In a recent discussion of philosophy, two Australian thinkers devised ways of completely cutting away income and wealth inequality in a kind of hyper-egalitarianism. One solution that was on the table: abolishing the family.
They are not the first to pose the idea. The idea is at least as old as Plato, but never as a legitimate policy. But several American academics have already posed it as an actual proposal rather than an abstract idea (see footnotes for more examples).
In Mormon doctrine, families play an essential role in God’s plan for us. Families here with a father and mother are patterned after an eternal family. The institution of the family is enacted by divine design. A huge portion of our growth on earth is contingent upon us learning to be children submissive to loving parents as we learn our relationship to God, as well as learning how to be parents in preparation for enjoying the same type of family life that God enjoys.
Mormon doctrines of the need for family-level education, of personalized work ethic, and of the inherent value of the parent-child and parent-parent relationship automatically sets this at odds with this level of hyper-egalitarian sensibilities.
Any “new model” of families or basic social units must find itself pressed against this doctrine. The “culture of celestial relationships” will be at odds with a political culture of class sensitivity and declarations of “unfair” advantage that come by virtue of a strong family. By definition, having smart parents is an unfair advantage for child attainment. Having responsible parents is a social shame. By simple genetics, having parents with good health or above-average intelligence or any social feeling places their children in a better position, whether the parents are terrible at parenting or not.
In essence, there are extremes in the political realm that LDS doctrine essentially constrains devout Mormons from reaching. Hyper-individualism combined with a lack of government devolving into anarchy is a society of chaos and selfishness forbidden by the community-focused Peter and James. The extreme political right is essentially off-limits.
In the same way, the extreme political left with such notions of hyper-egalitarianism enough to suggest abandoning the family institution is also off-limits.
Such a world is specifically warned against:
“We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
So where does that leave us? What choices will we make in light of this warning?