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Reversing the flight from the family


Recovering from poisonous government policies and the resulting cultural decline will require abandoning the delusional, moral relativism of utilitarianism in order to restore natural law as the standard for public morality.

America is experiencing an unprecedented “flight from the family,” with a growing number of women neither marrying nor having children. Simultaneously over the past fifty years, the welfare state has experienced a gigantic expansion, and the intact, natural family as a norm has broken up in ever-increasing numbers, with high rates of nonmarital births, long-term and intergenerational welfare dependence, divorce, juvenile and adult crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and other pathologies. This mounting calamity has proceeded as the traditional moral values of individual liberty, personal responsibility, family, and community have been eclipsed by the secular, moral relativism of utilitarianism in claiming that “the end justifies the means.”

The Oxford/Cambridge scholar C. S. Lewis stressed in his book, The Abolition of Man (1943), the importance of the natural law of moral ethics, a code of moral conscience that is inescapable and defines each person as human. Like the inherent truism of mathematics or the natural physical laws, such morality exists on its own, independent of subjective choices or experiences, according to Lewis.

Lewis drew on the natural-law insights of such thinkers as the apostle Paul, Augustine, Magnus, Aquinas, Cicero, Grotius, Blackstone, Acton, and Locke, and he considered modernist dismissals of such work to be fundamentally erroneous. In particular, both Aquinas’s notion of “common sense” (communis sensus) as described in the Summa theologica and the legacy of rational theism found in Jewish, Islamic, Christian, and certain pagan writers—the core philosophical system of the West—had a powerful effect on Lewis. To him, the culture of “modernism” is not just an historical aberration of this “common sense,” but a profound threat to the pursuit of truth, goodness, and civilization itself.

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