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ways of musical expression, there is one person who performs on no instrument whatever, but in whom, none the less, the whole control of harmony and rhythm resides. Until the leader comes, the discordant sounds go their various ways; but at
the symphony begins. So it is with the spiritual leadership of Jesus Christ. Among the conflicting activities of the present time his power is not that of one more activity among the rest, but that of wisdom, personality, idealism. Into the midst of the discordant efforts of men he comes as one having authority; the self-assertion of each instrument of social service is hushed as he gives his sign; and in the surrender of each life to him it finds its place in the symphony of all.
THE TEACHING OF JESUS CONCERNING THE FAMILY
There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee ; ... and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, to the marriage.
The social problem of the family, it need hardly be said, is not comprehended by practical considerations of domestic duty. It is not a question of behavior within the domestic group, but a question of the continued existence of this form of social relation. Even thus defined, the problem of the family usually confronts one at such close range that its real dimensions and significance are not easily appreciated. Before approaching, then, the teaching of Jesus on the subject, it will be necessary to indicate briefly some aspects of the question which may seem to be remote from the immediate issues of the present age.
The problem first presents itself when we become aware that the coherence and permanence of family life are, under existing social conditions, seriously threatened. Domestic instability, it is observed, tends in a most startling manner to become an epidemic social disease. The number of divorces annually granted in the United States of America is, it appears, increasing, both at a rate unequalled in any other civilized country, and at a constantly accelerating rate. In all Europe, Canada, and Australia in 1889 the total number of divorces granted was 20,111; in the United States in this same year it was 23,472. In 1867 there were granted in the United States 9937 divorces; in 1886 there were granted 29,535. The increase of population in those twenty years was 60 per cent; the increase of divorces was 156 per cent. The total of married couples living in the United States to one couple divorced was in 1870, 664, and in 1880, 481. The ratio of marriages celebrated to one couple divorced was: in Massachusetts in 1867 forty-five to one, and in 1886 thirty-one to one; in Illinois in 1867 twenty to one, and in 1886 thirteen to one. It may even be computed that if the present ratio of increase in population and in separation be maintained, the number of separations of marriage by death would be at the end of the twentieth century less than the number of separations by divorce.
Many causes contribute to this result. Looseness in the law of divorce and in its administration, diversity of law in the different States, and an almost equal looseness in the law of marriage, — all have their part in creating a situation in which, as has been remarked, less care is observed in arranging a contract of marriage than is involved in a contract concerning a horse or a piece of land.i This situation, which has become so familiar as to make the instability of the marriage tie a matter even of current jest, is in itself sufficient to constitute a problem of extreme gravity, and it is most natural that many communions of the Christian Church are urging upon the consciences of their adherents the insidious nature of the social peril involved, and are procuring more stringent legislation, both of State and Church, concerning marriage and divorce.
1 United States Commissioner of Labor, “Report on Marriage and Divorce,” 1889; "Columbia College Studies," I, 1 ; Willcox, “ The Divorce Problem ; a Study in Statistics," 1891; Mayo-Smith, “Statistics and Sociology”; A. P. Lloyd, " A Treatise on the Law of Divorce,” 1889.
2 Willcox (op. cit.), p. 12.
In these practical efforts for domestic integrity, however, there is in reality involved a much larger issue than at first appears. It is, in fact, nothing less than an issue between two theories of the marriage tie, — the conception of it as a temporary contract, involving the interests of those who are known as “the parties concerned”; and the conception of it as a social institution, involving the fabric of the social order. Indeed, the family is but one element in a general struggle for existence of two types of civilization, one dominated by an interest in the development of the individual, the other characterized by a concern for the social order. The first of these conceptions of society has for a long period controlled English thought. “The movement of progressive societies,” said Sir Henry Maine, “has been uniform in one respect. Through all its course it has been distinguished by the gradual dissolution of family dependency and the growth of individual obligation in its place. The individual is steadily substituted for the family as the unit of which civil law takes account.”i This substitution has been for several generations the key of English jurisprudence, philosophy, and economics, as well as of the religious life and thought of Protestantism. The second conception of society, on the other hand, has come to its full expression within the present generation. It takes fresh account of the stability and progress of the social order. It is illustrated by the mass of new legislation which deals with questions of social welfare; by the new expansion of philosophy into problems of social structure, evolution, and obligation ; by the transition of economic science from issues of individual competition and harmonies of self-interest to the adjustments
1 Atlantic Monthly, April, 1888, F. G. Cook, “The Marriage Celebration in the United States "; S. W. Dike, “Reports of National Divorce Reform League”; Political Science Quarterly, December, 1889, “Statistics of Marriage and Divorce”; C. F. Thwing, “The Family : an Historical and Social Study”; C. D. Wright, “ Practical Sociology,” 1899, p. 151 ff.
1 Maine, “Ancient Law,” 3d Amer. ed., 1878, p. 163; so also Horace Bushnell, “ Christian Nurture," 1871, p. 91, “ All our modern notions and speculations have taken on a bent toward individualism.” Compare, “ The Message of Christ to Manhood,” Noble Lectures, 1899; H. C. Potter, “The Message of Christ to the Family," p. 193.
? So of the Catholic judgment of Protestantism, “Life of Father Hecker,” N. Y., 1894, “Protestantism is mainly unsocial, being an extravagant form of individualism. Its Christ deals with men apart from each other and furnishing no cohesive element to humanity.”