non-judgmentalism.  Bawdy, vulgar language became a commonplace as did slovenly dress and grooming.  Campus dramas and movies defied the ancient standards of sexual modesty and morality.  Professors and distinguished campus guests no longer were treated with respect by the students, but were subject to rudeness and indignities, previously unknown.  Right and wrong had become a matter of personal choice.

In 1969, four years after the Berkeley uprising, President Nixon appointed a national Task Force on Priorities in Higher Education to evaluate the continuing turmoil on the campuses and make recommendations to The President and The United States Congress about what the Government could do to help the universities calm things down and resume their proper activities.  That Task Force was chaired by The President of New York University.  Other distinguished members included the Presidents of the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Presidents of several state universities.  I was a member representing the smaller colleges.  In our second year, we met in New York City to take action on our final report which had been drafted by the staff to reflect the proceedings of the meetings we had held.  The three recommendations in the draft report were that the government should provide more funds, and do more to support research and give special help to black colleges.  After we had had time to read the draft report, our chairman asked if it was satisfactory.  The other members were pleased with the text.

I said that it seemed to me the report failed to address any of the causes of campus turmoil for which we were asked to propose remedies in which government could be helpful.  I noted that our campuses had a serious problem with the usage of illegal drugs; that students were involved in damage to property and other illegal acts and the university officers usually did not take punitive action or seek help from the police; and that the war in Vietnam was a primary cause of campus turmoil requiring explanations from and discussions with governmental officers.  The universities couldn’t resolve these problems without help.  The other committee members were surprised by my statement.  After a pause, one of the most distinguished members said, “But John, all these matters involve value judgments.  We can’t take institutional action on matters involving value judgments.”  The other members agreed with him.  They were a representative group of the most highly regarded, influential academic leaders.  Thirty-four years ago non-judmentalism had already become the dominant educational philosophy.

Here we see the total inversion of the educational principle.  The educational principle acknowledges the requirement that a society must transmit its heritage of ideals and wisdom to succeeding generations.  The new educational philosophy prohibits that transmission and prohibits standards of right and wrong.  It thus finds it finds it intolerable that homosexuals do not have all the same rights and privileges as married people.  The mind of the narrowly focused technological experts is incapable of understanding and appreciating that the natural family is an institution of such profound importance to any society that it must be granted precedence over competing claims.  The educational principle has been cancelled and the educational system is effectively spreading moral chaos.

Before turning to the third recommendation, I want to cite one of the most critically important principles pertaining to the family.  The human sexual impulse is so powerful that societies through the ages have found it necessary to establish standards of sexual behavior to protect the family.  And because human nature is strongly inclined to act contrary to those standards, the societies have established taboos against behavior that does not conform to those standards.  The parietal rules at all the nation’s colleges and universities reflected the common judgment of the American people in the approval of the natural family and the disapproval of contra-family sexual activity.  The principle, here, is that the family and sexual liberation cannot co-exist.  The more there is of the one, the less there will be of the other.  The family and sexual liberation are mutually exclusive.  This principle needs to have a prominent place in any program in support of the family.

The third recommendation is to search out success stories which prove that the advocated changes are possible and will deliver beneficial results.  It is especially important in the cultural arena to avoid a reputation for nothing but complaints.  Society will react more positively to programs that state:  “Here is a good thing that should be accomplished, this is why it is important.  Here is one way to do it, and look at the wonderful results.”

As you know, the family members are all influenced for better or worse by the environment in which their home is located.  Here is a success story about the complete renovation of a housing development which had deteriorated to a desperate condition. “We are not a housing project!  We are a neighborhood!”  This was the declaration of Bertha Gilkey on an unforgettable television show in 1986.  Bertha Gilkey is an impressive African-American who led a successful battle against crime, drugs, vandalism, disrepair, filth and rats, transforming the Cochran Housing development in St. Louis from a badly rundown high-rise slum into a neatly-kept, safe and lawful, up-beat residential dwelling.  The Cochran public-housing facility, like many others in America’s inner-cities was built by the Federal government to provide low-rent housing for those citizens who have very little money.  Unfortunately, the planners of these projects were not generalists and were unable to foresee that such buildings owned by a distant government without proper management quickly degenerated into filthy, crime-infested slums.  Since the tenants had no pride of ownership and there were no rules and no resident officers responsible for order and cleanliness, the criminal and disorderly tenants quickly made these residences virtually uninhabitable. Those buildings turned into warehouses for underprivileged units of population.

By contrast, a neighborhood refers both to dwelling places and the people who live in them.  Neighborhood implies a sense of unity and a sense of belonging, a sense of interdependence and continuity, of lasting concern for the common good.  A neighborhood stirs pride in the hearts of the inhabitants.  It is the concept of home on a larger scale.

What happened in St. Louis?  How did Bertha Gilkey and her partners transform a slum into a neighborhood?  First, they obtained authorization from the government for the residents to manage the buildings.  And then they did a remarkable thing.  They used their own common sense to draw up a set of rules to govern the behavior of the people living there.  The new rules required that children be properly supervised.  Illegal drugs were forbidden.  All apartments had to be kept in good repair, and all the tenants were required to take turns cleaning the hallways.  Security guards were hired to police the premises.

The rules are enforced by elected officers.  They have the authority to evict a tenant who does not abide by the rules, or whose children do not.  Applicants for an apartment are carefully screened by a committee as to whether they measure up to the established standards of upright and neighborly conduct.

When Bertha Gilkey explained all this on television, the astonished host of the show asked how they could evict someone from public housing who used illegal drugs.  She declared, “Public housing was not built for criminals and vandals and people who do drugs!”  And she is right, of course.  After the new rules took effect, there was a long waiting list of people who wanted to live in the Cochran buildings.  And the prices of homes in that neighborhood increased as it became known as a good area in which to live.

Bertha Gilkey was a very talented generalist.  She didn’t need university training, she simply used her common sense to bring order out of chaos.  The standards of right and wrong and the traditions of civic order derived from the nation’s Christian heritage, which had been taught by the schools and churches and families, had worked well in the past and she proved they can work well again when they are reapplied.  Those standards were derived from religion.  It is my firm belief that the new circumstances which endanger the institution of the family worldwide are circumstances in which ancient religious ideals have been challenged and changed or rejected by self-centered and self-serving judgments of modern man.

In conclusion, two quotations and a summary comment.  The first quotation is the final paragraph from an essay entitled “Religion Is The Basis of Society” by William Ellery Channing.  He was a renowned theologian and author writing in the early nineteenth century.

Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.  Appetite, knowing no restraint, and suffering, having no solace of hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws.  Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds.  A sordid self-interest would supplant every feeling; and man would become in fact, what theory in atheism declares him to be – a companion for brutes.

The second quotation is from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s response in 1983 when he received The Templeton Prize.  He entitled that speech, “Men Have Forgotten God.”

…(E)vil, like a whirlwind triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…The entire twentieth century is being sucked into the vortex of atheism and self-destruction...

It was Dostoevsky who drew from the French Revolution and its seething hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.”  That is absolutely true.  But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.  Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, hatred of God is the principal driving force.

Solzhenitsyn concludes that speech by asserting:

Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success, but in the quest for spiritual growth.

Finally, the task of defending, preserving and strengthening the natural family is a daunting one.  The anti-family forces dominate the intellectual and political market place of ideas, but if the advocates and defenders of the natural family recognize their work as part of their duty to God, they will not falter in performing that task.