Archive Civic Polity Steven Wedgeworth The Natural Family

The Family-Centered Politics of Abraham Kuyper

From James D. Bratt’s biography:

The family… was for Kuyper first in every sense of the term. It was the first institution to appear in history and seeded all the rest. Its health was the foundation and surest barometer of a society’s wellbeing. It grew from nature, prospered by nurture, and properly taught its members how to balance personal autonomy, mutual dependence, and due responsibility—that is, it was society in miniature. Likewise its authority was the source of, model for, and limit upon the state. Properly functioning, it also exhibited church-like qualities in being crowned with love and becoming a school for morals. It set the first limit on individualism and initiated the delegation of powers central to consociational theory. If school and church each had a discrete article in the program, the family bore upon many. That complicated policy formulation at three points in particular. The state might mandate education, but the family—the “father,” Kuyper clarified—defined its terms. The state must promote public health by ensuring pure food and water, among other measures, but it might not violate the family’s rights of conscience and make vaccination compulsory. To prevent anomic individualism, the franchise should be extended to all heads of households, not to all adult persons. Normally, that meant voting by husbands/fathers; otherwise, by widows/mothers.

~ Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat 144-145

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.