ARTICLE I. THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF DOMESTIC SOCIETY.
200. The form of society most ancient and most necessary for the human race is the family or domestic society. It originates in marriage, which is defined to be: The union of a man and a woman, involving their living together in undivided intercourse. Marriage is the institution of the Creator Himself. He made woman to be man's companion, not his slave -- "A help like unto himself" (Gen. ii. 18). The qualities of the two sexes were not to be identical, but to be similar and supplementary; wisdom, strength, and firmness predominating on the one side, deference and tenderness on the other; while mutual love and fidelity were to join both parties in the one indissoluble union of wedlock: "Wherefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh" (Gen. ii. 24).
201. The primary ends of marriage are the generation and education of children, whereby the human race is perpetuated and elevated to a becoming standard of intellectual and moral excellence.
1. This perpetuation of the race is evidently intended by the Creator, who not only bade our first parents "increase and multiply and fill the earth" (Gen. i. 28), but He also implanted in the natures of men and women such inclinations and needs that this design can never be frustrated.
2. Yet it is not necessary for this purpose that every one shall enter the state of marriage; but exceptions in this matter may be expedient, even apart from supernatural considerations.
The intellectual and moral elevation of mankind is far more important than its numerical increase. This principle has been acted upon by countless heroes of all times, who have sacrificed their lives in youth or vigorous manhood for the advance of truth and science, for the honor and liberty of their country, or for the spread of civilization. An army is highly benefited by the presence of magnanimous leaders; mankind likewise is elevated by the example of intrepid souls, and particularly of those who sacrifice for a great religious motive the pleasures and comforts of marriage and lead a life of perpetual continency. In this career, the most perfect among the sons of men has set Himself as the pattern, and millions have followed His example. However much the low-minded and sensual may sneer at such a practice or deny the possibility of its long continuance, the experience of God's saints and innumerable chosen souls makes it manifest that such a life is possible, and, with special supernatural graces, comparatively easy.
202. The secondary end of marriage is the direct good of the contracting parties, their peace, mutual love, and union of mind and heart. This condition of things results partly from similarity of tastes and dispositions; but it depends chiefly upon the practice of the social virtues, especially of an enduring conjugal love, by which each party is prompted to further the happiness of the other. Yet in its primary and secondary ends, marriage is subordinate to the last end of man, his everlasting beatitude.
ARTICLE II. THE UNITY AND INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE.
203. The two chief properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility. One man and one woman are joined in wedlock, promising, as the old formula correctly expresses it, to take each other as husband and wife, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part." To the unity of marriage are opposed polyandry, or plurality of husbands, and polygamy, or the plurality of wives. To indissolubility is opposed divorce.
204. Polyandry is destructive of the very idea of order in domestic society, because, if man is to retain his natural headship of the family, it would give several heads to the same family. Besides, polyandry defeats both the primary and the secondary ends of marriage. Even if in this condition of affairs children were born, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to tell who was the father of each particular child, so that the education of such practically fatherless offspring would be incomplete and neglected. And can we imagine that domestic peace and love could find place in such a household? Consequently, polyandry is entirely opposed to the natural law.
205. Polygamy, though it does not make the generation and education of the children impossible, is directly opposed to the secondary end of marriage, for it is the unfailing cause of jealousy, strife and domestic unhappiness; it degrades woman from her true rank to the condition of slavery. Hence, polygamy is a violation of the natural law, though not to so great an extent as polyandry. History shows that polygamous nations have advanced very slowly, if at all, in civilization, and that amongst them the increase of population has not equaled that of monogamous nations.
To the objection that God permitted polygamy to the patriarchs of old, we answer that God never approved the practice. He tolerated it for a period, until, in the fullness of time, His holy will was more luminously declared, and the original unity of marriage was re-established. Even if God did allow plurality of wives in past ages, it does not follow that the practice may be adopted without His special dispensation. He alone controls the rights of all parties, and He alone could prevent the evils that must result naturally from a polygamous union.
206. Indissolubility is the second property of marriage, that is, the marriage contract is of such a nature, that, once entered upon, it continues in force until the death of one of the contracting parties. A lasting union it was meant to be from the beginning: "Wherefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife" (Gen. ii. 24). This property is violated by divorce, which consists in annulling or breaking the marriage contract, so that each of the contracting parties may marry again during the lifetime of the other.
Divorce is opposed to one of the primary objects of marriage, namely, the proper education of the children. The latter have a natural right to the support, the supervision, the good example, the abiding love of both their parents, to whom, in return, they owe lasting reverence, love, and gratitude. Yet these duties, which are established by the natural law, divorce makes impossible of fulfillment. It turns the mutual love of husband and wife into mutual hatred; the children cannot cling to both parents, and thence results a house divided against itself, a byword of disgrace.
Moreover, if divorce were foreseen as possible, how easily would mutual distrust be aroused, to be followed by domestic discord. "If," says the Rev. Joseph Rickaby, S. J. (Moral Philosophy, p. 276), "a divorce a vinculo were a visible object on the matrimonial horizon, the parties would be strongly encouraged thereby to form illicit connections, in their expectation of having any one of them ratified and sanctified by marriage. Marriage would be entered upon lightly, as a thing easily to be done and readily undone, a state of things not very far in advance of promiscuity."
207. It is sometimes objected that the unnatural conduct of one of the contracting parties may make the continuation of family life a moral impossibility, and that in this case divorce is the less of two evils. Such a state of affairs may indeed render it impossible for the parties in question to live together; nevertheless divorce is not therefore admissible. An escape from the difficulty may be had, without violation of law or of right, by a temporary separation, a toro, "from bed and board," as the arrangement is termed, which may be indefinitely prolonged according to need. Yet this measure differs from a separation a vinculo, or the annulment of the marriage contract. Among baptized Christians, for whom marriage is a sacrament figuring the spotless and irrevocable espousals of the Son of God with His Church, every valid marriage that has been consummated is absolutely incapable of annulment: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matt. xix. 6).
208. Marriage is, therefore, by its nature, a bond that can be loosened only by death. It may be asked whether divorce is essentially wrong, i. e., whether it is so opposed to the natural law as to be inadmissible under any conditions. We know that in the time of the Old Testament, God allowed or tolerated it for some special cases in the midst of general corruption. But toleration of a measure is immensely different from approval of the same. Besides, it is one thing for God, the Sovereign Master and Guardian of rights, to dispense from a law, and quite another thing for the civil authorities to grant a similar dispensation in a matter that does not come within their jurisdiction. The civil powers do not create the family, nor can they without injustice bring about its destruction.
209. Thesis III. The rights of domestic society are not derived from civil society.
Explanation. To Catholics it is evident that civil society. cannot without sacrilege usurp control over matrimony, which is a sacrament instituted by Christ. But we are here considering the subject in the light of natural reason, prescinding from the special dignity to which we know by Revelation the marriage contract has been elevated.
Proof 1. The individuals composing a State must have existence before the State can exist, and these individuals have, by their nature, the right to form domestic society. Add to this, the institution of marriage and the entire constitution of the family are antecedent, historically, to the formation of civil society. Consequently, the rights of the family cannot be derived from civil society; and therefore the latter can advance no title to control or modify rights which it did not originate.
Proof 2. Every rightly constituted society can justly claim only such powers as are necessary for the attainment of its own distinctive end, and it can claim no powers that infringe upon prior rights. But to attain its ends -- the public peace and the protection of personal rights -- the State has no need of jurisdiction over marriage, the education of children, or other matters pertaining naturally to the family or the individual, and this, too, by a right prior to the rights of the State. On the contrary, by depriving individuals or families of their natural rights, which it is bound to protect, civil society contradicts its own end.
Proof 3. A nobler society cannot be subject in the matter of its inherent and distinctive rights to a society that is less noble. But domestic society is nobler in its ends and object than civil society, and therefore cannot be subject to the latter in the matter of its essential rights. The end of domestic society is the propagation, and, especially, the education of the human race for time and eternity, whilst the end of civil society is happiness in this world; hence, the advantages it secures are less intimately connected with the true happiness of men than those aimed at by domestic society.
210. The State has a right as the guardian of public decency to forbid such marriages as are opposed to the natural law. Though it can have no jurisdiction over the substantial features of marriage, it may assert control in the matter of certain external forms or accessories, in order to insure the protection of individual rights, such as the settlement of property and the rightful succession to titles and privileges. Hence the State may demand a record of valid marriages, and for this purpose may require compliance with legal formalities, e. g., of registration, provided the burdens thus imposed be reasonable and for the common good. Should it be objected that the State has a right to regulate contracts, and, therefore, the marriage contract, we reply that the State has no right over contracts that are in their nature prior to its existence. In so far as civil consequences are involved in family matters, the State is bound to protect natural rights, but it cannot create or control them. Except in cases of gross violation of strict rights among members of a family, the presumption is against State interference in the concerns of domestic society.
ARTICLE III. PARENTAL AUTHORITY. EDUCATION.
211. The temporal and eternal happiness of men, as well as the prosperity of civil society, depends chiefly, in the natural order, on the perfection of domestic society. Now an essential condition for the welfare of every society is a proper exercise of its authority; since in this manner the necessary means are directed to the end for which the society exists. Hence, in discussing principles of domestic society, we must first decide in whom the authority of the family resides.
Thesis IV. The husband is naturally the head of the family. Proof 1. The universal practice of all races of men shows that this is a dictate of common sense.
Proof 2. He to whom the other members of the family look naturally for protection, support and direction, is intended by the Author of nature to possess authority in the family, or to be its head. Now, such a one, in the normal state of affairs, allowance being made for occasional and partial exceptions, is the husband, the father of the family. For (a) the husband is properly the founder of the family, the primary cause of its existence; woman was created to be a help and companion to man. (b) It is he who, as a rule, is expected to provide for the family its means of support. (c) On account of his superior strength of mind and body, all look to him for direction in doubt, and for defense in danger. (d) He is to represent the interests of the family abroad, the wife being detained at home habitually by duties which she can best perform. (e) Nature's gifts have been so divided between husband and wife that reason, which is the faculty for ruling, is more dominant in the former, love and sympathy in the latter. He is the head, and she the heart; but the head should direct the heart.
212. The wife and mother, who is not a menial, but the helpmate and companion of her husband, shares his parental dignity, and is likewise entitled to a share in his authority over the family. She is naturally the centre of domestic affection, the dispenser of the comforts provided by the father, the mistress of the home, subject indeed to his prudent direction when important occasions make such direction necessary, yet possessing the right to manage her own domain. From her lips the children will receive direction and warning, and her loving hand will correct their faults. The father will, if need be, firmly support her authority, and by word and example teach the children to venerate their mother.
213. Education is the most important duty of parents towards their offspring. It consists in the well-proportioned development of the child's faculties to prepare him to make efforts for himself in order to secure happiness in this world and the next. Bodily development is first in the order of time; moral and religious education is first in the order of importance; for religion and morality lead to the highest and most lasting happiness. Cultivation of the intellect in some degree is necessary for all men, though there can be no universal standard in this matter; the extent of the mental training to be given to the child must depend largely on the position in life which he may be reasonably expected to hold in after years. Book-learning is not the measure of personal happiness or of public usefulness; but attainments in the moral order, whether they be accompanied with scholarship or not, are an unfailing source of happiness to their possessor and of valuable service to other men and to the State.
214. Religion is the most important element of education. The child has the right to be prepared for all the most important duties of life. Now, among these latter, the worship of God takes precedence of all others, and is to be most solicitously provided for. Nor can the principles of morality be inculcated without dogmatic religious teaching; for men will not observe the natural law unless they know that it has a proportionate sanction. But to teach the existence of such a sanction is to teach religion. All parents of sound judgment are constantly teaching their children principles of natural religion, and no one who possesses a sufficient understanding of this important subject, can honestly disagree with Washington's declaration: "Howsoever great the influence of a polite education is said to be on certain minds, reason and experience by no means allow us to expect that morality shall prevail in a nation if religious principles be excluded."
When, moreover, parents are blessed with supernatural truth and grace, they would be exceedingly cruel to their child if they denied him what they themselves consider to be the most precious and necessary possession on earth -- the knowledge of God's revealed religion. Hence, the Christian education of their children is the most sacred duty of Christian parents.
215. Enemies of revealed religion have, especially in recent times, advocated an unreasonable system of education, which recalls the harsh and unnatural training in vogne amongst the ancient Spartans -- namely, State control of education. They maintain that the State should assume the office of educating the young without regard for the natural rights of parents. By this means, the youth of the land could be imbued with the political principles of the ruling power or party, and, especially, they could be indoctrinated with irreligion and be induced to look with complete indifference, if not with abhorrence, upon the Faith of their ancestors. This system finds favor with certain political writers and leaders who aim at extending and centralizing the civil power; with self-seeking demagogues who scheme for a control of patronage in the system of State education; with Socialists who would destroy individual liberty and make the State all-powerful; and with many well-meaning, though deluded men who, not perceiving the wrong and the danger of such a course, prefer State control of education as a cheaper and less troublesome method, and even as a safeguard against what they fancy to be the subversion by the Catholic Church of the liberties of the land.
216. Thesis V. The education of children belongs by right to their parents.
Explanation. This right belongs to parents primarily and per se; per se -- i. e., by the very fact that they are parents, though per accidens it may pass to others, as, e. g., when the parents are dead, or if they are wholly unfit to exercise this right; primarily -- i. e., they possess this right before all others, and are responsible for the education of their children, even when they delegate part of their right to others who thus acquire a secondary right.
Proof 1. They who have a natural and indispensable duty to educate the young have the natural right to fulfill that duty. But parents have such a duty; therefore, they have the natural right to educate their children. That parents have such a duty is evident from the primary object of matrimony, which is not merely the generation of children, but especially the education of new members of the human family in a manner worthy of their rational nature.
Proof 2. The child has on his part an inalienable right to the means necessary for attaining his last end. Since education of some kind is such a means, he has a right to education. Now, surely this is not a vague, abstract right, but it is something determinate, and connotes determinate persons who are under positive obligation to care for that right. Such persons nature clearly points out; the parents are naturally the most closely related to the child; in them nature has implanted the enduring, patient love required for such a work; the child is naturally disposed to revere and love his parents and to receive their instructons and corrections with ready docility.
Proof 3. If education belonged by right to the State rather than to the parent, the former would have to perform all the functions of education, the feeding, clothing, and housing of the children no less than the office of instructing them in letters, morality, and religion. But such functions do not come within the range of the State's duties; attempts to assume them would be justly denounced as usurpations of personal rights. In particular: (a) Who does not feel that the State in its agents has no right to invade the home circle and there assume control, setting aside the wishes of parents and children? (b) The State is utterly incompetent, especially in a population of mixed creeds, to teach dogmatic religion; and yet without dogmatic religious teaching, morality is apt to be little more than a name.
1. The State must control whatever bears on the public good; but such is the education of children. Answer. This principle, if followed out, would make us a nation of slaves; for it would destroy every personal right. Almost every act bears immediately or remotely on the public good; thus the State could regulate all details of food, clothing, and lodging, the choice of trade or profession, the selection of husband or wife; these matters, inasmuch as they affect the well-being of the citizens, are related to the common good. Accordingly, we reply to the objection: The State must control whatever bears on the public good -- provided it does not go beyond its own province and usurp inalienable private rights, for the protection of which the State has been instituted.
2. The State is bound to secure what is so necessary for the public good as education. Answer. The State has no right to meddle in private matters that are well enough provided for. Its duty in such cases is to come forward and lend further assistance when private efforts are inadequate to avoid a great public evil or to procure a great public good. Now, education -- especially that which is called elementary education -- can be well enough imparted by parents and those whom they choose as aids in this work. The State may laudably encourage and assist private efforts: to be a patron of education is an honor; to usurp its functions is injustice.
3. But the State needs intelligent voters. Answer. The man in our times who cannot read and write is surely at a disadvantage; nevertheless, it is possible for one to be very intelligent without book-learning. The State needs honest, conscientious voters; to obtain these, it must encourage sound religious instruction, but it need not control any form of education.
4. But the State should defend the rights of children; hence, it has a right to pass compulsory school laws. Answer. 1. The duty of defending children's rights could, at best, only entitle the State to compel parents to educate their children. 2. The education to which children have a strict right, is that which will fit them to attain their happiness in this world and the next. Now, this does not require a certain fixed amount of book-learning. Therefore, if parents choose to teach their child a trade, the latter has no further right to education that the State may defend.
218. The duties of children toward their parents are those of love, gratitude, honor, and obedience. Flowing directly from the mutual relations of parents and children, the first three of these duties remain always in full vigor. In regard to the duty of obedience, three periods of life are to be distinguished:
1. During the years of imperfect judgment, while the child constantly needs support and wise direction, he must allow himself to be trained by his parents with perfect docility. Hence, at this period, he owes them obedience in all things that are not opposed to the law of God. He must submit to his parents' correction and chastisement, in the infliction of which, love ought to rule, accompanied by prudence, moderation, and firmness.
2. When the judgment is matured, yet the son or daughter remains under the parental roof, the parents are to be obeyed in all things pertaining to the management of the home and the general good of the family. They must continue to watch over the morals of their children, to warn and reprove them whenever necessary, and even to enforce compliance with the laws of good behavior. They ought to assist their children to make a wise and prudent choice of a state of life, though they have no right to prescribe or dictate the state of life to be chosen, or the partner to be selected in marriage; nor can parents object to the adoption of a holier career in the religious or ecclesiastical state, unless they be in pressing need of their children's support. Man's first and highest allegiance is due not to his parents, but to God, and he has a perfect right to obey the Divine call to a holier manner of life. "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me." (Matt. x., 37.) Hence, it is apparent, also, that parents cannot rightfully prevent their children from embracing the true Faith.
3. When the grown-up son or daughter withdraws from the parental home, the duty of obedience ceases, but not the duties of love and reverence for parents, and of respect for their wisdom and advice. Moreover, all must assist their parents in case of need, and ever be to them a source of honor and consolation.
219. A complete family usually includes servants, who differ from other wage-earners by being permanently employed in domestic occupations. As such, they become inmates of the house, and, in a certain sense, members of the family. From this fact special rights and duties arise in their regard with respect to the other members of the household; e. g., they may be entrusted with delegated authority over the children of their employers. It is their duty to have the good of the family sincerely at heart: and, on the other hand, they are entitled not only to their salary, but also to special love and care, particularly in times of illness. Every one is bound by the natural law to see to the moral and physical welfare of those belonging to his own household.
220. We know from history that at the dawn of Christianity nearly half the human race was in a state of slavery. In the mildest meaning of the term, a slave is a human being bound for life to work for his master without other remuneration than his support, possessing no rights except those that are inalienable. Inalienable rights are such as are intimately connected with the attainment of our last end. They are the rights to life, limbs, health, surroundings favorable to morality, and in general all those aids to eternal happiness of which a man cannot justly deprive himself, since by so doing he would infringe God's rights to his service. Slavery thus limited may, perhaps, in certain special circumstances, contain no violation of strict right, and, therefore, no injustice; yet, it ever has been an evil, usually far greater than squalid poverty; and it has occasioned countless abuses of the most deplorable kind. Hence, the Church has always labored -- and with unfailing success -- to mitigate and finally to suppress it. To the general satisfaction, slavery has disappeared from all Christian lands. There is no reason, therefore, for treating the subject further.
<< ======= >>