The International Day of Families, observed annually on May 15, has a nice upbeat sound that everyone seems to like, but it highlights one of the most dangerous lies of our generation: that “family” can mean anything anyone says it means.
At issue is far more than semantics, as seen in Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” This language, according to the late Professor Richard Wilkins, “embodies fundamental truths that, for too long, have not been given their deserved attention and respect.”
As reflected in the precise and elegant terms of the Universal Declaration, the family is not merely a construct of human will or imagination. The family has a profoundly important connection to nature. This connection begins with the realities of reproduction (underscored by recent studies which demonstrate that children thrive best when raised by married biological parents) and extends to the forces that shape civilization itself. It encompasses, among other things, the positive personal, social, cultural, and economic outcomes that current research suggests flow from a man learning to live with a woman (and a woman learning to live with a man) in a committed marital relationship. The family, in short, is the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” precisely because mounting evidence attests that the survival of society depends on the positive outcomes derived from the natural union of a man and a woman.
To ignore this reality, or to claim otherwise, is to fail to provide the protection to which the family is entitled and which it desperately needs. “On all sides, the family is under attack,” warned President Russell M. Nelson at our World Congress of Families. “Many wonder if the institution is no longer needed. Our response is certain. If there is any hope for the future of nations, that hope resides in the family.”
Or, in the words of Pope Francis, “Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself…. The future of humanity passes through the family. So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always.”
We at the International Organization for the Family have declared, and we do so again now, that
The family, a universal community based on the marital union of a man and a woman, is the bedrock of society, the strength of our nations, and the hope of humanity. As the ultimate foundation of every civilization known to history, the family is the proven bulwark of liberty and the key to development, prosperity, and peace.
The family is also the fountain and cradle of new life, the natural refuge for children, and the first and foremost school to teach the values necessary for the well-being of children and society. The family truly is our link to the past and bridge to the future.
And, as we urged at our World Congress of Families,
We call for a culture that honors and enables faithful, fulfilling, and resilient marriages; that recognizes and protects the uniquely valuable contributions of both mothers and fathers to the lives of their children; and that encourages the values and vision necessary for young people to look forward to and prepare for successful marriage and parenting.
We call upon officials and policymakers, internationally, nationally, and at all levels of government, to immediately establish policies and implement measures to preserve and strengthen marriage and family.
We urge citizens, leaders, and people of influence everywhere to place as their highest priority the protection and strengthening of the family as the irreplaceable foundation of civilization and our only hope for prosperity, peace, and progress.