A recent Chinese Church Voices post looked at how China’s Christians are responding to the news that divorces in China have increased every year for the past decade.
The article, which appeared originally in the online Chinese publication Global Times, noted “a softening attitude toward the marriage contract and a declining sense of moral responsibility towards marriage and the family.” In response, the author suggested a multifaceted approach is needed “that addresses social governance, values orientation, the rebuilding of the family, and related areas.”
Recognizing both the causes and effects of this trend, many urban churches in China are seeking to strengthen the marriages of their members.
Zhou Ming of Olive Tree Church, an unregistered congregation in Beijing, sees marriage ministry as foundational: “The church needs to increase the level of importance it places on guarding marriages. The true meaning and significance of marriage must be taught in the churches: one husband and one wife, one man and one woman, for your whole life. There are all kinds of problems in society, but whatever kind of social problem there is, you need stable marriages to be the foundation.”
Zhou adds that marriage retreats are also important because they provide emotional support for husbands and wives who are often tempted to give up on their marriages.
According to one educator who has worked extensively with families in China, the greatest difference between Christian and non-Christian couples is the faith that difficulties in their marriages can be worked out, and that they personally can change to become better spouses and parents.
In contrast to this belief in the possibility of positive change is the traditional concept of fate, which she sees at work in many marriages. Women whose husbands are unfaithful, for example, may simply ascribe their misfortune to fate and resign themselves to the situation. Whereas non-Christians might attribute a spouse’s personal characteristics to his or her genes or blood type, Christian couples acknowledge the need to take personal responsibility for one’s character and behavior, believing that the Holy Spirit can bring about change.
The Global Times article concludes:
In the Bible, marriage is a covenant made by husband and wife before God. The call to commitment is higher than the goal of gaining happiness; self-sacrifice and service are more important than obtaining what we want from the other person.
In light of this ten-year rise in the divorce rate, which highlights the paradoxical pursuit by couples of personal happiness, we see that today’s era of individualism and misconceptions regarding marriage deserves our attention and reflection.
Image Credit: Wedding napkins by Caitriana Nicholson, on Flickr.
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio
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