Greetings to you all!
I am delighted to see this Congress take form. I also want to welcome the
thousands watching and listening in via live-stream video on the Internet.
The year 2009 is
notable in several ways relative to the natural family. To begin with, it marks
the fifth anniversary of the Doha Declaration, a splendid presentation of family
principles and policy guidelines that has informed international law. It grew
out of the Doha process, which was actually launched at our Mexico City World
Congress of Families.
“2009” also marks the
15th Anniversary of the Inter-national Year of the Family, 1994: a
recognition created by United Nations resolution. As it turned out, this
launched a series of UN conferences on issues related to family life, around
which coalesced a new, international pro-family movement. Many persons involved
in that movement are here today.
And, while I have to
bend time a bit here, we are also only a few months past the 60th
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Article 16
reads: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is
entitled to protection by society and the state.” From this document we derive
the phrase, the “natural family.”
How did the word
“natural” become a modifier to “family” in this important declaration? Close
study of the legislative history of Article 16 reveals the driving influence of
two men: Rene Cassin of France, a specialist in international law; and Charles
Habib Malik, Ambassador from Lebanon to the United Nations. Cassin himself was
Jewish; Malik, a Greek Orthodox Arab. Both, however, had been influenced by the
recent flowering of Christian Democratic ideals in the immediate post-World War
II period. As Cassin explained, individual rights and liberties must be
understood “as embedded within social groups and bonds” such as “family,
household, vocation, city and nation.”
Among Malik’s tasks at
the UN was to serve as Rapporteur—or Secretary—of the Commission on Human
Rights. In his minutes covering debate on Article 16, Malik explained his own
views on the family, here in “third person”:
[Malik] maintained that society was not composed of individuals, but of groups,
of which the family was the first and most important unit; in the family circle
the fundamental human freedoms and rights were originally nurtured... He also
contended that the family was endowed with inalienable rights, rights which had
not been conferred upon it by the caprice of men.
In the end, Malik’s views won
The power of the term,
“natural family,” also derives from the sciences. Regarding child well-being,
the common lesson taught by social science research over the last quarter
century is this: children living with their two natural or biological parents
in a married couple home are most likely to live healthy, happy, and enriching
lives, and to grow into good citizens. Any variation from this model raises the
probability of negative outcomes.
Some might reply that
the “natural family”—defined as “the union of a man and a woman through marriage
for sharing love and joy, propagating children, providing their moral education,
building a vital home economy, offering security in times of trouble, and
binding the generations”—that
this actually is a religious concept. In a way, this is true. Certainly, the
great monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—understand the family
to be rooted in the Creation events told in Genesis; that is, in a law of
And yet, evolutionary
scientists report something quite similar. The paleo-anthropological record
actually shows that the pairing off of male and female “hominids”—or early
humans—into something very much like marriage reaches back over three million
years, to the time when our purported ancestors left the trees on the African
savannah and started walking on two legs. Put another way, the human species
succeeded primarily through the discovery of monogamous marriage and social
fatherhood. The evolution of marriage occurred—but only once—3 to 4
million years ago when “to be human” came to mean “to be conjugal.” “Change” is
the mark of cultural strengthening or weakening around a constant, natural
human model, built on marriage and childrearing.
Some are discouraged
in this time about the prospects for the natural family. They see a retreat
from marriage, low fertility, and other signs of decay. I want to urge you to
be optimistic. As G. K. Chesterton once said, the family is the one reliable
source of social renewal, because it is the only human group that renews itself
as eternally as the state, and more naturally than the state.
In this light, I will
close with a paragraph from the book, The Natural Family: A Manifesto
which I co-authored with Paul Mero:
vision of the hearth looks forward, not to the past, for hope and purpose. We
see the vital home reborn through startling new movements such as
homeschooling. We marvel at fresh inventions that portend novel bonds between
home and work. We are inspired by a convergence of religious truth with the
evidence of science around the vital role of the family. We see the prospect of
a great civil alliance or religious orthodoxies, within nations and around the
globe; not to compromise on doctrines held dear, but to defend our family
systems from the common foe. With wonder, we find a shared happiness with
people once distrusted or feared. We enjoy new friendships rooted in family
ideals that cross ancient divides. We see the opportunity for an abundant world
order built on the natural family.
 Rene Cassin, “Historique de la Declaración Universelle de 1948,” in Cassin, La Pensee et L’Action
(n.p.: Editions F. Lalau, 1972), 105-08.
 From: Johannes Morsiuk, The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); 255.
 Allan Carlson and Paul Mero, The Natural
Family: A Manifesto (Dallas: Spence, 2007), 13.
 C. Owen Lovejoy, “The Origin of Man,”
Science 211 (Jan. 23, 1981): 348; Phillip L. Reno, Richard S. Meindl,
Melanee A. McCollum, and C. Owen Lovejoy, “Sexual Dimorphism in
Australopithecus afarensis was similar to modern humans,”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 100 (Aug. 5, 2003):
9404-09; and Ronald S. Immeruian,,” Perspectives on Human Attachment
(Pair Bonding): Eve’s Unique Legacy of a Canine Analogue, “Evolutionary
Psychology 1 (2003): 138-54.
 Allan Carlson and Paul Mero, The Natural
Family, p. 26.