Marriage and Family Life

Year 9 RE exam

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Sonia Sandhar 

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Sex and marriage


Attitudes to sex and marriage have changed greatly in the last 50 years. Sex before marriage and cohabitation were then regarded as sins, but now in the United Kingdom:

  • Most people now have sex before marriage
  • Most people now live with their partners before getting married
  • Th average age for marrying is now higher
  • Only a small amount of marriages take place in a church
  • There has been an increase in divorce
  • The extended family is becoming more popular.
  • Single-parent families and Re-constituted families have increased. 

Homosexual sex was made legal in 1967 and the Civil Partnerships Act in 2004, mean people of the same sex can now marry. 

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Christianity and Sex and Marriage


Sex outside marriage Most Christians believe that sex should only happen in marriage and so sex outside marriage is wrong. They believe this because:

  • Sex was given by God for the procreation of children.
  • The Bible says Fornication (pre-marital sex and promiscuity) is sinful.
  • The Catholic Catechism teaches that pre-marital sex is wrong.
  • Adultery breaks the wedding vows.
  • Adultery is condemned in the 10 commandments.
  • Adultery is condemned by Jesus in the Gospels. 

Some Christians accept couples living together before marriage as long as they do not have sex and they plan to marry. 

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Christianity and Divorce

MAIN FACTS: Roman Catholic Christians believe there can be no divorce because:

  • Jesus banned divorce;
  • when people marry, they make a covenant with God which cannot be broken without God’s consent, therefore a couple can never be divorced according to God’s law.
  • The Catholic Catechism teaches that a marriage cannot be dissolved.

Catholics do have marriage tribunals which can decide that a marriage never existed (annulment), but there can be no divorce and Catholics who have state divorces are not allowed to remarry.

Most non-Catholic Churches disapprove of divorce, but believe that if a marriage goes wrong and there is no chance of bringing the couple back together, then divorce is allowed.  They believe this because:

  • God is always prepared to forgive sins if people are determined to live a new life
  • In Matthew 19:9 Jesus allows divorce for adultery.
  • These Churches teach it is better to divorce than to live in hatred. 

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Christianity and Divorce 2


Christians have different attitudes to divorce:

  • Roman Catholics do not allow divorce because they believe the marriage vows cannot be broken.
  • Other Christians disapprove of divorce but allow it if the marriage has broken down because Christianity teaches forgiveness.

Annulment  =  when Catholics say a marriage never existed

All Christians prefer marriages to last till death us do part but non-Catholics usually accept that people can make mistakes and deserve a second chance at happiness.

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Christian attitudes to homosexualtiy

Catholic attitude – Being homosexual is not a sin but but homosexual sex is a sin because:

  • The Bible says homosexual sex is wrong.
  • You shouldn’t discriminate agaimst anyone because of their sexual orientation.

Evangelical protestant – Homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals can be changed by the power of the holy spirit.

Liberal protestant – Welcome homosexuals into church and accept homosexual relationships because:

  • The main Christian belief is that everyone is equal and you should ‘Love thy neighbour’.
  • If God has created humans to be homosexual we should respect that.
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Christianity and Contraception

Catholics believe that using artificial methods of contraception is wrong because the popes have condemned the use of artificial contraception and they believe that the introduction of contraception has led to more divorces and promiscuity.

Non-Catholics believe that all forms of contraception are allowed because people should have freedom of choice to have children, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids contraception and contraception improves women’s health. All Christians would have some concerns with methods of contraception that allow the egg to be fertilised such as the coil and the morning after pill.

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Family Life


Family life has changed in the United Kingdom as attitudes to sex before marriage, cohabitation and divorce have changed. 

  • Changing attitudes to sex before marriage mean that there are many single-parent families where the mother is the only parent.
  • Changing attitudes to cohabitation mean that in many families the mother and father are not married.
  • Changing attitudes to divorce mean that many families are either single-parent (mother or father), or re-constituted families.

KEY FACTS  Christianity teaches that the family is important because it is the basis of society, and a main purpose of marriage.

  • Christian parents should look after their children and bring them up as Christians.
  • Christian children should respect their parents and look after them when they are old.
  • Churches should help parents with the upbringing of children.
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Family Life 2


All Christians believe that children should be brought up in a family with a mother and father (unless one of them has dies).  The New Testament and the Christian Church teach that:

  • parents should love their children and provide them with food, clothes etc
  • parents should set their children a good Christian example and encourage their children to go to church and be baptised and confirmed
  • children should obey and respect their parents
  • children should look after their parents if they can no longer look after themselves

Christians believe that the family is important because:

  • the Bible has many references to the importance of family life
  • Christian marriage services refer to founding a family and bringing children up in a Christian environment as major purposes of marriage
  • Christians believe that the family was created by God to keep society together
  • Christians see the family as the basis of society.

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Family Life 3

How churches help with family life

  • Most churches have infant baptism where parents dedicate their children to God and make promises about bringing their children up in a loving Christian home which must help parents in bringing up their children.
  • Some churches run schools which teach the National Curriculum in a Christian environment. 
  • Most churches run Sunday schools and provide classes for confirmation which teach children about right and wrong.
  • Churches welcome families and have monthly family services and special services at Christmas and Easter to bring families together.
  • Many churches run uniformed organisations (cubs, brownies, girls’ and boys’ brigades, etc.) and youth clubs and youth activities to keep children away from immoral activities.
  • Ministers, vicars and priests also act as marriage and family counsellors and some churches (e.g. the Catholic Church) run marriage and family guidance services.
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Cohabitation = living together wothout being married 

Re-Marriage = marrying again after being divorced from a previous                                marriage.

Faithfulness = staying with your marriage partner and having sex only                           with them.

 Pre-marital sex = sex before marriage.

 Promiscuity = having sex with a number of partners without                                           commitment.

 Adultery = a sexual act between a married person and someone                             other than their marriage partner. 


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Civil Partnership = a legal ceremony giving a homosexual  couple the                                 same legal rights as a husband and wife. 

 Contraception = intentionally preventing pregnancy from occurring

 Nuclear Family = mother, father and children living as a unit. 

 Re-constituted Family = where 2 sets of children(step-brothers and                                             step-sisters) become 1 family when their                                                 divorced parents marry each other

 Homosexuality = sexual attraction to the same sex

 Procreation = making a new life

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You shall not commit adultery Exodus 20v14

Jesus said Love your neighbour.

Jesus said No divorce in Mark and No divorce except for adultery in Matthew. 


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