“Blood is not thicker than morality,” radio host and author Laura Schlessinger once noted. This comes to mind when pondering how Fox News’ normally astute Tucker Carlson, who generally exhibits more philosophical depth than is the television news norm, stumbled a bit last Tuesday evening.
At issue was a Tucker Carlson Tonight segment about ex-TV host Chris Cuomo’s “indefinite suspension” (he has since been fired) from CNN for using his press connections to help his brother, ex-NY governor Andrew Cuomo, craft a defense against the sexual misconduct allegations that ended his political career.
Carlson had much to say that was true: Chris Cuomo is a buffoonish narcissist whose greatest trespasses were far worse than what ultimately scuttled his TV show, and CNN is infested with people who’d denounce their own mothers for career advancement. Yet the host also said, while trying to lend Cuomo’s actions some perspective, that his behavior amounts to “what you do with brothers, even the loathsome ones: You help them when they need it — it’s called loyalty.”
Carlson then discussed what he called “the most important rules in life.” “Your first obligation is to your family. Your first obligation is not to the state, it’s not to a political party, it’s not to Jeff Zucker or some creepy billionairess at the Atlantic magazine; it’s not even to your own career,” he explained. “Your most basic obligation is to the people you’re related to; when they need your help, no matter who they are — even if you’re the governor of a state — even if they’re horrible people, you help them, anyway, ‘cause it’s your family.”
“Chris Cuomo may be an idiot, and he is,” the host summed up, “but he understands that. What a thing to be fired for.”
Carlson’s speech was compelling; he rendered his points well, as he always and commendably does.
He also was wrong.
Oh, it’s true that your first obligation is not to the state, a political party, a boss (let alone Jeff Zucker!), the powerful, or even to your own career. But it’s also not to your family — though that’s close.
Your first obligation is to God.
It’s only when realizing this that we can truly do our families justice and exhibit with them divinely honed love.
This doesn’t mean you won’t help family even when they’re horrible people, but “help” must be correctly understood. You never help anyone by facilitating his evil.
To illustrate this point, let’s apply the blood-über-alles principle to an extreme case and see how it holds up. Would you help a brother elude consequences were he a serial child molester and murderer? Would you have done so had your brother been John Wayne Gacey, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer and you were convinced of their guilt? Do realize that helping keep them in circulation would’ve made you complicit in any future killings they’d have committed.
Note, I’m not implying that Andrew Cuomo, as degenerate as he is, is akin to a child molester (though the imperative of intellectual honesty precludes me from disassociating him from child murder; he was, after all, an aggressively pro-abortion governor who signed into law a 2019 bill that allows prenatal infanticide up until birth). It’s also possible that Chris Cuomo believed his brother was innocent of the sexual misconduct charges leveled against him. I’m simply examining the principle Carlson espoused.
There is, of course, nothing unique or new about the observation that God comes first. Any serious Christian knows that some of Jesus’s most famous pronouncements relate this truth. For example, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother,” He said in Matthew 12:50.
Jesus also stated, “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword,” in Matthew 10. “For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law,” He continued. “And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.”
The point is that you must embrace Truth, not your family’s preferences — put God first, in other words — even if this alienates your kin from you. And when it does, the onus for the division always belongs on those who choose lies over Truth.
Christ also said, in Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
This may be a tough one to accept, but it actually is true that, paradoxically, you can’t do right by your family when putting them first. For example, too many parents today pander to their kids, spoil them, precisely because the parents are not God-centered. Thus, instead of holding their kids to a Truth-oriented standard, they may kowtow to their sons’ and daughters’ emotion-based wants. Put differently, they’re too influenced by their children’s will because their eye isn’t on God’s will.
It’s a bit as with diet. Should you formulate your child’s menu based on his tastes or the Truth we may call the laws of human nutrition? Make it the former, and he could be feasting on French fries, cake, and ice cream every meal.
So it is anytime we put our family’s will before God’s: We may end up giving them moral junk food. Any believing Christian knows the most serious danger of this, of facilitating a loved one’s misdeeds, is that you’re jeopardizing his eternal salvation. You may be helping him trade prison in this world for Perdition in the next.
Then there’s the hell of one’s own design, which loved ones can, lamentably, help build. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that living a moral life is a prerequisite for happiness; thus, we do family no favors when enabling their sins.
This said, I would help even a John Wayne Gacey, a Ted Bundy, or a Jeffrey Dahmer, whether he was family or not, but with the understanding of what true help was.
I’d tell him he needed to repent, change his ways, and seek God and Truth. I’d let him bend my ear endlessly; I’d be there for honest discussion and counsel if he so desired. What I wouldn’t do, even with a far less egregious sinner, is enable his sin and “help” him further hurt others and himself.
Of course, it is often difficult holding the moral line with family, given our emotional attachments to it and the attendant social pressure. But it’s virtually impossible, if not actually so, without God as guide and grace-giver.
In keeping with this, I’d be willing to talk to Andrew Cuomo were he my brother, but he’d hear my mind — and so would the world. I imagine our relationship would be, at best, chilly. There certainly would be a wall between us as you can’t bond on the deepest level with a man who rejects the deepest thing: Truth.
Family is beautiful and a true blessing. It’s even better when put right where it belongs — in second place.
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