Trading autonomy of the individual for autonomy of the family or marriage changes nothing

Posted on June 4, 2013 by


Traditionalists have traded autonomy of the individual for autonomy of the family or marriage.  They view themselves as ubermenschen at the top of a heap labeled “family” or “marriage” instead of a heap labeled “individual”.  They remain trapped in an atomic worldview, seeing only solitary individual family-units, isolated marriages ping-ponging against each other, occasionally but never coalescing into the web of loving relationships that marks real patriarchy.  One sees this over and over— despite all the talk about ethnic loyalty, nationalism or tying oneself to the larger community of Christ, all relationships are discussed strictly in terms of individual families and individual marriages.  At best, minor details of one’s own personal marriage or family are lain out as if they represent the whole of traditionalism when they are just another kind of solipsism.

But it isn’t traditionalism to fail to connect your familial relationships with your higher-order social relationships of extended family, local community, country and Church.  There is a tendency towards excessive personalization that marks all of us trapped in modernity’s chains, but it is especially poignant with traditionalists, as they ought to know better and consciously change their language, utilizing specific but non-personal examples.  The problem isn’t specifics, it is never seeing beyond oneself and one’s immediate actions and immediate relationships.  Trading the false god of individual autonomy for the equally false (but more tempting to traditionalists) gods of familial autonomy and marital autonomy changes nothing.  It moves no needle, it shifts no dial, it turns over no stone.  It’s just a variation on the autonomy problem that is slowly destroying us all with idolatry and unlove.