Marriage and the Family

HideShow resource information

Changing attitudes to marriage and divorce


  • Most people now have sex before marriage - contraception has made this easier.
  • People are getting married later in life.
  • Most marriages do not take place in a church - fewer people go to church so are less bothered about marrying in church.
  • Many couples cohabit before marriage - the media and celebrities made this look acceptable.


  • Divorce is seen as a normal part of life and is more common - new laws made divorce easier and cheaper.
  • Equality for women meant that they would no longer accept poor treatment from men (they could now seek a divorce).
  • Women are now more financially independent so don't need to stay married to their husbands for stability.
  • People are living longer and are therefore married for longer.
1 of 12

Changing attitudes to family life and homosexualit

Family Life:

  • The popularity of cohabitation means that many parents remain unmarried.
  • The increase in divorce has led to an increase in remarriage so there are more re-constituted families.
  • More parents go out to work so children are left with minders or grandparents.
  • The acceptance of divorce and unmarried mothers means more single parent families.


  • Changes in the law have made it easier to be openly homosexual.
  • Medical research has shown homosexuality to be natural, leading to more equal rights.
  • Media coverage of gay celebrities has lead to a greater acceptance of gay people.
  • The work of gay rights organisations has led to greater acceptance and equal rights.
  • Homosexual couples can now join legally by having a civil partnership.
2 of 12

Christian attitudes to sex outside marriage

Christianity teaches that sex should only take place between a man and a woman married to each other.

Christians believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong because:

  • Procreation - sex was given to humans by God so that they could have children. Children should be brought up in a Christian family so sex should only take place within marriage.
  • Fornication - the Bible says that fornication (sex before marriage) is sinful and Christians should follow the teachings of the Bible.
  • Adultery - all Christians are against adultery because it breaks the wedding vows to be faithful to each other.
  • Ten Commandments - the 7th Commandment is 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'.
3 of 12

Muslim attitudes to sex outside marriage

Islam teaches that sex should only take place between a married man and woman.

Muslims believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong because:

  • Sex before marriage is forbidden by the Qur'an, which also says that boys and girls should be separated after puberty.
  • The Shari'ah Law says that sex should only take place within a marriage and the Shari'ah is the law for all Muslims.
  • Islam teaches that the primary purpose of sex is for the procreation of childrean. Children should only be born into a married family.
  • Adultery is condemned by Allah in the Qur'an which says that anyone committing adultery should be punished severely.
4 of 12

Christian attitudes to divorce

Some Christians, e.g. Catholics, believe that divorce is wrong because:

  • Jesus banned divorce: Mark 10:10-12 "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her".
  • The couple have made a covenant (agreement) with God in the sacrament of marriage and the covenant cannot be broken by a human.
  • Remarriage is not allowed as that would be adultery.

Some Christians, e.g. Protestants, would accept divorce because:

  • In the Bible it says: "I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" - Matthew 19:8-9, so it's allowed on the grounds of adultery.
  • They believe that divorce may be the lesser of two evils.
  • Christians believe in forgiveness.
5 of 12

Muslim attitudes to divorce

First view - divorce is wrong:

  • Prophet Muhammad said that divorce was "the most hated of lawful things".
  • They believe that on the Last Day, Muslims will be judged on how well they have looked after children - divorce would mean that the children grow up in an unstable home.
  • The Qur'an teaches that Muslims should try all they can to rescue a marriage.

Second view - divorce is allowed:

  • Divorce may be the lesser of two evils.
  • The Qur'an clearly permits divorce.
  • The Shari'ah Law permits divorce and has many laws about how divorce should operate.
6 of 12

Family Life for Christians

  • One of the main purposes of Christian marriage is to have children and bring them up in a secure Christian environment so that they will come to follow God.
  • Christian teachings on divorce makes it clear that Christian parents should stay together and bring up children.
  • The family is where children learn right from wrong, leading to less evil in the world.
  • The family is where children are introduced to Christianity through baptism.
7 of 12

Family Life for Muslims

  • Islam teaches that children are a gift from Allah and on the Last Day, Muslim parents will be judged on how well they have looked after their family.
  • The Qur'an teaches that the family was created by Allah as a basic unit of society.
  • The Prophet Muhammad married and raised a family, and he should be seen as a role model to Muslims.
  • Without the family, children would not learn the difference between right and wrong.
8 of 12

Christian attitudes to homosexuality

Some Christians, such as Evangelical Protestants, believe that homosexuality is wrong because:

  • The Bible says: "No man is to have sexual relations with another man: God hates that" - Leviticus 8:22.
  • God created man and woman to be in a marriage relationship together.
  • The purpose of sex is procreation, and two same-sex partners cannot have a child this way.

However, some Christians, such as Liberal Protestants, believe that homosexuality is okay because:

  • Christians believe in love and acceptance.
  • The teachings of the Bible need re-interpreting in modern culture.
  • God created everyone - including homosexuals.
9 of 12

Muslim attitudes to homosexuality

Majority view - Homosexuality is wrong:

  • Homosexuality is condemned by the Qur'an and the Qur'an is the word of Allah.
  • The Prophet Muhammad condemned homosexuality and Muslims should follow his teachings.
  • Allah says in the Qur'an that marriage between a man and a woman is the only acceptable form.
  • All Muslims should try to have a family.

Minority view - Homosexuality is okay:

  • Islam is a religion of tolerance.
  • Muslims believe that Allah created and loves all people whatever their sexual orientation.
10 of 12

Christian attitudes to contraception

Some Christians (such as Roman Catholics) believe that contraception should not be used because:

  • Sex was given by God for procreation and so every sexual act should allow for the possibility of conception taking place.
  • Contraception has encouraged promiscuity and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • These views have been upheld and reaffirmed by the Pope.

Some Christians (such as Protestants) believe that contraception is allowed to limit the size of a family:

  • The essense of Christianity is love and contraception can be used to protect a woman's health.
  • Reducing the size of families gives children a better standard of living.
  • God created sex for pleasure and to provide an experience unique to the married couple.
  • There is nothing in the Bible that says contraception is wrong.
11 of 12

Muslim attitudes to contraception

Some Muslims believe that contraception should not be used at all:

  • The Hadith says "If Allah wishes to create a child, you cannot prevent it.
  • Muslims are opposed to abortion and so would not allow any contraceptive abortifacients.
  • Muslims believe that Allah created sex for procreation.
  • It is the duty of Muslims to have large families.

Some Muslims believe that it is permitted for Muslims to use contraception to limit the number of children they have:

  • If pregnancy is a risk to the mother's health, contraception must be allowed because Islam puts the mother's life first.
  • There are hadith which record that the Prophet Muhammad permitted the use of coitus interruptus (withdrawal) as a means of contraception.
  • Muslim lawyers agree that contraception is different from abortion and so should be permitted.
  • The Qur'an says that Allah does not place burdens on his followers, and contraception stops extra burdens.
12 of 12


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Marriage and Relationships resources »