03 April 2009

The State-ed Purpose

Most notably New Jersey, California and now Iowa have via the machinations of the Judiciary have pushed so-called "gay marriage" on the people of their respective states. At least in California the amendment to the constitution (known as Proposition 8) was passed by the people defining in the State Constitution that "marriages" other than those between one man and one woman are not recognized in the state. However, after the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Iowa and after reading part of the decision I am not so sure that the reason for the Judiciary consistently ruling in favor of "gay marriage" is one that is ideologically driven by what some call the "gay agenda." Rather I am starting to be convinced that the problem is actually found not in having an ideology but rather in the lacking of a fundamental understanding of the purpose of government.

When you ask the average person the simple question: "What is the purpose of a State?" if you don't just get a blank stare you will more than likely receive an answer that involves a notion of rights or entitlements. However, anyone that was awake in their middle school civics class would probably recall something about common defense. Some prodigy may take it a step further and recite what we all memorized as children in class:

"We the people in order to form a more perfect union establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."

I would hope that our jurists remember this little item in the future because recently it seems to have been intentionally or unintentionally forgotten. This preamble is a lamp post that is to help guide us in our understanding of what it is to be a State. Leaving this particular American notion of the State aside for the moment it is important to speak about the fundamental principles upon which even this American notion of the State is built.

If you think about primordial man it is easy to think about the seminal notion of the State. Human beings came together in tribes for mutual support and protection. This is a key point that is missing in the modern notions of jurisprudence. This initial drive of support and protection is the foundation out of which has grown the more complicated governing body that we know as the State. But, a building cannot stand without its foundation. Yet what is this notion of protection? Is it simply the coming together of individuals to fight off nature or marauding tribes? Considered simply the answer is yes. However, the deeper question becomes evident when we discover what it is this primordial State was protecting. What is so vulnerable that necessitates a coming together of people for mutual support and protection? Simply put, the answer is that what is vulnerable, what needs protection is the human family.

Why is it that the State necessarily exists for the protection of the family? If we look at a traditional family the answers are self-evident. Who is it in a State that needs protection? It is not the warriors of the family nor any firm adult. Generally these individuals could care for themselves. However, in the creation of a family there immediately is created vulnerability that is need of protection. First and foremost is the protection of women. This is not to say that women are weak but rather it is a fact of biology that on average women are not as physically strong and men and can be physically assaulted more easily. Even to this day rape is mostly a crime perpetuated against women. Also, when a women is carrying a child in her womb she is in dire need of protection from both natural and human violence. Pregnancy simply makes the women more vulnerable. Secondarily the State exists to protect children. Principally it is the child in the womb that is the most vulnerable but also the child after birth is in need of much protection and care until the child attains an age that he might be strong enough to enter into adulthood and take on the role of assisting the community in its role of protection. These two persons of interest in intimately tied together. One is not subordinate to the other but rather they are co-equal in their consideration by the State due to their natural biological ink. Third, if a State is successful in protecting its citizens they will live longer lives. These elders of the community are no longer as firm as the younger adults and are now also vulnerable members of their society. Everybody has their part in the State and contributes in their own way to the protection of its members but it is these people along with the sick and disabled that is the impetus for the very existence of the State.

In short the fundamental purpose of the State is the protection of the human family. However, when procreation and protection of the vulnerable are eroded in the values of a society then the State ceases to recognize itself and begins to turn to other areas of concern that are not its proper competence or it forgets its very purpose all together. Take for instance this statement by the Iowa Supreme Court, "We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective." What they completely miss is that it is the flourishing of the human family that is the very basis of the institution of marriage which is also itself the foundation of the State. The admittance of persons to a type of non-traditional marriage is to in fact saw off the limb upon which the state sits. It is no wonder that a State that promotes contraception, abortion, euthanasia, no-fault divorce, assisted suicide, sterilization, illicit use of the death penalty, objectification of women via pornography and other manifestations of the culture of death would in the end allow a place for the systematic erosion of marriage. If the culture cannot understand its fundamental purpose of protecting human life along with providing the space for that life to flourish then it is only a matter of time before that culture, that State, ceases to have any relevance at all.

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