Marriage and the Family-Christianity



  • The Bible: A marriage should be monogamous, between a man and a woman for life; "united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"
  • Purpose: To provide companionship, friendship and support, to have children and raise a family, and to make a lifelong commitment to another person, which provides stability in society and teaches good moral behaviour.
  • Christian beliefs: 1. Marriage is a sacrament- a ceremony where God is involved=mariage is sacred and binding. 2. Marriage is believed to be a gift from God-it's part of God's plan (stated in the Bible). 3. Marriage provides security and a stable environment for children to be raised as Christians. 4. Although marriage is important, some believe that God doesn't want everyone to be married e.g. Jesus or a Nun (a vocation from God where marriage is not required. 
  • Non-religious attitudes: Humanists do not use religion-they rely on religion. They do accept marriage in a secular sense as a couple making a commitment to each other.It is possible to have a humanist wedding-not accepted legally. 
  • Cohabitation: Not everyone wants to get married- some prefer to cohabit- live together without getting married. Many believe marriage is expensive and unnecessary. Christians, however, do not support this, as they believe marriage provides stability.
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Sexual Relationships

  • Nature and Importance in Christianity: believe sex is a gift from God, intended for procreation, therefore they believe sex should only take place within marriage. They believe sex is an important way for a man and woman to show commitment to each other.
  • The Bible: 1. Casual relationships are wrong. 2. Adultery is forbidden in the Ten Commandments-rules from God. 3. Marriage couples should be faithful to each other. 4. St Paul in the Bible condemns homosexual acts, stating they are "shameful". 5. Being sexually pure is advised, and many Christians take a vow of chastity before marriage.
  • Quotes: 1."God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral". 2. "Your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit-honour God with your bodies". 3. "You shall not commit adultery."
  • Alternative Christian Views: Some believe, in modern society, some ideas about sexual relationships are outdated. They believe that love is important and should be celebrated in whatever form it comes. They may, therefore, accept cohabiting couples, as well as homosexual couples.
  • Non-religious Attitudes: Humanists believe that consenting adults should be allowed to share a sexual relationship provided it does not harm anyone else. Atheists are unlikely to have a problem with sex outside marriage or with homosexuality.
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  • Purpose: to provide the right place for a married couple to have children, to provide stability and security for society, to teach children the difference between right and wrong, and to raise children as Christians and to introduce them to the Christian Faith.
  • Quotes: "Children are a heritage from the Lord". "Children, obey your parents in the Lord".
  • Types: Nuclear family, Blended family, Extended family, Single-parent family, Family with same-sex parents.
  • Divergent Christian responses to types of families: Most Christians prefer the traditional family unit of a nuclear family, as they feel this reflects the idea of family first shown in the Bible with Adam and Eve. Today though, 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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Roles within the family

  • Parents: Most Christians believe they have a responsibility to get married and have children if able-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 old age, just as their parents 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 and attend Sunday school.
  • Church Teachings: The Church is seen as a family that Christians belong to wherever they are in the world. The community can provide support to the family when it faces problems.
  • Importance of family today: Family strengthens society, providing structure and support. The family is where people feel safest, with the people they love.
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The family in the local parish

  • How can the parish help families?: 1. Supporting couple who are expecting children, e.g. organising classes. 2. Organising family events and special family worship services. 3. running parental support classes. 4. Being involved in rites of passage, e.g. christenings.   5. Encouraging children to attend Sunday School and special services. 6. Providing counselling support.
  • Worship: Local churches will hold family services, to allow families to worship together. In Sunday School, children learn more about the Christian Faith.
  • Rites of passage: They celebrate key points in a person's life-marriage and birth. The Church recognises the importance of celebrating these events as a family.
  • Christian Teachings: Christians believe it is important to follow the teachings of Jesus, who showed humans how to care for each other. They believe this includes the family as well as Christians worldwide. "Love one another". "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever".
  • Counselling: Many Christian communities will offer services such as the Marriage Care or the Catholic Child Welfare Council-discuss issues and offer solutions.
  • Importance of support given today: 1. The support of the Parish demonstrates the love of God, as a family was part of his intention for humanity. 2. Provides a sense of Christian community. 3. Allows Christians to socialise with other believers. 4. Provides practical, emotional and spiritual support. "Let the little children come to me." (Jesus)
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Family planning

  • Types of Contraception: Natural methods-e.g. rhythm method, when a couple have sex when the woman isn't ovulating. Artificial Methods-human-made objects to prevent pregnancy, e.g. the condom and the birth control pill.
  • Christian teachings: Very difficult as it is a more modern issue-but they still rely on their teachings. "Multiply on the earth and increase upon it." (responsibility to procreate).
  • Catholic beliefs on contraception: Against artificial methods-every sexual act should be open to the possibility of a child.Contraception prevents the main purpose of sex-having children. Contraception could encourage promiscuity or casual sex, which can lead to STIs. Natural forms are acceptable as procreation is still possible.
  • Protestant beliefs on contraception: The main purpose of sex is procreation, but sex is also an expression of love between husband and wife. Contraception is a sensible method of family planning. Therefore, artificial methods are accepted as they do not go against God's teachings.
  • Atheist attitudes: Each person's situation should be taken into consideration. People may want to plan when to have a family. They may not be ready to have children. A couple's lifestyle may not be compatible. Pregnancy could be harmful to the mother. They want to be safe from STIs. The couple may carry genetic disorders. Therefore, contraception is accepted.
  • Humanist beliefs on contraception: Generally have no issue with the use of contraception-every child should be a happy and wanted one.
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  • Marriage for life: Marriage is intended to be for life. The rings are meant to symbolise the wedding ceremony being an unbroken circle. Christians believe that if divorce is needed, the couple should have first tried everything possible to reconcile. If one of the couple dies-other is free to remarry as the marraige is effectively ended. "What God has joined together, let no one separate". "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery". 
  • Catholic beliefs: Divorce is not recognised as marriage is for life. Jesus said divorce is wrong. Divorce would break the promies made with God. Marriage bond is not broken even if there is a legal civil divorce. Remarriage is not accepted-cannot be a ceremony held in a Catholic Church. A legal separation may be accepted in some cases, e.g. where care of children is needed.
  • Protestant beliefs: Divorce is not to be encouraged, but may sometimes be necessary. Divorce must be acceptable as UK law allows it. People can make mistakes and God is ready to forgive sins. It is up to the individual minister to decide whether a couple is allowed to remarry in their church. 
  • Humanist views: Believe the breakdown of a marriage can cause problems within the family, but they accept divorce can sometimes be necessary. They do not associate marriage with God.
  • Atheist views: Hold similar views to humanists. They may use Situation Ethics, where they consider the best action in each individual situation. 
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Men and Women in the family

  • Both were made in the image of God.
  • Some parts of the Bible suggest that God made a woman as a 'helpmate' for man. "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." A literal interpretation could be men are head of the household with women looking after the home and children. "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord." Another is they are intended to work together 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 think they were given different roles. They believe women were designed to assist men. 
  • Some may argue that men and women are equal and either can provide or take care of the home and children. 
  • Humanist and atheist views: Likely to accept more modern interpretations of the roles of men and women in the family unit. They believe in the equality of men and women and support their roles. (Many Christians would support this view, but some still hold onto traditional views).
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Gender prejudice and discrimination

  • Gender prejudice = when a person is judged on their gender to be superior or inferior.  
  • Gender discrimination = aka sexism, when a person is treated differently as a result of being a different gender from another person. Can be positive or negative.
  • Gender discrimination in the Church: Catholics only accept men to hold the positions of bishop, priest or deacon and pope. They believe these roles represent Jesus, who was male, and follow the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that only a baptised man can hold these positions.
  • Bible teachings: "There is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus".
  • Promoting gender equality: Many Christian organisations promote gender equality, including Christian Aid and Tearfund, who believe gender inequality goes against issues of human rights. They work in partnership with communities to try to tackle inequality. They use Christian teachings, such as those of stewardship and all being cared for to support their views.
  • Atheist and humanist attitudes: Likely to share the view that men and women are equal, albeit for different reasons. They may argue it's a matter of principle that all people are seen to be of equal value and worth. They may argue that everyone should be given the same opportunities.        
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Really useful thanks

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