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Role of a Christian Family

  • Traditionally central unit of the society
  • Basic unit of the church
  • Church continues to live and expand through the family
  • Provides education for the next generation
  • Teaches children about their rights and responsibilities
  • Obligation to be involved in caring for the elderly
  • Christians believe that the way a society treats its old people is a reflection of the general attitude to caring for others

Nuclear family: mother, father and children

Extended family: aunts, uncles, cousins etc.

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Christian Teachings on Roles in the Family

  • Woman = homemaker
  • Man = goes and makes the income
  • Both are important and valued to Christians
  • However, now both parents need to work and share being a homemaker
  • Children have to respect their parents
  • We extend our care and concern to the extended family
  • Not always possible as you might not have the room to look after elderly, but Christians believe this should be the case if possible
  • Christian view is that if people have relatives they shouldn’t die alone
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Role of men and women in the Church family

The Orthodox and Catholic churches do not ordain women à early church teachings:

  • Could not teach or have authority over man
  • Women could not challenge the teaching of the clergy
  • However, they can live their lay vocation in other ways
  • During mass women can read from the Bible (except Gospels), lead the prayers and the singing
  • Many women choose to fulfill their vocation by becoming nuns

Protestant churches also do not ordain women (church of England):

  • Lead to much controversy
  • More than 1,300 clergy are threatening to leave the Church if women are allowed to be ordained
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  • Basis for family life is marriage
  • Still the case in the Christian tradition
  • Not always the case in society today
  • More families are based on a marriage than not
  • Christians believe marriage is life long
  • Pre-dates Christianity
  • Protect the children
  • Children will expect to have a lifelong relationship with their parents, as in ideal their parents should have a lifelong relationship with each other
  • Part of the reality of human experience
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Christian View of Marriage

  • To contract a valid marriage in this country, you need permission from both the state and the church.

Essential conditions for a valid marriage:

- Free to marry
- Not already married
- Old enough
- Not too closely related
- Consent freely given
- Have to complete the legal formalities

  • Christian churches usually request at least six months notice to allow adequate time for preparation and often offer courses
  • God created Adam and realised he didn’t want him to be alone so created Eve
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What Happens in the Ceremony?

  • Introduction by the priest or minister
  • Explain the Christian purpose of marriage:

Mutual commitment for a lifetime
Proper context for children
Proper context for sexuality

  • Declaration of freedom to marry and freely giving consent
  • Vows
  • Promise to commit yourself to your partner faithfully
  • Vow that this commitment is for life
  • Blessing and exchange of rings
  • Symbol of commitment and eternity
  • Prayers
  • Calling down God’s blessings on a newly formed couple
  • Catholics have a mass
  • Signing the register
  • Legal contract
  • Witnessed by registrar (or representative of) and minister


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Beliefs about Sexual Relationships

  • Sex is a God given activity which demands total commitment and trust
  • Sex is a God given gift, capable of creating new life – it demands a responsible attitude
  • Sex is an expression of a growing love and life long relationship
  • Misused sex can become selfish


  • RC states that according to the Natural Law, the purpose of sex is to be open to the creation of new life so contraception goes against this.
  • Believe is should be a sexual act that reflects the total self giving of towo individuals in love, through marriage.
  • Express the quality and potential of the relationship as open, loving and life giving. 
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  • Declaration by the catholic church that in the eyes of the catholic church your marriage was not valid in the first place
  • Not dissolving vow
  • Saying it was never made in the first place
  • Catholic churches teaches very clearly you cannot dissolve that sacramental vow
  • All annulments granted in the Vatican after being checked by two diesis’s in England
  • Free to marry because never actually been married
  • Non consummation is grounds for a divorce and annulment    
  • That the marriage was contracted without due discretion, e.g.:

o   Too immature to really fully understand what a lifetime commitment is
o   If you found out after you got married that one partner couldn’t have children and they knew that they couldn’t have it before and didn’t tell you

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Christian View of Divorce

  • All Christian churches believe marriage is a lifelong commitment
  • All Christian churches do their best to urge a couple to make the marriage work (e.g. counseling)
  • Catholic church will not remarry divorcees in church
  • May be harsh and difficult but not unreasonable
  • ‘Till death do us part’
  • Important part of marriage ceremony that you did that freely and a lifelong commitment
  • Stood up in church and freely made that promise
  • That vow was made before God and his church

Indissoluble: you can dissolve the legal contract but not the sacramental vow

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Other Denomination and Remarriage

Anglican church, Methodist church and other reform churches will permit remarriage of divorcees

  • Divorce doesn’t dissolve the sacramental vow, effectively if a couple go through a divorce they have effectively dispensed each other from their vow
  • Christian teaching for forgiveness and reconciliation
  • God forgives and allows us to try again
  • You have to assure the vicar that you still believe that marriage is a lifelong commitment that is faithful and exclusive
  • ‘Go and sin no more’
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Sanctity of Life


- Every life is sacred and a gift from God

- Beginning and end of life is God’s privilege to deal with it

- Precious and to be nurtured, it is precious and shouldn’t be destroyed

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Abortion 1

  • Premature termination of a pregnancy
  • Spontaneous abortion: miscarriage
  • Medically procured termination of a pregnancy
  • Your choice and you make it happen
  • In 1967 abortion was made legal
  • Criminal offence before then
  • Envisioned that Abortion was to be legal for people in crisis pregnancies

Crisis Pregnancies:

  • Threaten the woman lives
  • Pregnancy as a result of ****
  • Bad state economically and not fit to be a mother
  • 1967: You could legally procure an abortion if two doctors agreed that if you continued the pregnancy would cause more harm to the mother (physical or psychological) and you could only get a legal termination at 24 weeks - we carried out 200,000 in Uk and Wales each year
  • 80% of these are performed on healthy women between 18-28 who are in perfectly sound financial circumstances = THESE ARE NOT CRISIS PREGNANCIES
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Abortion 2

  • Central issue to do with abortion is the status of the fetus
  • Without doubt a human life, but is it a human person?
  • Only a human person after 24 weeks? No that’s not what parliament is saying
  • After 24 weeks the fetus required the protection of the law
  • But, that shows it is a person with rights
  • In 1990 the time limit was changed to 24 weeks and also allowed women to get an abortion up to 40 weeks in a special circumstances
  • Grounds for late abortion is handicap
  • Fetus requires the protection of the law at 24 weeks unless its handicap
  • If you’re a woman and you want an abortion due to a crisis pregnancy you are saying you don’t want a baby, however if you choose to have an abortion after 40 weeks due to handicap it shows that you don’t want this baby.
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Anti Abortion (Pro-Life) - Catholic Church

  • Catholic church says that the only safe moral assumption to make is that the fetus should be regarded as a human person from the moment of conception
  • Once the sperm has fertilized the egg it now has the unique genetic imprint that makes it different to every other
  • We are in a constant arc of development but we are still the same person regardless whether we are a cluster of cells or a teenager
  • We are a person at every stage of development
  • If the fetus in the womb is a person that it should be able to obtain the first human right: ‘the right to life.’
  • Most vulnerable kind of human person
  • Essential purpose of law is to protect the weak’s rights
  • The correct moral solution to crisis pregnancies is not to kill another person (fetus) however terrible the problems might be e.g. Gang Rape for a young girl
  • Catholic church would sympathize but still stand against the abortion
  • The only exception: if both the mother and baby will die then an abortion is permitted
  • Another exception: if the mother has to die for the baby to live then the Catholic church still does not permit the abortion
  • You cannot kill one person as a solution to the problem
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Pro Abortion (Pro Choice)

  • The fetus in the womb might be alive but not a person because it is completely dependent on the mother, therefore part of the mothers body
  • Only is a person in its own right when the umbilical cord is cut
  • When it is a part of the mother, the woman has a right to do what you want with it
  • Your body, up to you what you do with it
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Partial Anti - Abortion (Middle Ground)

  • Abortion is wrong but in certain circumstances abortion can be justified as the lesser of two evils
  • Abortion is terrible but for example, in the case of the gang **** it would be worst to make her carry it and give birth to it
  • Catholic Church says that it is never the lesser of two evils to take a vulnerable child’s life to solve another’s problems
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= Is not assisted suicide.

= One person kills another person during Euthanasia.

= Means a happy death in Greek.


In England, Euthanasia is against the law:

  • If you carry it out you would be charged with murder
  • We call it Euthanasia because the person wants to be killed
  • Euthanasia usually carried out with compassion to take people out of their pain
  • In this country we do not give permission legally for one person to kill another, not even the state
  • We do not give the power of life and death to a person or a group of people 
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Types of Euthanasia


  • When the person who gets killed wants to get killed, gives their consent to be killed
  • Lots of people campaign for this



  • When the person who gets killed doesn’t give their consent
  • E.g. If their in coma
  • Severe Dementia (have to be fed and wear nappies etc), some people believe that they have no quality of life anymore
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Christian View of Euthanasia

In Christian Ethics we believe that no one has the right to decide if someone else’s life is worth living

All the major Christian churches teach that it is wrong

The whole Christian principle of the sanctity of life - God given etc.

Do your best to make their life it can possibly be for as long as it can possibly be for à make the most of their time on earth

There might be some individual Christians who believe that it is the lesser of two evils

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Atheist View

Atheists might believe in autonomy, their view is:

  • This means that its my life and my decision
  • If we want to end our lives we should have the right to end it
  • Campaign for voluntary euthanasia should be legal for people that are suffering
  • Pain is a neural reaction/sensational
  • Modern science means that nearly no one has to die in pain
  • Suffering is mental
  • You are terminally ill if the illness is going to kill you
  • People who are disabled can’t kill themselves
  • We have the choice to commit suicide if we want to
  • Campaigning for people having the choice to die
  • Campaigning for the right to die
  • Right to choose when and how they will die
  • But if that right exists – why should it be restricted to people who are terminally ill?
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Other Points for Euthanasia

  • Respect for life once we start giving the permission for one person to kill another we will loose respect for life
  • Slippery slope
  • If you made voluntary euthanasia legal, elder people might feel pressure to euthanasia
  • Turning off a life-support machine is not euthanasia
  • It is permitted in law and medical council committee and main Christian churches that although you cant kill someone you don’t need to keep them alive by extraordinary means
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Fertility Treatments

  • In the past, if a couple could not have children it was concluded as 'God's will'

IVF: Egg and sperm brought together in a test tubed and then placed back in the womb once an embryo has formed

AIH: Sperm collected externally and placed in the womb. (A.I.D. is when the insemination is by the donor)

Surrogacy: A woman is paid to carry a child on behalf of another couple.

Research on embryos and stem cells have helped us find cures for previously untreatable diseases and disorders. However, ethically could be considered wrong as the purpose of the life is for research only. 

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  • Roman Catholic: Every person has the right to have two biological parents, this allows people to be made without any link to sexuality.
  • CofE: Cloning animals, like sheep, has its uses but cloning humans isn't desirable. 
  • Catholics: Meddling with the creation of life, which is up to God.

Ethical questions raised by biotechnology:

  • Most loving response for childless couples and it is the bset use of God given talents to develop these technologies further
  • Some believe the risk is too big and can lead to scientists having too much power - playing God?
  • Demanding human protection, making those with disabilities feel like mistakes?
  • Profit being made out of couples who desire a child
  • Should we interfere with nature
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  • Suicide is the second most common cause of death in young men
  • More young women attempt suicide than men
  • Until 1961 suicide was illegal in the UK and anyone who attempted it would be prosecuted. 
  • In the past someone who had commited suicide was not allowed to be buried on Christian ground as it was an offence against God
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Animals for Medical Research

  • Christians believe that humans are God's most important creation and that animals were made of humanity to control and rule (dominion)
  • Some Christians think that although animals are important, they are not as important as people because they do not have sanctity of life
  • Some feel that the beneficial knowledge that can be achieved for humans through medical experimentation makes animal testing justifiable
  • This goes against us supposed to be stewards

RC: Tolerates the use of animals in medical and scientific experimentation if it remains within reasonalbe limits and is used for saving human lives

CofE: Human beings have both an affinity with and an obligation to animals

Methodist: Want a world were the whole of nature is in harmony and where none is exploited

Quakers: Resist vivisection on ethnical grounds

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  • Churches and clergy can be criticised for their magnificent and expensive churches but they justify this with saying it is a way of showing respect to God

Causes of Poverty:

  • War: money sepnt on arms and not the people
  • Disease: lack of proper facilities
  • Debt: low interest loans to developing countries in the past
  • Trade: poor labor to provide for rich countries
  • Education: little education which limits getting better jobs etc. etc.

Root cause of poverty = human greed adn the failure to share the plenteous resources

Jesus teachings:

  • Rich man and lazerus
  • 'Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me'
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Baptists: Believe that some countries cannot develop fully due to the unfair trading so they campaign for fair trade

Christian Responses:

- Charities such as CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tear Fund are all Christian charities =

  • Provide aid in situations of famine, floods and earthquakes
  • Also emergency shelters, water adn basic food supplies
  • After this, they aim to improve lives making them independant and self-sufficient

- Campaign and donate to charity

- Opt out of consumerist society

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Teachings about the Use of Money

  • Christianity is against materialism and the greed and envy that it creats
  • Christians attitudes towards the different ways of making money might differ

Methodist Chruch and Gambling: Many christians believe this is a dangerous habit and can ruin lives, and the methodist chruch have a long-established concern about gambling as it appeals to chance. 

Lending: Usury means the practice of lending money to be paid back at a large rate of interes - it has always been regarded as wrong by Christians

Christianity teaches us to care for our family, but everyone is our brothers and sisters therefore we need to care for the needy. 

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