INTERRELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER INSTITUTIONS
Religion and the Family
The interrelationship between religion and the family has received only a limited amount of study from sociologists. A sample of twelve recent “marriage and the family” textbooks (those which were conveniently available on your author’s bookshelf) devoted an average of 1112 pages to “religion,” mostly to mixed marriages. Yet religious beliefs, practices, and
values are an important factor in family life. The conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity greatly reduced divorce, adultery, fornication, and homosexuality; returned women from a not greatly subordinate to a thoroughly. subordinate status; and cultivated a pervasive and enduring identification of sex with unworthiness and sin [Leslie, 1982, chap. 6). Recent changes in family practices and values (smaller families, use of contraception and abortion, greater sex equality, increased tolerance for divorce, extramarital sex experience, nonmarital cohabitation) have more often been resisted or reluctantly accepted by the churches than actively supported by them. ‘Personal acceptance of such changes has been more rapid m!,ong the relatively nonreligious than among the devoutly. religious persons. Religion is dearly a factor in family life, but one which it is diificult to isolate and measure.