“The Christian Family – a ‘Small Church’ and the Foundation of a Healthy Society”. Final document for the plenary session of the CIAC meeting in Moscow on 4 February 2010

Documents, News — 04.02.2010 12:18

The churches of the CIS countries and Baltics, gathered in Moscow for a plenary session of the “Christian Inter-Confessional Advisory Committee of the CIS-Countries and Baltics” on 2 February 2010, studied carefully the topic entitled: “The Christian Family – a ‘Small Church’ and the Foundation of a Healthy Society” and now report on their joint views regarding family relations. Our view on the role of the family emanates from the Holy Scriptures as the highest authority on moral values and is likewise based on the centuries-old experience of church care for the family.

Session participants desire to express their strong disquiet regarding the deterioration of family and marriage values in present-day society.

We truly believe the family was established by God and is part of the foundation of public order. According to Christian understanding, the family is a community of persons recognising God as the centre of its life and is united by love. It is capable of building harmonious relationships between its members as well as with society and the government in general. The church is required to watchfully guard the Biblical understanding of family. For if there were no family, then persons and society in general would cease to exist.

Family begins with marriage. Marriage is the lawful union between a man and a woman, and the Holy Scriptures clearly report on the inadmissibility of other forms of cohabitation. A union between persons of the same gender is sinful and cannot be regarded as marriage (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11),

We support the matrimonial union between a man and woman, created only once and intended for a lifetime. Divorce is one of the greatest tragedies within family and society. The Church should remind people of the responsibility placed upon them at the beginning of marriage. It is the responsibility of Christian communities to help preserve marriages and avert divorces.

The sanctity and purity of premarital relationships is of great importance in the creation of happy and blessed lives, also within the whole of society.

The bearing and raising of children is an important part of matrimonial life. Churches should promote the training of parents in the upbringing of children and when necessary render families pastoral assistance.

Youth work must by all means include the teaching of family values such as marital fidelity and respect between spouses as well as between parents and children. It must include chastity and responsibility as well as the readiness and ability to resolve conflicts peacefully. Abortions are inadmissible. This work must include calls to a healthy way of living while barring the usage of alcohol and narcotics. All of these form the foundation for a strong and healthy family.

Modern medical technologies play an important role in maintaining family health. Medicine has achieved remarkable successes and we welcome the efforts of scientists aimed at supplying as many couples as possible with healthy children. But Christians are also called on to protect the sacred gift of human life and dignity so that the usage of reproductive technologies does not end in the destruction of human embryos. Christianity views abortion as murder and we support preservation of the lives of all conceived infants.

But it is not only the growing number of abortions which arouses our concern. Parental rejection of their own children as well as the unwillingness of offspring to remain with their parents have become serious challenges to our society. We consider it vital to create systems of family support which consult parents on the upbringing of children and render societal and government assistance to families caught in crisis situations. Christians should at the same time demonstrate healthy relationships between parents and children in their own families.

We ascertain that the issues of family and marriage need to be expressed in the politics of the CIS- and Baltic states. The Russian government allocates significant financial resources to parents and places the construction of maternity centres in the state budget. We highly appreciate the placing of a special holiday for family, love and fidelity on the national Russian calendar. The system of support for the family needs to be developed further – also on the local level.

Mass media are called on to portray the image of the happy family. The state should promote the presentation of positive family relations and the training of the coming generation by ordering the production of telecasts as well as art and documentary films. Traditional attitudes towards the family should be taught in schools.

The participants of this plenary session hope that an attentive and thoughtful public discourse on the significance of the family might lead to the formulation of general approaches and proper conditions for the development of a healthy society.