Sex mating is instinctive, children are the natural result, and the family thus automatically comes into existence. As are the families of the race or nation, so is its society. If the families are good, the society is likewise good. The great cultural stability of the Jewish and of the Chinese peoples lies in the strength of their family groups.
Woman’s instinct to love and care for children conspired to make her the interested party in promoting marriage and primitive family life. Man was only forced into home building by the pressure of the later mores and social conventions; he was slow to take an interest in the establishment of marriage and home because the sex act imposes no biologic consequences upon him.
Sex association is natural, but marriage is social and has always been regulated by the mores. The mores (religious, moral, and ethical), together with property, pride, and chivalry, stabilize the institutions of marriage and family. Whenever the mores fluctuate, there is fluctuation in the stability of the home-marriage institution. Marriage is now passing out of the property stage into the personal era. Formerly man protected woman because she was his chattel, and she obeyed for the same reason. Regardless of its merits this system did provide stability. Now, woman is no longer regarded as property, and new mores are emerging designed to stabilize the marriage-home institution:
1. The new role of religion—the teaching that parental experience is essential, the idea of procreating cosmic citizens, the enlarged understanding of the privilege of procreation—giving sons to the Father.
2. The new role of science—procreation is becoming more and more voluntary, subject to man’s control. In ancient times lack of understanding insured the appearance of children in the absence of all desire therefor.
3. The new function of pleasure lures—this introduces a new factor into racial survival; ancient man exposed undesired children to die; moderns refuse to bear them.
4. The enhancement of parental instinct—each generation now tends to eliminate from the reproductive stream of the race those individuals in whom parental instinct is insufficiently strong to insure the procreation of children, the prospective parents of the next generation.
But the home as an institution, a partnership between one man and one woman, dates more specifically from the days of Dalamatia, about one-half million years ago, the monogamous practices of Andon and his immediate descendants having been abandoned long before. Family life, however, was not much to boast of before the days of the Nodites and the later Adamites. Adam and Eve exerted a lasting influence on all mankind; for the first time in the history of the world men and women were observed working side by side in the Garden. The Edenic ideal, the whole family as gardeners, was a new idea on Urantia.
The early family embraced a related working group, including the slaves, all living in one dwelling. Marriage and family life have not always been identical but have of necessity been closely associated. Woman always wanted the individual family, and eventually she had her way.
Love of offspring is almost universal and is of distinct survival value. The ancients always sacrificed the mother’s interests for the welfare of the child; an Eskimo mother even yet licks her baby in lieu of washing. But primitive mothers only nourished and cared for their children when very young; like the animals, they discarded them as soon as they grew up. Enduring and continuous human associations have never been founded on biologic affection alone. The animals love their children; man—civilized man—loves his children’s children. The higher the civilization, the greater the joy of parents in the children’s advancement and success; thus the new and higher realization of name pride comes into existence.
The large families among ancient peoples were not necessarily affectional. Many children were desired because:
1. They were valuable as laborers.
2. They were old-age insurance.
3. Daughters were salable.
4. Family pride required extension of name.
5. Sons afforded protection and defense.
6. Ghost fear produced a dread of being alone.
7. Certain religions required offspring.
Ancestor worshipers view the failure to have sons as the supreme calamity for all time and eternity. They desire above all else to have sons to officiate in the post-mortem feasts, to offer the required sacrifices for the ghost’s progress through spiritland.
Among ancient savages, discipline of children was begun very early; and the child early realized that disobedience meant failure or even death just as it did to the animals. It is civilization’s protection of the child from the natural consequences of foolish conduct that contributes so much to modern insubordination.
Eskimo children thrive on so little discipline and correction simply because they are naturally docile little animals; the children of both the red and the yellow men are almost equally tractable. But in races containing Andite inheritance, children are not so placid; these more imaginative and adventurous youths require more training and discipline. Modern problems of child culture are rendered increasingly difficult by:
1. The large degree of race mixture.
2. Artificial and superficial education.
3. Inability of the child to gain culture by imitating parents—the parents are absent from the family picture so much of the time.
The olden ideas of family discipline were biologic, growing out of the realization that parents were creators of the child’s being. The advancing ideals of family life are leading to the concept that bringing a child into the world, instead of conferring certain parental rights, entails the supreme responsibility of human existence.
Civilization regards the parents as assuming all duties, the child as having all the rights. Respect of the child for his parents arises, not in knowledge of the obligation implied in parental procreation, but naturally grows as a result of the care, training, and affection which are lovingly displayed in assisting the child to win the battle of life. The true parent is engaged in a continuous service-ministry which the wise child comes to recognize and appreciate.
In the present industrial and urban era the marriage institution is evolving along new economic lines. Family life has become more and more costly, while children, who used to be an asset, have become economic liabilities. But the security of civilization itself still rests on the growing willingness of one generation to invest in the welfare of the next and future generations. And any attempt to shift parental responsibility to state or church will prove suicidal to the welfare and advancement of civilization.
Marriage, with children and consequent family life, is stimulative of the highest potentials in human nature and simultaneously provides the ideal avenue for the expression of these quickened attributes of mortal personality. The family provides for the biologic perpetuation of the human species. The home is the natural social arena wherein the ethics of blood brotherhood may be grasped by the growing children. The family is the fundamental unit of fraternity in which parents and children learn those lessons of patience, altruism, tolerance, and forbearance which are so essential to the realization of brotherhood among all men.
Human society would be greatly improved if the civilized races would more generally return to the family-council practices of the Andites. They did not maintain the patriarchal or autocratic form of family government. They were very brotherly and associative, freely and frankly discussing every proposal and regulation of a family nature. They were ideally fraternal in all their family government. In an ideal family filial and parental affection are both augmented by fraternal devotion.
Family life is the progenitor of true morality, the ancestor of the consciousness of loyalty to duty. The enforced associations of family life stabilize personality and stimulate its growth through the compulsion of necessitous adjustment to other and diverse personalities. But even more, a true family—a good family—reveals to the parental procreators the attitude of the Creator to his children, while at the same time such true parents portray to their children the first of a long series of ascending disclosures of the love of the Paradise parent of all universe children.