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§ 47. Christianity and the Family.

H. Gregoire: De l’influence du christianisme sur la condition des femmes. Paris, 1821.

F. Münter: Die Christin im heidnischen Hause vor den Zeiten Constantin’s des Grossen. Kopenhagen, 1828.

Julia Kavanagh: Women of Christianity, Exemplary for Acts of Piety and Charity. Lond., 1851; N. York, 1866.

Thus raising the female sex to its true freedom and dignity, Christianity transforms and sanctifies the entire family life. It abolishes polygamy, and makes monogamy the proper form of marriage; it condemns concubinage with all forms of unchastity and impurity. It presents the mutual duties of husband and wife, and of parents and children, in their true light, and exhibits marriage as a copy of the mystical union of Christ with his bride, the church; thus imparting to it a holy character and a heavenly end.634634    Comp. Eph. 5:22-23; 6:1-9; Col. 8:18-25.

Henceforth the family, though still rooted, as before, in the soil of nature, in the mystery of sexual love, is spiritualized and becomes a nursery of the purest and noblest virtues, a miniature church, where the father, as shepherd, daily leads his household into the pastures of the divine word, and, as priest, offers to the Lord the sacrifice of their common petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.

With the married state, the single also, as an exception to the rule, is consecrated by the gospel to the service of the kingdom of God; as we see in a Paul, a Barnabas, and a John,635635    Comp. Matt. 19:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:7 sqq.; Rev. 14:4. and in the history of missions and of ascetic piety. The enthusiasm for celibacy, which spread so soon throughout the ancient church, must be regarded as a one-sided, though natural and, upon the whole, beneficial reaction against the rotten condition and misery of family life among the heathen.

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