Reflections on the Chinese Family

This issue of ChinaSource Quarterly focusing on Chinese families not only seeks to present the context of Chinese churches and their social conditions to English-speaking readers, it also invites self-reflection from Chinese Christians on what “family” means to us in today’s China. To the Chinese, especially Chinese Christians, the values and basis of family living have to be unlearned and then true values and basis learned anew in an environment where family values have disintegrated under the influence of various ideologies.

As a professor of ethics, Jun Wang discusses in his article the sources in China’s ethical traditions that have contributed to the disunity of Chinese family values. He ponders the key concepts of authority and love in the Chinese context. Sociologist Ma Li contributed two articles with analytical insights from fieldwork studies on how first-generation Christians, when forming new families, handle challenges in kinship networks and the larger society. Her first article provides some general observations and guidelines for Christian family living. Her second article gives some case studies of Christian marriages among the young urbanites. As an urban-church-grown believer and currently a doctoral student in an US seminary, Li Jin presents a theological thesis based on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity for anchoring the family and its contextual concerns in China. Independent writer Wei Zhou further engages with the discussion of how to rebuild family order in the church in China’s social transition.

We want to bring to your attention that most Christian believers in the growing movement of Christianity in mainland China are first-generation converts. Their birth families have contributed values and practices that these new converts struggle to unlearn. Meanwhile, Christian family living has been unfamiliar in their upbringing. Resources on this issue have been much needed. Thus, we also chose a book review on a biography of a Christian mother who raised five prominent preachers including the world-known evangelist Stephen Tong. This book has been well received in mainland China among first-generation believers.

We trust this issue will serve as a starting point for further reflection and discussion on how Christian families in mainland China can live as faithful witnesses of God’s hope, faith, and love.

Image Credit: Journal Entry (Joel Montes de Oca) by Chris Lott, on Flickr.
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Mary Li Ma

Mary Li Ma

Mary Li Ma (MA Li) holds a PhD in sociology from Cornell University. Currently a research fellow at the Henry Institute of Christianity and Public Life at Calvin University, Dr. Ma and her husband LI Jin have coauthored articles, book chapters, and are the authors of Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: …View Full Bio

LI Jin

LI Jin

LI Jin is a PhD student at Calvin Theological Seminary. Prior to seminary he was a PhD candidate in economic history at a Shanghai university. He writes on Christian thought for both public and Christian media outlets in mainland China and Hong Kong. LI Jin and  wife Mary Li Ma have coauthored articles, book …View Full Bio