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We propose that a system of dualities at the nexus of religion and family creates outcomes that help and harm families. Using data from interviews with 198 ethnically diverse Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families, we explore a conceptual framework of ten dualities: (1) religion in family is both mundane and transcendent; (2) religion both creates and addresses relational struggles; (3) religion is a unifying and dividing force; (4) religion provides both comforts and expectations; (5) families experience both blessings and demands from God/religion; (6) families treat God as both close confidant and authority figure; (7) religiosity is both a conservative and a transformative force; (8) religions expect families to both accept certain things and reject other things; (9) religious commitments have binding and liberating features; and (10) religion both excites and calms passions. We discuss how these dualities lead to the divergent outcomes of help and harm in families.

Dualities at the Nexus of Religion and Families

Elements: description of elements of duality

A. Overall Perspective

1. Religion in Families is Both Transcendent and Mundane
a. Transcendent: supernatural & eternal considerations, spiritual experiences
b. Mundane: everydayness of religiosity; prosaic, daily religious life

B. Family Relational Dynamics

2. Religion Both Creates and Addresses Relational Struggles
3. Religion in Families is Both Unifying and Dividing
4. Religion in Families Encourages Both Comfort and Expectations
a. Creates: relational burdens, disunities, abuses, and offenses
a. Unifying: harmony with God/divinity, family members, and others
a. Comfort: fulfilling other's needs, giving help or support, and receiving from others
b. Addresses: religious resources like prayer, scripture study, ritual, forgiveness, worship
b. Dividing: disharmony or separation from God/divinity, family members, and others
b. Expectations: anticipating sacrifice or changes and complying with those from others

C. Divine Relations and Requirements

5. Religion in Families Involves Both Divine Blessings and Divine Demands6. Families Treat God as Both Confidant and Authority Figure
7. Religion is Both Conservative and Transformative
a. Blessings: God/religion meets needs, increases stability, nurtures, guides, heals
a. Close Confidant: God is intimate Friend, Comforter, Guide, Healer
a. Conservative: religion offers timeless, absolute, and unchanging truths and traditions
b. Demands: God/religion demands sacrifice/changes based on divine will or standards
b. Authority Figure: God is authoritative Lord, Lawgiver, King, Judge, Ruler
b. Transformative: religion invites growth, change, progress, repentance, transformation

D. Personal-Internal Aspects of Religious Involvement

8. Religion in Families Involves Both Accepting and Refusing9. Religion in Families is Both Binding and Liberating
10. Religion Both Excites and Calms Emotions
a. Accepting: taking things into body, life, home; ideas into mind; emotions into heart
a. Binding: commitment to rules, covenants, duties, authorities: behavioral self-regulation
a. Excites: religiously-inspired enthusiasm, excitement, zeal, passion, anger
b. Refusing: not taking things into body, life, home; ideas into mind; emotions into heart
b. Liberating: actualization, achievement, agency, autonomy, motivation, freedom
b. Calms: religiously-inspired peace, serenity, joy, contentment, gratitude