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Family Matters: The Role of Christianity in the Formation of the Western Family

Family Matters: The Role of Christianity in the Formation of the Western Family
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Index , Notes
$16.95 (16.95)

"...summarizes both historical and contemporary thought and movements relative to family...
"...insightful commentary...
"...demonstrates well that religion plays a positive role in American families today in that it helps them to remain intact and to prosper and attain higher levels of happiness..."
—International Academy for Marital Spirituality Review vol. 9/2 (2003)

Highly recommended
A visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, Guerra here examines the unique role that the Christian religion has played in support of family life over the past 2000 years. He begins by looking at the church's early battles for marriage reform in the first century C.E., which included the curtailment of child abandonment and male abuses of women. He follows with developments in raising and educating children and conflicts that arose with regard to their worth as workers and mill hands. Guerra shows how religion, particularly Christianity, has been a major factor in families that functioned well, pointing to specific examples of various Christian groups that have succeeded far better than society generally in countering the trend of deteriorating family units. These diverse groups include Mormons, Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, Promise Keepers, and the Unificationists with Sun Myung Moon. Guerra's observations and conclusions demonstrate that popular thinking and public policy are often effectively hostile to a well functioning family in modern America. He concludes that “faith based families and family based religion are the necessary and achievable cornerstone of a peaceful, abundant, and progressive new millennium for all humankind.” Highly recommended.
—George Westerlund, Palmyra, VA, Library Journal, August 13, 2002

An original and highly important book
“The family is the most important of all our social institutions. Anthony Guerra traces its evolution, and describes the way in which it has shaped, and been shaped by, the Christian religion. This is an original and highly important book on a topic which concerns us all.”—Paul Johnson, British historian, journalist and broadcaster

A call to support the institutions that promote intact, spiritually centered families
“Anthony Guerra's Family Matters is an insightful, well-documented account of the effects of the forces of secularism and faith on the development and strength of the family structure. Today, as our nation is experiencing te devastating impact of an upsurge of family dissolution that crosses boundaries of income-level, race and ethnicity, we are increasingly aware of the relationship between cohesive, faith-centered families and social stability. Dr. Guerra's analysis is not only a noteworthy historical analysis, but also a call to support the institutions that promote intact, spiritually centered families.”—Robert L. Woodson, Founder fo the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

An excellent job of tracing the most important institution in our society
“Dr. Anthony Guerra has done an excellent job of tracing the most important institution in our society—the family. As we struggle in helping young people with their problems, such as drugs and crime, we must recognize that the most fundamental institution is the family, supported by religion. Family Matters: The Role of Religion in the Formation of the Western Family is a must read for anyone trying to improve today's society.”—Larry Pressler, U.S. Senator (1978-1997), U.S. House of Representatives (1974-1978)

The dramatic story of Christianity's fight to save the family
“Dr. Guerra unfolds the dramatic story of Christianity's fight to save the family from the force of evil and secularism. He unfolds an extensive battlefield from the time of Jesus to the latest efforts of American Christianity to engender wholesome and Godly families. I find his advice for uplifting fathers, mothers and children in their most important roles in life right on the mark. Guerra's book is worthy of our full attention.”—Bishop Phillip H. Porter, Chairman Emeritus for the Promise Keepers


The Thesis
The Problem: The Contemporary Family
A Limited Option: Government and the Family
An Enduring Hope: The Social Sciences on Religion and Family

  1. A Thousand-Year Campaign: The Church Battles to Reform Marriage
    Augustus: Failed Imperial Family Policy
    Jesus and Paul on the Family
    A. Jesus: A Unique View of Marriage
    B.Paul: An Egalitarian View of Marital Relations
    Democratizing Elitist Sexual Ideals:
    Celibacy and the Power to Change Society
    The Church Begins to Transform Marital Norms and Expectations:
    The Indissolubility of Marriage
    The Sacralization of Marriage: The New Status Quo of the Family
  2. The Recovery of Adam's Helpmate: The Rise of Companionate Marriage
    Thomas Aquinas: Marriage as Friendship Between Equals
    Erasmus: Woman as an Intellectual and Spiritual Partner to Man
    The Reformation: Marriage More Pleasing to God than Celibacy
    The Puritans: The Founding View of the American Family
    A. The English Way
    B. Puritans and the First American Families
    1. Affirming the Importance of Marriage as a Spiritual
    and Carnal Union
    2. The Bible and the Puritan Family
    3. Covenant and Family: Marriage as Divinely Ordained
    4. Husbands and Wives
    5. The Puritan Legacy
    The Great Awakenings: The Feminization of Religion and Family
    Conclusion: The Shrinking Roles of Husbands and Fathers
  3. And What of the Children?: Christianity and the Status of the Child in Western Society
    Early Christianity Opposes Infanticide and Child Abandonment
    Medieval Christian Images of the Child: A Trust From God
    Conflicting Child-Rearing Traditions in the Sixteenth through
    Eighteenth Centuries: Christian vs. Secular Models
    The Sentimentalization of Children: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Christianity
  4. Twentieth Century Christian Efforts to Save the Family
    Roman Catholicism: Marriage and Familiy as Ministry
    The Southern Baptist Convention: Providing Resources to Strengthen Families
  5. New Religious Movements and the Family
    Mormonism: "From ‘Puritan' Polygamy to Exemplary Monogamy"
    The Unification Church: From Co-Ed Monasticism to a World of Blessed Families
    The Promise Keepers: Coaching Men to be Champion Husbands
    Conclusion. Religion and Family in the Twenty-First Century


ANTHONY GUERRA is a lecturer on religion and the family. He has written broadly on religions from both the ancient and the contemporary world.