In much of the rhetoric surrounding Christian life, the centrality of the family is emphasized greatly but increasingly the family is not as a vessel to live a wholesome, virtuous, and altruistic life. The Christian emphasis on the family has seemingly devolved into treating God as a hearth god which is a part of the wider issue of treating God as a means to material ends. That is what nature-based polytheistic gods, that is “pagan” deities do, not God God. I have repeatedly seen a meme on social media where “My only request of God is that he keeps my family happy and safe”. It is a terrible prayer for almost every reason. What is the point of eternal life if your only use for God is to preserve your mortal life and you don’t care about anyone else’s mortal life? The emphasis on happiness is also problematic because it suggests one wants a life devoid of sacrifice. It also is very pro-atheist since God obviously isn’t doing that for a lot of people which if that prayer were genuinely Christian, would suggest an absence of God in most people’s lives on Earth since most people are poor.
The contemporary Christian nationalist propaganda focuses heavily on the family and the protection of children. The traditional Christian virtues are wholly absent. There is no whiff of asceticism, meekness, charity, humility, patience, grace, mercy, or anything along those lines. Their cultural battles over sexuality are about parents defending children with a metaphorical shotgun and a narcissistic hero complex. Sexual chastity is a beautiful virtue but that virtue is not, at all, exemplified, by an angry father with a shotgun defending the innocence of their children. That is the prideful chastity of a Vestal, not the ascetic chastity of a Christian. An old-timey father covetous of their daughter’s virginity is so out of reputational pride rooted firmly in attachment to the world and not in any way in a detachment from the world and the entire thing defeats the point of asceticism.
Furthermore, they want their children to be “happy”. One ponders whether this happiness is chronic joy and life satisfaction or acute euphoria and dopamine hits. Sadly, the aim of most parents is the latter. They, in Christianity, rationalize their ambition for their children to get into the best schools, the best jobs, the best sports teams, the best cliques, out of a Christian devotion to the family unit. They have become reticent to implore their children to sacrifice out of moral conviction and to serve more than they receive. That their family justifies nepotistic greed out of Christianity. Getting your child into a mid-tier school and a decent middle class job should be the aim of parents, not the best. After their children have their Maslow’s needs met then they are obligated to spend their life in altruistic service. Christianity existed before deontological rights and they have no right to do otherwise.
It seems their definition of happiness this way is, in part, borne of stupidity. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and life satisfaction and healthy joy versus shallow pleasure is all too abstract for them. The stupidest definition of happiness is a neurotransmitter high and social and material success. Their normative ethics become Ayn Rand’s Objectivism but about the family unit and not the individual. It is family-based ethical egoism and that the measure of morals is how things benefit in a very material and chemical manner one’s family. Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is among the stupidest philosophies ever devised.
Which is what I term “the idolatry of the family” and it is, again, more based on stupidity than malice. Hanlon’s Razor applies here. Their synapses just don’t fire good enough to register a more nuanced and deeper concept of happiness. This culture war, right now, is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. I mean, I recently wrote about the debate over masculinity and the right-wing side of this debate is not talking about making chivalrous gentlemen boy scouts but macho jocks of muscle and metaphorical steroids. They’re just too stupid for virtue ethics and define masculinity in the dumbest, most stereotypical, terms. And Rick Santorum is an honest homophobe but Ron DeSantis is a oppurtinistic fake homophobe which is glaringly obvious to anyone with an IQ north of 60. Yet, the debate is that stupid. And the ideas about what is good for the family is just that stupid.