From what I have learned this week about government, there are five institutional characteristics of a government. These characteristics are: sovereignty, authority or hierarchy, law, sanctions, and succession. But how do these characteristics apply to the family or family government? Also what is the source of family sovereignty?
Sovereignty deals with the question of “who’s in charge.” In the family the parents can set rules for their children, and have authority over their children. Meaning that the parents are in control over what the children can or cannot do.
Authority relates to sovereignty. Parents have direct authority over their children which is what I mentioned above. The parents have this authority over their children until their children reach adulthood, which means that the children are now in charge of themselves because they are now independent.
Law deals with the question of “what are the rules.” The parents are in charge of making the rules for the household, and to also enforce these rules. Each family has a different set of rules for the household created by the parents. Of course these laws or rules must not break the law of the civil government or go against the word of God, so there must be a line with these rules.
Sanctions come in two forms, positive and negative. Parents in a family have authority over how they will impose sanctions, for example if their child misbehaved. Also parents have the authority to choose different sanctions for each child, based on the children themselves. Again there should be a line on what kind of sanctions; for example when it comes to abuse I think we can all agree that some forms of negative sanctions are plain wrong.
When it comes to succession and how it applies to the family, think of inheritance. The parents have the right or authority to give an inheritance to their children; and inheritance is a form of succession. Think about it, even though we normally think of succession as something that relates to political leaders stepping down and giving that position to a new person, inheritance is still a form of succession.
The Source of Family Sovereignty
In my opinion I believe that the source of family sovereignty is from God, not the government or state. For example God created the institution of family, like he created other things. He gave the authority to the parents to be in charge of their children.
The five characteristics of government apply to the family unit in many ways, for example with authority: the parents of the family have direct authority over the children, and they make the decisions in regard to the children. The source of family sovereignty on the other hand in my opinion is from God, not the government.