CHRISTIAN HOME AND THE SOCIETY
The role of the Christian home in our society is to be a model of life. Not only are man and woman created in the image of God, they are also called to unite with each other in order to fulfil the maximum of human nature and human existence. Their union within marriage is founded upon love that stems from God and goes beyond nature. At the same time, it gives nature quite a different dimension—the call for sanctification.
We talk so much about love in our religion. We make it theonly and total principle of life. We define God as being LOVE. What does this mean to us in our daily life, our family life? Love, from our Christian viewpoint, implies some-thing that goes beyond the individual. Each spouse loves the other for his or herself, and, beyond all this, they love each other in God.
We define genuine love in psychology as the capacity to sacrifice one’s own interests and pleasures for another, to love the other before one’s self, to seek his or her interest.Astonishingly, two thousand years before modern psychology, the main ideas of modern clinical psychology were found in the gospel and in the first epistle of John—a magnificent contribution to the philosophy of love.
After Jesus and John, love become a principle of knowledge alongside that of reason. It is one of the basic contributions of Christianity to the history of civilization and ideas.When a marriage is based upon genuine love, it becomes a way of a new knowledge for the human being, something that opens the family to society, and makes out of it an active element that serves as a model of change and evolution.
Plato denied the reality of the world of senses. He considered only ideas as “real.” The genuine Christian, however, conceives of the flesh as being completely worthy, completely ontological, rooted in being—it has to be transformed through the effect of love, rooted in God Himself.Any marriage cannot be conceived of as “real” if it is not founded on love. Between spouses, there is a vocation of unity in the spirit and in the flesh, a vocation of mutual understanding, and the vocation of begetting children and bringing them up worthily.
The second basic model that must be implemented by the Christian family is to be an adequate setting for bringing up children, in order to prepare them for life and service in their immediate society. The upbringing of children in a Christian family is a tremendous task. Now, because of scientific knowledge we have very efficient tools for implementing Christian ethics and social values through practical education and psychology.What modern psychology has taught us is that genuine love is learned by the child. From birth to six or seven years of age the child learns to love, either adequately or inadequately.
Emotional deprivation in the first years of life is catastrophic for a child’s inner-psychology. When there is a lack of proper love, the child’s personality may be stifled; he or she may remain immature forever. It is therefore very important for mothers’ love to be intense and adequate in order to build up a child’s capacity to love. Psychological maturation constitutes the psychological foundation of the ethical life of an individual.
Emotional maturity is the capacity to love, sacrifice, and forget one’s self for the sake of community. We have a very excellent definition of genuine love in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians. It is a masterpiece of psychological and ethicalanalysis of the nature of love. There is no text in modern psychology that matches the description or analysis of Paul. There is no success without mature, genuine love.
We seem to consider sex education as one of the basic elements for marriage preparation. One of the basic findings of psychology is that sexual life in its biological dimensions is completely determined by the psychological element. People confuse sexual information and sexual education— emotional psychosexual or emotional, sexual education. Information is part of a whole structure. That’s why we have to begin with emotional educational or psychosexual education. Knowledge about sex that comes at the age of five to seven, or eight to fourteen should first answer personal questions of the child. There should be a natural need for knowledge that may come by a change that stimulates questions for the child. We have to answer him or her in a scientific way with a respect for the truth, but we also have to adapt truth to his or her level of understanding. If we conceive of marriage preparation as a double process, stressing mainly emotional maturity and at the same time informing the child and the adolescent about the facts of life—then this new information can easily be integrated into the whole personality and become something operational and efficient.