The Family in Traditional Chinese Culture and Its Possible Contribution to Saving the Traditional Family in the Future Culture of Humanity

Zbigniew Wesołowski S.V.D.

“Rodzina w tradycyjnej kulturze chińskiej i jej możliwy przyczynek do ratowanie tradycyjnej rodziny w przyszłej kulturze ludzkości”
(The Family in Traditional Chinese Culture and Its Possible Contribution to Saving the Traditional Family in the Future Culture of Humanity)

Online lecture presented at the 4th International Familiology Symposium “Philosophy and Theology of the Family in the Context of Human Needs in the Culture and Civilization of Contemporary Europe and the World”, University of Warmia and Mazury (UWM), Olsztyn (Poland), 25-26 May, 2020.

Organizers: The Faculty of Theology UWM in Olsztyn (Poland), Faculty Council of the Student Government of the Faculty of Theology at UWM in Olsztyn (Poland)


Chinese culture occupies a special place and unique position among other very advanced human civilizations. It has been continuously developing for at least four thousand years, a fact that has been confirmed archaeologically and historically, and it still continues to grow. Chinese culture is not the oldest of all human cultures, but it is the culture with the longest duration. The family played a crucial role in Chinese culture, also in a political sense, because in Confucianism state and society were understood as a natural extension of the family. The traditional Chinese family was primarily characterized by the following six structural features: It was 1) patrilineal, 2) patriarchal, 3) prescriptively virilocal, 4) embedded in kinship group, 5) sharing a common household budget, and 6) normatively extended in form. In his lecture, the author first briefly explained the above-mentioned features of the traditional Chinese family, and then concentrated on the Confucian understanding of the family, i.e., Chinese familism This concept understands the family as the only adequate and appropriate place of birth, development and cultivation of human feelings, first and foremost the instinctive abilities of xiao 孝 (filial piety) and ti 悌 (brotherly obedience). In today’s context, it is interesting to look at Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China as representatives of Chinese culture in the light of contemporary neo-Marxist attacks in the West on the natural-traditional-biblical marriage (as the monogamous unity of man and woman) and the traditional family. Although same-sex relationships were part of Chinese history – it seems they were also part of every known society – their legalization in mainland China would be very harmful to future humanity because of China’s great population. To the amazement of many, same-sex marriage in Taiwan became legal on May 24, 2019, and Taiwan became the first country in Asia to approve same-sex marriage. Although same-sex marriage is legalized in Taiwan, there are still restrictions for same-sex couples, such as adoption. Considering the legal approval of same-sex marriage, it is important to ask how Chinese-Confucian familism could help save traditional family values for the future of humanity.