Family Ethics and the Ethics of Ministerial Leadership

Browning, Don S. “Family Ethics and the Ethics of Ministerial Leadership.” In Clergy Ethics in a Changing Society: Mapping the Terrain. James P. Wind, J. Russell Burck, Paul F. Camenisch, and Dennis P. McCann, eds. Pp. 198-214. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991.

Believing that solving the question of family ethics holds a key to reinvigorating the church and informing its mission, Don Browning develops in “Family Ethics and the Ethics of Ministerial Leadership” the concept of a love ethic of mutuality and equal-regard that promotes the minister’s self-definition, ministry intervention to families, and the church’s wider public witness. Building on the work of William D’Antonio, Barbara Hargrove, Benton Johnson and Louis Janssens, Browning describes the goal of love as mutuality in which both the self and the other are equally regarded. Love as equal-regard functions differently in different contexts based on which sphere of “premoral goods” the family pursues. Browning believes that an ethic of mutuality can revitalize feminism’s approach to the family, respond to the plurality of family forms today, and guide the family’s moral action in the world.