Singleness, Marriage and Family

Marriage In The Middle Kingdom

Marriage, like so much else in China, has undergone profound changes in recent years. In the past, tradition, social expectations and poverty all tended to oblige couples to stick together, whatever the reality of their relationship. Marriages were generally contracted at a young age, married children usually lived with parents, and divorce was rare. Today, in a much more mobile society, grown?up children may live far from their parents, and opportunities for multiple relationships are much greater. Living together before marriage has become commonplace, at least in cities. Divorce has reached levels similar to that in Western countries. Abortion is widespread, particularly where the one?child policy is enforced. At the same time, parents put huge pressure on young people to get married and produce a child. All this presents great challenges to those returning to China who have become Christian believers overseas, particularly since the expectation would be that they marry soon after returning. This article is intended to help those working with Chinese students overseas to understand more about the situation of marriage in China, and to encourage them to address this subject with pre?returnees, so that they may be better prepared for the challenges they will encounter.

Distance and Duty

This article begins with the expectations and pressures that are unique to the “one-child policy” Chinese student. A quote that summarises their experience well: “Our generation of only-children is very self-conscious. For historical reasons, we must shoulder all of our parents’ goals and their ever- bigger dreams…we don’t have our independent future, but rather, re-walk the path our parents didn’t finish; we live for it and struggle for it.” The implication is not only that one who is seeking to share life and the gospel with such students needs to think carefully about how they share in a way that speaks into this felt need but also as the student becomes a Christian, to continually talk through how to live for Christ in a way that will also address honouring their parents. The article then goes on to describe explicitly the different ‘types’ of Chinese international students and what their felt needs are. The article then advises those who will befriend Chinese international students to disciple in a way that helps returnees to be willing to engage with family expectations in a Christ-centred loving way, whatever that might look like for the individual.

See page 7 of—winter-2016-17.pdf

The Preeminence of Love in Chinese Families

Two thousand years ago, China was involved in a debate about love that later became known as “The Dispute between Confucianism and Mohism.” Mohism[1] advocates “universal love”: everyone should love others equally. This is similar to the Christian concept of “love your neighbor” or “love your neighbor as yourself.” However, Mencius was strongly against Mohist’s idea and considered it outrageous. He labeled it as having “no respect for monarch or father; worse than beasts.” In modern China, due to the decline of traditional Confucian values and its hierarchal relationships, traditional ethical order and family upbringing have been abandoned and destroyed. The new era in China is seen as lacking love, ethics, and upbringing. While the original hierarchy and relationships have collapsed, a new order affecting relationships has not been established. However, as more and more Chinese have accepted Christianity, many so-called Chinese Christians are starting to think and practice the principles of Christianity. In this way, love-based authority is beginning to replace authority-based love and is starting to rebuild and revive relationships within the family.

One in a Billion Mother – video

From the moment Mary sensed she was pregnant with her third child she knew she had received a gift. But the niggling question of how it would affect their life, beyond the initial issues of if they would be fined – whether they could get him or her registered as a resident in the city they lived in, whether her husband would be able to keep his job in civil service, whether the child would be able to go to a local school, or be entitled to any government benefits – these were things she knew she’d eventually have to face. Her doctor, her colleagues, even her parents were telling her to give up the child – that she would be helping her two elder kids to have every opportunity. Life in the big city was expensive, three children were going to be more of a financial challenge to raise as it was, let alone if they were not going to be able to keep their source of family income. But this child was a gift. A life God made. In His image. And maybe these people – her doctor, her colleagues, her parents – didn’t know it. But that’s because they didn’t know this God themselves. She would keep this child, so that they would know God. Because that is what her country would need.

The Truth About Singleness – Study Guide

This UK resource has been designed as a do-it-yourself seminar to help Christian women learn what the Bible teaches about singleness and to discuss it together. The two sessions are designed for both single and married women because married people need to have a biblical view on singleness, just as single people need to have a biblical view on marriage. As one family in Christ we should learn about each others’ situations and think how to encourage each other. This resource is available in English and Chinese.

Leftover Women in China

The issue of unmarried females, often stigmatised as “sheng nu” or leftover women, has long been a topic of concern in a society that prioritises marriage and motherhood for women. This video looks at the personal impact of pressure to marry. The video went viral with Chinese communities around the world,

BBC Article
Original Youtube link

Shanghai Marriage Market

Shanghai’s Marriage Market, where elderly residents gather in the hopes of setting up their children or grandchildren with “suitable” spouses by advertising their qualities and then matchmaking – often behind the young peoples’ backs – is back in the spotlight thanks to a project by Yingguang Guo. This video shows something of the pressure on young people to marry according to their parents wishes