Marriage and the Family

  • Created by: kati
  • Created on: 11-05-19 18:21


The Bible states that marriage should be monogamous between a man and woman for life.

The Christian purpose of marriage: to provide companionship, friendship and support between husband and wife. To enjoy a sexual relationship within a marriage and have children and raise a family. To make a lifelong commitment to another person, establishing a permanent and stable relationship and thereby providing stability to society through the teaching of good moral and social behaviour. 

Christian beliefs: most Christians believe marriage is a sacrement, vows such as being faithful are made between the man and woman as well as God, showing marriage as sacred and binding. Marriage is believed to be a gift from God - it is part of God's plan for men and women to live together as stated in the Bible. Marriage is seen to provide security and a stable envrionment for children to be raised in as Christians. Although marriage is important, some Christians believe that God doesn't want everyone to be married, Jesus himself wasn't married and some Christians believe they have a vocation from God where marriage is not a requirement.

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Marriage, 2

Non-religious attitudes: humanists do not use religion in their lives: instead they rely on their use of reason. They do not accept marriage as a religious institution blessed by God, but they do accept marriage in a secular sense as a couple making a commitment to each other. It is possible to have a humanist weeding, although this is not accepted legally and a civil ceremony would also be required. 

Cohabitation: today, not everyone is wished to get married. Some couples prefer to cohabit. With many believing marriage is is expensive and unnecessary, they may not choose to get married. Christians, however, argue that marriage provides stability, the basis for family life and involves sacred vows made in front of God, so they do not support cohabitation as an alternative.

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Nuclear family: two parents (man/woman) and their children living together.

Blended family: stepfamilies that have joined together through remarriage.

Extended family: parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Single-parent family: one parent and children.

Family with same-sex parents: two same-sex parents and children.

Purpose of the family: to provide the right place for a married couple to have children. To provide stability and security for society, as children can be raised in the correct social and moral setting. To teach children the difference between right and wrong. To raise children as Christians and introduce them to the Christian faith.

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Roles within the Family

Parents: most Christians believe they have a responsibility to get married and have children if able, as this is what God intended. Parents have a responsibility to love, support and care for their children and keep them safe. Christian parents raise their children as Christians.

Children: the Bible teaches that children should honour, obey and respect their parents. Children are expected to care for their parents in their old age, as they once cared for them.

Social environment: within the family, children are introduced to Christianity - attending church and celebrating festivals as a family unit, children are also baptised, attend Sunday School and learn about Christianity.

Church teachings: the Church is seen as a family that Christians belong to wherever they are in the world. The Chritian community can provide support to the family unit when it faces problems.

Importance of family: family strengthens society, providing structure and support. Family is where people feel safest.

Divergent responses to types of family: Christians believe that family is important in ensuring children are raised correctly. Most Christians prefer the traiditional familty unit of a nuclear family, as they feel it reflects the idea of family first shown in the Bible with Adam and Eve. Yet today, many Christians are realistic about the changes to family in society and would accept the differing kinds of family that provide a stable upbringing for children.

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The Family in the Local Parish

The parish can help families by: supporting couples who are expecting children, organising family events and special family worship services, running parental support classes, being involved in rites of passage, encouraging children to attend Sunday School and special services, providing counselling support.

Worship: local churches will hold family services to allow families to worship together, this could involve having a shorter service or involving children within the service. In Sunday School, children learn more about the Christian faith.

Rites of passage: rites of passage celebrate key points in a person's life. The Church recognises the importance of celebrating these events as a family. Relatives and friends may attend baptism or marriage ceremonies, as well as memebers of the wider Church community.

Christian teachings: Christians believe it is important to follow the teachings of Jesus, who showed humans how to care for each other. They believe that this includes the family as well as all Christians worldwide.

Counselling: Many Christian communities will offer counselling services such as Catholic Child Welfare Council. They will discuss issues and offer solutions. Ministers or vicars may also counsel couples if they are experiencing conflict or struggles.

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Marriage is intended to be for life - symbolised by the ring given in the wedding ceremony being an unbroken circle. Christians believe that if a divorce is needed to end a marriage, the couple should have first tried everything possible to reconcile. If one of the couple dies, the marriage is effectively ended and the partner is free to remarry.

Catholics: divorce is not recognised because marriage is for life, Jesus said that divorce is wrong, marriage is a sacrament and divorce would break the promises made with God, the marriage bond is not broken even if a couple recieves a legal civil divorce, remarriage is not accepted - if a divorced person remarries, the ceremony cannot be held in a Catholic church, a legal seperation may be accepted in some cases - where care of children is needed.

Protestants: divorce is not to be encouraged but sometimes may be necessary, divorce must be acceptable if the UK law accepts it, people can make mistakes and God is ready to forgive sins, it is up to the individual minister to deicide whether a couple is allowed to remarry in their church.

Non-religious: Humanists believe that the breakdown of a marriage can cause problems within the family, but they accept that divorce can sometimes be mecessary, as they don't associate marriage with religion, they don't believe any promises to any sort of God are broken. Atheists may hold similar views,they may adopt an ethical standpoint similar to that of situation ethics, for example if the marriage is causing arguments and disagreements, especially if children are involved, the best action on this situation may be for the marriage to end through divorce. Christians will respond differently to these views, depending on their own beliefs.

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Men and Women in the Family

Men and women were both made in the image of God, God made humans to be different from all other creations. 

Some parts of the Bible suggest that God made woman as a 'helpmate' for man. A literal interpretation could be men are the head of the household with women looking after the home and children. Another interpretation is that mean and women are intended to work together alongside each other equally.

Many Christians today may feel that a traditional understanding of men as providers and women as carers is outdated.

Catholics accept men and women were created in the image of God but were given different roles: man was created physically different to work the land; while woman was designed to assit him. Yet, they are seen to have complementary roles.

Other Christians today may argue that men and women are equal and either can provide or take care of the home and children.

Some Christians believe that women should submit to their husbands in their roles, as stated in Ephesians 5:21-22.

Humanists and atheists are likely to accept more modern interpretations of the roles of men and women within the family unit. They believe in the equality of men and women and support their roles, as long as they are happy in them.

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Sources of Authority and Wisdom

Marriage: Mark 10:8-9,"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one seperate".

Family: Psalm 127:3, "Children are a heritage from the Lord". 

Roles Within the Family: Colossians 3:21,"Parents do not embitter you children, or they will become discouraged". Ephesians 6:1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord". Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord".

The Family in the Local Parish: John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another".

Divorce: Mark 10:9, "Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one seperate." Matthew 19:9, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery".

Men and Women in the Family: Ephesians 5:22, "submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord". Genesis 2:22, "Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man...".

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