When David Seamands went as a missionary to India in 1946, Christian missionaries there faced the same challenge as those in Africa: What to require of people who came to faith in Christ but had more than one wife? The two clusters of missions took different approaches. Both maintained their belief in high biblical standards; but in India, polygamy among Christians nearly disappeared within a generation, while in Africa it continued to be a nettlesome irritant.
Seamands, who is professor emeritus at Asbury Theological Seminary, describes in the first essay of this issue’s CT Institute how he and his fellow missionaries in India contributed to the near extinction of the polygamy problem. But his story is more than a pith-helmet memoir. It is a ringing challenge to approach the epidemic of marital breakup in the U.S. as missionaries to a non-Christian culture. That, of course, would call for strategic thinking by church leaders.
Since most CT readers are church leaders (either lay or clerical), we surveyed them about the state of their marriages, their beliefs about divorce and remarriage, and the ways such things as adultery, marital breakup, and marriage counseling have shaped their lives. These hot topics brought a whopping 67 percent response to our survey—almost unheard of in the opinion-research biz.
Just as surprising was the health of our readers’ marriages. Nearly 95 percent describe their marriage as warm and supportive. That contrasts with an approximate figure of 20 percent in the general population. In a time when the conventional wisdom says that church marriages and unchurched marriages are remarkably similar, we take that to be good news, indeed.
People with good news are called to be missionaries. If church leaders’ ...1
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