On the use of the phrase “natural family” to refer to traditional family arrangments

17 Apr

Recently, I had a student object to my use of the term “natural” family in distinction to non-traditional family arrangements.  He/she would tolerate the use of the term “traditional” but not “natural.”  Apparently, this is construed by some on the Left as offensive language.  Now without making a moral case for the traditional family as superior to all of its alternatives ceterus paribus, and using assumptions usually associated with the thought of the secular Left, I want to use this occasion as further evidence that the Left is as much driven by moralistic reasoning and not facts or science than the Right is alleged to be.

Is it really unreasonable to refer to the traditional family as the natural family?  Clearly, it is not.  If human beings are simply another species of animal, as we are told by presumably objective and science driven seculars, then it is hardly raw prejudice to use such terminology when describing human behavior.  After all, virtually every species of animal has family arrangements, breeding, reproductive, nurturing, and bonding patterns and practices that we unhesitatingly refer to as “natural” to that species.  There may be aberrant cases, but we don’t let those exceptions disprove the rule.  We don’t observe other animal species endlessly indifferent between family arrangements.  We rather find them settling according to one, and we call that one, natural.  Is it really outlandish, then, to think that human beings are any different (again, provided humans are basically animals driven by the same evolutionary impulses associated with other living things), especially when we see the evolutionary benefits of that kind of arrangement given its alternatives (procreation, child success, social or “pack” flourishing, etc.).  And if what is “natural” is determined more by dominant practice, rather than innate biological instincts, then the case for the natural family being the traditional family is supported even more, since the dominant practice today and in the past has always been children born to and reared by committed conjugal partners.

So maybe I’ll capitulate and refer to traditional marriage rather than natural marriage, but if I do, it will be to appease the Left’s commitment to political and moral correctness and not the Left’s commitment facts, reason, or science.

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