Religion and human relationships

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The role of women and men in the family traditiona

The traditional view women

  • Their role is to bring up the children and run a christian home 
  • submit to thier husbands who they are instructed to love
  • take no part in the curch leadership
  • The traditional view men
  • Put their duties before those of women and women should support them in this
  • Have the final say in family matters
  • Provide for their family by going out to work 
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Reasons for traditional view

The reasons for the traditional view

  • Adam was made first and Eve was made specifically to be a companion and a support to him • Eve was the one who was tempted to eat the apple; she is therefore responsible for the Fall from grace and is morally weaker than Adam
  • All humanity has inherited these traits from Adam and Eve
  • Women are physically different from men; they can bear children and are better suited to looking after young children because they can breastfeed, etc.

Christians who take this view do not say men are better than women, they say that God values both genders equally but has created them for different purposes and both genders share responsibility for their children’s spiritual welfare.

Only men however take leadership roles in the church as the deciples were male and jesus was male. The priest represents Jesus so must be male

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Biblical verses to back up traditional views

“Wives… be submissive to your husbands… Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner.‟ 1 Peter 3:1, 7 

“Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church.‟ Ephesians 5:21

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." 1Timothy 2:12

"For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior." Ephesians 5:23

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Liberal view of men and women in the family

Liberal view

Many modern Christians take a different view and argue that men and women should have equal opportunities and responsibilities

  • If they have a child they have both participated in creating it and should both share in its care and If both partners want to work there is no reason why they shouldn’t

These Christians back up their views in the following ways:

  • Modern society is very different from the way it was when the Bible was first written
  • Effective contraception, medical advances, the availability of professional childcare, etc. all mean women no longer have to be at the mercy of their bodies – they do not have to have babies if they don’t choose to and if they do have them they don’t need to look after them themselves
  • In Biblical times ‘work’ usually meant hard physical labour for which women (especially if pregnant) are less suited than men; however, nowadays ‘work’ has a much broader meaning and includes many things which women can do as well or better than men.
  • These Christians do not dispute that men and women are physically different but believe that should make no difference to the way their treated 
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Biblical verses to back up libiral views

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

"For as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God." 1 Corinthians 11:12

"Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21

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The meaning of marriage

A marriage consists of three different bonds between people:

  • An emotional bond; they love each other and wish to demonstrate their commitment
  • A legal bond; they have become a single legal entity, with rights and responsibilities as a couple that the law recognises and enforces
  • A spiritual bond; they have been joined as one in the eyes of God, or according to the requirements of their religion and there are rights and responsibilities relating to this state according to their religious teachings

It is important to be aware of the different bonds as it is entirely possible to go through a ceremony that is binding in a religious sense but not recognised by the law, or a legal ceremony that does not fulfil religious requirements; either of these have implications for ending a marriage

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The different types of marriage

  • A Civil marriage is one which is conducted by the law, without religious elements involved in it
  • A Religious ceremony does not necessarily meet the legal requirements for a marriage in this country
  • Members of religious minorities in Britain may have to go through a civil as well as a religious ceremony if they want their union to have legal as well as spiritual status
  • Christian Churches and priests/ministers/vicars are ‘automatically’ licensed to perform legal wedding ceremonies, and so a Christian couple who are married according to the rules of their faith will not need to go through a civil ceremony as well in order to gain the recognition of the law
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Wedding customs for all christians

Customs vary according to different churches and cultural backgrounds but all Christian service include:

  • A priest, vicar or minister who performs the ceremony in the eyes of God
  • The bride and groom make vows before the congregation
  • The vows include a promise to love, comfort, honour, help and remain faithful to one another
  • The bride and groom declare that they are free and willing to marry
  • Rings are exchanged and marriage is blessed; the ring as a perfect circle is a symbol of eternity and the perfection of God
  • For legal reasons two witnesses have to sign the marriage register as well as the bride and groom


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Homosexual Relationships

Homosexual Relationships

Some Christians accept that homosexual couples can be in loving relationships and this is acceptable to the Church 

Other churches condemn homosexuality outright as a sin, even in a long-term relationshipSome churches may make a distinction between ‘active’ homosexuals, who engage in relationships with same-sex partners, and those people who have homosexual ‘urges’ but remain celibate; they would argue that:

  • Acting on homosexual urges is a sin in the eyes of God
  • Homosexuality is a ‘call’ from God to live a celibate lifestyle
  •  Celibate homosexuals are not sinning, since they are not responsible for how they feel
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Civil Partnerships and Christianity Catholics

Catholics regard the marriage ceremony as a sacrament

 People who have been through a ceremony that does not fit the requirements of a Catholic ceremony are not married in the eyes of the Catholic Church (although they may of course be legally married)

 This is true of alternative Christian ceremonies as well as of civil ceremonies

Couples who are having a sexual relationship without having been through a Catholic wedding ceremony are committing adultery in the eyes of the Catholic Church

This is true regardless of the sexuality of the couple

 It should be remembered that the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a ‘call to celibacy’ – a message from God that you should not engage in a sexual relationship.This means that, in the Catholic view, same-sex relationships should be platonic, and therefore civil partnerships are therefore regarded as unnecessary.

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The end of marriage

The End of a Marriage  Although ending a marriage is extremely common in Western society it is important to note that both Civil and Christian marriage services contain the presumption that marriage is a commitment for life

Ending a marriage means severing the bonds between the partners:

  • The emotional bond is severed by the end of love
  • The legal bond is severed by going through the legal process that results in a record of the end of a marriage
  • The spiritual bond is the one that, arguably, cannot be severed.

Remember it is possible for a couple to be legally apart but still married in the eyes of their church or faith community The way marriages are ‘supposed’ to end is with the death of one or other of the parties There are two other legal ways to bring this about:

  • Divorce: The legal dissolution of the marriage contract, resulting in a record that the parties were once married but are not any longer
  • Annulment: The ruling that a legal marriage bond was never created in the first place (for example the couple are brother and sister, or one of them was already married at the time of the ceremony)
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Biblical teachings marriage

"Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… even so husbands should love their wives as being in a sense their own bodies." Ephesians 5:25-26 

"A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and they two shall become one flesh." Ephesians 5:28 „

"It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helpmeet for him." Genesis 2:18

"I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whoever shall marry her that us divorced committeth adultery." Matthew 5:31-32 „

"What therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder." Matthew 19:6 

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Sexual relationships for Christians

Sexual Relationships for Christians

 Many Christians believe that sex should only take place within marriage  This is because:

  •  The body is a ‘temple to the Holy Spirit’ (contains a part of God) and so should be treated with respect
  • Sex has a purpose, designed by God – to create children and to strengthen the bond between married couples. This purpose should not be misused.

Sex was meant to be very special and casual sex denies this  Other Christians believe these views are old fashioned and disagree with them because Sex is a pleasurable thing and as such it is a gift from God and most Christians would still agree that casual sex between people who have just met is wrong 

Catholics believe that a celibate lifestyle (one without sexual activity as a part of it) is one that is especially pleasing to God; Catholic priests are required to be celibate.Celibacy is a positive thing because sexual relationships are intense and distract people from their relationship with God; priests, monks and nuns should not have any relationship more important than the one they have with God 

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Sex and Sin

Sex is also seen as related to the ‘Original Sin’ of Adam and Eve: 

  • After Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit and gained knowledge of good and evil they realised they were naked and were ashamed of it 
  • This can be interpreted as becoming aware of the gender differences between them and so, by implication, of sex  Giving in to the sexual urge outside of a Christian marriage is therefore a sin

The other concept Christians apply to sex is chastity; this means ‘purity’, and it is a virtue (the opposite of a sin)  All Christians should aim to be chaste which involves:Christian groups like True Love Waits where teenagers pledge to remain virgins until they marry and may even wear a ring as a symbol of this commitment.  

Quakers believe that sex is a gift from God and in itself is neither good nor evil; the focus is on the way sex is used in relationships – if either party is being used or damaged by the sexual desire of the other then, in that context, the sex is wrong.

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Sex as pleasure

Many people regard Christianity as being especially ‘joyless’ about sex; there is a perception that the Christian Church has never been concerned about sex as a pleasure because it views it as a sin

Some Christians do undoubtedly hold this view, believing that celibacy is the best course

Others believe that sex within marriage is natural and good and married couples should not abstain from it  The Song of Solomon in the Bible is an entire book devoted to the pleasurable nature of sex and many Christians view it as one of God’s gifts to humanity (thus abusing sex becomes abusing a gift of God)

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Biblical verses for sex

„Do you not know that your body is a temple to the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.‟ 1 Corinthians 6:19 „

I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.‟ Matthew 5:28 „

It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife.‟ 1 Corinthians 7:1 „

Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is abomination.‟ Leviticus 18:22 „

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders… shall inherit the kingdom of God.‟ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 „

Thou shalt not commit adultery.‟ One of the Ten Commandments

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy love is better than wine.‟ Song of Solomon 1:2

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 Contraception literally means ‘against conception’  It is used to describe the methods that can be used to prevent a child being conceived during sex:

  • Condoms
  • Diaphragm
  •  The Pill
  • Rhythm Method (this is where sex is avoided during the woman’s most fertile times)

Methods of contraception can be divided into:

  • Abortive: Where the fertilised egg is prevented from implanting in the womb, e.g. the Pill, morning-after pill
  •  Barrier: Where the sperm and the egg are prevented from meeting at all e.g. condom, diaphragm
  • Natural: Where artificial aids are not used e.g. withdrawal, the Rhythm Method 
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contraception and catholics

The Catholic Church teaches that sex is the means God uses to create new human lives. Since every act of sexual intercourse has the potential to be a new life, interfering with that is interfering with God’s right to create life

Abortive methods of contraception are seen as equivalent to killing a child, since it is alive in God’s eyes from the moment of conception

Barrier methods interfere with the main purpose of intercourse 

Catholics may only use ‘natural methods’ such as only making love when the woman is at her least fertile. These methods are notoriously unreliable.  Even some natural methods are unacceptable – e.g. the withdrawal method is frowned upon as the Old Testament condemns allowing semen to ‘fall upon the ground’  This is one of the Catholic Church’s least popular stances even with believers

The Bible does not really mention contraception specifically as reliable contraception was unknown at the time it was written  However there are Bible passages which people use to discuss contraception, including that marriage was ordained by God for the procreation of children (on which the Catholic teaching is based).

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other christian views on contreception

Most other Christian churches teach that contraception is acceptable

 This is because of Free Will – a gift from God to the human race; it means that people should be free to make their own choices This includes choosing whether or not to have children and how many to have

 People may not have enough money to support a large family Also, the world is over-populated and many people are starving; it is therefore the responsible thing to limit the size of your family 

These Christians may also argue that God gave people the intelligence to learn how to use contraception, so to refusing to do so devalues that intelligence

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biblical teachings on contreception

„Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.‟ Genesis 1:28 „

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.‟ Jeremiah 1:5 „

udah, therefore, said to Onan his son: Go in to your brother's wife and marry her, so you may raise children for your brother. Onan knew the children would not be his, so when he went in to his brother's wife, he spilled his seed upon the ground. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing.‟ Genesis 38:6-10 

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