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Parental Authority, an Oxymoron or a Tautology?

10/13/2008 / Christian Apologetics

Over on the 'Mirror of Justice' (a site I am greatly enjoying; even if I frequently disagree with their conclusions. I think I am too Catholic in my opinions.) They are having an interesting discussion on 'parental authority' and related issues. And what particularly captured my attention was one contributor's statement that 'parental authority' was an oxymoron.

Now, he didn't give any particular explanation for this view, so there is nothing really to 'rebut' specifically. But what gave me the motivation to write on the subject was my realization that every Christian knows that the words 'Parental Authority' represent a tautology!

For the uninitiated in the vocabulary and logic, the term 'oxymoron' describes the relationship between two words which are at their hearts contradictory: such as 'intelligent liberal', or 'committed moderate'. A 'tautology' on the other hand, consists of two or more words whose definitions completely overlap or where the definition of one includes the other perhaps 'interfering busybody' or 'government waste'.

Our Lord taught us to pray 'Our Father Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven'. All authority is the Fathers authority. Our Lord said to us, 'All authority is given me.' Given by his Father. All authority is the Fathers authority. Joshua, as father of his family said "Choose you this day who you will serve. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

As every good Catholic knows 'pater' means father, 'paternal' means 'of the father'. 'Paternal Authority' means 'the authority of the father'. All authority is the fathers authority. 'Paternal Authority' is a tautology.

'Parental' means 'of the parents'. One of the two 'parents' being the father 'parental authority' is also a tautology.

A former missionary to Africa, I am now an LVN and EMT with a wife, six kids, and small farm. I like to write about Theonomy, Betrothal, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, just for starters.

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