We have spoken before about Mr Abraham Hamilton’s saying that the family is the first institution that God created, prior to monarchy, church, prophet, and so on. He repeats this every now and again (listen to the first couple of minutes here for an ensample). We have pointed out before that this is a product of post-Great Schism Western nominalism, sundering things that ought to remain together. But, apart than that, it is simply a bad reading of the creation account given by the Holy Prophet Moses in Genesis. For after the creation of the cosmos, the earth, and all the living creatures in the first six days, God does not create man and woman, that is, the family, in his next act of making. He creates one man, Adam. This is significant, for it overturns Mr Hamilton’s contention: For in Adam, the institutions of priest (making offerings to God), king (the regent of God ruling over His creation), and prophet (making the ways of God known to the world) come into being. Only later with the creation of Eve does the family come into existence.
About the office of monarchy in particular, a great and holy Church Father, St Gregory of Nyssa (4th century), writes,
5. Now all things were already arrived at their own end: the heaven and the earth Genesis 2:1, as Moses says, were finished, and all things that lie between them, and the particular things were adorned with their appropriate beauty; the heaven with the rays of the stars, the sea and air with the living creatures that swim and fly, and the earth with all varieties of plants and animals, to all which, empowered by the Divine will, it gave birth together; the earth was full, too, of her produce, bringing forth fruits at the same time with flowers; the meadows were full of all that grows therein, and all the mountain ridges, and summits, and every hillside, and slope, and hollow, were crowned with young grass, and with the varied produce of the trees, just risen from the ground, yet shot up at once into their perfect beauty; and all the beasts that had come into life at God's command were rejoicing, we may suppose, and skipping about, running to and fro in the thickets in herds according to their kind, while every sheltered and shady spot was ringing with the chants of the songbirds. And at sea, we may suppose, the sight to be seen was of the like kind, as it had just settled to quiet and calm in the gathering together of its depths, where havens and harbours spontaneously hollowed out on the coasts made the sea reconciled with the land; and the gentle motion of the waves vied in beauty with the meadows, rippling delicately with light and harmless breezes that skimmed the surface; and all the wealth of creation by land and sea was ready, and none was there to share it.
II. Why man appeared last, after the creation
1. For not as yet had that great and precious thing, man, come into the world of being; it was not to be looked for that the ruler should appear before the subjects of his rule; but when his dominion was prepared, the next step was that the king should be manifested. When, then, the Maker of all had prepared beforehand, as it were, a royal lodging for the future king (and this was the land, and islands, and sea, and the heaven arching like a roof over them), and when all kinds of wealth had been stored in this palace (and by wealth I mean the whole creation, all that is in plants and trees, and all that has sense, and breath, and life; and — if we are to account materials also as wealth— all that for their beauty are reckoned precious in the eyes of men, as gold and silver, and the substances of your jewels which men delight in — having concealed, I say, abundance of all these also in the bosom of the earth as in a royal treasure-house), he thus manifests man in the world, to be the beholder of some of the wonders therein, and the lord of others; that by his enjoyment he might have knowledge of the Giver, and by the beauty and majesty of the things he saw might trace out that power of the Maker which is beyond speech and language.
2. For this reason man was brought into the world last after the creation, not being rejected to the last as worthless, but as one whom it behooved to be king over his subjects at his very birth.
--'On the Making of Man’, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2914.htm
If we were to take Mr Hamilton’s measuring rod for our own, that earliness in creation means primacy of the institution, then monarchy, etc., are more important than family. But we do not accept his measuring rod because of its nominalism.
The better way of viewing these institutions are as a mutually reinforcing structure: Church, family, priests, kings, prophets, etc. all exist as a unity in diversity. Damage one of these parts of the whole, and you damage the entire structure. Thus, to denigrate the family damages the Church, the king, etc.; and to reject the priesthood likewise harms the family, the king, and so on.
However, all the institutions are not equal. The Church has the primacy over all of them. Mr Hamilton errs quite badly when he exalts the family as more important historically and theologically than the Church. Nothing is more important in this world than the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ. Furthermore, if he thought more carefully about the matter, he would see that the Church predates the human family as well, since it came into existence with the creation of the bodiless powers of Heaven - the seraphim, cherubim, angels, archangels, etc. (see Hebrews 12:22-4, one of St Paul’s descriptions of the Church, which includes ‘an innumerable company of angels’), though it would later include mankind as well.
Sadly, this is how it goes more often than not within Protestantism (and with the Roman Catholic Popes), where, unrestrained by the right teachings of the Holy Fathers, men and women are led astray by their ‘inner convictions’ about this doctrine or that, and wind up captive to all kinds of errors.
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!