From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Taiwan Legislates "Pre-Marital Education"

From Taiwan Church News <>
Date Thu, 16 Jan 2003 13:49:32 +0800

Taiwan Church News 2655, January 19, 2003
Reported by Li Yi-shin. Translated and rewritten by David

   Last week a law on family education passed its third reading
in Taiwan's legislature and is now the law.  It stipulates that
in the future men and women wanting to be married must first take
a four-hour marriage preparation course.  County and municipal
governments are on order from the central government to offer
instruction on nourishing healthy marriages.
   The Rev. Chang Tzy-ning (Tiu* Chu-leng) had a hand in the
law's design.  He is a chaplain at Tunghai Christian University
in Central Taiwan and a minister of the Presbyterian Church in
Taiwan with decades of experience in marriage counseling.
   The new law, he says, "renews recognition of the importance of
marriage, conforms to a Biblical model for marital bliss, and
will influence this society's view of marriage in a positive
   The law will require education on matters that strengthen
family relationships and stability.  This includes work in
communication, gender understanding and ethics.  It requires
local government agencies to provide the course for persons who
apply to marry.  It additionally stipulates that students in
middle and elementary schools have four hours of family education
per semester within their school curriculum.
   Rev. Chang says, "The passing of the Family Education Law can
be seen as a link in the government's response to the economic
situation. Human society is about more than economics. Family
education is basic.  Marriage is the primary relationship between
two people. No matter how we advocate gender equality, men and
women still have unique natural differences and characteristics.
We must give the next generation a chance to grow up in whole
families where children can develop in homes of love."
   He suggests that the pre-marital course be taught by
grassroots organizations. This would give churches a role,
enabling them to present a clear and relevant model of marriage
to the society at large. Churches are rich in marriage counseling
experience, and can use the opportunity to sow gospel seeds.
   Ms Wu Wei-ting, secretary of the Women's Awakening Foundation,
said, "Four hours of training for something as complex as
marriage is not enough.  Wedding time is like a honeymoon.  This
pre-marital education will not do much about the divorce rate. It
will be no help."
   She suggests that if pre-marital education fails to rise above
the common "ideal family" ideology then it will not be helpful to
single parent homes or families in weak sectors of the society.
She believes that, "One husband one wife is the predominant
family shape, but does not take in the reality of the single
parent and weak sector homes in Taiwan's society." She asks, "Are
these to be regarded as something other than a family?"
   Whether the pre-marital education will have any effect on the
divorce rate or not, both Ms. Wu and Rev. Chang agree that
marriage is important and requires study. A short four-hour
course cannot solve family and marriage problems and challenges.
But pre-marital education is a beginning.  The course can include
legitimate gender relationship ideas, legal aspects of marriage
and introduction to social resources.  It can help newlyweds to
have a more proper understanding of the nature of marriage, and
be an aid in solving the inevitable problems that come with time.

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