Family Ethics: Practices for Christians

Family Ethics: Practices for Christians

Family Ethics: Practices for Christians

Family Ethics: Practices for Christians


How can ordinary Christians find moral guidance for the mundane dilemmas they confront in their daily lives? To answer this question, Julie Hanlon Rubio brings together a rich Catholic theology of marriage and a strong commitment to social justice to focus on the place where the ethics of ordinary life are played out: the family.

Sex, money, eating, spirituality, and service. According to Rubio, all are areas for practical application of an ethics of the family. In each area, intentional practices can function as acts of resistance to a cultural and middle-class conformity that promotes materialism over relationships. These practices forge deep connections within the family and help families live out their calling to be in solidarity with others and participate in social change from below. It is through these everyday moral choices that most Christians can live out their faith -- and contribute to progress in the world.


My thirteen-year-old son tells me he does not understand why I spend my time writing, teaching, and talking about ordinary things. For him, the more important questions are the extraordinary ones: What does it mean to have faith? What happens when you die? Is the Bible true? Is there human life on other planets? How did the world begin? In his confirmation classes at church and in conversations with friends of different faiths, my son ponders these questions.

He is not alone in his fascination with big questions. Popular religious discussions often revolve around enduring controversies both theological and moral. At Saint Louis University, my colleagues and I tell students that if they want to “ask the big questions,” they should major in theology. Undergraduate theology courses are far easier to fill and construct if one focuses on enduring theological questions such as the meaning of existence or hard cases in moral life. Books on such subjects are more easily conceived and published because of the obvious importance of the subject matter.

Even academic moral theologians tend to be more invested in moral issues such as euthanasia, abortion, and war than in the ordinary struggles of . . .

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