Christian Religious Fundamentalism and Family Role Identities


The process of gender identities formation from a sociological point of view can be analyzed as the combination of expressive and instrumental roles within one family unit. The science never mixed the roles of male and female being the background of the family formation. There are a lot of aspects influencing the position of the family gender roles in the society taking into account the religious views. Christianity alone is not the driving force of any marriage though it is the fundamental institution of western beliefs. It should be noted that the essence of Western Civilization is based on the religious belief in Christianity. This, in the modern world somewhat contradicts the fundamental nature of a highly technology-based culture and social constructs becoming prevalent in America today. Christianity has been a driving force of marriage and establishing many of the family role identities classified as traditional. Even though society has seen a significant liberalizing of family role identities over the past couple of decades, a micro-culture or subculture exists that emphasizes a rigid adherence to traditional roles. Christianity acts as the foundation of society and marriage is a part of it for this micro-culture; thus, it is obvious that Christianity has a huge influence on marriage through its strong impact on family values and gender obligations.

Thesis Analysis

The marriage institution covers the differentiation of the gender roles characterized by the social motives and accepted standards. It should be noted that changes in society usually result in the reformation of the occupational structure of the family institution. Thus, it is important to stress that capitalization and femininity dominating in the particular social group can lead to a complete change in the public perception of gender roles. (April 2006) The reality of modern families speaks differently about the Christian fundamentalist approach towards marriage. The duty of a man towards the family, the duty of a woman towards the man, the duty of children towards parents is all established formulations that were composed almost two thousand years ago. Thus, it is obvious that under the modern context of economic globalization such notions would fail to satisfy the imaginations of the common population. They are simply not suited for cosmopolitan citizenship. There are still families that live under the parameters of such rigorous laws but the results are not helpful for any of the participants. They live a life of stress and those results in different physical and mental complications. (Darling, 2004)

Social activities and religious behavior are closely interacted due to religious affiliation levels. For example, Judaism and Catholicism are aimed at protecting their members from suicide and other self-destructive acts while Protestantism provides no protection. Fundamentalist religion indirectly involves the participation of family members in its activities and beliefs improving marriage unity. Fundamentalist religion and religious sociology have a profound impact on family life and family roles identities. They stimulate the males to be steadier in relations and hold a job; females are as well influenced through religious support. Taking into account the fundamentalism approach the institute of marriage has always been considered to be the organized structure of everyday responsibilities and gender interrelations. The woman has always been considered to be the junior partner of the head of the family, that is of the man. Such a position in the family became fixed for many centuries. (Thornton, 2008) Fundamentalism is considered to differ depending on gender; it is usually applied more to women. This fact can be explained by personal beliefs as to the biblical aspects. Women relate sexism not to fundamentalist affiliation but to the tendencies of beliefs. As to the males they stick to the opposite conception of the sexist position in the sphere of religious sociology. The sexist conception for women sticks to the point that men are to be female benefactors. The position of sexism conception is perceived differently by males; the physical aspect has primary significance. (Peek, 2001)

Fundamentalism is considered to live with various forms of religion. Its spread is influenced by social structure and leadership. Christianity is the background of the fundamentalism approach was directed at perfect society creation. With every passing year, the position of christened fundamentalism was partially substituted by modernists’ approaches. People being influenced by the modernism movement were taught the concept of world disaster. The fact that nothing can save our planet and its inhabitants from a complete crash was followed by the thought of social activities breakage. Nevertheless, in the 20th century, the position of Christianity was renewed strengthening social life and marriage institution. (Sandeen, 2008)

Historical changes of family life position and values linked with religious beliefs relate to various social areas. The influence of religion on family life can be observed through fertility rates, divorce rates, household labor and parenting. A great number of females involved in the labor force is one of the causes for recent debates concerning religion and marriage interactions. The problem is that every woman is to present her gracious submission to the leadership of her husband while the husband is to be the true leader of the family protecting it. According to religious conception, all the members of the family are equal though the role identities should have a fixed position. Oppressiveness suffered by females resulted in complete situation change. The transformation of the gender roles in the family is connected with sovereignty establishment in gender flow of thoughts and social position. (Smith, 2004)

The Fundamentalism scheme sticks to the subordinate position of a female in the family being closely connected with the fact that a woman has no right to witness to the head of the family, which means that her voice is meaningless and females’ claims are of no importance. Housekeeping is considered to be the principal aspect of the woman’s role in the family. The place of sex was clearly identified by Fundamentalists. They considered that sex could be present in the life of the family couple only as of the way of children reproduction. Sexual intercourse was regarded as evil in Christianity and Fundamentalism. Man is the priest of his family bearing responsibility for the spiritual development of his family members.

The Bible is considered to be a theological commitment correlating with some traditional ideology concerning gender and family. This position can be taken into account in the literal Bible interpretation. The belief under analysis is a religious recourse type providing distinctions from conservative aspects of Protestant religious identity. A literal interpretation of the Bible indicates respondents believing this book to be completely true inspired God’s word. Theological beliefs indicate that the employment status of married females should be different from that of unmarried ones. The position of the husband being the head of the family is analyzed from a financial aspect taking into account theological conception; the Bible regards males to be true leaders of the family bearing responsibilities for its status and social activities involvement. (Smith, 2004)

The religious influence on the marriage institution leads to the belief strengthening and deeper participation of its members in social activities. The family with strong beliefs uses the Bible as the guide to the solution of everyday problems. Nevertheless, despite the religious influence on marriage, marital relations can as well impact the level of family religious involvement. Family and church are considered to be mutually connected with each other serving and interacting actively. Couples who are martially happy are stimulated to new activities strengthening and characterizing them. Participating in church activities and church socials, concentrating on Christianity beliefs and praying together may involve families in a supportive environment. Those members of the families who stick to the positions of religion and focus on religious activities consider the phenomenon of divorce to be immoral; as a result, the power of the family increases and it becomes more stable. The increase of religious involvement improves the atmosphere inside the family and marital interaction quality. It should be stressed that the report of the couple about the possible divorce would lead to complete disobedience of the family members. (Booth, 2005)

The quality of marital interactions is to be examined from two angles. First of all, marital quality dimensions influence the duration of interaction and gender positions. Religious involvement may affect human attitude to the marriage but the behavior of the married couple can remain unchanged. Religious activities participations require strict obedience of the couple following the word of God. The Bible states that marriage should lead to happy and stable family life; so, it means that major problems inside the family raised by the couple should be deemphasized in case the couple is religiously involved. Religion provides indirect help to the family harmony and relations improvement.

The meaning of marriage for males and females is considered to be completely different. The feeling of religiosity is to strengthen and unite the members of the family identifying their roles and functions performed. The interaction of the families and church is rather contradictory. On the one hand, deep involvement in religious activities improves marital relationships and decreases the threat of divorces, but on the other hand, the marriage can result in a lower level of family participation in church activities. This fact is connected with rare church attendance and religious impact on daily routine.

Every Christian is the epitome of perfection, it nonetheless invites faith in Christ as the embodiment of righteousness who inspires all humanity to strive for salvation and redeem their souls. Theology regarding the concept of atonement has also come to be severely criticized as many people think that in the modern world of terrorism and violence it is eminently impracticable to love one’s neighbor or be submissive and become the victims of savage oppression. The centrality of Christ to the New Testament theology confounds confusion further in that the very crucifixion of Christ who sacrifices his life to atone for the sins of humanity is in marked contrast to the Scriptural approach to the oppressed and the un-evangelized. Thus, though there is an essence of free will there are limits too in Christianity about marriage. (Grasmick, 2007)

The idea that women are subordinate to their husbands is even today built into the marriage contract in many jurisdictions. Women in the United States, for example, still do most of the housework, even though a great number of them actually have jobs outside the home. Although the roles of fathers are changing, primary responsibility for the care of children still rests with the mother in Western society. Given the many problems that are associated with marriage, it is not so surprising that many young people in Western societies- which, largely, now values individual fulfillment over traditions- have become disillusioned with the institution of marriage. This has resulted in the surge of non-traditional social structures. Divorce used to be quite rare, but now, it is extremely common. In fact, half of all new marriages in the United States will end in divorce. However, in various cultures, marriage is negotiated by the parents of the betrothed. The opinions of the children themselves are generally viewed as being irrelevant. If love becomes a feature of these unions at all, it is expected to be a result and not a cause of the marriage. (Meyer & Geschiere, 1998)


Happy relationships provide human beings, both male and female, with hope, exhilaration, intellectual stimulation, exciting, satisfying sex, and vital emotional support. Above all, the human preoccupations with sex and companionship are normal and natural, marriage after all discontents, and problems remain as a favorable institution in the modern world and religion with its doctrine should not intervene in the family life. It is important to underline the fact that analysis of religious fundamentalism managed to show the influence on marriage and gender roles in society. The paper managed to illustrate the influence of religious position on the family role identities. Aspects belonging to the religion of fundamentalism appeared to affect the quality of marital relations of married couples. As it was proved family institutions and religion are serving each other and providing certain strength for the social status.


Becker, Penny Edgell and Heather Hofmeister. 2001. “Work, Family, and Religious Involvement for Men and Women”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 40:707-722.

This article is important for the study because it is an evaluation of modern marriage in the western world predominated by Christianity. This book is also helpful for providing useful data.

Booth, Alan. 1995. “Belief and Behavior. Does religion matter in today’s marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family. 57:661-671.

Publisher: National Council on Family Relations.

The article is based on the family religious involvement searching; it focuses on marital relations qualities improvement and their connection with religious influence on family participation in church activities.

Darling, Carol Anderson, Hill, E. Wayne and Lenore M. McWey. December 2004. “Understanding stress and quality of life for clergy and clergy spouses”. Stress and Health. 20:261-277.

This article is mainly about the family stress of marriage under Christian parameters. In other words, this indicates the manner Christian suffer from the traditional aspects of marriage and duties. It also acts as an ardent advocate of anti-Christian beliefs and marriage.

Denton, Melinda Lundquist. 2004. “Gender and Marital Decision Making: Negotiating Religious Ideology and Practice”. Social Forces. 82:1151-1180.

The University of North Carolina Press.

The article discloses relationships between fender ideology, religious identity and decision making.

Grasmick, Harold, Wilcox, Linda Patterson and Bird, Sharon R; 9 January 2007. “The Effects of Religious Fundamentalism and Religiosity on Preference for Traditional Family Norms”. Sociological Inquiry. 60:352 – 369.

This article is about the modern face of marriage under the parameters of Christian beliefs. As the name suggests it provides a lot of insight into the subject of the study which is based on an almost identical theme.

Meyer, B. and P. Geschiere 1998. “Globalization and Identity: Dialectics of Flow and Closure”. Development and Change. 29:601-615.

Institute of Social Studies by Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

This article is about the development of globalization and shaping of the family values in accordance with the economic changes. This is a very important article as it provides the face of losing Christianity in the parameters of married lives.

Nelsen, Hart and Potvin, Raymond. 1981. “Gender and Regional Differences in the Religiosity of Protestant Adolescents”. Review of Religious Research. 22:268-285. Religious Research Association, Inc.

The article underlines the peculiarities of gender differences depending on the region. The data provided in the article highlight the basic religiosity measures such as fundamentalism, religious practice and personal-experimental religiosity.

Peek Charles and Lowe, George. 1991. “Gender and God’s Word: Another Look at Religious Fundamentalism and Sexism”. Social Forces. 69:1205-1221.

The University of North Carolina Press.

The article highlights the aspects of sexism and religious fundamentalism development and influence on the social life of the nation. The authors managed to discover the measures of the women’s and men’s position in society in terms of religious beliefs and sexism.

Sandeen, Ernest.1970. “Fundamentalism and American Identity. Radical Change in American Religion.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 387:56-65 American Academy of Political and Social Science.

The author managed to disclose the development of fundamentalism’s position in society, its connection with Christianity.

Thornton, Arland and Young-DeMargo Linda. 2001. “Four Decades of Trends in attitudes toward family issues in the United States: The 1960s through the 1990’s”. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 63:1009-1037.

National Council on Family Relations.

The article is devoted to the disclosure of family attitude trends emphasizing the previous two decades. It highlights the basic elements of the family values such as equality, freedom, and children.

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