Five Theses on the Bills on ‘Family and Domestic Violence’ Prevention in Russia

(‘Family Dissolution Law’)

Aleksandr Shchipkov

Our whole country seems to be discussing bills on ‘family and domestic violence’ prevention. As of now, there are two projects, created by the State Duma deputies and Federation Council members, circulating on the internet. I am sure they will come out with more. Both projects reveal the same conceptual character, and both aim to make the family and family relations subject to legal regulation at the legislative level, that is, to allow third parties to interfere in the relationship of husband and wife. These bills have come to be called ‘family dissolution law’ or ‘Pavlik Morozov law’.

Based on the sermon delivered by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on the occasion of the feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple on 4th December 2019 in Moscow, and the sermon delivered by him in Kaliningrad, on 8th December 2019, on the day of the leave-taking of the feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, I will comment on general conceptual issues. For the sake of brevity, I will formulate them into five theses.

Thesis 1.

Russia has now reached the point of return from a secular-liberal worldview to a worldview based on value conservatism, or value traditionalism. This process commenced in 1997 with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill introducing the concept of ‘traditional religions’ and progressed in 2009, when Patriarch Kirill introduced the concept of ‘traditional values’, thereby offering the Russian society a meaningful discussion on this topic.

Since the influence of Patriarch Kirill on the worldview of our society is so potent and evident, it makes sense to carefully study what he wrote on family and family relations, as well as the responsibility of the legislative bodies.

Thesis 2.

We should analyse the bill under discussion in the context of the said transition from a secular to a value-related worldview.

As well as in the context of two other bills that are ideological in nature, I am referring to the Concept of the Law on Culture, involving the separation of culture from society, and the bill abolishing the age ratings 6+, 12+, 16+ (the so-called ‘child molestation law’).

In general, all three laws focus on the rejection of the institution of the family, rejection of axiology in culture and rejection of the age psychology in the process of socialisation of children and teenagers. They are unanimous in their rejection of values and institutions that define collective meanings of existence and stabilise society.

And without common values, society, family and people will inevitably perish.

Thesis 3.

To return to the intellectual heritage of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I would like to draw attention to his definition of society, given at the World Russian People's Council two years ago. His Holiness said that it is not small groups, but families that create a society.

The doctrine of small groups is, indeed, widespread today. School books on Social Studies tell us directly that society is composed of small groups. They can be philatelists, dog breeders, re-enactors, nudists, literary or theatrical associations, and gender or sexual groups. There are a great many of them, and they allegedly constitute the society. This is a systematic error.

The real society is made of families. The institution of family is the only instrument that holds it together. The only one. There is no other. Soldiers go to die for their families. And for their Motherland, as a family of families. This is also associated with the Russian Motherland archetype.

As Orthodox people, we hold the image of the Mother of God as our key image. This is exactly what Patriarch Kirill spoke about, addressing each of us from the very heart of our Motherland, the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin on 4th December. It was a deeply symbolic gesture that we must understand accordingly.

Thesis 4.

We live in a transparent world. We constantly interact with other people and events. And there is only one place in the world where we can be who we really are – our families. This is our home church. This is where we are loved. Understood. Comforted. Assisted. This is where we pray together. Work together. Rejoice together. And cry together. This is our only private space.

The proposed bills endow non-commercial organisations, that is, the very small groups I mentioned above, with the right to regulate the internal structure of the family. To regulate it by alienating family members from each other (by informing on them or blackmailing to inform). To regulate through distrust and suspicion of each other. Through fear. That is, through the destruction of family LOVE. This is what Patriarch Kirill spoke about in his sermon.

This law is not about violence. This is not a household law.

This is an ontological law. A law that proposes to place an entirely new philosophy at the heart of our society. To substitute a philosophy of love by a philosophy of enmity.

In recent years, the theme of family values has been omnipresent. This law has now become a symbol of the struggle against family values.

The ‘small groups’ society has revolted against the society of families. Small groups are searching for a way to establish total control over the family.

Thesis 5.

From a legal point of view, the peculiarity of the proposed bill is that we have been offered to create a new subject of legal regulation.

Compare it with the ‘Religious Code’ by Mikhail Prokhorov, who proposed a few years ago to single out relations between believers as a separate subject of legal regulation. Believers should live by one law, and all other citizens by another. The State Duma rejected this proposal at the time and did not allow to place believers in a special ‘legal ghetto’.

Here, we once again have the same basic idea. The family is being driven into a legal ghetto.

They offer to make family a special subject of legal regulation. The relationship between husband and wife is to be a new subject of legal regulation. The mystery of love, the mystery of conception, the mystery of the home church, as the Orthodox call the family, all become subjects of legal regulation.

This is not about family. This threatens the complete dissolution of the family, both as a mystical sacred union of man and woman, and as a social institution.