As I heard it in a clip played recently on Steve Deace’s show on WHO radio in Des Moines, Rush Limbaugh has now openly joined the moral shrug-meisters, who dismiss the issue of gay marriage. Like Glenn Beck he casually denies the damage done when a society purports to redefine marriage (that is, the institutional foundation of family life) in a way that denies the relevance of God endowed natural right. Mr. Limbaugh would, I’m sure, disclaim any desire to cast aside the principled basis of the U.S. Constitution. But, as I have pointed out before, the family is the primordial paradigm for all property rights, which is to say, all human claims to physical belongings. If the government is not obliged to respect the rights of the natural family, this implies that it has no obligation to respect any property rights whatsoever.
Once this fundamental point becomes clear, there is something tragically pathetic about the doomed protestations of so-called “economic conservatives” trapped in the delusion that we can defend all the institutions derived from property rights (such as free enterprise economic activity) when we have denied the basis for all individual claims to any property whatsoever.
Consider, for example, the Lockean argument, (later belabored by Marx into a false theory of value) that “every man has a property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body and the work of his hands, we may say are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature has provided and left it in, he has mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that his is own, and thereby makes it his property.” (John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Chapter V) This seems reasonable enough until we remember the conditions under which every human being enters the world. Every human birth involves the mother’s labor. But contrary to Locke’s specious observation, by this labor the mother does not remove the child from “the state nature has provided and left it in”. Rather, from before the moment of conception, in the very activity of procreation itself, the physical labor of both mother and father is required in order for the child to come into the state or condition that corresponds to his or her nature. Once developed to point of delivery, the child comes into the world in an utterly helpless condition that requires more careful and attentive parental labor.
We belong to our parents, therefore, before we belong to ourselves. But the parents affirm this belonging before we exist to be claimed, on account of the motive force of an obligation that is one of the properties of their bodies, expressed in what we would call the instinct to propagate the species. This instinct is not, properly speaking, an original function of their will, but arises from the way they have been made. It reflects therefore, the will of their Creator. As they choose to act in accordance with the will of their Creator, they do what is naturally right, which makes interference with their activity, in contravention of the Creator’s will, naturally wrong.
The natural family therefore arises from the consent of the parents to act in accordance with the will of the Creator. First, this leads them to bond with one another, which constitutes the bond and obligation of marriage. Next it leads them to acknowledge and accept their bond to the child, which gives rise to the responsibilities and rights involved in their assumption of parental authority. In this sequence, the parents consent to respect their natural obligations to one another, in accordance with the will of their Creator. By this respect they are moved to exercise the authority that fulfills the will of the Creator for their existence and the existence of the whole they represent (the human species). Respecting the authority of the Creator, they claim what belongs to them as authors or progenitors of new human life, which is the parental authority derived from their consent to be the agents of God’s will for the good of the family thus constituted. In this way, the natural obligation to procreate gives rise to the primordial form of human self-government, in which the authority to govern derives from the consent of the governed for the purpose of securing the natural right (the right to human life)God has ordained.
I have to hope that people like Mr. Limbaugh are thus helping to eviscerate the moral principles of our constitutional republic because “they know not what they do.” In that case, Christ’s example impels me to pray that God forgives them. In doing so I have to assume that Rush and others like him have never encountered anything like the reasoning carefully developed in a number of posts on this blog dealing with the issues of Declaration principle involved in the defense of the God-endowed natural family.
Of course Rush Limbaugh may think that the reasoning that connects the issue of gay marriage with the destruction of property rights is somehow faulty, incorrect or irrelevant. If so, I would welcome a chance to discuss the subject with him, in a public forum that would allow others to benefit from his instruction as well as myself. If it is superior understanding that leads him to be so casual about an issue that seems to affect the very foundation of our liberty and civilization, it would be deeply ungenerous of him to refuse to share it with the rest of us. If, on the other hand, he does so through ignorance, or a lack of careful thought, then at this critical and decisive juncture in our nation’s history, a special responsibility falls to someone to whom God has loaned the important public platform he daily occupies. For the sake of the nation, I hope that Mr. Limbaugh will carefully ponder the nature of this responsibility.