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Current Issues in Marriage, Family, and Religion
History teaches us that societies rise, blossom, and collapse, which is only logical, because change is the essential process of all existence. We as human beings, members of the American society and the global community, are generally aware when a change takes place and are more or less able to intuitively reason where this change might lead. Still, when the changes concern the matter as fundamental as the family, the future (as perceived by each individual) becomes quite vague.
The issue of family and religion, as illustrated by the corresponding module and the readings, therefore, is the subject of immediate interest. The analysis of religion as a social construct can reveal the ways it is intertwined with all other constructs – the instances the given society has agreed to treat in some particular way. Family, at that, comes in the form of yet another social construction, and a powerful one since it lies at the baseline of the society, with practically all social processes revolving around family as a unit.
The changes that are happening in how the institution of family is perceived directly affect the institute of religion (Edgell 642). However, there is a resonating discrepancy between the current familial tendencies and the teachings of the Catholic and many other churches, a gap that the Church will probably have a hard time closing.
The Church has done and is doing its best to promote familial stability and values such as fidelity, fertility, and overall healthy relationships between the members. Albeit the authoritative way in which religion promotes these values, the interrelation of these two institutions is, probably, the driving force behind the society. Religion encourages what it supposes to be healthy marriage, and family socializes the children in a fashion that subsumes religiosity and cultivates the socially agreeable understanding of all the basic cultural concepts like race, gender, and class (Edgell 636). The symbiotic relationships of the two, however, have been shattered by the emergence of the new familial values on the aftermath of the gender equality struggle and specifically the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
The Good, Bad, and Ugly (Religion’s Social Aspects)
The discrepancy between the changes undergone by the institute of family and the teachings of most religions has to do with the role of religion historically. As justly noted in the module concerning the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of the development of religion and society throughout the history, religion has done much to promote positive social values, including the familial.
The good aspect of religion, therefore, is understandable: it has played a crucial role in shaping the construct of family as we know it and has implicitly promoted the society’s self-reproduction. The impact of religion on gender issues, however, has been largely destructive: the assigned gender roles left no place for diversity and allowed for violence against those who are perceived as deviant from the religious standpoint.
Considering that religion has played a signature role in shaping the government (another social construct), the initial position of the latter on the marriage rights of LGBTQ+ couples is more or less predictable (Berg par. 1). Still, the involvement of religion into the change of familial paradigm is quite controversial.
The changing picture of the family institute seems to require certain flexibility on behalf of religion and its actors. On the other hand, one can reason that to force wedding vendors to provide services for LGBTQ+ couples would be to deprive them of their religious liberty if they have objections on religious grounds (Marist Poll n.pag.). Besides, the deprivation of religious rights and the government-induced coercion to abstain from certain religious involvement could cause exacerbation of individual well-being of the said vendors and other objectors (Mochon, Norton, and Ariely 2).
Religion and Family in the Sociology of Religion
On the one hand, taking into account the “free market” concept related to ideas and religious convictions, this inconsistency of enforcing the human rights and neglecting the religious can present a serious issue to the sociology of religion. On the other hand, ignoring the human rights to maintain religious integrity is certainly not an option. The idea of government-induced enforcement of either is, therefore, highly problematic as it contradicts the very fundamentals of what the Founding Fathers projected the American society should be. Similarly, whether the government leans one way or the other can have a distinct political message that in both instances would act to the disfavor of this particular government.
Religion, Family, and the Future of America
The concepts of family and religion, and the constructs of gender roles shaped partially by religion, have immediate significance to the future of religion in America. Indeed, the controversial situation that has long been on the rise and was to a great extent triggered by Obergefell cannot last long. The state of uncertainty as to whether the human rights should be chosen over the religious or vice versa indicates there is something utterly troubling with this situation. As it was rightly noted, mutual understanding is the key; however, whether and how this understanding will be achieved remains a complicated issue.
Berg, Thomas C. “Protecting Same-Sex Families and Religious Dissenters After Obergefell.” Religious Freedom Project: Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University. 2015. Web.
Edgell, Penny. “Religion and Family.” The Oxford Handbook on the Sociology of Religion. Ed. Peter Clarke. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011. 635-650. Print.
Marist Poll. “Tolerance for Religious Rights.” Marist Poll. Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 2015. Web.
Mochon, Daniel, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. “Who Benefits from Religion?” Social Indicators Research 101.1, 1-15. Web.