|Pablo Picasso: 'Child with a Dove' (1901)|
[...] So long as organized communities are a necessary factor in the inner vitality of a nation, the state has indeed the... juridical task... to take measures that support, restore and stimulate the life of non-political communities. Primarily this applies to the natural organized communal life of the nuclear family, insofar as this is threatened in its normal structure by the devastating effect of sin. But in the widest sense of the word, too, this competence of the state is valid for the world of enterprise and for cultural communities.
One must not think, however, that when the state takes measures such as depriving parental rights, appointing a guardian for the children, and so on, it materially interferes with the internal structure of the family bond. For such measures are adopted only when the internal structure of the family community has itself already been disrupted. Nor does the state interfere because it possesses absolute sovereignty over non-state communities in their internal structure, but rather because as state it has to ensure the preservation of the nation, in the life of which the family plays such a basic role. In this emergency situation the state uses its governing authority to provide artificial supports to these communities that threaten to disintegrate, as an emergency substitute for a natural structure that factually no longer exists.
[...] It is a profound fallacy to insist that in this temporal world order there has to be an authority that is capable of overruling absolutely every other authority in a juridical sense, under the pretense that otherwise anarchy would reign. God did not ordain any "absolute power" in time. The truth is that it is precisely the theory of the state's totality of juridical power that rests on an anarchistic, revolutionary basis, because it ignores the divine structural laws of human society.
Everyone acquainted with life knows that there are material limits to the competence of the state. It is unworthy of legal science to ignore the connection between law and life through a sterile formalism. Rather it should base itself on a cosmology that is capable of meaningfully clarifying these limits and indicating an unambiguous criterion for them.
[...] Neither the arbitrariness of a government nor an arbitrary contract is in itself a source of law. In all its individual forms, positive law is always the positivizing of divine jural principles, whose structure is determined by the divine world order.
Extracts from "The Crisis in Humanist Political Theory" by Herman Dooyeweerd (1931, Paideia Press, 2010, pp 178-179)