CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A review of Changing Families. Edited by Justin Healey.

May 31, 2006

Spinney Press, 2006.

If this book is anything to go by, the natural family of mum, dad and the kids is not only an aberration, an historical anomaly, and a freak of nature, but hardly anyone has ever lived in such a monstrosity.

Thus it is a good thing that this book is just an example of Politically Correctness gone ballistic, and not sound social science research. But the bad news is, this book is designed for school students, so it amounts to a real indoctrination tract which will mislead many.

This book is actually the latest (volume 328) in a long line of books in the “Issues in Society” series. The series is used mainly for secondary students across the country as they write or debate on social issues of the day.

These educational resource books have in the past covered topics such as aboriginal reconciliation, illicit drugs, globalization, sexuality and discrimination, the ‘stolen generation’, abortion, children’s rights, IVF and racism, among many others.

I have featured in a number of these books over the years – usually the token conservative voice. Often I am greatly outnumbered by the more progressive, trendy and leftist voices around.

This 44 page book features around 27 different articles, mostly gleaned from newspapers, magazines, and special interest groups. But if in the past I was the token conservative, it is certainly the case here, big time. Indeed, it appears that most of the articles here push the old (or really, new) line that the natural family is just a recent social construct, that it has never been the norm, and that it is repressive, stifling and hostile to real individual fulfillment and freedom.

It is amazing to see so many articles collected in one place all pushing the politically correct party line. What an interesting propaganda piece this appears to be. Sure there are several Bureau of Statistics and other government bodies giving the data, but they tend to just parrot the line that families are changing and we can’t define family anyway. Yet for all the spin about ‘changing families’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘variety’, the fact remains that most children today still live with their mother and father.

Sure that is changing, but the question is, is this a welcome trend? The truth is, what some regard as progress, can be more rightly regarded by others as an indication of regress. The breaking up the family, the dissolution of marriage, and the arrival of alternate lifestyles are not necessarily welcome trends. Indeed, the current assault on the family is one of the most harmful and far-reaching changes we have witnessed of late. The destruction of the biological family is not something to gloat over, but to worry about.

The biological family is still the best for couples, for children, and for society, something well established by the social science research. But of course those findings will not be found here, except for my article.

And the hard truth is, the natural family has always been the historical, universal norm. Throughout history and across cultures, mum, dad and the kids have been the primary family structure. Sure, there has been the extended family and so on, but the natural biological family is a universal and historical social constant. (See for example my summary of the huge amount of evidence in my research paper, “Deconstructing the Family”.).

But our new thought police would have us believe otherwise. How many times do we hear today that the biological family is simply an American invention of the 1950s, and that it has long since disappeared from the scene? Well it seems that every social engineer in the world who has ever pushed that patently false line is featured here in this book!

Indeed, my article, “‘Innovative’ Definitions of ‘Family’ Flout Tradition” is second last. The last article by Kay Millican is entitled “Exploding the Nuclear Family…” and it starts off with these words (I kid you not!): “Family is steadily emerging as something completely unfamiliar from the 50’s nuclear mum-and-dad style unit that John Howard supports.” Well there you have it: just an invention of the 1950s. Why am I not surprised to find her comment here?

Of course we should note that Kay is a lesbian, and she spends most of her article attacking John Howard, claiming he lives “in a dreamtime utopia that will never return”. There you have it again. The most fundamental unit of society is simply an LSD trip in John Howard’s mind!

By the way, she confesses that her parents divorced when she was nine, and her dad left town. Yet she seeks to convince us that everyone has had a lousy family background like she had, and that proves that there is no such thing as a nice, warm two-parent family. But in fact it is nice of her to make my point. Broken families have real negative impacts on children, and her search for love in all the wrong places makes my case. Why is it that homosexuals and lesbians so consistently come from broken and/or abusive homes?

In this book, all the usual suspects are to be found. The Australian Institute of Family Studies features throughout. It has long been partial in its advocacy of alternate lifestyle families, telling us that day care is great for kids, and divorce has no lasting negative impact on children. (See my critique, “Time For a Rethink on the AIFS”.)

Sydney Morning Herald columnist and feminist Adele Horin informs us that “kids turn out just fine” after divorce. Sorry, the social science research tells us just the opposite. Divorce is devastating for children, and negatively affects them for decades afterward. The research on this is again both ample and clear. See for example my review of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce in this web site (in the Divorce section).

Unfortunately Adele Horin is greatly overrepresented here: she also has two other pieces, one telling us that custodial mums after divorce do not like the idea of shared parenting (why are we not surprised?), and another on lesbian couples wanting children.

All in all, you would never know that there ever was such a thing as natural biological families in reading most of the contributors to this book. It is one long exercise in trying to convince us that families are changing, there never has been a norm for families, and it is a good thing to celebrate this “diversity’ in family structure. Exactly what the feminist, homosexual activists and other social engineers want us to believe. But hardly supported in the social sciences.

[1098 words]

5 Responses to A review of Changing Families. Edited by Justin Healey.

  • The nuclear mum and dad style family was not a 50’s invention, it was a creation from the beginning. God did no create two women nor two men, he created one man and one woman to procreate. When the natural fabric of society is tampered with, the outcome is loss of identitiy leading to searches in all the wrong places with no right answers. Do this to your kids and you will have a whole generation floundering like lost souls. To those that are hurt, its time to wake up and not let your past fester, go forth and seek the truth. The truth shall set you free, grant you freedom and love so that the legacy you leave behind is not hatred, rejection and confusion.

    Jessie Ho

  • The fault for such social decadence as this reviewed book represents and champions lies squarely at the feet of Christians. As Mat 5:13 says: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

    Christians have lost their savour, choosing to focus on an internalised, “personal” faith rather than a Kingdom-advancing one, the victory of which Christ already secured in principle at Cavalry. Rather than pressing the crown rights of King Jesus in all areas of life, they spend their time navel-gazing, ignoring the culture sinking around them and so being “good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

    The blame for the worsening decadence besetting our culture lies squarely at the feet of those who, possessing the light, have grown slack and negligent, hiding it instead under a bushel of static, inordinate experientialism. They ought to be reminded that God will hold them accountable for their culpable (in)action.

    Francis Gamba, Melbourne

  • I am not a cultural anthropologist but I took some courses in it when I did a BA – human culture testifies (universally, as far as I am aware) to male-female marriage and the family being in existence for as long as man has been around. Whilst some cultures have practiced polyandry and polygyny, they have governed male-female marriage tightly and protected the family unit with complex marriage customs and strong legislation. Our modern Western culture is the only culture known that does not protect marriage and the family in those ways.

    A more accurate introduction to “Exploding the Nuclear Family” might have been, Family is… something completely unfamiliar from the 70’s no fault divorce, socially unaccountable parent-and-partner style unit that Kay Millican supports.

    But then that statement wouldn’t have fit the “dreamtime utopia” that Kay Millican and the sisterhood one day hope to live in.

    Wynnum, QLD

  • Thanks Frank
    I agree that the church has much to answer for in our decadent and morally vacuous West. We have not been doing our job, and have often not lived lives that are any different to our non-religious neighbours. Too many of us have simply been asleep at the wheel: apathetic and indifferent, while the world around us goes down the tubes big time. So believers are much at fault here, and we do need a wake up call to get us back on track.

    Having said that, however, I would not minimize the fact that there are activist groups out there that are fully determined to see the destruction of everything we hold near and dear. There are groups and individuals out there who really do hate marriage and family, and are doing their best to wreck these institutions. There are those who want to get our children hooked on destructive drugs. There are those who do despise the sanctity of life, and want to push pro-death policies on us world-wide. There are those who despise the Western way of life and want to see it destroyed and replaced by an undemocratic rule.

    And many of these groups are really about money. The pro-abortion crowd is really about big bucks. The pro-drug crowd is about making big money. The pro-pornography crowd is about getting rich off of other’s addictions, and so on.

    So you are quite right to say that believers are in many ways to blame. We have not gotten involved in the battles of the day. And that is to our great shame. But let us also remember that there are those out there who are working full time to see the upheaval of faith and values that so many of us hold so dear.

    Thus you bring us a helpful reminder, and help bring balance as we think about the strife we find ourselves in.

    Bill Muehlenberg. CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I most certainly commend that remnant of Christians such as yourself who are awake to the leavening responsibility of Christianity and are valiantly fighting the good fight, trying to rouse the Church from its slumber.

    In a book I read recently, and which you’ve reviewed, written by Alvin Schmidt and entitled “How Christianity Changed the World”, I was struck by the extent to which Christianity was responsible for even some of the things we would most take for granted and assume existed independently of Christianity. What particularly hit me was that something that I would have thought any society, whether influenced by Christianity or not, would have had the sense to do was not done with the Romans, which in their case was the (I should have thought) self-evident idea of separating male and female prisoners in jail.

    But not until the Christians came along did it occur to them to do such a thing. To me, this goes to show the important — indeed invaluable — role Christians play in civilising and ameliorating the society around them. After all, they are the ones who have the light, who have been given the truth.

    And if they choose to remain within the four walls of their church, hiding their light under a bushel of pietistic irrelevence, then they should not be surprised at the crumbling world around them, and should soon expect to be “cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

    Francis Gamba, Melbourne

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