Institutions Stabilize Society
Following are a few thoughts I threw together for a group discussion on the topic of the “Home.” The intention was to see the home in perspective, relative to other important institutions.
So the discussion began with:
The Home is one of three primary institutions
An institution is any organization or structure in society which influences or regulates human behavior or encourages social interaction. There are two categories: primary and secondary.
A Primary Institution is an organization that…
- Is designed and created by God
- Derives its authority to exist from God
- Is sustained by God
- Is regulated by God
The three primary institutions are:
- THE HOME (Genesis 2:21-24)
The home or family was created first and is the only institution predates sin. The other primary institutions were created after sin and were designed to provide a degree of protection from the effects of the fall. The home meets several individual needs.
One, the need for intimacy.
Two, the need for guidance and growth.
Three, the need for community.
Four, the need for self esteem.
- RELIGION (Genesis 3:21 & 4:3-8)
Religion serves multiple purposes all of which encourage the health of the home and society.
One, it maintains a vigil over truth.
Two, it encourages healthy life styles by providing examples for each successive generation to follow.
Three, it personalizes God to the world.
Four, it is a public portal for knowing, worshiping, learning about and serving God.
Five, it is the source and model of compassion.
It is interesting to note that all religions resemble the form of the first religious establishment (Genesis 4:3-5) in at least one or more of three exercises: sacrifice, prayer and/or regular public devotions.
- HUMAN GOVERNMENT (Genesis 9:5 & 6)
The home and religion together were not sufficient to maintain order in human society and the proof was the total collapse of moral character in Genesis 6 which resulted in the near annihilation of humanity.
Immediately following that tragic event, human government was instituted to provide controls on a federal level.
No particular form of government was stipulated and several different forms proved to be effective: socialism under Joseph, theocracy under Joshua and a monarchy under David and Solomon to name a few.
The determining factor in the success or failure of any particular form of government was the character of the people who served as leaders.
All Other Institutions Are secondary.
All other institutions are secondary and are qualified as:
- Designed and created by man.
- Authorized to exist and regulated by a primary institution.
- Sustained by human interest and effort.
Secondary institutions provide support for primary institutions by encouraging wholesome activities and interaction on recreational and social levels.
The distinction is they couldn’t exist without the structured provided by the primary institutions.
Examples: Golf club, Round Table, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, etc.
Each institution serves a different purpose.
- Home – Stimulation
The home encourages the development of individuals mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Most of the effort is focused on the children but even parents grow through this process.
The more effective the home is the less work religion and government need do in stabilizing society.
- Church – Socialization
The two great commandments stated briefly: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself are predominantly social with emphasis on attitude towards others, vertically and horizontally.
Of all the institutions religion, properly done, should teach us the right attitude to harbor toward God first and our fellow human beings second.
- Government – Stabilization
Though created and ultimately regulated by God, they are administrated by human effort
And that is the reason for all the pain they cause.
God wasn’t interfering when He created these institutions. He was only providing structures within which to work but we are the ones to do the work.
These protective frameworks protect only if we manage them well and what we do with these concepts is a matter of free choice. God intervened when the structures were implemented and only on the very odd occasion afterward, although the consequences for abusing or neglecting the responsibilities of each is unavoidable in this life or the next.
Homes without discipline will produce ill mannered and destructive children.
Churches without the proper attitude will be barriers rather than gateways to truth.
Governments that abuse their constituents will be overthrown.
And we answer to God eventually anyway.
Primary institutions are intended to be separate and supportive of each other not blended or overlapped
Unfortunately, these institutions sometimes conflict.
Churches have abused governments and governments have abused churches. Sometimes churches and governments have joined hands in abusing homes, families and individuals. But these abuses occur only when we confuse the boundaries of each.
Homes have never abused governments or churches but when they self destruct the government provides the framework for restitution and the church provides the opportunity for restoration and rebuilding. That is, of course, when everything works as it should.
Of the three primary institutions the home is superior which means the church and the government serve the home rather than the home serving them.
Without religion and government the home couldn’t survive. Without the home religion and government would have no purpose.
Religion and government rest upon the foundation of the home and work to protect it at the same time. If the home was obliterated religion and government couldn’t stand and wouldn’t have a reason to stand if it could.
Of the three the home has the greatest impact
Children are nurtured and raised by parents, for good or bad. Neither the church nor the government can take place of a home. When the home fails the job these institutions do in response is more a patch job than an answer.
Churches and governments thrive when they have strong and independent constituents.
Homes thrive when they master the art of developing them.
It goes without saying that none of the institutions are perfect and we should not waste effort trying to make them that way. But never think they aren’t sufficient.
What do you THINK!Aboutit?
In Tithing, Douglas Leblanc provides much more than a narrow discussion on a traditional issue.
Instead, and probably because he is “no theologian or exegetical writer,” Douglas has found an intriguing way to cut to the real heart of the issue. He shares the experiences of eleven different couples and one lone Monsignor, all of whom practice tithing for a very similar reason: selflessness.