CHALLENGES FACING CHRISTIANS: The Progressive Movement: Progressivism and the Family

by David Dann

Synopsis: God’s people must resist the progressive movement’s assault on the divine design of the home.


In his letter to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of “progress and joy of faith” (Phil. 1:25, NKJV). However, not all progress is commendable. The same apostle warned that many would seek to progress in the wrong direction, saying, “Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Any effort to progress beyond or against the word of the Lord is doomed to failure (cf. 2 John 9).

“Progressivism” is defined as a “political and social-reform movement that brought major changes to American politics and government during the first two decades of the 20th century. . . The Progressive movement. . . formed new organizations and institutions with the common objective of strengthening the national government and making it more responsive to popular economic, social, and political demands. Many progressives viewed themselves as principled reformers at a critical juncture of American history” ( The modern progressive approach is the philosophical great-grandchild of the movement that began in earnest more than a century ago. This humanistic and secular approach turns its back on the morality taught in Scripture. Instead, it elevates man as the master of his own destiny, relying on human intellect to solve the world’s problems. The progressive movement does not offer optional suggestions; progressive decrees are intended to serve as commands for society to obey. Religious language is often appropriated for humanistic goals, which are said to be for “the greater good,” as the progressive seeks to impose his solutions on society through the coercive power of the state. While the progressive spirit preaches tolerance, inclusion, and acceptance, it neither tolerates nor accepts those who refuse to yield to its demands. This approach has given rise to the “cancel culture” that seeks to marginalize and exclude anyone who dares to question the validity of progressive proclamations. Just as the serpent deceived Eve with the idea that, by rejecting God’s authority, she would “be like God,” so it is that modern progressives are deceived into thinking they can “play God” by changing and reshaping what is right and wrong to suit their own desires (Gen. 3:5). Is this true progress? Remember, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).

Progressivism represents a satanic assault on the home. As one writer notes, “The modern progressive movement is often guilty of attempting to overthrow social, and even biological, reality. Nowhere is this more true than in its efforts to transcend entirely the institution of the two-parent biological family, and the deep bonds of love and affection that it is designed to preserve” (Buchanan). While progressives offer assurance that their efforts to reshape the family are for the common good, one should recall the prophet Isaiah’s warning: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Even as progressives work to reshape society according to their own desires, the people of God must continually be shaped by the instruction of His word (cf. Rom. 12:2). Please consider how Satan seeks to use the progressive approach to distort and destroy the family.

The Concept of Family

The progressive approach involves discarding the biblical view of family and family structure so that the “family” can be remade. Progressives insist that “forged” families involving all sorts of arrangements are just as legitimate as the natural “nuclear” family consisting of a husband and wife, who are committed to one another and have children together, living in the same household. Those who resist this reworking of the family are branded as “regressives” who stand in the way of progress. According to progressive writers,

Regressives have successfully pushed our culture back by insisting on a male-dominated, top-down structure of family. U.S. fundamentalists stress the “headship” of the father in the family, with women and children subordinate to the will of the father. . . We can, and must, offer a progressive partnership family agenda to counter the regressive “family values” agenda. . . The task at hand for progressives is to invite responsible policy makers, leaders, the media, and the general public to look with fresh eyes at the meaning of the terms “family,” “values,” and “morality.” We must redefine these terms in ways based on partnership, mutual respect, and caring rather than domination, top-down control, and coercion” (Eisler and Kissling).

When it comes to the very concept of the family, progressives seek to redefine terms and change the morality and structure associated with the family to suit their own desires. There can be little doubt that the progressive agenda has had a profound impact on the family. For example, Pew Research Center reports the following:

The American family is changing in many ways: Cohabitation is on the rise, more adults are delaying or forgoing marriage, a growing share of children are living with an unmarried parent, and same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states. Amid these changes, three-in-ten U.S. adults think it’s a good thing that there is a growing variety in the types of family arrangements people live in, while about half as many (16%) say this is a bad thing. The largest share (45%) don’t think it makes a difference (Thomas).

The very concept of the family is being rapidly redefined as the progressive approach exerts its influence on our culture.

The truth is that man did not create the family arrangement, and he has no authority to change or update it to suit his own desires. God created the family unit for the benefit of man. The Bible says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen. 1:27-28a). The word of God defines the structure and roles in the home. Paul writes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:22-24). God’s word defines the concept and structure of the family, and no man has the authority to modify or discard what the Creator has put in place.

The Marriage Relationship

The progressive approach involves redefining marriage to the extent that commonly understood terms completely lose their meaning. As one writer explains,

“Mother” and “father,” on the other hand, have increasingly less meaning and utility today when so many children have two moms or two dads, single parents, blended families, or even three legal parents. . . To build a progressive philosophy of family life will undoubtedly push older generations out of their comfort zone, but it’s necessary, urgent work. Without a well-articulated philosophy of progressive family life, the void will be inevitably be filled with shame and confusion. Some guiding principles of this might include: A person’s marital status, relationship status, and living arrangements, say nothing about their character or value. . . Children can flourish in a variety of family types and living arrangements” (Rodgers).

It is undoubtedly true that all people are of equal value, having been created “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:27). However, progressives seek to promote the idea that all people are of equal character, regardless of whether they are lawfully married or living together, whether they are heterosexual or engaged in homosexuality, or whether they remain committed to their spouses or divorce and seek different mates. The marriage relationship is being rapidly redefined and reimagined as the progressive approach exerts its influence on our culture.

Since man did not create marriage, he has no right to modify, discard, or remake marriage and sexual morals to suit his desires. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4-6). The word of God defines marriage as a permanent relationship involving a male and a female. There is no such thing as a legitimate marriage that involves a same-sex couple or that involves a man who identifies himself as a woman or a woman who identifies herself as a man. The Son of God also ruled out divorce and remarriage for just any cause in the following manner: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (v. 9). According to God’s word, any sexual relationship outside of lawful marriage is condemned (cf. 1 Cor. 7:2-3; Heb. 13:4). God’s word defines the marriage relationship and sexual morality, and no man has the authority to change or discard what the Creator has put in place.

The Raising of Children

The progressive approach claims that children need not be raised in a two-parent household under the guidance of a father and mother but can thrive in various modified family structures. Of course, progressives are generally in favor of allowing the mother to murder her unborn child by means of abortion before he ever sees the light of day. As for those born, the progressive mindset views children as property of society more than as offspring who should be guided by their parents. That this has been the progressive mindset for more than a century is documented by one historian as follows:

The eminent University of Wisconsin sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross, a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt and the veritable epitome of a progressive social scientist, summed it up thus: The role of the public official, and in particular of the public school teacher, is “to collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneadingboard.” The view of Ross and the other progressives was that the state must take up the task of control and inculcation of moral values once performed by parents and church (Rothbard).

When it comes to childrearing, progressives intend to make sure that children are programmed to dutifully carry out the progressive agenda. There can be little doubt that the progressive approach has profoundly impacted how children are raised. Pew Research reports: “The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017. That trend has been accompanied by a drop in the share of children living with two married parents, down from 85% in 1968 to 65%” (Livingston). Innocent children are made the subjects of this substantial social experiment as the progressive approach exerts its influence on our culture.

Since the bearing and raising of children are key parts of what God created and arranged within His design for the home, man has no authority to revise this arrangement to suit his own desires. Instead of allowing for the idea that unborn children are just lumps of tissue that may be removed from the womb and discarded, the Bible says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Ps. 127:3). Rather than belonging to society or the government, children are placed by God under their parents’ guidance. Rather than being left to struggle to adapt in a single-parent household or under the guidance of a same-sex couple, children are to be guided and disciplined by a “father” and “mother.” Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Eph. 6:1-3). Instead of leaving children to have their worldview and morals shaped by society and government schools, Paul writes, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The word of God defines how children are to be raised, and no man has the authority to change or discard what the Creator has decreed.


Every aspect of the family, as God would have it, is under satanic attack by means of the progressive movement. For Christians, this should come as no surprise. John writes, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Even so, by the grace of God, we can withstand the schemes of the devil (cf. Eph. 6:10-13; 2 Cor. 2:11).


Buchanan, Scott L. “The Nuclear Family Is Indispensable.” Public Discourse: The Journal of the Witherspoon Institute June 4, 2020.

Eisler, Riane and Frances Kissling. “The American Family: Building a Foundation for Real Democracy and Freedom.” Center for American Progress July 1, 2005.

Livingston, Gretchen. “About One-Third of U.S. Children are Living with an Unmarried Parent.” Pew Research Center April 27, 2018.

“Progressivism.” Encyclopedia Britannica

Rodgers, Nicole Sussner. “What Comes After the Nuclear Family?” The Nation February 24, 2020.

Rothbard, Murray N. “The Progressive Era and the Family.” Mises Institute December 25, 2020.

Thomas, Deja. “As Family Structures Change in U.S., a Growing Share of Americans Say It Makes No Difference.” Pew Research Center April 10, 2020.

Author Image
Article Image
Ad Image #1
Ad Image #2