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582 10 2013 , 29 2014 . 785

University news
Lectures on Christian Marriage by American Sociologist Mark Regnerus
On May 21, 2018, an open lecture on The Future of Christian Marriage was given in the main building of Saint Tikhons Orthodox University of the Humanities by Dr Mark Regnerus, a professor of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, USA. He discussed existing scholarly works on the topics of family and marriage, and presented the results of his own research on Christian families.
The lecturer observed that, according to the statistics, the model of married life is changing: one can note a tendency for the age of marriage to increase, including amongst Christians; the mean duration of marital union is decreasing; and the number of divorces and cases of cohabitation are increasing. The existing data do not, however, enable us to answer the question of why the aforementioned processes are occurring.
In light of this, Prof. Regnerus conducted research on Meanings and Practices in the Area of Relationships and Marriage amongst Christians. Prof. Regnerus collected deep interviews in America, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Russia. The data for Russia were collected with the help of staff from Saint Tikhons Universitys research project on the Sociology of Religion.

In the final part of the lecture, Prof. Regnerus presented the results of his primary analysis of the data from his research. Using the results of this project, Mark Regnerus plans to publish a book about the present state and future of marriage amongst Christians. Dr Ivan Pavliutkin, the organizer of the lecture and a staff member of the research centre, as well as a senior researcher in the Laboratory for Economic and Sociological Research at the Higher School of Economics (HSE), commented on the event: Mark Regnerus has nearly completed a very large comparative research project and, judging by the analysis he has presented, there is an indication of common features in the understanding of marriage by Christians in various countries. Of course, it is worth controlling for various indicators of religiosity when selecting and interviewing subjects, since there is a difference between practicing faithful Christian parishioners and non-practicing Christians in their understanding of the meaning of the family and marriage, as well as differences in the attributes that characterize their family life.
In his words, one aspect of the discussion that followed the lecture was very interesting and had potential for further study, namely, the fact that the understanding of the importance of marriage amongst respondents in various countries seems to be defined in terms of separation and divorce rather than those of unity and eternity. People postpone marriage and the marriage ceremony because they start thinking straightaway about the probability of divorce rather than of a single marriage that lasts their whole lives. But what will happen if we separate in the end? Why then get married in church given its such a big deal? On the one hand, this says something about the value attributed to family and marriage, for which one must be prepared; on the other hand, it says something about a certain normative state of affairs according to which this value is put into practice. Why this is happening to young people today in various countries, such as Italy, the United States, and Russia, is a good topic for research, Ivan Pavlyutkin added.
In the course of his five-day working visit, Prof. Regnerus took part in a series of seminars discussing not only theoretical work on family sociology, but also contemporary empirical research projects in this area. In addition, Prof. Regnerus conducted a masterclass on publishing articles in foreign journals, discussed approaches to writing academic texts, and on the principles of working with various sources in the literature.
Prof. Regnerus visit to Moscow was organized by the Sociology of Religion project. This academic undertaking, which has been operating in Saint Tikhons Universitys Faculty of Theology since 2007, conducts fundamental and applied sociological research on questions of religion. The team of sociologists, theologians, philosophers, religious studies experts, and mathematicians carry out unbiased sociological research on religion such as are necessary in order to take decisions on important matters in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church and secular society.

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