What is marriage for and what has this got to do with fostering and adoption?


I was reminded recently of something the preacher said at our wedding, which now strikes me as deeply relevant when considering issues concerning vulnerable children, fostering, adoption and the Church.

He quoted from a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written from prison in 1943. Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian who had been imprisoned for his opposition to the Nazi movement, and was writing to his niece, Renate, on the occasion of her wedding.

What really strikes me is the vision of the ‘other’ that is embedded in the purpose of marriage; as if to say that marriage is about you in one sense but is about so much more that you in another. This is how Bonhoeffer puts it:

“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy institution, through which God wishes to preserve humanity until the end of time. In your love you see only each other in the world; in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations that God, for the sake of God’s glory, allows to rise and fade away, and calls into God’s kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, in marriage you are placed and given responsibility within the world and the human community.”

Christian marriage is not ultimately about the married couple. It is about the glory of God, which is seen in part in the working out of the couple’s ‘responsibility within the world and the human community’.

This is important when we think about issues surrounding the vulnerable and marginalised. This vision of marriage contains an ‘assumption of otherness’, which causes us to look together-but-beyond-ourselves to society. For some this will mean embracing the needs of fostering and adoption, not as something outside of ‘the norm’ of family life but as something that is at its very heart.

Click here for details of Bonhoeffer’s book:

Letters and Papers from Prison (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010)

For more on vulnerability, I wrote a post back in July on Vulnerability is the Norm

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-couple-sweet-married-2226/

About timjdavy

I teach and research on Bible and Mission at Redcliffe College and lead the 'Bible and Mission' and 'Scripture Engagement' streams of our MA in Contemporary Missiology. I am the Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission, and also lead Redcliffe's 'Fostering, Adoption and the Church' research project, .
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