The Church and the Famliy, a Crisis?

May 6th, 2007 / 3 Comments

The form and function of family have undergone significant changes in the last half-century. Perhaps the most telling example is the fact that 35% of marriages now end in divorce. With respect to our study it is particularly alarming that Christians are just as likely (35%) to divorce as families outside of the church. (As a side note it is also interesting that Pentecostals, one of the more "Traditional" and fundamentalist groups, also has the highest rate of divorce at 44%. source: The Barna Group, Ltd.)

Don S. Browning, director of the Lilly Project on Religion, Culture, and the Family at The University of Chicago Divinity School, and his wife Carol, follow the Church’s role in responding to the dramatic changes of the "Modern Family." They then look at the effect that the breakdown of marriage has had on children, and conclude with a suggestion for how live as "self-sacrifice" can provide a foundation for how couples should function within a marriage.

Article: "The Church and the Family Crisis"


  1. As a young couple, what role has the Church had in shaping your own marriage?
  2. Do you agree with the Browning’s that raising children should be the "primary task" of families?
  3. What is your response to the suggestion that, "The church has familylike qualities, but it is not a family?"
  4. How has love been understood and practiced within your own marriage?

Comments (3)

  1. BMer / May 7, 2007 /

    Hey Scott, great article, that one really hit home with me since Kass and i totally fit the Postmodern model. its nice to hear another perspective after years of the traditonal, wife stays home, father is the breadwinner.

    anyway, i’m gonna share this with friends, good stuff.

  2. Scott Lenger / May 10, 2007 /

    Hey Bmer,

    Glad you liked the article…I think.

    I actually had a few problems with it. Particularly the interpretation of self-sacrifice as "equal regard."

    Loving your neighbor or spouse as yourself means loving him or her exactly as much as you love yourself.

    First of all, Jesus answers the question, "Who is my neighbor?" with the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10), who is seen helping a complete stranger. So I don’t think this passage is directly applicable to marriage relationships (unless perhaps yours is an arranged marriage)!

    Second, the parable gives no suggestion that the Samaritan’s act of mercy will ever be returned by the victim.

    Third, I don’t think there is any suggestion of "equal regard" if we interpret the idea of self-sacrifice through death on a cross.

    From Luke 6:

    If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. …But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

    Note: In case you’re confused, posts in the "Church and Society Series" are meant to foster small group discussion and don’t always reflect my personal views or opinions.

  3. Scott,
    In response to question 2, I believe the primary “task” (if you can call it that) in a marriage should be a commitment to each other and a commitment to love one another to the absolute fullest. Children come second in the marriage. This is not to downplay their importance. But I believe that God calls us to love our spouses (”love” in this text is meant to be the highest form of love, accompanied by proper boundaries, sacrifice and so on) above all others. Marriage is the model for the Church and Christ, and we are called to love Christ above all other things. It is only in a healthy and loving marriage that children can be raised effectively, in my humble opinion.

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Hi, my name is Scott and I design websites. You can see some of them by visiting my portfolio. When I have the time (which is seldom these days) I like to blog about Christianity, especially theology/ethics. If you want to know more you can read my about page or follow me on Twitter.


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