RE - Section 3 - Marriage and the family

  • Created by: kateq
  • Created on: 10-05-13 18:28

3.1 Changing attitudes to marriage and family life

  • before:
  • expected that young people only have sex after marriage
  • married young in church for life
  • nuclear family
  • male homosexuality was a criminal offence

How attitudes have changed:

  • pre-marital sex
  • cohabitation - living together without being married
  • average age for marriage increased
  • most marriages don't take place in church
  • divorce accepted as a normal part of life
  • more divorce - more single parents and re-constituted families
  • more extended families - more mothers in paid employment
  • more children being brought up by cohabiting parents
  • homosexual sex treated same as heterosexual sex
  • homosexuals can form a legal union - same rights and treatment as opposite-sex couples

Reasons for changes:

Cohabitation and marriage:

  • effective contraception - safer sex before marriage
  • less people going to church - less encouragement for sex after marriage
  • media/celebrities making cohabitation look respectable
  • media - sexual relationships outside of marriage was normal - acceptable


  • new laws - cheaper divorce - easier
  • increased equality for women - no longer prepared to accept unequal treatment
  • many women financially independent - can support themselves after divorce
  • change in marriage lengths.

Family life:

  • cohabitation is more popular
  • increase in divorce - increase in re-marriage - more re-constituted families
  • more mothers in paid employment - use relatives to care for children
  • increase divorce - more unmarried mothers accepted - more single parenting


  • change in laws - easier to be openly homosexual as society is more aware
  • medical research - it is natural - accepting equal rights for homosexual couples
  • media coverage - gay celebs - more acceptance
  • gay rights organisations - more acceptance
1 of 11

3.2 Christian attitudes to sex outside marriage

  • most believe it's wrong
  • God gave us sex for procreation of children who should be brought up in a Christian family - only take place within marriage
  • sex outside marriage - sinful - should follow teachings of bible
  • pre-marital sex is wrong - catholics should follow teachings of the Catechism
  • against adultery - breaks wedding vows
  • adultery banned by Ten Commandments
  • adultery condemned by Jesus - follow teachings of Jesus
2 of 11

3.3.1 Islam and sex outside marriage

  • pre-marital sex - forbidden by Qur'an - word of God
  • sex is only for the procreation of children who should be raised in a family where the mother and father are married
  • adultery condemned by God in the Qur'an
  • adultery breaks marriage contract
  • adultery - likely to harm family - condemned by Qur'an
3 of 11

3.4 Christian attitudes to divorce

Catholic church does not allow divorce or re-marriage. Only way to end marriage is by death. However, it is allowed if it is better for the children, but the couple are still married in the eyes of God.

  • Jesus taught that divorce was wrong - should follow teachings
  • couple made agreement with God which 'cannot be broken by any earthly power'
  • Catechism - a marriage cannot be dissolved
  • no divorce - no re-marriage - bigamy (2 husbands/wives) and adultery
  • if marriage can be proved that the marriage was never true - free to re-marry

Most non-catholic churches think that divorce is wrong, but re-marriage and divorce is allowed if the marriage has broken down.

  • Jesus allowed divorce in Matthew 19:9 for a pertner's adultery
  • the lesser of two evils - couple not divorcing in a truly broken marriage worse than the divorce itself
  • repent and confess sins - forgiven - another chance at marriage
  • it is better to ivorce than to live in hatred and quarrel all the time
4 of 11

3.5.1 Islam and divorce

Some Muslims would not divorce because:

  • Muhammad reported to have said that divorce is the most hated of lawful things
  • arranged marriages - family pressure against divorce
  • divorce - harms children - sent to hell if they harm their children
  • Qur'an teaches that families should try to rescue marriage before divorce

Most believe that it should be allowed because:

  • Qur'an permits divorce - terms for custody of children and care for divorced wives
  • Shari'ah permits divorce
  • belief that divorce is a lesser evil than forcing a couple to live in hatred/bitterness
  • marriage is a contract in Islam - contract states consequences of divorce - therefore must be allowed
5 of 11

3.6 Why family life is important for Christians

  • christian marriage - to have children and bring them up as good Christians
  • Christianity teaches that family was created by God as the basis of society
  • only place for the upbringing of children
  • family is too important to be broken up by divorce
  • without family - children wouldn't know the difference between right and wrong.
  • family brings children into Christian faith
6 of 11

3.7.1 Islam and family life

  • Muslim parents judged by God on how well children are brought up
  • if family life decides whether Muslims go to heaven, must be important
  • family - only place in which children should be brought up
  • Prophet Muhammad married and raised a family - Muslims must do the same
  • without family, children wouldn't know what's right/wrong
  • family brings children into Islamic faith
7 of 11

3.8 Christian attitudes to homosexuality

Catholic attitude:

  • being homosexual isn't a sin
  • homosexual sexual activity is
  • it is sinful to criticize homosexuals
  • the Bible condemns homosexual sexual activity
  • any sexual activity should have the possibility of creating children
  • teaching of the Magisterium which Catholics should believe
  • people cannot help their sexual orientation but they can help their sexual activity
  • discriminating against people for their orientation - same as racism - sinful

Evangelical protestant attitude:

  • homosexuality is a sin
  • can be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Bible says that it's a sin - direct word of God
  • the salvation of Christ can remove all sins
  • all churches have taught that it's wrong
  • however, homophobia recently condemned - should welcome homosexuals

Liberal Protestant attitude:

  • welcome homosexuals
  • Bible texts condemning homosexuality show beliefs at the time
  • Christian belief in love and acceptance - should accept homosexuals
  • if homosexual Christians feel the Holy Spirit approve of homosexuality, must be true.
  • Christians should be open and honest - gays shouldn't pretend to be heterosexual
8 of 11

3.9.1 Islam and homosexuality

The majority attitude:

  • homosexuality is condemned by Qur'an - final world of God
  • Prophet Muhammad condemned homosexuality - should follow teachings
  • marriage between a man and woman is the only lawful form of sex - God in Qur'an
  • any sexual activity should have the possibility of children
  • all muslims should try to have a family but homosexuals cannot

The minority attitude:

  • Islam is a religion of tolerance, not hate
  • God created and loves all people despite their orientation
  • scientific evidence about homosexuality means God must have made some people like that
9 of 11

3.10 Christian attitudes to contraception

Catholic attitude:

  • responsible parenthood through natural family planning and not contraception
  • all forms of artificial contraception condemned
  • Catholics could use natural methods of contraception - only allowable forms
  • all sex should be unitive (bring couple together) and creative (bringing new life)
  • belief that artificial contraception leads to sexual promiscuity/broken families/divorce/STDs

Non-catholic christian attitudes:

  • Christianity is about love and justice - contraception improves women's health and raises standard of living
  • God created sex for enjoyment and to strengthen marriage - does not have to be about bearing children
  • nothing in Bible that forbids use of contraception
  • contraception used to limit family size
  • condoms - best way to combat STDs
10 of 11

3.11.1 Islam and contraception


  • Qur'an - you should not kill your children for fear of want - ban on contraception
  • God created sex for having children
  • opposed to abortion - wouldnt allow contraceptives
  • duty of Muslims to have large families


  • Qu'ran - God does not place extra burdens on his followers - contraceptives stops extra burdens
  • pregnancy risks mother's health - contraception allowed - mother's life first
  • contraception different to abortion - should be allowed
11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

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