Two Family Policy Essentials

In my time today, I want to focus on two matters regarding family policy. The first is the absolutely critical need to craft an “ideal family” structure as a model or goal in shaping policy. Without such a model, it becomes impossible to build a coherent public policy; the results would actually be social chaos and fiscal irresponsibility. In the World Congress of Families project, we crafted early on a definition of the “natural family” as our focus. Specifically, in May 1998 we gathered 30 persons in a second century B.C. room in the ancient city of Rome, here in this land. Our hosts were Ambassador Alberto and Christine Vollmer, of Venezuela. The group represented all the scattered children of Abraham: Roman Catholics, Russian and Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans and other Evangelical Protestants, Mormons, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Orthodox Jews. It also included important research scholars from the fields of law, demography, history, sociology, and psychology. After a long conversation and debate, the group agreed on this definition: The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered around the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage for the purposes of: Satisfying the longings of the human heart to give and receive love;Welcoming and insuring the full physical and emotional development of children;Sharing a home that serves as the center for social, educational, economic, and spiritual life;Building strong bonds among the generations to pass on a way of life that has transcendent meaning; andExtending a hand of compassion to individuals and households whose circumstances fall short of these ideals. We chose the phrase “natural family” as an alternative to earlier terms. For example, “traditional family,” in English, is backward-looking, or vaguely reactionary. “Nuclear family” is far too narrow, and it sounds ominously like a bomb. In contrast, “natural f
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