Literature of Evangelical perspective on relevant issues of marriage

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Purpose and objective
The purpose of the study is to examine the influence of Biblical teaching and church participation on marital commitment and adjustment of Evangelical intercultural couples of Filipinas with North American Caucasian husbands. The result of the study is to contribute to the field of pastoral counseling by providing better understanding and a more specific focus in premarital and marital counseling with Evangelical intercultural couples.
Historically, in the Philippines interracial and intercultural mixing has been practiced for a long time. The evolution of the Philippine nation, culture and ethnicity shows evidences of interracial and intercultural blending. Currently, a large number of its citizens reside overseas. Today, most intermarriage occurs among Filipinos with foreign nationals in the country where they work (Saintjareth s.a.). The 2001 Survey of Overseas Filipinos (SOF) and Gender Quickstat 2002 show that the number of overseas foreign workers reached 1,030,000 as it stood in April 2001. Many women in the age group of 20 to 34 years are among them. The highest number of OFW (Overseas Foreign Worker) from the Philippines is in the U. S. Although Canada was not among the favorite places for OFWs, the U. S. and Canada combined have a high representation of the Philippine OFWs.
Trends show that intercultural marriages in North America are on the rise, because of the increase of urbanization, mobility, propinquity and other significant factors in society such as, modern transport, communication and globalization. Gordon (1966) and Baron (1972) already discussed these trends several decades ago. Root (1996) affirms the increasing trends. This is also true among the Evangelicals. Prinzing and Prinzing (1991) suggest that relatively few families will be able to avoid the issue of intercultural dating and marriage in the coming decade. They maintain that churches need to deal with the issue of intercultural and interracial marriages that occur among Christians. However, the Evangelical churches have largely remained silent on this matter. When they have spoken the messages were mixed. Although the Evangelical denominations have given token and theoretical support, many church families transmit different messages (Prinzing and Prinzing 1991:105-106). The authors further assert that the church is not “they” but “we”. In other words, the issue concerns the Evangelicals as a whole.
A large amount of literature on Filipinas marriages with foreign men focuses on the mail-order bride phenomenon. Cahill (1990:134) states that the mail-order bride reputation has often unduly stigmatized Filipinas, who are married to a foreigner, even when they did not marry by means of a matchmaking agency. However, only 21% of Filipinas who married interculturally were mail-order brides (Ordoñez 1997:136).
Added to that, existing literature on Filipinas’ intercultural marriage underlines these women’s Roman Catholic religiosity as the strength that keeps them committed to the marriage and helps them in their adjustment to their intercultural situation (Samonte 1992; Beer 1996). Heinonen (1996) affirms that church activities and belonging to a church family are important factors for the well-being of Filipino immigrant families in Canada.
On the other hand, there is no existing literature that investigates the foreign husbands religiosity, although Beer (1996) alluded to it in her study on Filipina-German marriages. She wrote that when the Filipinas and their German husbands and in-laws were similarly religious Roman Catholics, religiosity was an asset for the adjustment of the Filipina to the in-laws and the community. To the contrary, when the husbands are not religious, the religiosity of the wives is tolerated, or it can become a problem for the marriage.
The present study is on Evangelical intercultural marriages, in which the wives are Filipinas, and the husbands North American Caucasian men. Steward and Bennett (1991), Bernard and Preli (1993), and Althen (2003) ascribe the mainstream dominant American culture to the White middle-class and upper middle-class Americans of European ancestry. Thus, the use of the term “Filipinas” and “Caucasian” North Americans does not imply racial purity for either of the population group. The delimitation is to clarify their mainstream or dominant cultural backgrounds. Nonetheless, the couples in the study were intercultural, interracial, but not interfaith.
Given that the study concerns Evangelical couples, attention was paid to investigate literature on the OT and the NT regarding the Biblical position on intercultural marriage. No prohibition was found against intercultural marriage between followers of Yahweh of diverse cultural backgrounds in the OT, neither was there among the believers in Christ in the NT. The OT stresses the preservation against contamination of the “seed of Abraham”, and for the preservation of God’s promise of the blessing to all nations through Abraham (Epstein 1942; Werman 1997; Hayes 1999; Rudolph 1949; van Oyen 1967; Robertson 1980; Sailhamer 1992; Martens 1994).
The NT emphasizes the universality and the unity of all believers in Christ. This understanding is evident for instance, in Calvin (Institute of Religion, Book IV, chap. 1, section 9), Robertson (1980:40), Erickson (1989:1035), and in commentaries on the Gospels (Carson 1994; Wessel 1994; Tenney 1995; Liefeld 1994; Longenecker 1994). While the NT is silent on the issue of intercultural marriage, it speaks against believers marrying unbelievers in 2 Cor 6:14-18, and alludes to rejection of it in 1 Cor 7:39. 1 Cor 6:15-20 warns believers against sexual immorality (Harris 1994).
Also, from a church historical perspective, in the early church the Christian community was functioning as a kinship group of siblings, who understood themselves as sons and daughters of God. The church was a family (Hellerman 2001:225). Thus, it can be deduced that intercultural marriages among believers in Christ of different backgrounds was not Biblically prohibited.
Literature on Christian marriage such as, Barber (1974), Adams (1980), Worthington (1989, 1999), Wright (1992) and others affirms that the Bible teaches the basic principles for Christian marriage. Also, the concept of marriage as a covenant is central for Biblical teaching on marriage (Anderson and Guernsey 1985; Balswick and Balswick 1991; Clark 1995). The Christian Declaration on Marriage issued on Nov 14, 2000 by major Evangelical denominations and Roman Catholics in America affirms the concept of covenant marriage. Inherent in this teaching is the concept of unconditional sacrificial love in marriage as modeled in the relationship of Christ and the church.
Furthermore, believers in Christ are members of a church fellowship in the body of Christ. In this community they experience acceptance, mutual care and edification (Berkhof 1979:396; Firet 1986:75; de Jongh van Arkel 1988:4, 1992:97-98; Erickson 1989:1037: Heitink 1993:277).
Therefore, Biblical teaching and church participation are significant for the well-being, and spiritual growth of the members. Moreover, several empirical studies on marital satisfaction, marital commitment, and marital adjustment, have found that the unity in religious orientation, and joint church participation have a positive influence on intra-cultural North American couples’ marital relationship (i.e. Quinn 1984; Ortega et al. 1988; Larson and Goltz 1989; Robinson 1994; Wilson and Musick 1996; Wilson et al. 1997; Call and Heaton 1997).
It is noteworthy that, literature on intercultural marriage proposes that it is not the cultural differences per se that are the source of conflict in intercultural marriage situations. The conflict reflects personal attitudes toward the differences (Cottrell 1990). Also, Chan and Smith (1995) maintain that the stability, satisfaction, or marital conflicts of intermarried couples are not caused by the fact of their race or ethnicity per se. Attitudes to race and culture of the marital partners, and the potential conflictive relationship with in-laws and the perceptions of society can lower the
marital stability and satisfaction of the couples. Similarly, Markoff (1977:61) proposes that disapproval by society of a particular intercultural marriage can be detrimental to the marriage. The personal qualities and attitudes of the intercultural spouses that are conducive to building a successful relationship may be seriously tested. Thus, the attitude of the church toward intercultural marriages can be a significant factor for the well-being of such a marriage.
Consequently, both favorable attitudes of the spouses and the in-laws toward the differences in culture, and living in a social environment that is favorable toward intercultural marriages, are significant factors to consider. Presumably, Biblical orientation can positively affect attitudes, and healthy church participation can provide a supportive social network for intercultural couples.
Thus, theological considerations, the findings from studies on intercultural marriage, and empirical studies on marital commitment, marital adjustment and church participation, support the objective to research the influence of Biblical teaching and church participation on marital commitment and adjustment of Evangelical intercultural couples of Filipinas with North American Caucasian husbands.

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Design and method

Chapter II of the thesis is dedicated to literature review, which includes five themes:

  • literature on intercultural marriage, (2) literature of Biblical theology on intercultural marriage, (3) literature of Evangelical perspectives on relevant issues of marriage, (4) literature on mainstream Philippine and American salient cultural values, and (5) literature of research on the influence of religious orientation and church participation on marital commitment and adjustment. Chapter III focuses on the fieldwork.

The study hypothesized that Biblical teaching on marriage and positive experience of church participation strengthens marital commitment and marital adjustment of the intercultural couples of Filipinas with North American Caucasian husbands. Thus, the fieldwork sought to answer two research questions: 1. How does Biblical teaching influence marital commitment and marital adjustment of the intercultural couples? 2. How does church participation influence marital commitment and adjustment of the intercultural couples?
Four questionnaires were used to collect data: questionnaire 1 gathered demographic information; questionnaire 2 was to clarify the frequency and type of the couples’ church participation; questionnaire 3 was to assess the levels of marital commitment; and questionnaire 4 was to indicate the levels of marital adjustment. The one-hour personal interview with each spouse was to disclose the aspects of the influence of Biblical teaching, and the benefits of church participation on marital commitment and adjustment, and their intercultural specific issues.
The personal interview followed twelve principal questions that were expandable. The topics were on how they first met; their expectation for their choice of a church; the contribution of their church to the well-being of their marriage; relationship with in-laws; leadership in the home; position on divorce, remarriage and sacrificial love; the value of children; and their frequent issues of disagreement and ways of dealing with differences. The questionnaires were filled out over the phone, followed by the personal interview.
The research involved 46 individuals or 23 couples. Their shortest time of having been married was 7 years and 3 months. The longest was 37 years. One couple has been married for 7. 5 months, and another one for 7.25 months. Five couples were married for 20 years, and the rest have been married over 10 years. All the women were in their first marriage. For one man it was his third marriage after a second divorce. One other man was in his second marriage after his first wife had died. Thus, all have been married for a considerable length of time.

Chapter I: Introduction 
1.1 Purpose
1.2 Problem
1.3 Theological Framework
1.4 Rationale
1.5 Conclusion
1.6 Research questions and hypothesis
1.7 Definitions
1.8 Fieldwork
1.9 Delimitation
1.10 Summary
Chapter II: Literature Review 
2.1 Literature on intercultural marriage
2.2 Literature of Biblical theology on intercultural marriage
2.3 Literature of Evangelical perspective on relevant issues of marriage
2.4 Mainstream Philippine cultural values
2.5 Mainstream North American values
2.6 Literature of research on the influence of religious orientation and church participation on marital commitment and adjustment
Chapter III: Fieldwork 
3.1 Method
3.2 Procedure
3.3 Assessment instruments
3.4 Results
3.5 Discussion
Chapter IV: Summary and Implication 
4.1 Purpose and objective
4.2 Design and method
4.3 Findings
4.4 Limitations
4.5 Implications

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