Religion, family form and the question of happiness
There is much empirical evidence to support the hypotheses that children are more likely to thrive when brought up by their biological parents; and that marriage produces greater happiness, not just for children, but for their parents, and for societies, than comparable family forms. In the first section, this evidence is analysed. In the second, the problematic character of happiness within Christian thought and practice is allowed to disrupt all appeals to it as a goal of human life. The third section identifies six prior issues which need to be resolved if the claim that Christian teaching about marriage and family form produces happiness is to be vindicated. The fourth section contributes theologically to the discussion about what families are. The argument concludes that a form of Christian teaching about families is to be embraced primarily because of its intrinsic attractiveness, and only secondarily because empirical study currently supports its felicific consequences.