Religious Studies: Human Relationships

Main points about the roles of men and women in the family, marriage and marraige ceremonies, divorce and sexual relationships and contraception. As well as all bible quotes relevant.

HideShow resource information

The roles of men and women in the family

Christians believe family is important because:

  • It's the first place where children learn about love, companionship and forgiveness.
  • It can provide love, comfort and protection.
  • It educates children to become responsible adults and is an important part of creating a stable society.
  • It encourages each other to follow Christianity; if they go to church together and worship together they are less likely to stop bothering.
  • Parents can set children a good example of how to live a Christian life.

Christian Families might try to:

  • Keep the marriage vows and promises;"for better for worse, richer/poorer, sickess/health, till death do us part"
  • Raise children as Christians; pray and worship together and go to church.
  • Make sure their family relationships follow the teachings of the Bible.
1 of 36

The roles of the family: Church teaching on family

Roman Catholic Church

    "All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building day by day the community of persons making a family a school of deeper humanityThis happens when there is care and love for the children, the aged and the sick; where there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows" - Pope John Paul II

Church of England

"It is the quality of a relationship irrespective of the form of relationship which the Church should endorse, if the Church is to contine to offer a place of acceptance for hurting people where they can find wholeness"

This highlights the role of the Church and individual Christians in providing "advice, counselling...and above all friendship."                              

2 of 36

The Bible, the family and family life: family duty

The Old Testement has specific referneces to family duty and loyalty:

"Honour your father and mother" - 5th Commandment, Exodus

"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old" - Proverbs 23:22

The New Testement, in Luke's gospel, we learn Jesus is a dutiful son:

  • Jesus taught that human beings, as well as giving love, need to recieve it.
  • All relationships should be loving, loyal, caring and respectful - treating people as individuals in their own right.

"Children: It is your Christian duty to obey your parents"

" not treat your children in a way to make them angry...bring them up with Christian discipline and instruction." - Ephesians 6:1-4

3 of 36

The Bible, the family and family life: different r

"For the Husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church....Wives should submit to their husbands...Husbands love your wives...He who loves his wife loves himself" - Ephesians, 5-22-24

St Paul explains that:

  • A man should be the leader in a marriage.
  • Have authority over the women and should serve him.
  • He must not bully her, expect he to do all the work.
  • He must respect her.
  • Treat her with love just as Christ loves the Church.
  • The wife should do as he says.
  • The wife should see her husband as authority.
4 of 36

The Bible, the family and family life: different r

Other Christians believe that these views are too old-fashioned for the modern world:

  • The Bible was written a long time ago, when society was different.
  • Men and women should have equal oppurtunities.
  • A couple should share care for the children and housework.
  • They should both be able to go out to work if they want.
  • If there's a disagreement, it does not always have to be the man who has the final say.
  • Women no longer promise to obey their husbands as part of their marraige vows; they argue the Bible teaches everyone is mage equal.

"In the image of God" - Genesis 1:27

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" - St Paul, Galatians 2:28

Paul says Christians should not look at differences between people, but recognise that they are united. Christians should consider each other as equal.

5 of 36

The Bible, the family and family life: children an

Children should treat their parents with honour and respect. They should consider their parents' wishes and feelings, and be obedient.

"Honour your father and your mother" - 5th Commandment, Exodus 20:12

"Listen to your father who gave you life" - Proverbs 23:22

Adults also have a responsibility towards elderly members of the family.

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives...he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." - St Paul, 1 Timothy 5:8

Parents have a responsibility towards their children and should teach them about their faith and expect them to be well-behaved.

"Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul"- Proverbs 29:17

6 of 36

The Bible, the family and family life: children an

But, parents should not be too hard on them.

"Fathers, do not embitter your children" - Colossians 2:20-21

Christians should treat everyone, even strangers, as if they were family members. Everyone has equal value to God.

"Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother"-1 Timothy 5:1-2

7 of 36

Summary of Family and the Bible

  • Adam was created first and then Eve; The duties of a man come first and she should support him as that is what God created her for.
  • Eve was first to disobey God; this makes women weaker and more likely to do wrong - the man should make the final decision on things.
  • Women should look after the home, take care of the children and support her husband.
  • However, others believe people were "created in the image of God" and therefore there is no difference and they should be treated equally.
  • This menas household jobs are shared equally.
8 of 36

The Roles of Husbands and Wives

Some Christins believe it is the wife's duty to obey her husband and her main aim should be to support him in his career and care for any children they may have; they believe the man should be in charge:

  • The man should have the responsibility of looking after his wife and children and providing support for the family.
  • They beleive this is what the Bible teaches.
  • In any relationship, it is important to have a leader - when there are disagreements they can be quickly settled.

Christians believe men should be the leader because:

  • Men are physically stronger than women.
  • Women are the ones who give birth and breastfeed.

Due to this, some people say it is natural for the man to have a leadership role in the family and for the women to have the caring, supportive role.

9 of 36

Modern Family

Today there are more pressures on family life due to:

  • Unemployment.
  • Changing roles.
  • Money worries.
  • Alcohol abuse.

Christians may feel under pressure as they are minority in a largely secular society.

Christian children may feel 'out of step' with their peers and made to feel that their family values are old fashioned. They may feel that Sunday as a holy day of rest has been roded by Sunday trading laws and the number of different activites that can be done on a Sunday. It is argued that television has damaged the family by depicting 'dyfunctional' and 'ideal' families as being the norm.

As a result, it is now believed by many that childcare and housework should be shared between both partners, who should both be able to go out to work

10 of 36

The Roles of Children and Parents

It is important for individuals within the family to have special responsibilites to each other, whilst recognising that they can harm each othet if they do not treat each other well.

Many Bible stories, such as the one about Cain and Able, describe what happens when siblings, for example are rivals or jealous. The situations always end badly. The stories illustate what can happen when these feelings are not kept under control. Joseph and the technicolour dreamcoat, is another example of mistreatment of siblings due to jealously and rivarly.

In contrast other stories are there that demonstrate family love and loyalty, such as the book of Ruth which shows that pure love mkay call for uncomprimising sacrifices.

11 of 36

The Role of Women in the Church: Church views

In Christianity, women have often been denied the more prmoinent spiritual roles in the Church; e.g Vicar, Priest, Bishop, Pope. Instead, they have alrgeyl bneen assigned 'jobs' which are often percieved to be an extension of their homelifestyle..

Methodists claim that the Church is patriachal and as such needs to revise its structure.

However, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church believe you should not bow down to these 'whims' of society and needs to remian firm to teh clear teachings of Scripture which denies wom,en equality with men in these matters. They would argue that although the Bible acknowledges a women has spiritual equality with men, they are in fact assigned different roles in the Christian community.

The Church of England could be said to represent the middle ground between these two extremes. These are people who cliam that altohugh the Bible looks like itdenies women equality in Church matters, when certain key texts are understtod in their social and cultural contexts, itc ca be said that in the Church both men and women are equal in all matters before God.

12 of 36

The Role of Women in the Church: Biblical Texts; G

Genesis 1

In Genesis we read that when God created humnaity they were created equal in all matters: - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" - Genesis 1:27

Genesis 2

The notion that man was created before women is introduced and so is the idea of hierachy in human realtionships. 

Genesis 3

Genesis 3 shows the fall of humanity from their inital perfection - 'in the image of God' - It must be noted that it was Eve - a women - who was first tempted by the Devil and as a result of this fractured relationshio between God and humanity, certain curses are brought to bear on humans, one of these is against women; "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing..your desire will be for your husband to and he will rule over you" - Genesis 3:16


13 of 36

The Role of Women in the Church: Important biblica

The most controversial and developed statements concerning what should be the role of woemn in the Church are found in Paul's letter:

"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but remain in submission...for it is disgraceful for a women to speak in the church" - 1 Corinthians 14:33-35

"A women should learn in quietness and in full submission. I do not permit a women to teach or have authority over a man" - 1 Timothy 2:11-15

"Adam was formed first, and then Eve" - 1 Timothy 2:11-15

"It was the women who decieved and became a sinner" - 1 Timothy 2:11-15

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor femal, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" - Galatians 3:28

14 of 36

The Role of Women in the Church: Jesus and Women

Jesus had a very positive attitude towards women, he accepted and affirmed women who were neglected by society and declared them people of value.

Jesus healed women who were considered ritually unclean and forgave women guilty of sexual sin.

Jesus both taught women and included them amongst his followers and disciples.

Jesus also often used women as examples of people living a life of faith.

Although women were not generally educated at the time of Jesus, he allowed them to sir at his feet and taught them.

We should also note that it was women, including a reformed prostitute, Mary Magdalene, who first witnessed and told the twelve male disciples about the resurrection of Jesus.

15 of 36

The Role of the Women in the Church: Traditional R

Traditionally, women were expected to:

  • Bring up the children.
  • Run a Christian home.
  • Submit to their husbands - though husbands were also instructed to love their wives.
  • Take no part in Church leadership.

Christians who hold traditional views believe that men and women are created equal i sight of God. They believe that whilst being equally important, they are also created to be different with different roles in society and the Christian church. For them, what matters is the authority of the Bible - "We must obey God rather than confrom to modern trends" and for Catholics, there is also the authority of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

16 of 36

The Role of Women in the Church: Modern Roles

Protestant Churches accept the equality of both sexes, many of whom have had women priests for a long time; e.g Baptists, Methodists, and U.R.C. This acceptance is based on the Bible, believing that male and female were both created in the God's image and of course Jesus' own treatment of women.

Roman Catholic Churches do not allow women priests. This is based on the belief that all priests are succesors of Jesus' apostles and as he only appointed men, this role is not open to women. - "The Lord Jesus chose men to form the...twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible."                                                                                                                          The Church of England decided to allow women priests in November 1992. The first women priests were ordained into the Church of England in 1994.

17 of 36

Marriage: The Purpose of Marriage

Marriage is the legal joining together of a man and a women, for life, to the exclusion of all others. There are two types of marriage: Christian/ religious marriage and civil marriage.

People marry for many different reasons, including:

  • To commit yourself to the person you love for a lifetime.
  • To bring up children in a secure and loving home.
  • To control and direct sex instinct.
  • To ensure and share friendship and companionship through life.

Purpose of Christian Marriage:

  • Procreation - having children.
  • Union - a loving partnership of living together.
  • Rearing children - providing nurture and security.
  • Pattern for society - family unit of mutual support.
  • One flesh - sexual intimacy.
  • Sacred - blessed by God.
  • Eternal - lifelong faithful relationship
18 of 36

Marriage and it's importance to people

Many Christians believe that marriage is better because:

  • A relationship cannot develop fully without marriage: there is always the fear of rejection and the worry the other person might suddenly leave.
  • Quarrels matter more when couples are not married, becuse there is no commitment to staying together. Whereas married couples will remember the vows they have made, and may try harder to sort out problems rather than walking away.
  • Marriage is the right context for having children; God intends children to be born into families where there are two parents who are married to each other.
19 of 36

Marriage and Co-Habitation

With the recent rise in of 'gay marriages' and the fact that many couples now have children outside of marriage, the defintion of marriage may need to be revised. Although religious people believe that marriage is the propar context within which to have sex and raise children, there has been increasing acceptance in society of people having sex and rasing children outside of marriage. The result of this has caused a change in our understanding of what we call 'the family':

  • Nuclear family
  • One parent family
  • Exteneded family
  • Reconstituted family

It is now accepted that people do not have to get married to have children. The shame of unmarried women getting pregnant in the past has largely disappeared today. Women are more likely to view an unexpected pregnancy nowadays as something inconvenient rather than something to be embarrassed about. It is only in religious families that one still tends to find the belief that having sex and getting pregnant outside of marriage is something to be ashamed of.

20 of 36

Marriage, Civil wedding ceremonies, people's attit

Most people understand marriage to be something which usually takes place inside a Church. The idea that people make promises about their relationship beofre God is a religious idea. Nowadays many people may chose to have a civil ceremony instead.

Civil wedding ceremonies were first permitted in England and Wales under the Marriage Act 1836. It allows people to marry in their own place of worship, as well as allowing people to marry in approved 'non-religious' places.

There has been a rise in civil ceremonies as well as statistical evidence that shows couples prefer to live together before getting married, and in some cases, couples living together even chose not to get married at all.

21 of 36

Preparing for the Wedding

Before a couple get married, they are often asked to discuss the meaning of Christian marriage with a priest or minister. They will talk about the vows they will make , to make sure that they understand the promises they will be making. The Church of England teaches that marriage is a gift from God.

"Marriage is given, that husband and wife will comfort and help each other" - Common Worship 2000

"Two will become one" - Mark 10:6-8

Most Christians wish to marry in a church as they feel it is important to make their solemn promises that are called vow's in God's house. Some priests and vicars only marry people who are baptised in their denomination or are practising Christians.

The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Churches regard marriage as a sacrament, a blessing from God.

22 of 36

Preparing for the Wedding

Before a couple get married, they are often asked to discuss the meaning of Christian marriage with a priest or minister. They will talk about the vows they will make , to make sure that they understand the promises they will be making. The Church of England teaches that marriage is a gift from God.

"Marriage is given, that husband and wife will comfort and help each other" - Common Worship 2000

"Two will become one" - Mark 10:6-8

Most Christians wish to marry in a church as they feel it is important to make their solemn promises that are called vow's in God's house. Some priests and vicars only marry people who are baptised in their denomination or are practising Christians.

The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Churches regard marriage as a sacrament, a blessing from God.

23 of 36

The Marriage Ceremony

Most Christian marriages can vary considerably in style and length, most of them contain:

  • The greeting/welcome - the leader of the ceremony greets the congregation and explains the purpose of the wedding - the joining of a couple in a relationship, which mirrors the union between Christ and His Church, the congregation are there to witness the vows.
  • The declaration (vows)- The bride and groom are called to make a declaration that they are free abd willing to marry each other.
  • Exchange of rings - this symbolises the couples willingness to share any wealth they may have on earth. The circular shape of the rings symbolises the unending nature of the love they offer each other.
  • Scripture readings - usually on the theme of love, such as the Marriage Feast at Cana, and the special honour Christ did to the couple by changing water into wine.
  • Siging of the Marriage Register - legal binding of a marriage.
  • Bride wearing white - this symbolises the purity of her love.
24 of 36

Church teaching on marriage

The Roman Catholic Church holds the view that marriage is one of the seven sacraments. In the Roman Catholic Church priests must be both celibate and chaste. This allows them to dedicate themselves to their work without distraction.

The Church of England teaches that marriage is a gift from God. Marriage is also for sex, and to create children and a stable family. Vicars are also allowed to marry.

Christians believe that marriage is very important because within marriage, peoplelearn about forgiveness, tolerance, comforting each other, celebrating together, appreaciating each other's qualities and thinking about the well-being of another person. They believe that through marriage, they learn more about God, because - "God is love" - 1 John 4

25 of 36

The Bible and Marriage

"God intended man and women to join together for life as a couple" - Genesis 2:21-24

"Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" - Genesis 2:21-24

"You shall not commit adultery" - Exodus

"Each should satisfy each other's needs" - 1 Corinthians

"If any one of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone" - John

26 of 36

Divorce: Reasons and the law

Marriages can run into diffulty for many reasons:

  • Affairs and Money.
  • False expectations by the meda.
  • Work and stress.
  • Children and the fact people can change as they get older.

Divorce and the law:

  • 1971 Divorce Reform Act - allows couples to divorce on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion for atleast two years, mutual consent after two years, or if one person only wants a divorce five years.
  • 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act allowed divorce after one year of marriage.
  • 1995 Lord Mackay introduced a white paper removing the need for fault in marriage.
  • Family Law Act 1996 - allows divorce is marriage has 'irretrievably brooken down', after a period 'reflection and consideration. Giving no direct time limit.
27 of 36

Divorce: Church views: Roman Catholic

Roman Catholic - believe marriage binds a couple as one, and this union cannot be broken. This is in Mark's Gospel. They must stay married until one partner dies, although they are allowed to live sepearately. Civil divorce is not recognised by the Catholic Church, if they married in Church, then they remain married in the of God. In serious circumstances the marriage can be dissolved. For example, if one partner is Catholic and the other will not let them practice Christian teachings. A Marriage can also be annulled, this is when the Catholic Church agrees that the marriage was not real in the first place. There are a number of different circumstances in which an annulment could be granted:

  • If they were married and did not understand what they were doing. If one of they did not speak the language fluently.
  • One partner did not give consent. if they were threatened.
  • One partner had no intentions of having children.
  • The marriage was never consummated.

If Catholics want to marry for a second time and their partner is still alive, they will not accept this unless they declared an annulment, and see it as adultery. This woud discourage them from the holy communion.

28 of 36

Divorce: Church Views: Church Of England and Metho

These groups accept divorce sometimes happens, although every help is given to those who are having difficulties in their marriage. They recognise that a civil divorce is the end of a marriage without the church neeeding to be involved, and both partners are free to marry again in church. If they want a church wedding, this is usually allowed, but they do not have an automatic right to marry in church. It is up to the conscience of the individual vicar or minister to decide whether he or she thinks that the couple is taking Christian marriage seriously enough.

29 of 36

Divorce: Bible quotes

The Old Testement:

'I hate divorce, says the Lord.'

In the old testement, divorce is allowed. If a man wanted a divorce, then he had to give the woman notice in writing. Nothing is said about a women divorcing her husband.

Jesus' teachings about divorce:

"Marriage is for life, divorce is not"

"What God has joined together, let not man seperate"

"A married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives"

"Let you who is without sin, cast the first stone"Sex

30 of 36

Sex: Sex outside of marriage

Sex outside marriage was not as commin in the past because of three fears:

  • Detection - getting caught.
  • Infection - getting ill.
  • Conception - getting pregnant.

Sex outside marriage is now more common because:

  • Virginity is not considered as important.
  • Cheap, reliable contraception has made casual sex much easier.
  • Education about sex and contraception is better.
  • Abortions are easier.
  • Casual sex seems to be encouraged by the media.
  • Fewer people follow religion, or if they do, not a strictly as in the past.
  • Adultery is no longer illegal.

However, the results have been very serious:

  • Physcial, emotion and mental harm.
  • STD's increasing.
  • A rise in single parent families and children being born outside marriage.
  • Young people becoming sexually active at a younger age.
31 of 36

Sex: Christian views on sex

Jesus and the Bible teaches that sex is only appropriate in marriage.

Most Christians agree that sex should be monogamous, one partner for life, in marriage.

The Christian ideal is that a person should be a virgin until they marry.

Other Christians say that sex in a stable, commited and loving relationship is acceptable.

Christians are concerned that today relationships are based on sex, not love.

32 of 36

Sex: The Bible and sex

The Bible has a positive and negative view on sex.

Positive views include:

"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" - Genesis

Sex is God's gift to humans at Creation, and a part of his plans for humans.

Negative views include:

"You shall not commit adultery" - 4th Commandment.

"Flee from sexual morality"

"He who sins sexually sins against his own body...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" - Corinthians.

Sex outsude marriage, adultery and lust are condemmed over thirty times in the new testement.

"But if we confess our sins to God...he will forgive us our sins" - John.

33 of 36

Sex: Church teachings

Methodists believe that 'sexuality is a gift from God to us, which is to be recieved with joy. It is central to the renewal, deepening and enjoyment of the marriage relationship.

The Salvation Army say, 'Living together falls short of God's ideal will, it is not in the best interests of society or individual partners or offspring. Christians should readily assist people who adopt this life style, but without condoming it."

Roman Catholics believe that ' sexual intercourse not only gives pleasure. It also has a powerful personal dimension in which the couple enrich one another's lives. Marriage provides a continuous, reliable and predictable relationship within which the rich potential of sex can thrive. In this sense, sex actually requires marriage for the realisation of its potential.

34 of 36

Contraception: Church teachings: Roman Catholic Ch

Artificial contraception is wrong - the pill, condoms, coil, diaphragm and other forms of contraception are all seen as wrong. Catholics cannot use birth control that relies on more than the female body's natural menstrual cycle. Natural contraception is okay, for example, sex when the woman is at her least fertile in the month. Natural methods always also allow the chance of conceprion, if that is what God plans.

Roman Catholics, believe God designed sex for a purpose: for a married man and woman, and for reproduction. Sex is spolied if it is not an expression of love between married people, or if there is no chance of children being conceived. 

Roman Catholics are strongly against contraception, which kills a fertile egg. For example, the morning after pill, because this destroys a human life and is the same as abortion.

In 1968, Pope John VI issued Humanae Vitae - on human life. He felts Catholics needed guidance on contraception. Humanae Vitae stressed the importance of traditional teaching about limiting family size using only natural methods. -"Every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life" - Although Roman Catholics teach against artifical contraception, many of them do not follow this. Many use contraception, because they think it is unrealistic not to.

35 of 36

Contraception: Church teachings: Other Churches

Protestant Churches: Other Churches disagree with Roman Catholics. It is the couple's repsonsibility to decide whether to have children, how and whem. They teach that contraception is sensible and should be encouraged, because children are more likely to be loved and cared for if their parents want them and can afford to bring them up well.

Church of England: They believe, 'this planning of the family should be agreed by the husband and wife, and should be the result of a positive choice before God.'

Free Churches: They believe, 'contraception can be intelligent control over the number of children born, so that they are bringing his within the strength of the mother and the finances of the father.'

Congregational Church: This church believes that 'it safeguards the well-being of the family and society.'

36 of 36


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

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