Marriage and the Family


Attitudes to the Family

Types of Family:

  • nuclear family - consists of parents & children
  • extended family - where three or more generations live together 

The imporatnce of family to chrisitans

1. family life is seen as very important by most christians - its believed to be better for a child to have a father & a mother present so that he/she grows up with one role model of each sex

2. ideally, a stable family can give a child a sense of identity & a feeling of security, teaching him or her how to behave in different sociall situations, & how to give & receive love

3. many chrisitan churches offer help in raising children through sunday schools. thses schools aim to teach christian morals & ideals through the study of bible stories. 

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Christian Wedding

Most christian weddings take place in a church. weddings usually include the following features:

  • hymns:symbolise the couple starting their life together with the help of God & the religious community
  • opening statement & welcome to friends & family: symbolise the involvement of the community. the opening statement often explains the purpose of marriage
  • prayers & readings: these are a traditional part of Christian worship. they remind the coupld of the seriousness of their vows
  • declarations & vows: the couple declare that theres no reasions why they can't marry (congregation asked if they know of any reason why they shouldnt). they then take vows in front of witnesses, indicating the seriousness & sacredness of marriage 
  • exhanging of rings: the rings are a physical symbol of the vows & of lifelong commitment 
  • signing of the register: signing the marriage register is a legal requirement in the UK. 
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Christians say marriage should be forever 

  • the christian faith values marriage very highly-the joining of husband & wife in holy matrimony reflects the union of Jesus with his followers
  • jesus taught that marriage should be a lifelong union-marriage is seen as a covenant or contract between 2 people, involving commitment & responsibility. christianity teaches that purpose of marriage is for 2 people to offer love & mutual support & for procreation (to have children) 

the bible gives advice on having a successful marriageL 

  • faithfulness in marrigae is one of the 10 commandments. a married person musnt have sex with anyone else - would be adultery
  • bible also says that marriage involves submission (devoting ur life to the other person) 
  • many christians believe that its best to marry another christian
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christian churches have differnet attitudes to divorce

  • the breakdown of marrigae is seen by all christians as a tragedy. however, not all christians agree about whether divorce is permissible, or even possible 
  • jeus himself was anti-divorce, but pro-forgiveness 
  • some chrisitans view an unhappy marriage as a waste of 2 lives, and so see divorce as preferable. 

the roman catholic church states that its actually impossible to divorce. marriage is a sacrament - god has mad the couple into one flesh, and it cant be undone. however, a marriage can be annulled - annulment means that it wasnt a true marriage in the first place 

the church of england states that divorce is possible & accepts that some marriages fail. divorced people can only re-marry in church if they can find a minister willing to marry them 

nonconformist churches (e.g. baptists) will generally re-marry divorcees, but an individual minister can refuse to do so if its goes agaisnt their own conscience. 

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Attitudes to Sex

  • teach that the only right context for sexual activity is within marriage. 
  • liberal christians will say the above belief is outdated
  • orthodox christians say that certain moral principles never change however
  • christains teach that couples should wait until they're married, rather than having pre-marital sex. 
  • teaches that the total giving of self in sex shouldn't be treated casually: self-control & sexual restraint are considered important. christians are urged to keep sex within marriage for positive reasons more than negative ones
  • promiscuity (having many sexual partners) is seen as wrong, seen as dishonouring urself


  • scriptures say that homosexual sex is wrong 
  • no longer condemn homosexuality, but its isnt seen as the ideal & many still see it as a sin 
  • civil partnerships became legal in the UK in december 2005. 
  • church of england doesn't allow same-sex partnerships to be blessed in church.
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  • contraception is anything that aims to prevent a woman becoming pregnant
  • can be temporary or permenant
  • the roman catholic church believes that preventing conception is against 'natural law' & that the use of any artificial contraception is a grave sin. it teaches that humans have an obligation to 'be fruitful and increase in number.' many individual roman catholidcs disagree with this, especially because of recent concerns about AIDS. the church does allow natural family planning though - by only having sex at the times during a woman's cycle when she's less fertiles
  • other christian churches have different views on the matter. the anglician and methodist are in favour of contraception, suggesting that it lets parents plan their family in a responsible way. 
  • many christans believe that contraception should be a question of individual conscience. 
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