Religion and Human Relationships

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Role of Men and Women

Role of men and women have changed a lot in society.

Past Women:

  • Took care of the home
  • Raised the children
  • Obedient

Past Men:

  • Head of the house
  • Went out to work

After world war one, attitudes and religious views began to change.

  • Roles are considered more equal
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Role of Men and Women in Christianity

The bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church..." -Ephensians 5:22-23

  • Cristians argue this reflects ideas of the past  & doesn't correspond with Jesus's attitude
  • Women followed Jesus & he treated them equally 
  • Nowadays most Christians believe roles should be equal


  • Women have been treated differently in Church
  • Haven't allowed to be ordained as priests- Jesus only called men to be Apostles
  • Changed over the last 50 years
  • Women can be ordained as ministers in most Protestant denominations & as Anglican priests
  • Not as Roman Catholic or Othodox priests
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Marriage in Christianity

Christians say Marriage should be forever.

  • Highly valued- joining of man & woman relects the union of Jesus with his followers
  • Marriage is seen as a contract between two people involving commitment & responsibility

"...a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" -Mark 10:7-8

  • Purpose- offer love and mutal support & for procreation
  • Weddings are events of great importance
  • First step- get engaged & then go see a priest or minister about plans

A Christian wedding has Legal, Social and Religious features. 

  • Legally recognised relationship between a man and woman
  • Religious ceremonies take place in a church
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Order of Wedding Ceremony

The details very according to tradition and denomination, but all combine legal, social and religious features.

  • Hymns- symbolise the couple starting their life together with the help of God & the religious community
  • Opening statement and welcome to friends and family- guests symbolise the  involvement of the community- opening statement often explains purpose of marriage
  • Prayers and readings- Traditional part of Christian worship. Remind the couple of the seriousness of the vows
  • Declarations and vows- couple & congregation declare there is no reason they can't marry. Then they take vows in front of God & the witnesses which indicates the seriousness & sacredness of marriage
  • Exchanging of rings- rings are physical symbol of the vows and lifelong commitment
  • Signing of the register- legal requirement in UK


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Civil Partnerships

Christianity generally doesn't approve of Civil Partnerships.

  • Became legal in the UK in December 2005
  • Give same sex couples the same rights as married couples
  • The bibles seems to say that homosexual sex is wrong

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lust. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with indecent acts with other men, and reieved in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." -Romans 1:26-27

  • Some argue that the scriptures were written against a different cultural background
  • Shouldn't be applied today
  • Although Christians no longer condem it, it is not ideal
  • Church of England disallows same sex partnerships to be blessed in a church
  • However, some vicars have done so anyway
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Christian Churches have different attitudes to Divorce.

  • Involves breaking promises made before God- tragedy
  • Not all Christians agree divorce is permissble

Roman Catholic Church

  • States its impossible to divorce
  • Marriage can be annuledEither partner did not consent or didn't understand what the marriage was about, the couple didn't have sex or one partner refused to have children

Nonconformist Churches (eg Baptist or Methodists)

  • Generally remarry divorsees but individual minister can refuse

The Church of England

  • Acceptable
  • Can only remarry in a church if they can find a willing minister
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Divorce continued

Jesus talked about divorce in the Gospels- he was anti-divorce, but pro-forgiveness.

1) In Mark 10:2-12 Jesus says that Moses allowed divorce because of people's 'hardness of heart'. But he says that at the Creation of mankind marriages were meant to last for life, and if a divorcee remarries its the same as adultery.

2) Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:8-9 say the same thing except that divorce is permitted to someone whose partner has already been unfaithful.

3) In John 8:1-11, Jesus freely forgives as woman caught in the act of adultery. But he tells her, "Go now and leave your life of sin".

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Sexual Relationships

Christianity, Islam and Judaism have a lot in common.

  • Only allows sex within marriage
  • Self control & self restraint are considered important 
  • Promiscurity (having many sexual partners) is seen as wrong- dishonouring

...But they are not identical.

  • Christianity are monogamous- adultery is forbidden by 10 commandments
  • Some Christians (eg Monks and Priests) take vows of celibacy- renounce sex and marriage
  • They feel it helps them concentrate on God

However, times are changing.

  • Number of marriages in UK is decreasing
  • Cohabition is more popular (living together)
  • People are having sex outside marriage but in commited relationships
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Some people argue that Contraception makes a difference.

  • Contraception is anything that aims to prevent a woman becoming pregnant
  • Can be temporary (eg condom) or permanent (sterilisation)
  • Pretty reliable & are freely avaliable
  • Some liberal christians feel the availability of contraception makes it less important that sex is kept within marriage
  • They argue that when scriptures were written contraception was unreliable & risk of pregnancy was greater
  • Allowing sex outsie marriage alows young people to explore & channel urges
  • It is argued that sexual frustration is a bad reason to get married
  • However Orthodox members state moral principles never change.
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Contraception continued

Christianity has a range of views of contraception.

  • Roman Catholic Church believe its against the 'natural law'
  • Grave sin

"Be fruitful and increase in number" -Genesis 1:28

  • Many individual Roman Catholics disagree
  • Does allow natural methods (eg only having sex when woman is least fertile)
  • Anglican, Methodist & Presbyterian Churches are in favour- responsible
  • Many Christians believe it is a matter of conscience
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