Marriage and Modernization: How Globalization Threatens Marriage and What to Do about It

By Don S. Browning | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
Marriage and the Male Problematic
in Aquinas and Luther

My question is this: What is a credible response, informed by Christian sensibilities, to the worldwide situation of families in the face of the pressures of modernization and globalization? What should be this response especially in light of the world development of what I have called “the male problematic”? This is the increasing tendency of men, partially due to the pressures of modernity and partially because of archaic evolutionary tendencies, to mate and procreate but live separately from their children and often relinquish their paternal responsibilities?

This chapter does not get to solutions. It addresses the religious and cultural presuppositions behind possible solutions. I will show that one of the accomplishments of the Western religious traditions — and possibly all of the axial religions — was providing a strong religious, even metaphysical, foundation for the integration of fathers into families and the lives of their spouses and children. The point I am preparing to make is this: however we proceed in the future, integrating fathers into families must be part of the program. This is true as a strategy for the Christian churches, but it also should be true for social policy in general. It is not enough to say that things are simply changing and that we just need to get used to what is happening with marriage and family. It is not enough to hold that children need help and that we should therefore intervene directly and meet their needs, although certainly we should take such steps as emergency measures.1 It is inadequate to say that single mothers need

1. The strategy of meeting the needs of children without also addressing the declining culture of parenting and the capacity of couples through strong marriages to weather the

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