How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization Mary Eberstadt
West Conshohocken, PA:Templeton Press. 2013. Kindle Edition.
What is the real reason for the rising tide of secularism that seems ready to drown any semblance of Christianity? She argues that the normally accepted theses describing the rise of secularism-the Marxist understanding that religion is merely an opiate for the people; the Enlightenment and the advance of science; the collapse of modernity during the early to mid-20th century as two world wars swept our world; the floodtide of material progress all fall short of truly explaining the demise of religious attendance in the European west, Great Britain, and the United States. Instead, she writes, “[T]he process of secularization, I will argue, has not been properly understood because it has neglected to take into account this “Family Factor”—meaning the active effect that participation in the family itself appears to have on religious belief and practice.”
She seeks to put the normally accepted theories of secularization on their head- demonstrating that the real cause of secularization may very well be the demise of the two parent (husband and wife)family as typically defined in most of the West over the past few centuries.
She succeeds at raising a question that needs to be further researched and discussed. What is the relationship between the demise of the family and the deterioration of morality in our world? Instead of seeing the traditional family as the victim of secularization her research seems to point to an opposite conclusion. As the American poet, William Wallace famously wrote, “the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.”
The implications for those of us in ministry, and indeed those of us who are engaged in social programs are profound. Unless there is a renewal of protection for the traditional family we may very well be looking at the collapse of whatever moral order we previously enjoyed. If the traditional family is indeed one of the causes of the rise of secularism we must act before it gets any later. Quoting the sociologist, Sorokin, she notes that calamity may very well be a catalyst for change. Let us pray that we who have influence in family ministry and social planning in our communities catch the urgency of the calamity in order that we might lead the charge to renew and reestablish a biblical understanding of the family.